Welcome to the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal blog! Our online, interactive presence is designed to encourage a growing community of artists, academics, practitioners and researchers to share practice and debate issues that are currently alive within the disciplines of theatre, dance and performance training. Our blog engages a new audience for the TDPT journal, creating an online space that promotes spontaneous and productive conversation and debate. As we grow further it it will represent a productive and discursive teaching ‘tool’ – or forum – within all levels of education and training preoccupied with dance, performance and theatre. Please explore our site. “The Studio” space is specifically designed for sharing of audiovisual training materials while our “Comeback” section invites previous contributors to return or “comeback” to an idea they discussed in a TDPT article and new contributors to respond to an idea. “My Training” is a space where individuals can reflect on their own personal experiences of training. The “Home” blog page publishes any other contributions that people wish to offer. Please share the blog link with anyone you feel may find it useful as we continue to develop an engaged and active community over the next months and years. We hope you enjoy the blog and many thanks to the artists, academics, and practitioners who have contributed their work already in the first year of its life. We appreciate your willingness to be at the forefront of TDPT’s digital emergence. We post material at regular intervals so please do register with us on the blog and check our social media apps for regular updates.
UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, RIVERSIDE
Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production
in collaboration with The Stanislavski Centre, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance
The S Word: A Practical Acting Laboratory
April 6-8, 2018
University of California, Riverside
Co-convenors: Bella Merlin, UCR and Paul Fryer, RBC
A practice-based research weekend, applying actor training to global questions surrounding empathy, dynamic listening, ceremony, healing, and the power of language.
Featuring three internationally acclaimed acting practitioners:
Sharon M. Carnicke (author of Stanislavsky in Focus)
Tina Packer (founding artistic director of Shakespeare & Company)
Kimberly Guerrero (co-founder of the Stylehorse Collective).
A special edition of The Stanislavski Studies journal in 2019 will feature articles on practice-based research arising from the weekend.
Registration Deadline: January 12, 2018
Part of a series of international events featuring Stanislavski and actor-training.
Sponsors: University of California, Riverside, Departments of Theatre, Film and Digital Production; English; Dance; Office of the Dean, College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences; Office of International Affairs; Culver Center of the Arts; City of Riverside and Riverside Arts Council.
Thanks for Task 5. There was so much in this task and I wish I had been able to spend more time on it, but I had such a busy week arriving in Denmark. Perhaps a Task to revisit?
Reflections on Task 5
I carried out this task on my bike in the town of Horsens, Denmark, where I have relocated. My reflections are a transcription of the audio recording I made on my phone, while carrying out Task 5 –A Word for a Place. I then go on to add some reflections on the yoga posture instructions that followed.
‘I’m taking a right turn onto Christian M. Østergaardsvej. I knew straight away that this was the area I wanted to explore when I read your instructions to do this Task in a place that is not familiar. I was born in Horsens and lived here till I was 18 and I have now moved back. There are roads and areas of this town I have never visited because they’re not in the trajectory of movements between my childhood home and school or my gymnasium (Sixth Form) or shops or the train station. So, although this area -where I am now standing- is only 10 minutes cycle from where I grew up it feels like a kind of a… an…
That’s a good word. I like it. It’s quite a visceral word. As I’m standing at the side of the road looking towards what seems like a blind area, the word ‘Appendix’ describes this feeling of an unknown place. This place is attached to something else that is familiar but it doesn’t have a purpose or even a function for me. Not yet, anyway.
And there’s something else…
I haven’t got an inner map of this area. It’s a strange feeling. I know most other parts of this town so well and the psychogeography of it; I know where streets are in relation to each other, I recognise potholes and road signs and where the hill gets a little bit steeper and even shops and houses that haven’t changed for the past 16 years. But I haven’t got a sense of this neighbourhood. I’m standing at the cross roads between a very familiar street and an area that is completely unknown to me. I have no idea what to expect. I know it’s a residential area and that a new college was built here recently. That’s all. I feel a bit unsettled, perhaps also because of my own prejudice that this neighbourhood is a slightly rough part of town. Will I lose track of where I am? Will my presence be questioned?’
(15 minutes later)
‘I am now on streets that I don’t recognise: Hybenvej, Pilevej and Bakkesvinget. I get really confused about the ‘left/right side of the road’ driving. I was walking for a while but then as soon as I got on my bike my brain couldn’t decide whether to be on the right or the left side of the road. My body is drawn towards the middle and I end up veering on my bike towards the centre. I know I need to be on the right side but because the streets are unfamiliar I’m confused. It’s almost a cross-wiring of my spatial brain.
I recognise this feeling. Because my movements around the city of Leeds are very much experienced from a cycling perspective, being on two wheels in Horsens, taps into my default relationship with the road, which in Leeds, obviously, is on the left-hand side.’
(15 minutes later)
Losing track of APPENDIX
‘I realise I have completely lost track of the word for the place. It is at least five minutes since I was tracing the ‘N’ in APPENDIX. I set off on this task with the intention of spelling out each letter. Now I have lost my whereabouts in between identical apartment blocks and paths, hedges and trees. I’m confused about keeping left or right… this definitely doesn’t feel like anything that I know.
(12 minutes later)
I have reached a woodland area and I have a view of the inlet from the fjord. It’s amazing how the relationship between water and land anchors me in a place. I see a path that I recognise, running along the water, but I have no idea whether following this path would take me closer to or further away from home. It is very disorientating. I think I will take a right between the trees and see where it takes me…
(8 minutes later)
Ha… I have come full circle and the path has taken me back to the top of the road where I started the journey. Funny how this new information is instantaneously updated in the map in my brain. And what felt like an unfamiliar neighbourhood –an appendix, something dispensable– has become an integrated part of the town. I will enjoy the final leg of the journey and see if perhaps I can trace the ‘X’ as I make my way back to the start.’
Further reflections from second part of Task 5 –A Word for a Place
It is several days after my exploration on bike that I get a chance to do the second part of Task 5. I lie down for a prolonged Savasana and undo the cycle trip with some yoga postures. I carry these additional tasks out after transcribing the audio recording, so I still feel the residue and imprints of the first exploration.
As I lay down for Savasana I feel a heaviness in my body that I haven’t experienced for a long time in this posture. An image of anchoring comes to mind, like the anchoring experience I had when catching sight of the fjord inlet on my journey. From that image, I spontaneously start to trace my awareness through my body as if I’m mapping a landscape. I follow the curves of the spine and move my awareness into my legs and take a trip through my body to uncover areas that seem like blind spots.
I move into yogasana and follow an instinct to do some challenging balance postures: Ardha Chandrasana and some variations, where I twist the spine and catch my foot. I’m (re)discovering ways of moving in my practice and when different limbs, that haven’t connected for a while, join up, new pathways are created. My body is put back together.
Exploring a new environment and creating pathways is done through the action of physically mapping the terrain with my feet (and bike wheels!). It is while treading this new ground that my prejudice that the neighbourhood I visited is rough and unsafe, is put to shame. I think of the Situationists: This is psychogeography and politics at the same time.
