I currently teach performance studies, African American Drama, Asian American Studies, media and film studies, and kinesthesia (or critical movement studies) at the University of California Irvine, where I am a member of the doctoral faculty in the Department of Drama. I am also a core faculty member in the Department of African American Studies. In addition, I have taught at UCLA in the Departments of African American Studies and Theater Studies and I also taught in the Department of Performance Studies at Texas A&M University, College Station where I was an assistant professor and a member of the graduate faculty. My courses use both critical theory and creative practice and often focus on questions of performance, power, and identity.
Intro to Performance Theory
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Based on performance studies research and scholarship this course develops an understanding of culture and performance as mutually constitutive processes that take place in various sites and temporalities. This course introduces students to major theories engaged by the discipline of performance studies. The performance studies canon is ever evolving and in flux, and as such this course does not present an authoritative history of the development of the field. Rather, the course is organized around weekly explorations of significant theories and debates informing the work of performance scholars and artists.
Rather than thinking of culture as monolithic and static states of inorganic artefacts that one might find in a museum or curated space this course seeks to interrogate how culture is produced through a variety of different performance sites, processes, and paradigms. What are the political, economic, and cultural conditions involved in which performance takes place? In this context, can performance take place within the theater or on the ocean? What did it mean to perform on the plantation? On the screen? Can ritual be performance? What are the common forms of ritual that we might find in everyday life and how does ritual produce a particular culture? What about cultural practices such as martial arts? Can prisons and concentration camps also be sites of performance and if so for whom and by whom? Can performance take place in the recording studio or on the street? As these questions suggest, performance is a mechanism through which to produce cultural understandings that we may take for granted such as race, gender, class, nation, citizenship, and ethnicity all of which produce interlocking systems of power and identity. This course aims to probe the entanglements of culture by examining some of the aforementioned performance modalities.
Black Arts and Black Publics: Black Arts Praxis
COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the conjunction between art as political practice and the creation of a Black public sphere. Never losing sight of the University of California as a public research institution, this course is an iterative process that aims to develop the infrastructure for an online practice-as-research platform called Black Arts and Black Publics. The BABP platform is concerned with rehearsing Jurgen Habermas’s notion of the “public sphere” alongside and into a Black public sphere that “is a transnational space whose violent birth and diasporic conditions of life provide a counternarrative to the exclusionary national narratives of Europe, the United States, the Caribbean, and Africa.”  This course will attempt to explore, organize, and develop information around Black artistic, cultural, and political practice by reading, writing, and discussing individuals and institutions such as theaters, museums, non-profit community arts organizations, public-civic government entities, as well as tech and entertainment entities.
- To think and write critically about how theater and performance has been a vehicle for constructing a Black politic and a Black public.
- In this course, we will think about how the “public university” engages with external organizations and what such collaborations can offer for the greater public.
- To examine the impacts of shifting demographics on Black cultural production.
- By the end of this class students should be able to analyze and articulate theater and performance as systems of identity formation, knowledge production, and education.
1. See page 7 in The Black Public Sphere: A Public Culture Book. 1996. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.
August Wilson in the Canon: A Century of American Drama
AUGUST WILSON’S DRAMAS AND CULTURAL MEMORY: In an effort to address the complexity of American history, and in this case American Drama, the late August Wilson dedicated himself to creating a cycle of plays that explored the panoramic of the African American experience of the twentieth century. Keeping this in mind, this class will engage American Drama through Wilson’s work. Using Wilson’s cycle of decade dramas, this course will read Wilson in the canon as well as criticism surrounding his writing. In turn, students will respond to Wilson’s work and the literary criticism of his work through the practice of writing. Students will read the plays and historical information relevant to the decade in which each play takes place. Students will write weekly responses based on their engagement with the material. Students will then write one short essay based on their engagement with the material. Students will then write revise the short essay into a final essay based on their engagement with the material.
By the end of this course, you will have read four of Wilson’s plays, have read scholarly criticism about the plays, and viewed documentary films about Wilson and his work. You will be able to read, discuss, and analyze forty years of American history and drama and you will be able to articulate the relationship between Wilson’s dramas and the Black continuum.
Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting: Afro Asian Performance
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Dominant representations in media and popular culture tend to suggest a Black and Asian conflict or highly exoticized Afro Asian encounter. However, are these depictions accurate? How do they emerge and what do they do to our understanding of identity and epistemology? Afro Asian Performance will offer a nuanced approach to understanding Afro Asian encounter through coalitional politics, military conflict, popular culture, African and Asian American Studies, radicalism, literature, theater and screen performance, colonial and post-colonial discourses, and transcultural performance disciplines such as martial arts and music. Through this engagement you will be able to understand how theories about Afro Asian embodiment can help reveal as well as correct ideology around discursive formations of identity.
By the end of this course, you will be able to read texts on popular culture and popular media using a blend of African American and Asian American Studies, Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, and Ethnographic methodologies and theories. Lastly, you will be able to further understand how Afro Asian encounter has been both a liberatory and oppressive strategy within the context of twentieth and twenty-first century history.
Movement in Performance
COURSE DESCRIPTION: Believe it or not, Martial Arts Studies is a growing interdisciplinary academic field which brings together a combination of disciplines such as History, Sociology, Anthropology, East Asian Cultural Studies, Kinesiology, Gender Studies, Sport and Society, Linguistics, Film and Media Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Health Sciences to name a few. Add to the mix, Performance Studies, the study of human behavior writ large, and you have yourself a rather unique blend of intercultural study and practice. In fact, there is now an international organization dedicated to Martial Arts Studies located at Cardiff University. Please visit these two websites where you can explore the Martial Arts Studies Journal and http://masjournal.org.uk/ and the Martial Arts Studies Program https://mas.cardiffuniversitypress.org/. MOVEMENT IN PERFORMANCE, uses the principles of the Japanese martial art of aikido “way of joining” to develop movement-based vocabulary and performance practice; Interrogates aikido-based movement as processes of self-cultivation, community awareness, aesthetic, and communication; engages literature around politics of movement practices, martial arts culture, sport, body, and society. This course is a practice-based course in which you will learn about a Japanese cultural practice in a US based educational context. Hence, intercultural learning will be done through the practice of aikido, reading about Japanese cultural history as well as martial arts as a performance discipline.
**NOTE: This is a movement-based class that requires activities such as rolling, falling, squatting, tumbling, running, and stretching on a tatami mat. AT NO TIME SHOULD SHOES BE WORN ON THE MAT. Students must wear loose fitting clothing which does not restrict physical activity. While students are not required to purchase judo gi or aikido gi, it is encouraged. FURTHERMORE, FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY, YOU MUST KEEP FINGERNAILS AND TOENAILS TRIMMED. JEWELRY OF ANY KIND IS NOT PERMITTED ON THE MAT (RINGS, EARRINGS, NOSE RINGS, NAVAL RINGS, AND NECKLACES ARE NOT PERMITTED). If you have a physical condition that limits your movement and mobility and you are registered with Disability Services, please contact Dr. Price as soon as possible to discuss suitable accommodations during your time in this course.
- To practice and apply movement in performance using an aikido-based vocabulary for theater and creative expression
- To demonstrate proficiency in basic aikido-based movement practices (including basic techniques)
- To assess the ethics and techniques of a globally oriented movement culture and practice using a performance studies lens
- To examine and perform movement as a process of transcultural contestation and connection.
- To recognize and describe the collisions and confluences of meanings, techniques and stakes of artistic creation that prevail within movement-based practices.
- To interpret movement practice as an object of study and as a method of learning about oneself and the other.
African American Theater History: Slavery to the Mid-1800s
This course examines the history of African American theater and performance from slavery to the mid-1800s. Students are invited to explore and the ways in which theater and performance have been processes of liberation, domination, and reinvention throughout the African diaspora of the North Americas. Various forms of performance such as daily presentation, ritual, folklore, dance, religion, writing, musical and non-musical theater will be examined. Materials covered include scholarly texts, articles, plays, autobiography, and film.
- To expose students to the various modes of African diasporic performance from slavery to the mid-1800s within the North Americas through scholarly and creative projects.
- To get students to think and write critically about how theater and performance has been a vehicle for both subordination and subversion within the African American continuum.
- To get students to apply scholarly research to a creative performance project.
- By the end of this class students should be able to analyze and articulate theater and performance as systems of identity formation, knowledge production, commodification, and constructions of national character.