2009 - 2010 Cline Visiting Professor
Director and Theater Scholar Richard Schechner Named 2009-10 Cline Visiting Professor of the Humanities
The Humanities Institute is pleased to welcome Professor Richard Schechner, this year's C. L. and Henriette Cline Centennial Visiting Professor in the Humanities. The University Professor of Performance Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, Schechner is a founding figure in the interdisciplinary field of performance studies. While on campus in November and December, Professor Schechner will offer a public lecture in the Humanities Institute's Distinguished Visiting Lecture series on November 13 and participate in two public discussions on November 17.
In conjunction with his residency in Austin, Rude Mechanicals will be recreating The Performance Group's interpretation of The Bacchae, entitled Dionysus in 69. Created collectively and directed by Schechner, Dionysus in 69 ran for a year and a half from 1967 to 69. It is widely regarded as one of the germinal works of American experimental theatre. Rude Mechanicals will be remounting the piece as faithfully as possible to the original production. Schechner will lead the Rudes in several workshops and rehearsals leading up to the production, which will be directed by Shawn Sides, who studied with Schechner while studying performance studies at NYU, and Madge Darlington, a graduate of UT. He will give a pre-show talk at the opening on December 4, participate in talk backs on December 5 and 6, and participate in a screening and discussion of Brian de Palma's film of the 1969 production on December 6. He will also offer an informal introduction to the NYU program in Performance Studies on December 4.
Schechner's experimental approach to the theory and production of performance incorporates a broad multicultural perspective on the purpose of performance, and is undergirded by an interdisciplinary combination of anthropology, sociology, psychology, folklore, popular culture, feminist and queer theory, post-colonial studies, cultural studies, theater, and dance. One of Schechner's most significant contributions is his ability both to draw from these disparate disciplines and to refigure the relations among these fields.
Shechner is known for harnessing the vast amount of theoretical and practical work that has come before him, bringing it to his productions without being shackled by the conventions and assumptions of what theatre is or should be. Dionysus in 69 showcases one of Schechner's six axioms for environmental theatre, that "all the space is used for performance" through groundbreaking and innovative audience/performer interactions.
Schechner founded the Performance Studies department at NYU, which has been emulated in dozens of programs in the U.S. and Europe. He is also the artistic director of East Coast Artists (New York), editor of TDR (The Drama Review), and general editor of the Worlds of Performance series (Routledge). His numerous publications include, among others, the books Environmental Theater, Between Theater and Anthropology, The Future of Ritual: Writings on Culture and Performance, and Performance Studies: An Introduction. As a theater director, Schechner has directed over twenty professional productions, many of which, like Dionysus in 69, are new creations of classic works.