Contemporary Global Stages

OLympic Stages:

Theatres and Performances of Olympism

During this semester, we will explore the concept of Olympism which is a philosophy of life, ethics, and humanity inspired by the Olympic games. We will examine this worldview in the way it reflects concepts of intercultural exchange, solidarity, and competition on individual, national, and species-level scales. Using the idea of the Olympic Stage as a prism, we will question the ways in which the disciplines of Theatre and Performance Studies both overlap and diverge with the fields of Athletics, Exercise Science, and Sports Psychology. In so doing, the class surveys the political, economic, and performative exigencies that underlie both the International Theatre Olympics along with the Olympic and Paralympic Games. With these events as counterpoints, the class will analyze historical, contemporary, and future circumstances surrounding their formations, juxtaposing past festivals with the 9th annual ITO in Toga, Japan and St. Petersburg, Russia happening in 2019, and the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Intersecting sites of study incorporate Greece, Japan, Russia, Turkey, Korea, China, Poland, India, the U.S., and others. Key to these explorations will be determining who is included and present versus excluded and absent from these “global” events and assemblies? Key questions include:

  • What are the qualities of Olympism and how do they relate to theatre and performance?
  • How are theatrical performance and athletic performance related? What are the similarities between a theatre stage/space and a sports field/arena?
  • What factors constitute or define an Olympic actor, performer, athlete, stage, site, or festival?
  • How do Olympic festivals showcase and/or hide operations of labor, discipline, and power?
  • How might the Olympics function as joint sites of cultural exchange and competition? How might they function within the dynamic contexts of war, conflict, peace, or cooperation?

Fall 2019 (2201)

THEA 0825-27664

Tuesday / Thursday

11:00 AM - 12:15 PM

CL 1601

Instructor: Chris Staley

Number of Credits