Fringe PVD: Theatre of the City - RISD Summer Programs liberal arts course

Fringe PVD: Theatre of the City

What happens when more than 300 theatre, music, dance and performance artists from all over the country descend on the city of Providence for one week? How does an urban setting impact and interact with performance? What, on the other hand, is performative about a city? These are some of the questions we will explore in this course designed around the Providence Fringe Festival (FringePVD)–modeled after the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. These artist-driven, pay-what-you-can cultural events offer important opportunities for social activism and urban renewal, particularly among underserved communities. They also serve as a critical platform for premiering breakthrough acts like Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge), The Jerry Springer Opera, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Tom Stoppard).

Cities like Providence are increasingly rebranding themselves as hubs of the creative economy; the performing arts, in turn, are emerging as a major component of this transformation while remaining a crucial tool for critical interventions in concerns such as inequality, access, gentrification and preservation that question and complicate these processes.

Through a set of curated readings and discussions students will prepare for the immersive experience of viewing as many performances as they can during the week of the Fringe; there will also be opportunities for interaction with the performers, organizers and collaborators. Work for the class will consist of performance reviews and a final project in the form of an open-ended response to the festival in and of the city.

For RISD degree students, satisfactory completion of this course with a ‘C’ or better can count as 3 transfer credits toward the LAS elective requirements.

Course #1492
Avishek Ganguly

Schedule A
June 22–July 28, 2020
Mondays + Tuesdays
1–4 pm

Tuition $2,975
Tuition for RISD Alumni and Students $2,380

3 Credits


Avishek Ganguly

Assistant Professor of Literary Arts and Studies Avishek Ganguly’s research and teaching interests are focused on the various intersections between contemporary drama, literature, and performance and questions of translation and multilingualism, the formation of collectivities, and everyday life and urban space. He has also published articles on contemporary urban musical cultures in India and has a range of ongoing projects in South Asia-based comparative cultural studies (including popular cinema). Ganguly received his MA, M.Phil and PhD in English and comparative literature from Columbia University. He also has a BA in English from Presidency College, Calcutta and an MA in English and linguistics from Jawaharlal Nehru University.