Task 6 –Constraint Satisfaction
I wanted to dwell a little further on your task, so Task 6 reels of your Task 5. It has made me think of an article about Constraint Satisfaction by Stephen M. Kosslyn from 2011 from the book This Will Make Your Smarter. The next task is inspired by this article and a blog entry I wrote on it in 2012.
Here is Task 6:
Think of your route to work or perhaps another familiar journey you do most days of the week. Now come up with 3-4 ‘constraints’ that will change how you carry out this journey, and for the next week add these obstructions to your trip.
Here are some suggestions for constraints that you could use:
- If you usually drive or take the bus, walk your journey.
- When you pass a bus stop, cross the road and walk on the opposite pavement.
- Make eye contact with as many people for the duration of the journey as possible.
You can take my suggestions or if you think of some constraints that would be fun, doable -but a bit challenging- that might work better for you, you should use those. You can do all of your chosen constraints on the same journey, one after the other, or perhaps dedicate one to each day.
Doing Task 5 made me think of how exploring a new environment tested my patterns of movement. What happens when you place obstacles on a familiar journey?
After your final exploration, lie down in Savasana and notice the sensations that emerge. What kind of pathways are you noticing in your body?
Then do a few yoga postures with ‘pathways’ as your anchor point.
How do you feel about your route?
Enjoy the task!
Special issue entitled What is New in Voice Training? To be published in TDPT Vol 10.3 (September 2019)
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editor
Guest edited by Konstantinos Thomaidis, University of Exeter (K.Thomaidis@exeter.ac.uk).
Background and context
This will be the 11th Special Issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) following issues on a range of topics including sport, politics, Feldenkrais, writing training, interculturalism and digital training. TDPT is an international journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. The journal was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership is both academic and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance and live art who have an interest in and curiosity for reflecting on their practices and their training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Call Outline: What is New in Voice Training?
Voice has returned to academic discourse with renewed force. 20th-century philosophical and critical debates may have generated important questions around speech, vocality and listening (particularly through the works of Lacan, Derrida, Merleau-Ponty, Ihde, Barthes and Kristeva), but the first two decades of the 21st century have witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of publications taking voice as their main area of enquiry (see Connor, Cavarero, Dolar, Neumark, among others). In the same period, a similar plurality marked the way voice is practised in performance, particularly in its entanglement with new media, new scenic and everyday architectures as well as new hybrid genres and aesthetics. The emergent field of voice studies situates itself at the juncture of these practical and theoretical advances and advocates for research in and through voice that is markedly praxical, international and interdisciplinary in scope.
In bringing the concerns of this new inter-discipline to bear on performance studies, this issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training proposes a timely re-examination of voice in performer training. The literature on voice and the pedagogy of performance is, of course, vast. In the case of singing, it is largely dominated by paradigms appropriate for operatic and musical theatre performance. In the case of speech training, areas that have been systematically explored include the pedagogies developed by an influential generation of mid-twentieth-century, UK- and US-based speech trainers—and, to a lesser extent, the voice practices pertaining to (post)Grotowskian lineages or integrating first-wave somatics into voice work. While drawing impetus from these significant insights, the purpose of this special issue is to lend an attentive ear to emergent or less widely circulated training methodologies and to chart the rapidly shifting landscape of voice training.
In other words, it wishes to ask: What is new in voice training? Continue reading
Many thanks for Task 4. Here are my reflections. Below the images you can find Task 5.
Out of the studio, right into the corridor, down the stairs, left through the doors, across the car park, into the cab, the dance continues. Even though my body becomes immobile into the seat of the car, the beat of the drums still lingers. The speed of the car matches the inner rhythm. I dance vicariously.
Not this time. This time the cab is late, and the rhythm that is already working inside me becomes frustrated as I scan the empty road and pace up and down. Once inside the car, I am overwhelmed by a sensation similar to the one I have whilst executing a fast sequence: will I make it? Will I make it on time? In both cases, time feels too fast, while I become despairingly slow.
Reflections on the class can only be written a long time after it and as I ponder on the hasty car trip, I think that to dance is to tame time.
With the collages I tried to capture some of the shapes that the bodies make in the space, fleetingly as they move from one position to the next. I got inspired by Nathan Walker’s talk at the University of Leeds on his recent book Condensations, where he talked about the way the arrangements of the words on the page of his book responded and reflected the landscape from which those words originally emerged and/or were written for.
There is nothing of the fleetingness of the dance in these collages, just words glued on paper. As I cut my reflections late into the night, I think that the breaking up of sentences, the shaking up of the words, their re-positioning is not dissimilar to dance, and yoga: how it can take the body apart and put it back together again. And in this taking apart and putting back together, meanings and experiences become re-arranged, weights shift, and new relations emerge. Yoga and dance as a practice of collage of the self?
Task 5 – A Word for a Place is inspired by Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, but I wonder if there is a whiff of the Situationists here too. I think it is a good one to do when one visits a new place, but perhaps it is also appropriate for a familiar one. I always had a sense that this is a task for a city, but maybe it can work just as well in the countryside.
Think of a word that captures the sense you have of the place (if the place is an unfamiliar one) and/or what the place means to you (if it is one you know well).
Following the paths, roads and grids that already exist in this place, write the word by walking. You can trace possible routes on a map, so you can see in advance how you might create the letters. Or you can trace your route on the map afterwards and see whether you managed to write the letters you thought you were writing. (You can also follow your changing position on the map of your phone as you walk but this will not record a permanent trail).
You can walk the word as many times as you wish and the walk can encompass as much of the actual area as you want/or are able cover. For example, you may wish to cover with one word the entire city or just one neighbourhood. You can take pictures along the way and/or audio-record sounds, memories, impressions.
Straight after you finish the walk, lie down in Savasana and note the sensations that emerge. What kind of imprints did the walk leave on the body and mind, if any?
Then do a sequence of yoga postures of your own choice that undo the imprints of the walk. Take the body apart and put it back together again.
In your reflections, you can comment on the whole task and/or use the material you have created during the actual doing. I hope you will enjoy it.
Annual Conference hosted by
The School of Performing Arts (University of Malta)
7, 8, 9 March 2018
Sir Jonathan Mills, Programme Director of 2018 Edinburgh International Culture Summit
Prof. Maria Delgado, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London
Prof. Ann Cooper Albright, Department of Dance, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Ohio, US
Thanks for Task 3. It was enjoyable to expand a bit on Task 1. Here are my Task 3 reflections.
08.46 am – first try with ‘Standing on paper’
I feel the weight in my heals and it falls more prominently on my right foot. It feels more like tension rather than a softening. My body recognises that, standing with my eyes closed and my arms hanging down by my side, is really just an upright version of Savasana. I imagine the imprint my body makes on the surrounding air and the room I’m in. How much can I let go of the body in this upright position without collapsing on the floor? If Savasana is one of the most difficult postures to do how difficult is standing with your eyes closed?
2.10 pm – second try with ‘Standing on paper’
I look at the flaming red feet I have drawn on the paper and I’m reminded of the importance of feet as my contact point with the earth. The earth that is ‘fully alive’ and that in its vitality supports my forward propulsion as I push my feet into the ground when I walk. The outline of the foot has become blurred as the vax from the crayon has spread across the drawing. I like the idea that perhaps my feet can become wider and spill outside the given outline of my foot to give me a sense of trust that the earth is supporting me. Perhaps I don’t even end where the outline suggests?
