21st century education
Criteria / Critique

Criteria / Critique

The Urban Studies section at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
The Urban Studies section at City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco

Hello world! This is my first post here, and I’m so grateful for the community Vanessa has spearheaded. Thank you all! I’m also planning to cross-post this at my own blog. Please feel free to stop by there any time.

Via the Practice-Based Research MOOC, I’m engaged in creating what I’m calling a “Public Performance Cookbook” — a collection of recipes that can be used by teams of performers to quickly create performances that respond to a theme or a site. For this project, I’m concentrating on a ‘case study’ for one performance site in particular: a neighborhood park near my home in San Francisco.

Thus, my project for the MOOC is somewhat of a meta-project. What I’ll be presenting at Studio-West is the beginnings of this cookbook, with many recipes and handy kitchen tips related specifically to creating a performance for this particular park. But I consider the performances to be the art itself. These will happen throughout 2014, with an ensemble of physical-theatre types from the community here in the Bay Area. But it’s too early to critique the performance: that hasn’t happened yet.  Instead, the critique will be focused on the recipes themselves, and their potential to create a performance according to this rubric.  One could critique the recipes for style as well — I am embracing the kitchen/cooking/preparing/ingredients metaphors — but I’m much more interested in the special sauce they’ll create.

Critical Questions:

  • Will the performance engage the neighborhood and park users in a friendly, welcoming manner?
  • Can audience members / passersby / park users engage with the performance on their own terms? That is, are a variety of levels and modes of engagement available, and are these accessible and inviting?
  • Does the performance have the potential to enrich the neighborhood?
  • Will the performance be aesthetically striking?
  • Will the performance contain content that is meaningful to the audience / passersby / park users?
  • Will the performance ‘fit’ the space in which it is being presented? That is, does it take advantage of unique features of the space, and does it leverage ways in which the space is used by the public?
  • Does the performance have the potential to strike a rich balance between poetic aesthetics and coherent content? That is, will audience members / passersby / park users be able to enjoy something extraordinary without feeling that they’ve failed to understand it?
  • Can the performance be created quickly without compromising its quality?

There’s much more to say, of course, but I am also interested in the extent to which these questions speak for themselves without a lot of explanation.

Meanwhile, I’ve posted one overarching criterion at our group assignment that assimilates a few of the above questions into one theme: Consideration for the Audience.

Looking forward to continuing the conversation!


  1. Welcome Rebecca! As Christa, I, and others have said before, the Performance Recipe idea is so wonderful. Both from a useful perspective and conceptually. I hope you’ll post your recipes or your process of creating recipes, or whatever you like on:

    Everyone is welcome to jump in the .Re/cipes kitchen and post, but remember that we created that space especially for you and Christa, so if you have any requirements or features you’d like added, subtracted, or modified, just shout out. Let’s make it the most helpful recipe book / test kitchen it can be for you!

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