Michael's Blog

Just found out that I didn't save the last time I did my journal. SO.... Well what I found out from this presentation is that half the battle is finding the focus and information then the other half is coming up with a way to present it in a way that is interesting and compelling. Because of our topic we had a duration of just taking in information about this type of theater. It became a cultural exploration, which was the point of the project I realize, but not only was it a clear cultural study, we also had to go through a phase of just reading as much as we could to even understand our scope and narrow it. So when we presented it I felt like we needed ample time of just explaining the culture and history of our culture. I think we did a pretty good job with what we had to cover but I can see that there needed to be more of an exploration in the realm of performance, art, and theater in general. The other presentations after us, for the most part, were western based theater and they were able to focus on textual analysis. We were lucky we went first and had something interesting to present the class, by interesting I mean something that no one really knew about and because of that it was intriguing.

I find myself looking up information and getting swallowed up by it. There is so much to cover! Even with the narrow scope there's so much that we have to learn so we have a general understanding of the specific ritual. There's discrepancies, between dance and theater, and ritual and worship which is confusing. And what makes it harder to find sources that have useful information is that the practice (from what I have found) is always changing and evolving. Because it's an annual event. It's hard to get a specific hold on it, coming from our western viewpoint on art, theater, and the difference between church service and this practice.

As I continue to narrow my scope I'm able to scan through a lot more information then I was able to before. Something that interest me a lot is the way we have to approach this like a culture analysis. We don't have the luxury of being familiar with the culture and language at all so it's even more obvious how careful we have to be and not make assumptions.

It's funny that we had a discussion about whether or not this was theater at first, or if this is art. We hadn't researched it as much as we have now, but the idea that this wasn't art was thrown around. That it doesn't meet our standards. That's the question, what is art and by whose eyes. If a culture doesn't consider something art, does that mean we can? I also found an interesting article talking about one of differences is that it's more about the morals, instead of inner-character dialogue.



I'm glad to see a lot of progress from your first entry to your second. You're absolutely right that it's extremely difficult to approach a subject with which you have little to no familiarity, and I think that your approach acknowledges the delicate manner in which you have to conduct yourself as a researcher.

It's great that you're approaching this as a culture analysis, rather than strictly a theatre analysis. in our culture, theatre is a relatively autonomous sphere from areas like work or socializing - it seems that in Yoruban culture the situation is very different. It seems like you're thinking about these differences in your conversation on whether this qualifies as "art". Hopfeully, your conversation is pushing you to question your personal assumptions of what art or theatre is or should be.

Great work! My only suggestion for improvement is to make reference to the specific authors and articles you're reading.


Grade: 95%

Good reflections here, Michael. To respond to your assessment of the need of "more of an exploration in the realm of performance, art, and theater in general" I wanted to just focus this idea a little bit. I think what would have benefited your group's presentation would be an assessment of the different attributes that you see present in performance, art, theatre, and ritual. For your own purposes, consider how you see the differences between these different forms. What makes a ritual? How does that differ from theatre?

Your impulse to explain a little bit about the culture and its history at the beginning of your presentation was a good one, but one way to make this expository information more interesting is to cater the information towards the argument that your group is making. If you put the argument up front, it helps make all the other pieces make sense.

Good work overall on these.


Final Grade: 90%

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