5.14 pm – third try with ‘Standing on paper’
I step onto the paper for the third time completely intuitively without wondering where my feet should be placed. I draw the first outline, then want to move, and make a new set of outlines. I repeat this a few times eventually stepping of the paper. Intrigued by the multiple footprints I grab a green crayon and start drawing on the outlines. It quickly becomes clear that I have lost track of the footprints. One line continues into another and soon I find myself circling the crayon around, following whatever trail it passes. The task you gave me, to pay attention to weight and mark the imprint in the outline, has been replaced by the movement of the crayon across the paper and the emphasis of the imprints’ relationship to each other.
I move back from the drawing and notice a reverse choreography emerging in the imprints. It appears as if the final green print steps into the second red print, that finally settles into the first brown/black print.
Task 4 – pen and scissors
What you will need to carry out task:
A couple of blank pieces of paper
My task for you for next week is linked to the dance class you take Tuesday evenings at Northern School of Contemporary Dance, so I hope you get a chance to go this week. If not, you should be able to carry this task out in a different context. I will leave this to you.
After your dance class (or as soon after as possible) sit down for 10 minutes (you can set a timer!) and do continuous writing, noting ideas, sensations, experiences, thoughts that come up from the class. It can be full sentences, words, images, accounts of exercises, whatever comes to mind; most importantly don’t think too much about it and try not to stop writing during those 10 minutes.
This next bit can be done at a later stage:
Cut up the paper so the words and sentences are divided into separate slips of paper. Then mix them together. Take a fresh piece of paper and now randomly pick the words and sentences and place them (or glue them) onto the paper to form a new piece of writing. You can use as many of your cut up words and sentences as you like.
What comes out of this? How did you experience the process?
The reflection may simply be the new piece of writing and/or additional reflections on it.
Hope it makes sense. Enjoy the task!
Performance Lecture by Judaica Lab with Ben Spatz, Nazlıhan Eda Erçin, Agnieszka Mendel
31 Oct @ 5:30-7:30 pm Alec Clegg Studio, University of Leeds
The Judaica research project (AHRC 2016-2018) is designed around a new method of ‘configurations’ for structuring and documenting experimental embodied practice. Drawing on discoveries made during the 2017 intensive laboratory phase of the research, the trio of international researchers will present new ways of thinking about and working with embodiment, vocality, songs, and identity in a multimedia experimental context.
The lecture performance consists of a laboratory session of the Judaica trio followed by video screening and discussion through which the questions below will be addressed:
• How is training situated in the method of configurations? • How does the method of configurations change the experience of training for the practitioner?• How does the dramaturgy of the director/instructor/teacher/trainer role interact with the dramaturgy of the videographer in co-creating audiovisual documents? • What is it that the camera makes visible, enables and simultaneously conceals or blocks in relation to the moving and living body? • What can theatre, dance, and performer training offer to contemporary conversations about digital and audiovisual media?
For information on the Judaica project, please visit: www.urbanresearchtheater.com.
Here are my reflections on Task 2. Below them you can find Task 3.
At the beginning I felt I needed a lot more instructions/clarifications with this one.
After I have observed my breathing cross legged, do I just sit around, continuing being aware of my breath (for whole five minutes!)?
What on earth is the discriminating mind?
Can I have a book under my head? (And if I do, am I practising yoga or Alexander Technique? Or perhaps the basic position of Alexander Technique is nothing other than Savasana with a book under one’s head?)
I tried to keep the instructions in my mind and follow them, but I forget them along the way. I do the whole thing with my eyes closed and when I finally open my eyes, I realise I am facing in a completely different direction than I thought/felt.
I do let my weight go and I do feel the claim gravity is making on me after a very long day. Giving in feels heavy and thick, a big wave of tiredness coming to finally settle on the floor. The moment I allow gravity to claim me, that moment weight passes through me: it leaves my body and comes to rest on the floor.
Thoughts come and go, including thoughts about how to make this reflection interesting. I let these thoughts go too.
I think I am observing the breath. I realise afterwards that I simply tried to do a very poor version of a pranayama exercise, where the inhalation becomes longer and the exhalation remains the same. I tried to deepen the breath, and the moment I started interfering all flow and synchronicity was lost. I accept that I still find exercises with the breath very difficult, and I decide next time to simply let the breath be.
Why is Savasana the most difficult posture? (Iyengar says the same too).
Where does the difficulty lie? In becoming able not to do? To abdicate from the head, as my teacher used to say?
To inhabit what is otherwise called the corpse posture? I remember Dorinda Hulton talking about Savasana in relation to King Lear’s line when he re-enters holding Cordelia’s body: ‘I know when one is dead, and when one lives; She’s dead as earth’. Dead as earth. Dorinda observed that the earth is fully alive, there is nothing dead about it. Maybe something similar is happening with Savasana? Maybe our conviction that we know when one is dead and when one lives become a little bit unsettled?
Task 3 – Standing on Paper
Stand on a piece of paper with your feet hip width apart. Draw or get somebody to draw the outline of your feet.(You still face a tree, if you so wish).
Then go through the instructions of Task 1. Allow the neck to flow down and create space between the base of the skull and the top of the neck. Feel the scull floating up and the whole head moving forward and up. Let the shoulders melt away from the ears, and the shoulder-blades moving away from each other so space is created in the dorsal spine.
Allow the lower back to widen and lengthen and imagine drops of honey dripping from your coccyx perpendicular to the floor.
Let the soles of the feet spread and open on the floor. Let the Achilles tendon lengthen and feel the back of the heel going into the floor. Feel the cushion between the base of the big toe and the second toe going down into the floor. Feel the outer edge of the whole foot also flowing down towards the floor. Let the metatarsals turn from the little toe to the big toe, and down to that point between the big toe and the second toe. See what happens to the arches when all above points are active.
You can spend as long as you like playing with these instructions. Once you feel you have explored and/or established these points observe where your weight is and the contact between the different parts of the foot (the front/the back/the inner/the outer or any other point that may come to your awareness) and the floor.
Step off the paper and fill in the outline with the different weight imprints.
You can do this task as many times as you wish, but it would be good to try and do it at least twice and preferably at different times of the day, so you can compare between different imprints.
Once you are done you can also look at the imprints in relation to a pair of shoes that are worn out and carry a mark of your weight placement.
Hope you enjoy!
So here are my reflections on task 1. It ended up being a longer response than I intended. Below the reflections you will find task 2!
