THEATER OF APOCALYPSE
IN THE AMERICAS
About the Class
From Columbus’ voyage to zombie pop fiction, narratives of apocalypse have shaped the history and contemporary culture of the American hemisphere. Mostly, we are bombarded with images and performed acts of impending doom from alien invasions to natural disaster. In 2012, the year that many scholars refer to the Mayan calendar's end of an era (the 'Long Count' or the baktun), competing ideas of apocalypse ramped up in various media (i.e. film, television, comics). This course examines the multiple interpretations of 'apocalypse' and the ways in which apocalyptic beliefs and practices have circulated in the Americas through performance. We will analyze different meanings of the term (i.e. the end, catastrophe, renewal and others), and compare interpretations and stagings between two primary currents of thought, the Millenarian and Mayan in theatre, film, popular media, and performance art.
Our aim is to become familiar with the terms and debates in the study of 'apocalypse,' and to gain a critical understanding of the historical and political dimensions of both theological and secular versions of ‘apocalypse’ and 'revelation' as it intersects with theater and performance of our time.