Tisch Drama Launches Cross-Department 'Performance in Critical Times' Series

Friday, Oct 9, 2020

This fall, the department has launched a virtual conversation series, Performance in Critical Times, exploring the role of performance and art-making in the current critical moment. 

The series is co-produced by Tisch Drama and the College of Arts & Science (CAS) XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement, as organized by faculty Jan Cohen-Cruz, Mauricio Tafur Salgado, and Sebastián Calderón Bentin.

Salgado explained that conversations on the power of performance during this time of pandemic and civic and political unrest are already happening at Tisch—in the classroom, rehearsal spaces, and hallways. 

“That said, the volume of these conversations is increasing as students, faculty, and staff look for ways to engage in pressing social issues,” Salgado added.

In response, the series aims to offer space for dialogue and invites current students, faculty, alumni, and theatremakers outside of the NYU community to participate.

“Our goals through this series are to introduce our community to activists, practitioners, and thinkers that can expand our understanding of performance; engage in candid conversation about the challenges we are facing; and propose inspiring questions that lead us to new possibilities and strategies,” Bentin explained. “Activist work is creative work.” 

The first event, held in September, featured a conversation between CAS faculty member Jan Cohen-Cruz and guest Carlton Turner, an artist, agriculturalist, researcher, and former founding executive director of  the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production. The center uses food and story to support rural community, cultural, and economic development in his hometown of Utica, Miss. Then, in October, “On Performing Care" featured dialogue between faculty across NYU/Tisch departments—Nisha Sajnani, Joe Salvatore, Kristin Horton, and Mary Bitel—hosted by Salgado.

The next conversation, "On Decolonizations" will take place on Thursday, October 22, from 12–1:30 p.m. EDT, and feature a conversation between Drama faculty Awam Amkpa and Sebastián Calderón Bentin. RSVP here.

Additional conversations are in the works, and details will be announced. Many of the guests have been invited by Cohen-Cruz to speak in her Art and Social Engagement class. 

Bentin noted, “This series is an effort to engage with adjacent spaces of learning and build connections with other fields of study and communities that might challenge and ignite our way of thinking.”

Organizers plan to continue the series this spring. Stay tuned for updates.