Task 1 reflections:
I stand with my feet on the wooden floor of my living room, take in the view in front of my floor to ceiling window from my flat on the fifth floor, and follow the instructions you have given me: Find space between top of the spine and base of the skull, check. This automatically lifts my skull up and I can feel the shoulder blades release and relax my shoulders. I trace sensations down my spine and reach my coccyx. I follow the ‘honey-drip-line’ down to the floor feeling the back of my calves lengthen as I gently lift up through my legs. My awareness has reached my feet. I observe their connection with the floor and allow them to become wide for a while and at some point, my weight starts to shift from left to right to left to right. For a long time, I simply observe the different sensations of my feet spreading out on the floor, notice the metatarsals of my right foot are tighter and won’t soften down when I shift my weight to the right. It’s a wonderful sensation of tuning in to this subtle awareness and practice not judging or trying to change but simply letting my body find its own way, by giving it time. I envy the tree across the road that stands tall and secure with its big trunk rooted firmly into the ground. The outer branches and leaves sway and bend in the wind, creating a dance that follow the laws of nature, without wondering whether it’s doing it right or not. I guess it doesn’t get to sit down and drink a nice cup of coffee in a minute. There are some perks to being a human being! And then my head drops forward, my spine curves, and as I roll towards the floor my breath suddenly comes in. How could I have forgotten my breath? I let out a sigh and the breath brings movement to the torso, I roll back up and my arms float up into a little dance with my feet still in the same position.
As I begin the first task of our collaboration I realise how much I have pre-empted my response to it. Before beginning the task, I have already half written my reflections to you. I have done this task many times before: standing with my feet on the ground, paying attention to sensations of weight, of contact surfaces with the floor and of the skull rising up from the spine. This is in no way a criticism of the task, on the contrary, it makes it more interesting to encounter my own expectations to how I will carry out the instructions. The use of vocabulary is deeply embedded in my own teaching and perhaps for that reason I find it difficult to distract myself from the familiarity with the exercise.
I decide to embrace the comfort of the exercise but then something happens. As I carry out the task a few times, my experience of embodying the task, blends with other thinking processes that are present to me. I am currently thinking about how we as bodies and entities define the edges of our form. Is it the skin that defines the edge of me and the bark that defines the edge of the tree? I have a brief moment –as I stand in front of the window looking out on the giant tree across the street– where the tree and I only exist in the space-time between us. It is only a momentary sensation but I realise, that the metaphor of the tree and I as one and the same –standing, grounded into the earth, moving up and out of the top of our ‘branches’– means that we only exist in our relation to each other. I have been doing this exercise of standing and noticing weight etc. many times, but never has it occurred to me that the tree and I each take form in the interaction with the other.
Please read the following instructions in the image below. The task comes from the book The Place of Dance by Andrea Olsen, on the chapter Dance and Yoga, page 219.
Olsen, A. with McHose, C. (2014) The Place of Dance. Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press
this is your task:
Find a place where you can stand in front of a tree in a distance that allows you to hold the entire tree in your visual field. (A window on the first or second floor of a building would work well).
You can stand either with the feet hip width apart or feet together.
Go through the following thoughts/actions:
Allow the space where the base of the neck meets the base of the skull to open. Allow the neck to flow down and imagine the skull is floating up.
Allow the shoulders to melt away from the neck and imagine the neck free and the head going forwards and up.
Imagine that drops of honey drip from your coccyx. Let these drops drip perpendicularly down to the floor.
Keep the legs straight but make sure that your knees are not locked back.
Let the Achilles tendon lengthen and feel the back outer edge of the soles of the feet moving down to the floor.
Let the entire sole of the feet spread onto the floor. Observe where the weight tends to go and how it might oscillate.
Do all of the above keeping the tree in your visual field. Once you go through them, keep these actions/sensations going and bring your attention to the tree, how it is rooted down and how it shoots up.
Leave the spot and the position when you feel ready to.
Hope you enjoy it!
TDPT Blog community, Hello!
Marie Hallager Andersen and I are embarking on a year-long project exploring the space between creative expression and our respective yoga practices (I have been working with Iyengar and Marie has been working with Ashtanga Yoga ).
Our intention is to use this project as a preparation towards integrating different styles of yoga and other art forms in an interdisciplinary pedagogy. We wish to inhabit the edges of our respective disciplines of dance and theatre by using yoga as a shared point of reference and by employing tools from artistic areas we are less familiar with. We will do this by employing a task-based methodology and by sharing the process on this Blog.
The title of the posts plays with the well-known title of Stanislavski’s book An Actor Prepares. Unlike Stanislavski’s book though, we wish to both bring attention to the preparation of the trainer, rather than the performer, as well as emphasise the inter-subjective nature of the current project: we will prepare together on our own. (We are also aware of the images of athletic footwear invoked by the word trainer, but we do not wish to play with this, at least not now).
Furthermore and by making our process of preparation public, we wish to de-mystify the idea of the trainer as an expert and develop, do, and reflect upon a series of tasks the potential of which we do not know in advance.
So, this is how this is going to work: Each Monday one of us will give the other a task that will be shared on the Blog. The Monday after the person who received the task will publish her reflections on the given task and give a new task to the other. The next week we will alternate. You can find the rules we have set up for developing and doing the tasks below.
We invite you to follow us on this journey, do the tasks with us, and/or comment on our process.
In the whirlwind of PhD study, teaching, and the endlessness of admin tasks associated with these activities one can forget that there is very exciting research happening within the performer training world. It is only when you have the opportunity to attend a conference with the diversity of program that is included in the TaPRA ‘Performer Training’ working group, which took place at the University of Salford August 30th-September 1st, that you fully understand that there are others thinking and working fruitfully on this topic in research terms. Continue reading
This session began Day Two of TaPRA. The three papers in the sessions all drew upon the personal experiences of the presenters as artists and performers. The papers questioned and reconsidered traditional paradigms of performer training for comedy and theatre. Continue reading
The Training and the Ensemble/Training Beyond Training session of the Performer Training Working Group at TaPRA Annual Conference 2017, included three different modes of sharing new knowledge and new practice. The session started with the group’s reflective discussion about the blog “Tuning: Preparing to Perform Gaudete with OBRA Theatre Co.”, compiled and edited by Eilon Morris with contributions from Kate Papi, Oliviero Papi and Fabian Wixe. The session continued with the presentation of Jane Turner’s and Patrick Campbell’s paper “The End(s) of Training: Three Case Studies from the Third Theatre”. The session ended with the workshop “The Ends of Your Training Revisited—A Timeline Experience”, designed and delivered by Ysabel Clare.
After two long days of paper presentations, attending a session that involved three different modes of sharing findings, brings attention not only to the overall theme of how specific actor-training practices affect the individual/ensemble but also about the complications and challenges of the sharing mode itself.
Eilon Morris, Kate Papi, Oliviero Papi and Fabian Wixe are all members of an ensemble that creates work under the direction of the core members of OBRA Theatre Co., Kate Papi and Oliviero Papi. Inspired by Peter Brook’s use of the term ‘tuning’ for ensemble work, OBRA Theatre Co. members give an insight into specific exercises that they use for the purpose of pre-performance preparation. The three exercises of this first sharing mode— ‘Bouncing’, ‘Balls’ and ‘Tuning’—are described in the Theatre, Dance and Performance Blog in a ‘workbook’ format. The sharing structure of each exercise includes basic description, how each exercise was deposited to the training capital of the performer who introduced the exercise to the group and the main objectives of the exercise.
