Theory-Practice Collaboratory #3: Speech Acts

Friday, November 14, 10:00am-3:00pm


A mini-symposium featuring two dynamic participatory workshops exploring language, performance, and materiality.


Jen Plants, “Verbatim Theatre Master Class”

10:00am – 12:00pm, Humanities 6321

Jen_Project_Jen and Irene_Use Credit

Jen Plants (center) in No Feedback, an original devised work about the ten stages of genocide, London, 2014. Photo Credit: Ghislaine Salabert-Mougin.


Verbatim theatre is the art of creating performance projects based on interviews, using the precise words, rhythms and cadences of the interviewees. (Popular examples in English include the ensemble-based Laramie Project, the musical Life and Times and the solo/multi-character work of Anna Deveare Smith.) The resulting theatrical events are almost always political and raise a number of theoretical questions about authorship, technology and truth.

This workshop will examine the foundations of these questions through active experimentation within the form, allowing all participants to get a taste of being performers, interviewers and interviewees. Participants should come dressed comfortably and should bring smart phones (or a small recording device) with headphones if possible. No previous theatre experience is expected or required.

Reading:  Carol Martin, “Bodies of Evidence”

RSVP Required.  Limited spots available.  To RSVP and receive reading, email art.scholarship.mellon@gmail.com no later than Wednesday, Nov. 12.



Jen Plants is an actor, director, writer and deviser whose work has spanned two continents. A member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Young Vic Directors Program, she earned her MFA from the Florida State University/Asolo Conservatory and founded the theatre program at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. Recent projects include the devised workNo Feedback (performer/deviser, UK,) the world premiere of A More Opportune Time(director, Drew University,) Circle Mirror Transformation (director, Okoboji Summer Theatre,) and Richard II (director, Cambridge Shakespeare Festival, UK.) Jen is currently the Carl Djerassi Playwriting Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.



[12:00 – 1:00:  Lunch / Break]


Helen Lee, “WORD”

1:00pm – 3:00pm, Art Lofts Digital Lab + Glass Lab

In this workshop, Helen Lee will discuss her use of glass as a means for thinking about language and the body in her studio practice. Her approach to glass is shaped by the definition of glass—not as a material—but as a state-of-matter, and the notion of glassblowing as primarily a movement-based practice vs. an object-making practice. Participants will be asked to formulate a one-word response to her lecture. We will travel with these words into the hotshop, where participants will have the opportunity to inflate hot glass speech bubbles that will house these one-word responses.

RSVP Required.  Limited spots available.  To RSVP email art.scholarship.mellon@gmail.com no later than Wednesday, Nov. 12.



Helen Lee is an artist, designer, educator, and glassblower. She holds an MFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BSAD in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute for Technology. She is an assistant professor in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has taught at RISD, California College of Art, Haystack Mountain School of Craft and the MIT Glass Lab. Her work explores issues of boundaries, duality, and transformation, often at the intersection of language and the body. She most recently was the inaugural recipient of the Irwin A. Borowsky Prize in Glass Art.


This event is presented by the Art + Scholarship A.W. Mellon Workshop, generously supported by UW-Madison Center for the Humanities, and co-sponsored by the Art Department and the English Department.





Facilitating conversations between experimental scholarship, creative writing, performance, new media, digital text, and visualization studies, Art + Scholarship A.W. Mellon Workshop’s Theory-Practice Collaboratories engage a richly interdisciplinary nexus of questions, practices, and possibilities for unsettling generic and medium-specific boundaries.  Collaboratories provide opportunities to engage in collective exploration of playful, creative scholarship through such practices as performance-making, sensory awareness, digital remediation, public discourse, and relational aesthetics.  

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