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PRELUDE Festival 2023


Devised Theater After COVID

With Allen Kuharski and others


60 minutes

3:00PM EST

Monday, October 16, 2023

Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, 5th Avenue, New York, NY, USA

American Devised Theater 

After COVID: Teaching, Archiving and the Practice

The past, present, and future of devised physical ensemble theater in the US was the topic of an historic NEH Institute in Philadelphia in June.  A diverse group of over 50 professors, artist/teachers, grad students, editors, and archivists from around the country as well as several foreign countries gathered for 12 days to discuss the issues of archiving, criticism, and especially the theoretical and historical teaching of this 60-year-old practice in American and world theater.  This exchange was prompted by the recent proliferation of the teaching of the practice of devising in colleges, universities, and drama schools (often without a theoretical, critical, historical framing) and the larger challenges to such innovative live performance following the pandemic, Black Lives Matter, and the growing impact of climate change.  The Institute was initiated by Quinn Bauriedel of Pig Iron Theatre Company's School for Devised Performance, and co-hosted by Allen Kuharski of Swarthmore College.  The panel at CUNY will consist of participants in the Institute and will be a report and critical reflection on the larger issues that emerged from the Institute. With Allen Kuharski, Rye Gentleman (NYU), Tracy Hazas (CUNY-Queens College), Rebecca Adelsheim, Tom Sellar (YSD) and/or others. TBC. 

Content / Trigger Description:

Allen J. Kuharski is Senior Research Scholar in the Department of Theater at Swarthmore College and teaches in Pig Iron Theater Company’s MFA Program in Devised Performance. Kuharski is a widely published critic and scholar on contemporary directing history, theory, and practice and on modern Polish theater and drama. He is co-editor of the 16-volume Witold Gombrowicz: Collected Writings published by Wydawnictwo Literackie in Kraków. He has served as an editor for journals such Theatre Journal, Slavic & East European Performance, Western European Stages, and Periphery: Journal of Polish Affairs. His articles and reviews have been published in Polish, French, Spanish, Norwegian, German, and Bulgarian translations. His own translations from Polish and French have been widely performed in the United States and abroad. As a dramaturg and translator, he has shared two OBIE Awards and a Fringe First Award, and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage has awarded him the country’s Order of Merit. Kuharski was a Fulbright Scholar in Theater to the Polish Academy of Arts & Sciences in Warsaw in 2017-18. With Quinn Bauriedel of Pig Iron, he was Co-Director of the 2023 NEH Institute in Philadelphia titled “Preserving and Transmitting American Ensemble-Based Devised Theatre.”

Tom Sellar, a writer, curator, and dramaturg, is Editor of Theater magazine and Professor in the Practice of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at Yale University. His writing and criticism have appeared in national publications including Artforum, BOMB, the New York Times, the Guardian, 4Columns, and American Theatre. From 2001-2016 he was a frequent contributor to the Village Voice, where he covered theater and performance art nationally, serving as an Obie award judge and for two terms as chief theater critic. He has also contributed to numerous book anthologies including The Routledge Companion to Dramaturgy; Joined Forces: Audience Participation in Theater; Curating Live Arts: Global Perspectives, Envisioning Theory and Practice in Performance; and the history BAM: The Next Wave Festival. He has curated programs for American Realness, Queer Zagreb, the Institute for Arts and Civic Dialogue (with Anna Deavere Smith), Prague Quadrennial, Philadelphia Fringe Arts, and other organizations. With Antje Oegel, Tom co-curated Prelude 2015 (What Could We Build, or Is the Future Already Behind Us?) and Prelude 2016 (Welcome Failure).

Rebecca Adelsheim is a doctoral candidate in Dramaturgy & Dramatic Criticism at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale where they study queer theater and performance, and lecturer at Tufts University. As a new play dramaturg and producer, Rebecca has worked for companies including Audible Theater, Steppenwolf Theater Company, Baltimore Center Stage, the Goodman Theater, Philadelphia Theater, and Barrington Stage, among others. Recent credits include co-adapator for Affinity based on the novel by Sarah Waters with director Alex Keegan and dramaturg and researcher forsoldiergirls by Em Weinstein. Their writing has been published in Theater magazine, where they also serve as the associate editor. They have received research grants from the Beinecke Library and theFund for Gay and Lesbian Studies (FLAGS) at Yale University and is the recipient of the John W. Gassner Memorial prize and the G. Charles Niemeyer Scholarship. Rebecca is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and received their B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and their M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

Rye Gentleman is the Librarian for Performing Arts in the Division of Libraries. He holds a PhD from University of Minnesota's Theatre Arts & Dance Department and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Gentleman conducts research at the intersection of performance studies, transgender studies, and new media studies. His dissertation-based book project explores the ways transgender embodiment is conceptualized in and shaped by digital media and shows how actual and imagined transgender bodies are enmeshed in digital systems that exert a normative pressure, while also offering the capacity to materialize more expansive actualizations of gendered embodiment. He is also currently working as contributor and co-editor on an anthology focused on transfeminist theatre and performance. His writing has been published in TDR: The Drama Review, QED: A Journal in GLBTQ Worldmaking, Text and Performance Quarterly, and Fifty Key Figures in Queer US Theatre (Routledge).

TRACY HAZAS is an actor and movement director. She has performed at NYC theaters including New York City Center, Dixon Place, Abrons Art Center, and Theater for the New City; most recently, she was seen in Preparedness, co-produced by the Bushwick Starr and HERE Arts Center. Hazas is an affiliated artist with Counter-Balance Theater. She is the voice of the Eisenhower Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, and has appeared in commercials for Xbox, Tide and others. She made her feature debut in White Rabbit at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Currently she’s designing movement for The Wolves at Queens College; and developing an original work, Los Kentubanos, which reconstructs moments from her family’s history in Cuba, utilizing archival documents and her father’s digital collection of roughly 30,000 family photos dating from the early 1900s. Hazas teaches performance, movement, collaboration and voice at Queens College (CUNY). Previous academic positions include Lecturer of Acting and Movement at Stanford University, and work at Emerson College Los Angeles, Montclair State University and others.

Photo credits:

Allen J. Kuharski. Credit by Ted Kostans.

Tom Sellar. Photo credit by the artist.

Rebecca Adelsheim. Photo credit by the artist.

Rye Gentleman. Photo credit by the artist.

TRACY HAZAS. Photo credit by the artist.

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