Carlos Simioni, Mia Theil Have and Carolina Pizarro are three actors who have a training relationship with Eugenio Barba’s Odin Theatre. Turner and Campbell share the actors’ training experiences, through a critical analytical account of the actors’ testimonies. Turner and Campbell’s critical analysis is driven by Barba’s writings, but they also draw on Gilles Deleuze’s and Félix Guattari’s philosophical concepts in order to elucidate their investigation. This second sharing mode uses a ‘case studies’ format: the three actors’ testimonies are used as a basis for offering different perspectives in which a specific practice may affect different individuals who embody different cultural and actor-training backgrounds.
The last sharing mode of the session was a practical workshop, which, under Clare’s facilitation, invited the participants to revisit memories of their own training life. The participants were invited to explore how this new embodied experience resonates through their prior training capital. The practical process inspired each participant to generate their own findings about how their past and future training work with and against each other.
Closing my report for the Training and the Ensemble/Training Beyond Training session, I would observe how the challenge of ‘curating’ innovative sharing modes in academic conferences speaks to contemporary challenges not only of participatory performance but also of practice research. I will summarise my point in a series of broader and more focused questions:
How much interaction is enough to keep a participant interested?
When does interaction distract from the new knowledge?
What is the most appropriate way of disseminating specific forms of new knowledge?
What are the expectations of specific audiences?
What is a ‘taster’/brief description of a practice and how can it be framed differently for academic and other environments?
How do different modes of sharing new knowledge to actor trainers reveal common assumptions about how an actor trainer should behave, like willingness to actively participate (thou shalt not refuse peers’ invitations to participate) and ability to use technology (thou shalt not live anymore without blogging and microblogging)?
Evi Stamatiou is an actor, director and writer who works across stage and screen with 14 years of international experience. She is currently finishing a PhD in Actor Training and Direction at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She trains actors in conservatoires and universities and is currently the Programme Coordinator for the BA (Hons) Acting at the University of Chichester. She specialises in comedy and in using a variety of text-based and devising practices that tackle under-representation and misrepresentation issues in the acting industry. Parts of her academic work are in preparation or have been published by Intellect Books, Routledge, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama and McFarland & Co. She also specialises in the development of new work, having workshopped new writing for various platforms, including Lincoln Centre Theatre Directors Lab. She is an Associate Artist to New Theatre Royal. She is represented by RD Casting in all aspects of her creative work. You can see more about her work at www.evistamatiou.com.
In recent years a critical turn in performer training has been widely acknowledged, much of it associated with research emerging from the Performer Training Working Group of TaPRA and associated bodies such as the International Platform for Performer Training founded in Helsinki 5 years ago. The Routledge Performance Practitioner series of books, edited by Franc Chamberlain and launched in 2003, is being reissued and will complement a brand-new series of critical interventions into training edited by Rebecca Loukes and Maria Kapsali. Articles and special issues of the journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training continue to advance the field which now draws readily on historiography, gender studies, cultural materialism, intercultural and postcolonial theory, political theory and philosophy, as well as on many other approaches. Performer Training research is critically self-reflexive, mobile and interdisciplinary, revisiting terms established early in its life – neutrality, energy, truth – with the doubt born of a mature and established discipline.
Whilst it emerged as a field of literature at very much the same time as some of the first reflections on theatre training – in the early C20th – Mountain Training research cannot claim an equivalent turn to criticality, either historically or in the last few years. Indeed, recent publications in the field of climbing training reflect the same pragmatic approach taken by the first classics – Abraham’s The Complete Mountaineer (Abraham, 1907), Winthrop Young’s Mountain Craft (Young, 1920) or Raeburn’s Mountaineering Art (Raeburn, 1920) – even if they do reveal new emphases in the sport – on indoor training walls, for instance (White, 2013) and speed climbing for the ‘new alpinism’ (House & Johnston, 2014). Mountain studies is a very complex and fertile field of interdisciplinary research, which draws together ideas from the STEM areas of geology, physical geography, ecology, and health studies, right through to anthropology, sport and leisure studies, and cultural studies, including a rich seam of creative literature. But the subset of mountain studies dedicated to writing on training is strangely removed from this bigger field of critical inter-disciplinarity, and seems still to prioritise instruction over critical reflection.
We are delighted to share that the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training blog has now surpassed 20,000 views. Whilst this is only one measure we hope this is indicative of the many fine posts and comments being contributed to our site and we thank all the contributors who have made content for us so far.
To add to our growing community we have been supporting a handful of contributors through our Artist Awards. This week sees a new post by The Wardrobe Ensemble, our first Artist Awards recipient and the first post by Asha Jennings-Grant, who received the third Award.
The Artist Awards were conceived to highlight and support the most innovative creative practice in the field of performance training. Accordingly, we are excited to share Wardrobe’s reflections on the work that Complicite say, ‘fills us with joy and reminds us of why we love working in theatre.’
The two posts from The Wardrobe Ensemble trace two weeks in the development of their most recent show, Education, Education, Education, and the way training informs their remarkable ensemble dynamic.
Our second Blog Artist Award takes us to a territory that has remained relatively uncharted in the field of performer training. Please join dance artist Marie Andersen on a series of posts on Motherhood in/as training exploring a number of perspectives, including female artistic identity and embodiment, training beyond disciplinary boundaries, and training when there is no time.
Marie has currently posted two of a series of three posts that combine creative video and reflective writing in an innovative approach to this neglected topic. The two posts published have already elicited stream of comment and discussion.
Finally, Asha, in her first post introduced the work she is developing on movement training for Motion Capture and will continue to post in the next coming months on the workshops she will be leading.
Visit the TDPT blog to follow this and other engaging threads, join the conversation by commenting on any of the posts, or even submit your own piece of writing to the blog to share your own practice.
Also look out for a series of reviews of the meeting of the Performer Training Working Group at the TaPRA Conference (Theatre and Performance Research Association) in Salford in September 2017.
The TDPT blog was launched in November 2015 to encourage a growing community of artists, academics, practitioners and researchers to share practice and debate issues that are currently alive within the disciplines of theatre, dance and performance training. One of our aims was to engage a new audience for the TDPT journal while also creating an online space that encourages spontaneous and productive conversation and debate. With one milestone reached, these aims are becoming a reality and we hope that the TDPT blog is achieving its aim of offering a vibrant and engaging hub for discussion of the leading edge of theatre, dance and performance training.
The title “Motion Capture” suggests there’s importance placed on the motion of the performing body.
In the beginning…
This post discusses my initial interest in Motion Capture leading to the creation of a series of workshops that I have called – Embodying Your Mocap.
My interest in “mocap” began to take form whilst studying at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama for a Masters in Movement: Directing and Teaching (previously Movement Studies). I had initially expressed this interest to my fellow classmates and tutors and in time I had come across a past student’s dissertation on the subject surrounding the actor’s preparation for work with mocap technology. At this point it was evident that there was awareness, however small it was, that actors had to enter this particular field with a slightly different approach than when working in film or theatre and that movement training could be beneficial to mocap performance.
