This course is an acting course that introduces the student to the research, writing and performance techniques of cabaret performers.
Kabarett is the German word for "cabaret" but has two different meanings. The first meaning is the same as in English; describing a form of entertainment featuring comedy, song, dance, and theater (often the word "Cabaret" is used in German for this as well to distinguish this form). The latter describes a kind of political satire. Unlike comedians who make fun of all kind of things, Kabarett artists (German: Kabarettisten) pride themselves as dedicated almost completely to political and social topics of more serious nature which they criticize using techniques like cynicism, sarcasm and irony.
As Peter Jelavich stated in his book “Berlin Cabaret (Studies in Cultural History)” that every Metropolis tends to generate an urban mythology and Berlin is no exception. One of the more enduring Fables associated with that city is that it was hotbed for Cabaret.
Students will be seeking to assay that tale by examining Cabaret in Europe and specifically in Berlin from 1901-1944 while creating their own solo performance based on research of sources as such diaries, letters, memoirs, and autobiographies that relate Berlin Kabarett. Subjects can be figures such as Gisela May, Trude Hestberg, Anita Berber, Claire Waldoff, Erwin Piscator, Hugo Ball, Blandine Ebinger, Kurt Weill and are of particular interest to the student.
While studying and analyzing the techniques of a wide variety of cabaret performers through its inception, students will explore aspects of writing monologues and implementing those techniques with the ultimate goal of creating and performing their own material -sense of truth- with the courage necessary to stand-alone on stage.
There will be field trips to notable Cabaret/Kabarett shows and venues in the city, which will inspire us visually. In addition to history related readings assignments, the course will incorporate Lisa Appignanesi's "The Cabaret" book for an overall understanding of the forms of artistic cabaret which were to emerge as a meeting place for artists where performance or improvisation takes place among peers, and cabaret as an intimate, small-scale, but intellectually ambitious revue.
The class meets twice a week for three 90-minute segments each day.
The two segments of each class typically involve short lectures on historical and theatrical topics as well as seminar-style discussions of the assigned readings. Some class days devote time to in-depth acting exercises, analyzing the solo performance/cabaret vocabulary and technique. Some class days we will use the afternoon segment for film screenings, excursions to sites in the city or working on your final presentation.
In addition to the regular class meetings and excursions the Course Schedule includes a list of optional recommended cabaret shows, plays, theatrical performances.
This course is open to students from all disciplines and levels, though it may appeal most to students of writing, literature, media, history and acting.
One Book "The Cabaret" by Lisa Appignanesi, and course reader will be provided to each student to cover all the required readings for this course. Please be prepared to discuss the readings in class. Active and enthusiastic participation is required.
The course schedule in the syllabus indicates discussion topics for each class meetings (morning, mid-day, and afternoon sessions) and required readings (marked **) to be completed before that class meeting day.
In many ways, Berlin is a center for contemporary electronic music. This is primarily due to the strong connection between technological and aesthetic developments. Nightclubs, such as the Berghain, have a worldwide reputation for their sound systems, which allow a specific acoustic experience and encourage nightlong dancing and partying. Berlin-based companies such as Ableton and Native Instruments are global leaders in their music software, especially in the context of techno, electronica and electronic dance music. Many DJs and musicians´ market themselves or their tracks via blogs and streaming services. Particularly in the context of sound art, there are fairly strong parallels with media art.
Due to the key 'digital' aspects of such phenomena, we often speak of a 'Digital Age' in which Berlin plays a particular role in the field of music. However, the 'analog' phenomena are constantly growing, so that there is some debate over the beginning of a 'post-digital age'. This corresponds with an increasing focus both on the virtual and haptic dimension. Among other things, software companies have made strong efforts over the past years to develop their own hardware controllers for their computer programs in order to be able to better design musical processes manually.
Based on such phenomena, the course will explore the relationship between aesthetic trends and technological developments with the focus on the cultural and economic conditions in Berlin. Particular emphasis will be made on the past and present of techno, (experimental) electronica and electronic dance music. What makes Berlin a magnet not only for thrill-seeking club-goers, but also for DJs, musicians, producers and developers? How does this relate to the recent past of Berlin since the fall of the Berlin Wall, especially given the gentrification processes? To what extent is Berlin's creative scene at the same time internationally networked and can its conditions only be understood in a global context?
Beyond the Berlin perspective, the course examines the current conditions of production and consumption as well as the performance and distribution of music. How do legal/illegal file sharing and streaming services affect listening to music? What is changing in music culture through sampling, remixing, mashup and approaches to interactive music in video games? What opposing trends are out there?
In addition to the joint discussion of texts and film excerpts, excursions also provide an opportunity for an exchange with proven experts in the course subject areas.
At the end of the course, the participants can elaborate on and present a topic (either alone or in a group) of their choice in the context of the general list of topics on the course.
This course is intended for students of any disciplines. No prior music and technology background is required. The course aims to provide an insight into the relationship between aesthetic, social and technical developments regarding the topic 'Berlin and the Digital Music Age'. It also examines the conditions of the current production methods of electronic music, but does not teach the specific programming or composing of music.
A course reader will be provided.