Date of Award

Fall 12-15-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




College of Humanities and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Steve Earnest


Theatre is typically a scripted performance, performed by actors within a "Theatre space" and observed by an audience. When capitalized, "Theatre" refers to a field of art and study. It is produced to tell a story, or create meaning. Theatre contains elements of plot and characters, often using the characters to tell a story. Visual performance art is art that focuses on live human performance and defines itself in terms of "visual art" and not in terms of "Theatre performance." Performance art does not always occupy a specific place or use a specific kind of script. It often lacks character, plot, and sometimes even a structure of any kind. It usually created without a story and without meaning, sometimes with and sometimes without a definitive audience, and carries the title of "performance art piece." Are the two arts fundamentally different? I will demonstrate that the divide between the arts is unnecessary because the two schools are historically and functionally the same; they are only seen as different because they are two slightly differing modes of the same human interaction. In order to do this, I will define both forms of art by describing their history and use. I will also describe how interactions between the two help define the arts. In order to best compare the arts, the time period of Theatre I will focus on in the paper is Theatre from the beginning of the 20th century until the early 21st century. This is the same time period I will focus on in visual performance arts.