Andy Serkis was, and still is in some respects, the face of motion and performance capture and although his performances are fascinating, I was hoping to find examples of a deeper analysis of his physical work. Looking on YouTube, I found that many clips of motion capture performances featured scenes from Avatar and Lord of the Rings discussing the relationship between performance and animation but not an in depth examination of the aspects of the performance from a physical perspective. There was no real acknowledgement that there might be a different approach to working with mocap, that actors would need to consider how their performance was being perceived or “captured” and how this would affect them creatively. The title – Motion Capture – suggests that there is significance placed in the actor’s movements (motion) and the process of how this data is collected (capture). However, I felt that there was more emphasis on the capturing of the actor’s motion rather than the actual performance itself. I had discovered that during a typical shoot for a video game, it was most likely that any suggestions on the performance would come from the animator/supervisor who would be commenting from a technical perspective. Furthermore, there definitely was not a movement director present in the studio. This was something I had to investigate further and over the next few years I took part in various workshops and intensive courses that allowed me to get a deeper insight into the actor’s performance and what would be required due to the nature of this very unique industry.
Developing the Workshops
The inspiration behind the Embodying Your Mocap workshop series came from the need to create a regular movement training opportunity that concentrated on motion capture performance. Solely the physical performance. With this specific focus, there would be a natural separation from the specialized skills that are usually associated with motion capture in film and video games such as martial arts, stage combat, sword fighting and animal work. I wanted to delve deeper into the aspects of the actor’s physical work regarding the moving, performing body and how this could be utilized to create characters and enhance the general performance. Much like the way I’d approach a regular movement class, I wanted to explore the similarities between actor movement for theatre and motion capture performance. I also wanted to discover if the specific demands of the technology would make an impact on the performance.
As well as researching the more technical side and working procedures of a typical mocap shoot, I began a line of enquiry by sending out a questionnaire to whom I identified as my “mocap contacts”. This consisted mainly of actors who had either experienced a professional shoot or those who were aspiring to enter this industry. The questions were based around the level of experience, what training they were currently doing to prepare themselves for work and the reasons why they felt movement sessions could benefit their on-going training. The response I received was very insightful. The more experienced actors noted the importance of the creative aspects of their work such as the creating of characters, imagining environments and ultimately their physical acting performance skills as a whole. Generally, I learnt that actors wanted specificity regarding the technical requirements of the movements that were captured. They craved opportunities that would allow them to engage in created environments with various characterisations that encouraged full immersion into virtual world scenarios physically and psychologically. Some actors also wanted opportunities that would prepare them for working with physical obstacles such as suits/markers, camera angle awareness, props etc.
On the basis of these responses, I decided that multiple workshops could be more beneficial than trying to squeeze all the material in one session. Only 3-4 sessions, mind you, but nevertheless each one covering a particular area in a fruitful and productive way. These would include exploring movement components such as weight, space and body shape in performance, character types and imagining virtual environments. Thenceforth the Embodying Your Mocap workshop series was created with the taster workshop being launched on 21st May 2017. Within the taster, I wanted to create movement exercises that were influenced and informed by particular mocap procedures so that the material had noticeable reference points. For example, I used the process of ROMs* to create the basis of the warm up, highlighting areas of the body (mobilising joints/strengthening muscles) that would be in use within the work that we’d continue to explore. For instance, lubricating the ankle joint and engaging with the soles of the feet informed the movement seen in the picture below where the participant is jumping during a travelling exercise. The main aim was to release the body, opening the ‘backspace’ and using the floor for take off and landing.
I had also used the T-Pose** (as seen in the picture below), as a way of connecting the participants with the sensations of their movement and drawing attention to the surfaces and core structure of their body.
The overall content of the workshop was based on movement components that I felt were the main factors of a well executed motion capture performance. This included the awareness of the space surrounding the body and performing 3-dimensional organic movement. Using an analytical approach in these explorations, I wanted to provide a space for the participants to investigate their own natural movement to understand how this can be applied to performance and character work in Motion Capture.
Reflections and Future endeavours
The Motion Capture industry is not as accessible as other art forms and because of this, artists and performers are intrigued to know ‘how does it work?’ and specifically ‘how does it work in relation to my work?’ My intention is to develop an accessible approach to motion capture performance and thus, by giving a little insight into the world of mocap, allow performers to stretch their physical performance skills to a new dimension.
My ultimate aim with the Embodying Your Mocap series is to provide a seamless merging of technical knowledge with movement exploration and self-discovery. This then allows the participants to inform their performance through a clear understanding of what the technology requires of their physical work. Furthermore, I am using these workshops as a way to formalise a method to approach motion capture performance that considers significant technical factors which could have an impact on the performance quality. The next workshop I will be running will be looking at using some of the tools introduced in the first session to explore virtual environments and creating in-game content and procedures linked to video games. The blog post will be another sharing of my reflections on the workshop and its outcome. Overall I hope to use these blogs as a platform to start a dialogue with others interested in Motion Capture, actor performance and movement training.
Photo credit: Chloe Knott
Workshop Venue: Fourth Monkey Actor Training Company
* ROM stands for Range Of Motion where the actor moves each body part for the animator to track the markers on the body and see how they move in relation to the rest of the body.
** A T-Pose is the position the actor stands in for the animator to locate the markers on the body in order to create a digital skeleton.
We are delighted to announce that the latest special issue for TDPT has just been published online: Training the Popular Performer.
TDPT 8.2 offers a fantastic line up of essays curated by Adam Ainsworth, Oliver Double & Louise Peacock, with Training Grounds materials edited by Kate Craddock.
We hope you like it!
Further to the very successful Practice, Reflect and Share day at Rose Bruford, TDPT would like to offer a bespoke call for practitioner-researchers interested in capturing the work of significant practitioners and teachers who have had a demonstrable influence both personally and in the training sector. The urgency to record some of this work we think might profitably be met by considering the section we call Sources in the TDPT journal:
In its Sources section TDPT provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training, whilst the Articles section allows for discursive contributions in a range of critical and creative formats, including visual essays.
Sources are normally between 5500 and 6500 words and are treated in the same way as discursive article with full peer view by two experts. Our full submission directions are here:
http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rtdp (click on the ‘submit an article’):
Submissions are through our peer review portal, Scholar 1:
You may also of course want to consider publishing to this blog space for the journal – either in association with a Source or separately. We also offer a platform for video materials on this blog if you have appropriate materials:
Help and support in the development of these papers is available and we are keen to offer a mentoring service for those new to academic publishing. For further details please contact David Shirley (D.G.Shirley@mmu.ac.uk) or speak to any of us below.
We hope to hear from you soon.
Jonathan Pitches, Libby Worth, David Shirley and Paul Allain
There are still places available to attend the School in Athens THIS YEAR. Ten weeks of intensive professional training in one of the world’s great cities!
We will NOT be running the DUENDE School in Europe in 2018. We are exploring the possibility of running outside Europe next year, and if that does not prove possible, we will take a year off!
We hope to bring the School back to Europe in 2019. A full update on plans for 2018 will be available in the Autumn.
This means that if you want to attend the School in Greece, you should consider applying for one of this year’s remaining places.
John Britton (Director): email@example.com
Eva Tsourou (Administrator): administration@duende-ensemble
Upcoming Workshop Dates:
June 27th – July 11th: Residential Workshop, Lesvos, Greece.
