The University of Georgia’s Department of Theatre and Film Studies presented the NEH Institute 2018: Digital Technologies in Theatre and Performance Studies livestreamed from commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Monday 18 June - Thursday 28 June.

This institute is aimed at college and university faculty eager to integrate digital technologies into their curricula, and who would like to gain a deeper understanding of the technologies and techniques to make this possible. The program assumes no prior expertise in digital media. Through presentations and hands-on workshops with some of the country’s leading experts on digital performance and scholarship, the institute’s participants will gain valuable techniques and experience in how best to integrate digital methods and tools in teaching theatre studies and performance practice.
 
The first week focuses on the impact of digital technologies on performance scholarship, and the second, on digital performance practices. Both weeks balance lectures, seminars, and hands-on workshops. Participants will leave the institute with specific exercises, lesson plans, and references to support continued development in their classrooms and their home institutions.

The institute was jointly initiated by the leadership of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) and the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR).

Week One: Digital Scholarship and Theory

Monday 18 June​: Big Data

The directors, David Saltz and Sarah Bay-Cheng, will provide an overview of digital scholarship, followed by a lecture by visiting faculty member Derek Miller (Harvard) on the use of big data analysis techniques to gain new insights into theatre history. Dr. Miller will describe his Visualizing Broadway project, for which he created a massive data set of the cast sizes, genres, and run lengths (among other information) for every Broadway production since 1900, and analyzed these data to illuminate the ebb and flow of theatre practice. Following the lecture, he will be joined by Dr. Emily McGinn, coordinator of UGA’s DigiLab, to conduct a workshop giving participants hands-on experience with the digital humanities tools that Dr. Miller uses in his research, in particular the network analysis package Gelphi. This workshop will also give participants an opportunity to work with archival theatrical materials, such as playscripts and programs, from the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

“Digital Scholarship: An Overview”
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by David Saltz and Sarah Bay-Cheng.

 

“Big Data and Performance Historiography”
7:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Derek Miller.

 

Tuesday 19 June​: Digital Editions. 

The second day of the institute will expose participants to three other research projects, each representing a distinct approach to digital humanities. Stephen Barry, co-director of the Center for Virtual History at the University of Georgia, will discuss projects in digital historiography including IndianNation, a collection of the stories of the 237,000 Indians who appear in the 1900 census; the M.A.P. Project, a geospatial database of the African and African American population in North American prior to 1790; and CSI Dixie, a collection of South Carolina coroners' inquests between 1840 and 1880. Institute co-director David Saltz will describe an array of projects that employ computer modeling and interactive interface design to visualize and simulate theatre spaces, performances, and effects, such as his own NSF-funded Virtual Vaudeville Project (2004) that uses 3D computer animation and motion capture technology to create an immersive simulation of a vaudeville performance at the Union Square Theatre in 1895, recreating the theatre, a full performance, and the reactions of 900 spectators of diverse social classes and ethnicities. Amy Hughes (Brooklyn College) will lecture on the design and production of digital editions of historical texts and best practices in digital encoding and markup, drawing on her current project, an online edition US actor Harry Watkins’s diary.

“eHistory Projects.”
6 a.m. - 8 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 10 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 11 a.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Steve Berry.

 

“Historical Simulation and the Virtual Vaudeville Project”
“History, Performance, and Playing the Digital in Museums” 

8:15 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 10:15 a.m. - 12:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 11:15 a.m. - 1:15 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lectures by David Saltz and Sarah Bay-Cheng.

 

“Digital Scholarly Editions”
11:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 1:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 2:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Amy Hughes.

 

Wednesday 20 June: Digital Scholarship. 

Wednesday's events will not be livestreamed.

 

Thursday 21 June: Liveness.

The focus of the institute will shift from digital historiography to media and performance theory under the tutelage of visiting faculty member Dr. Philip Auslander (Georgia Tech), a performance theorist famous for his seminal interrogation of the concept of “liveness” in the age of media. Dr. Auslander will begin with a lecture on the problematic relationship between liveness and mediatization, tracing the way his thinking about this issue has evolved in the twenty years since he first published his ground-breaking book. He will then lead a seminar that guides the participants through a close analysis of his texts and a critical reflection on their own intuitions about the ontology and phenomenology of live performance and media.

“Liveness Revisited”
7:15 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 9:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 10:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Philip Auslander

 

Friday 22 June: Teaching Digital Theory

Vijay Mathew, co-founder of HowlRound, will discuss one of HowlRound’s current initiatives, the World Theatre Map, a user-generated directory and real-time map of the global theatre community. The rest of the day will address on the challenges of teaching complex concepts in media and performance theory to undergraduate students. Dr. Bay-Cheng will begin with a lecture outlining effective pedagogical strategies to engage students with theoretical issues and paradigms related to performance and digital culture. In the afternoon, the participants will break out into two groups, led by Dr. Bay-Cheng and Dr. Saltz respectively, to discuss these issues in depth in the context of assigned readings in performance and media theory.

