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Martin and Rita Edelston

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Carol Martin


A Bio Sketch

Richard Schechner, University Professor and Professor of Performance Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, was one of the leading developers of performance studies from the late 1960s through the 1970s. In 1980, the Graduate Drama Department was renamed the Performance Studies Department. The field rapidly expanded and continues to grow with performance studies departments and/or programs in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia-New Zealand, and the Americas. The Department has attracted some of the world's leading researchers, artists, and students. In addition to NYU, Schechner has taught at universities around the world. 

In Schechner’s words, performance studies takes a “broad spectrum approach.” All actions and behaviors can be studied "as" performance including rituals and play both human and animal, the performing arts, sports and other popular entertainments, identities, gender, role-playing, the enactment of law, medicine, and business, etc. Performance studies is intercultural and interdisciplinary, a field of study which both informs and draws upon on theatre, dance, and music studies, the social sciences, cultural studies, and more.

Richard Schechner is considered to be among the most influential innovators of the American experimental theatre. He began his theatre work in Provincetown in the late 1950s, continued in New Orleans in the 1960s, and moved to New York in 1967 where he founded The Performance Group (TPG). His 1968 production of Dionysus in 69 staged environmentally in New York’s Performing Garage (a converted metal-stamping factory) brought TPG’s work wide attention. After leading TPG for 13 years, Schechner resigned in 1980 and TPG became the Wooster Group. In 1992, Schechner founded East Coast Artists (ECA) and was artistic director until 2009.

With TPG and ECA Schechner directed milestones in the American avant-garde theater including Dionysus in 69,Makbeth, Commune, The Tooth of Crime, The Marilyn Project, Mother Courage, Faust/gastronome, Hamlet, Three Sisters, Swimming to Spalding, and more. Schechner has directed in India, Taiwan, and China and his productions have played also in France, Poland, and Romania. This year he will direct in Portugal and Romania.

From 1962 to 1969 Schechner edited the Tulane Drama Review. TDR moved to NYU in 1967. Schechner became editor again in 1986 and continues until now. The Richard Schechner Center for Performance Studies at the Shanghai Theatre Academy publishes TDR/China and a TDR/India is in the works. Schechner is a prolific author. His many books include Environmental Theater (1973), Performance Theory (various editions since 1977), Between Theatre and Anthropology (1985), The Future of Ritual (1993) and Performance Studies- An Introduction (2002, 2006). His writings have been translated into many languages including French, Spanish, Slovak, Serbian, Korean, Japanese, German, Italian, and Chinese. These writings educate, interest, and challenge students and researchers around the world. In addition to awards from PSi and ATHE, Schechner received in 2010 the prestigious Thalia Award of International Association of Theatre Critics.

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