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Language Matters

PICS: Performing Identities Across Cultures

Call for Performance Proposals

Applications for Spring 2020 Performance Proposals available on PICS website. $500 Award for selected performances. Proposals due on Jan 29th.
Semi-finalists will be notified by February 2nd to submit a full script. Full scripts due on Feb 22nd. Questions:

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"We are Orange"

PICS invites proposals for 15-minute performances in any language on the topic “We are Orange.” Performances will take place in tents on the quad on Thursday, April 16, 2020.

PICS Information workshops with Drama Professor Ricky Pak:

  • Wednesday, November 20 @ 12 noon in 311A HBC
  • Thursday, November 21 @ 6:00 in Eggers 018
  • Tuesday, December 3 @ 12 noon, room TBA

Syracuse University is one of the few universities in the world to take “ORANGE” as its school color and mascot. But, what does it mean to be ORANGE? In some ways, our school color is very appropriate. After all, orange is a blend of so many colors and, as a signifier for SU, orange symbolizes the beautiful blending of the countless communities that make up our university. In addition, our mascot is an orange – a piece of fruit that doesn’t originate in our harsh winter climate. Yet, we embrace our orange Otto, who comes from far-off warmer lands and comes to Syracuse to grow and thrive and to spread joy, fun, laughter, cheer, and good will. This academic year marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of Syracuse University. As such, we would like for you to create something representing the past, present, or future of Syracuse. What does “We Are Orange” mean to you?


Guiding Questions

  • How might openly performing social justice issues change local and global attitudes and behaviors toward inclusivity and diversity and work to dismantle prejudices?
  • How is communication enhanced through performance?
  • What is the impact of performed and embodied language on domestic and international students and their campus communities?
  • Can engaging students in challenging conversations through the safe spaces of performance help break down linguistic, cultural, psychological and social barriers on our campus and beyond?
  • How might performance lead to conflict resolution?


In the past year, the SU campus has been engaging in challenging, complicated conversations on racism, diversity, inclusivity and social justice. Global theater and performance have a long history of addressing, questioning, and impacting these same issues (Notre Dame U and Shakespeare Behind Bars projects, Becker et al, Taylor). Practice-based research on these topics is already being done by some LLL scholars. Recent conversations among SU faculty show growing interest in forging research collaborations to examine the socio-psychological and political potential and impact of bridging the "discord between pragmatics and aesthetics" and framing "the work of art in the world" (Sommer) to improve our campus climate and address national and global challenges.


Partnering with other campus constituencies and using a Microteatro-type ( model of short, impactful live performances, we aim to empower SU students and faculty through creative expression as a way to foster dialogue among and bring together campus members from diverse races, genders, ethnicities, nationalities, religions, sexual preferences and abilities. In fall semester, we will call for groups to create and perform original 15-minute plays, using language to dialogue with a challenging critical topic selected by SU's Student Association. All centered on that one relevant theme for our campus at that time, 3 plays will be chosen by a panel of students, faculty, and administrators and judged for their original, distinct, and productive approach to the topic and for their impactful and creative performance of it. Each play will be directed by a student with theater production training. Performances will take place in spring 2020 and 2021 on the Quad on the same day. Spectators will travel to each performance as their time allows and can attend one or more shows. Campus-wide discussion will follow each performance both orally (ie. 15-minute performance; followed by 10-15-minute discussion; shows start every half hour) and through surveys/analysis of social media conversations on the topic. Possible topics: prejudice, stereotypes, race, inclusion, gender, bullying, violence, justice.

Future Goals

Documented change in campus climate through two years of performance-based campus dialogues on challenging topics; peer-reviewed published article(s) on pilot study outcomes; enhanced student/faculty collaboration around sensitive campus issues. We aim to increase the number of SU performances in subsequent years to provide greater diversity of perspectives and richer campus dialogue. We also plan to expand internationalization through this research strand's connection with London's "Translation Acts" (Language Acts and Worldmaking) and through the global Microteatro movement.


Becker, Florian N., Paola S. Hernández, and Brenda Werth. Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-First Century Theater: Global Perspectives. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

"Language Acts and Worldmaking. Our Words Make Worlds." Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project, United Kingdom.

Microteatro in Madrid.

Notre Dame University Student Performance Project.

Sommer, Doris. The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2014.

Taylor, Diana. Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina's Dirty War. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

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