September 18th – November 24th: The DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre, Athens, Greece
I am delighted to announce that, after five years of work, Stanislavsky in the World: The System and its Transformation across Continents, has just been published, co-edited with Dr Stefan Aquilina of the University of Malta.
More information can be found by following this link: http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/stanislavsky-in-the-world-9781472587886
The book maps the movement of Stanislavsky’s system across five continents, revealing undiscovered paths of transmission and examining wider questions of embodied history and tradition building. To make its point, it focuses on practices beyond Russia and the US – for too long accepted blindly as the two most-developed seats of Stanislavskian practice – and introduces readers and practitioners to new routes in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australasia and South (Latin) America. We were joined by an internationally broad network of 18 scholars and practitioners to take on some knotty and current questions – of transformation, translation, appropriation and resistance. The book will undoubtedly make a significant contribution to Stanislavsky studies but recent research on theatre and interculturalism, globalisation, and postcolonialism will also be boosted by these findings.
- Marie-ChristineAutant-Mathieu’s discussion of selected affinities between Stanislavsky and the French Theatre Tradition;
- Franco Ruffini’s detailed account of the 1960 court case in Bari that questioned the reach of Elizabeth Reynolds’ copyright claims on Stanislavsky’s books;
- Stefan Aquilina’s exposition of how the System was processed in the amateur theatre context of Malta;
- Ina Pukelytė’s discussion on a heavily institutionalised reading of Stanislavsky in Lithuania;
- Maria Gaitanidi’s elaboration of Stanislavsky’s impact on both modern theatre and contemporary actor training in Greece;
- Siyuan Liu’s analysis of Stanislavsky’s impact on a Chinese School of Performance and Directing;
- Raúl Serrano’s teacher-perspective on current Stanislavskian teaching at the Escuela de Teatro de Buenos Aires inArgentina;
- Kene Igweonu’s exposition on Stanislavsky’s interaction with the Nigerian cultural environment as a series of convergences and counterpoints;
- Hilary Halba’s account on the System experienced through the Maori World in New Zealand;
- Syed Jamil Ahmed’s articulation of the System as postcolonial appropriation and assimilation in Bangladesh.
The book’s official launch will be held as follows:
Date: 5th June 2017
Venue: Alec Clegg Studio, stage@leeds building, University of Leeds
Remembering Edward Braun
Whilst at Drama School in 1994, during rehearsals for Nikolai Erdman’s The Suicide, I read Meyerhold on Theatre. At that point in time I had never heard of Vsevelod Meyerhold or Theatrical Biomechanics but that book was to be the start of a fascination with Russian Theatre, Meyerhold and in particular his actor training system Biomechanics, which has continued to this day. Little did I know back then, that some 20 years later I would be delivering a workshop and a paper on Meyerhold’s Biomechanics at Hull University in the presence of the book’s author Edward Braun.
I was a little nervous when I heard that Edward Braun would be there. After the presentation I was introduced to Edward (Ted) and much to my relief, he had some very kind things to say about the workshop. He talked about the time he spent in Russia in the 1960’s and how he had met Meyerhold’s daughter. Some weeks later we were hosting a series of workshops at the University of Central Lancashire with the world’s leading exponent in Theatrical Biomechanics, Gennady Bogdanov. I asked Ted if he would like to meet Gennady and he accepted the invitation.
Ted sat for several hours totally absorbed in the work. As he watched, I was acutely aware it was highly likely that he had seen Meyerhold’s daughter perform the same exercises some forty years earlier. We spent the evening in an Italian restaurant talking about Russia, Communism, Meyerhold, Biomechanics and….life. So, for a brief moment in our lives serendipity had brought us together; Gennady my teacher, his interpreter Svetlana, Edward Braun and I. I felt very privileged and quite humbled just being there. As the evening drew to a close and we walked Ted back to his hotel, I was struck by the fact that, had it not been for him, the four of us would never have met and I for one would certainly not be doing what I do today.
On hearing the sad news that Ted had died, I recalled the time I had spent in his company in 2015. He was extremely generous, courteous, erudite, enthusiastic, warm, and witty.
Listening to Jonathan Pitches last interview with Ted, as he talked about Biomechanics, I was quite surprised and rather moved to hear Ted talk about “being in Preston with Terence and Gennady.” It was as if he had known us for years and in a way, via Mr. Meyerhold……. I suppose he had. Although I only met Ted briefly; I will always remember him. RIP Ted.
Terence Mann (Chapman) is Senior Lecturer and Course Leader for BA Acting at UCLAN. He has worked with some of the most innovative theatre companies and directors in Europe and is regarded as one of the country’s leading practitioners in Meyerhold’s Theatrical Biomechanics.
We’ve extended the deadline to Friday 7 April for proposals for the TaPRA Performer Training Working Group Interim Event. Please send your abstract through if this area is of interest to your research. You are also very welcome to attend, without presenting a paper. The event is free, but you need to be a TaPRA member.
TaPRA Performer Training Working Group
Monday 22 May 2017, 11am – 6pm
University of York
Performer Training and Media Ecologies
Please find all the details of this exciting call for TDPT Vol 10.2 (2019) as a PDF in the link below
Guest coedited by Professor Paul Allain (University of Kent), Stacie Lee Bennett (University of Kent and freelance film-maker) and Professor Frank Camilleri (University of Malta) with blog and Training Grounds editor James McLaughlin.
To signal your interest and intention to make a contribution to this special issue please contact Paul Allain for an initial exchange of ideas/thoughts or email an abstract or proposal (max 300 words) to Paul Allain: firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about purely digital propositions can be sent to Stacie Lee Bennett: email@example.com. Ideas for the blog and/or Training Grounds can be sent to James McLaughlin: firstname.lastname@example.org. Firm proposals across all areas must be received by Paul Allain by 30 November 2017 at the latest.
Below is a transcription and the audio files of the interview I conducted with Edward Braun in March 2015 at his home, as the new edition of the enormously influential Meyerhold on Theatre was being prepared. Ted died a few days ago and this is posted with his wife Sarah’s blessing, to celebrate his brilliance as an academic and his generosity as a human being.
Below is the pdf of the transcribed interview and the audio files. Please share this widely and feel free to use any of the material if it is of use to your research.
Part 1: How was Meyerhold on Theatre conceived and put together?
Part 2: What binds the writings of Meyerhold on Theatre together?
Part 3: What are Edward Braun’s favourite, or most significant, sections?
Thanks for listening
You are warmly invited to the next School of Performance and Cultural Industries research seminar –
Tools and Material(itie)s
Dr Scott McLaughlin (School of Music), Dr Maria Kapsali (School of PCI), Dr Joslin Mckinney (School of PCI)
Tuesday 7th March 5pm-7pm
Lecture Theatre 2, School of Music, University of Leeds
Please book a place with Linda Watson email@example.com – All Welcome
The three papers in this seminar aim at highlighting the way in which theories and discourses on tools and material(itie)s inform practice and thinking in music, somatic work and scenography. Apart from positioning the overall enquiry in relation to specific disciplines, this research seminar also aims to put forward a set of questions that deal with wider, cross-disciplinary themes: In what ways do theories of materiality shed light on artistic processes? What is the relationship between tool and tool user? How does a non-anthropocentric view inform understanding of experience and perception?