“The World Theatre Map” 
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Vijay Mathew.

 

“Teaching Theory”
7:45 - 9:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 9:45 - 11:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Sarah Bay-Cheng.

 

Week Two: Digital Performance Practices

Monday 25 June: Mediated Performances. 

In the second week, the institute will shift its focus from digital scholarship to digital performance, starting with a lecture by Ashley Ferro-Murray, curator of Theatre and Dance at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, on the rich range of media-enhanced dance and theatre performances that passes through her venue. Dr. Ferro-Murray will share her uniquely informed perspective on digital performance practices, curation, funding, and development, as well as models for artistic collaborations and infrastructural support within professional and academic settings. Following Dr. Ferro-Murray’s presentation, Peter Eckersall (CUNY), a leading chronicler of digital performance worldwide, will discuss what he calls new media dramaturgy and the changing trends in global performances incorporating digital media. In the afternoon, Dr. Ferro-Murray and Dr. Eckersall will jointly lead a seminar in contemporary digital performance practices that draws on key texts by Dr. Eckersall and others.

“Theatre and Dance at the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center”
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. EDT (New York)
Led by Ashley Ferro-Murray.

 

“New Media Dramaturgy”
7:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 9:45 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 10:45 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Peter Eckersall.

 

Tuesday 26 June (morning): Digital Games​. 

Ethnomusicologist and media studies scholar Kiri Miller (Brown) will lecture on digital games as a form of virtual performance, and then lead a seminar on that topic.

“Digital Games and Virtual Performance”
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Kiri Miller.

 

Tuesday 26 June (afternoon): Live-Interactive Performance

Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello, co-founders of the performance collective Troika Ranch, will give a presentation on their pioneering work over the past twenty-five years at the intersection of dance, theatre, and interactive media. They will then conduct an intensive day-and-a-half workshop, from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday, on the creation of media-enhanced performances and installations. They will guide participants through a series of compositional questions designed to bring performers, audience and visual and sonic media together to create compelling and truly unified works. The core technology used to facilitate these artistic ideas will be Isadora, an award-winning digital media tool developed by Mr. Coniglio specifically to give performers real-time interactive control of media in live performances and installations.

“Interactive Performance and Troika Ranch”
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 2 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. EDT (New York)
Lecture by Mark Coniglio and Dawn Stoppiello.

 

Wednesday 27 June: Live-Interactive Performance. (continued)

Wednesday's events will not be livestreamed.

 

Thursday, June 28: Motion Capture and Robotics

Participants will be exposed to more specialized digital performance technologies in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies’ Interactive Performance Laboratory. In the morning, Dr. Saltz will give a lecture on recent theatrical performances employing robots as actors, followed by a workshop that takes participants through the process of programming robots for theatrical performance. Participants will control Darwin OP and Darwin-mini humanoid robots using Darwin Animator, a software tool developed by Dr. Saltz to puppet robots in real-time, record complex and fluid robotic motions quickly and easily, and synchronize a robot’s motions with video, sound, and lighting. In the afternoon, John Kundert-Gibbs (University of Georgia) will conduct a workshop on motion capture, taking participants through the process of capturing live performance data with the Perception Neuron motion capture system, a new technology that is far less costly and accessible than previous-generation optical and magnetic systems, and using performers’ motions to animate a 3D computer model in real-time.

Workshop/demonstration in motion capture using the Perception Neuron motion capture system
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. CDT (Chicago) / 9 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. EDT (New York)

Led by John Kundert-Gibbs.

 

Presentation/demonstration on programming robotic actors using Darwin robots and Darwin Animator
12:30 p.m. - 2 p.m. PDT (San Francisco) / 2:30 p.m. - 4 p.m. CDT (Chicago) / 3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m. EDT (New York)
Led by David Saltz.

 

 

About HowlRound TV
HowlRound TV is a global, commons-based peer produced, open access livestreaming and video archive project stewarded by the nonprofit HowlRound. HowlRound TV is a free and shared resource for live conversations and performances relevant to the world's performing arts and cultural fields. Its mission is to break geographic isolation, promote resource sharing, and to develop our knowledge commons collectively. Participate in a community of peer organizations revolutionizing the flow of information, knowledge, and access in our field by becoming a producer and co-producing with us. Learn more by going to our participate page. For any other queries, email tv@howlround.com, or call Vijay Mathew at +1 917.686.3185 Signal/WhatsApp. View the video archive of past events.