Readers of this blog are warmly invited to submit proposals and/or participate in the following upcoming events, both of which seek to develop a new territory of embodied research that overlaps significantly with theatre, dance and performance training.
Call for Proposals: 5 February 2017 (extended deadline)
Embodied Research Working Group
International Federation for Theatre Research
Annual conference in São Paulo, 10-14 July 2017
more details | WG info | abstract submission
Hoping to see you there!
We are very pleased to announce the following call for contributions for a special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, focusing on Dartington College of Arts.
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)
Special issue on Training Places: Dartington College of Arts to be published October 2018. Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors.
Guest editors: Dr Bryan Brown, University of Exeter, Dr Libby Worth, Royal Holloway, University of London, and Editorial Consultant Professor Ric Allsopp, Joint Editor Performance Research
The Training Grounds section of the issue (see below) will be guest edited by Dr Simon Murray, University of Glasgow and Dr Dick McCaw, Royal Holloway, University of London
Background and context
This will be the ninth Special Issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) following issues on sport, Michael Chekhov, politics, Feldenkrais, showing/writing training, interculturalism, popular performance and immersive, interactive and participatory performance. TDPT is an international journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. The journal was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership is both academic and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance and live art who have an interest in and curiosity for reflecting on their practices and their training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Dartington College of Arts: pedagogies, contexts, people, performances and experimentations.
This is the first time that a place of performance training has been taken as the subject of a TDPT special issue and although it and other centres of performance training have been addressed in specific articles, this singular focus for a whole issue calls for some explanation.
Why Dartington and why now?
Over the near 5 decades of its history, Dartington College of Arts, established an international reputation for innovation in performance making, spawning new directions in dance, theatre, devising, music and visual performance that continue to influence current artists and scholars. Based on an 800-acre estate on the River Dart near Totnes in rural Devon, its staff and students explored ways of working that emphasised learning through doing and questioning, working across arts disciplines, paying attention to the social impact and context of their artistic output and encouraging robust and engaging international contacts and exchanges.
The publication date for this special issue (2018), marks ten years since the college merged with Falmouth University, resulting eventually in a controversial move from the Dartington Hall estate to a purpose built complex at what was then University College Falmouth in 2010. This, perhaps, is a good time therefore to re-examine Dartington’s ecology, its people, its sites and its continuing influence within the arts world. In the current national and international climate with political uncertainties, the rise of nationalism and the new right, and the steady undermining of the arts in UK educational curriculum, it could be the appropriate moment to re-assess what Dartington College offered and its legacy continues to offer. Those who participated in the life of Dartington College of Arts are active internationally and continue to develop new working practices inspired and influenced by the “Dartington ethos”. Articulating how places inform training (pedagogy, practice, conversations, ways of being) through the fostering of a complex ecology and ethos is what this special issue aims to attempt.
Echoing Dartington’s fluid approach to training that positively encouraged experimentation in form/structure to better reflect artistic concepts and practices, this issue welcomes a variety of ways of responding to the call and actively encourages co-authoring, embedding of images, diagrams, drawings within critical articles. These could include offering additional visual/audio media on the TDPT blog or directly linked to an article. The issue aims to include writing/images representative of all the College’s training disciplines (theatre, dance/choreography, music, performance writing and visual performance) and of its different eras.
We are particularly interested in (but not limited by) responses to the following set of questions:
- How did the social/political context of each of the College’s eras contribute to the training ethos?
- In what ways did the college ascribe to a form of ‘un-training’ or ‘de-training’ and how was this structured? What did it generate?
- How might have the environment of diverse buildings and countryside influenced the type of training that happened at Dartington College of Arts? And how did this geographically isolated experience sit with student international placements and commitment to international artists’ residencies?
- What were significant strands in Dartington Hall’s history that contributed to the philosophy and practical components of the College programmes?
- What was left out in the training offered at the College and why?
- What remains important of the mystiques, fantasies, hauntings and residues triggered over the life of the college?
- What was shared within the training processes but not articulated?
- What has gone missing that matters outside of this community?
- If Dartington College is seen as an ecology and not merely a place, how is this still growing?
- What roles did Dartington College take in nurturing innovative practices – New Dance for instance?
- What sources from the college’s history might be timely to reprint in order to generate contemporary responses?
- What were the cultural, economic, pedagogical, political and psychological circumstances of the College’s closure in Devon and the merger with University College Falmouth in Cornwall?
- What are the legacies and implications of the DCA educational experience for other performance training ecologies?
We welcome submissions from potential contributors, both inside and outside academic institutions, who may have been students, academic and non-academic staff, and visiting artists/tutors at the College over its 50 year history in Devon. Equally, we welcome potential contributions from anyone associated with Dartington or who has been influenced by its history in one way or another.
To signal your interest and intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please contact Bryan and Libby for an initial exchange of ideas/thoughts, or email an abstract (max 250 words) to: Bryan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org and Libby Worth at email@example.com Our first deadline for these is 20th April 2017.
Training Grounds sections for Dartington College of Arts special issue.
Training Grounds (TG) is, and has always been, an alternative space within the journal to encourage contributors to use the kind of languages and forms that seem most appropriate to their own practice. It is a space for shorter contributions which may experiment with different writing registers, and be passionate, provocative, poetic or rhetorical. A space for lists, for saying awkward things and offering up difficult and perhaps unfashionable ideas. A place, nonetheless, for generosity and big-heartedness. TG editors for this special issue are Simon Murray (Simon.Murray@glasgow.ac.uk) and Dick McCaw (Dick.McCaw@rhul.ac.uk).
For this special issue we are looking for contributions to cover all the Dartington fields (Music, Theatre, Visual Arts, Performance Writing, Choreography/Dance, and Cultural Management) within each of the following categories:
1/ POSTCARDS 1: A description of a startling/challenging/rewarding moment of teaching or learning from your Dartington experience. Possibly, a Eureka type moment, or one of clarity, astonishment, insight or understanding. A sense perhaps of the feelings generated by the experience. 125 words or image/graphics to fit into a postcard size space.
2/ POSTCARDS 2: A contribution which succinctly describes (without comment, analysis or evaluation) a particular teaching exercise you used or experienced. 125 words or image/graphics to fit into a postcard size space.
3/ ANSWER THE QUESTION (ATQ): For this area we are suggesting either of two (inter-related) questions.
Question 1 (for ex-Dartington teachers and other staff): What was Dartington training or educating for?
Question 2: (for ex-students of Dartington): What in retrospect do you feel the Dartington experience trained you for and what did it leave out?
With these two ATQs we would aim to carry 4 or 5 examples for each question and as far as possible these would reflect the different subject areas and timelines over the College’s history. You could either send us a draft of your response to one of these questions, or arrange for a conversation with either Dick McCaw or Simon Murray. This might be in person or via Skype or phone. We would transcribe and edit your responses and agree any text with you before publishing. Responses to ATQs should be between 500 and 750 words (max).
4/ IMAGES: We are planning to carry at least one photo-essay and will be commissioning this for Training Grounds. However, we would welcome other photo images, sketches, paintings and drawings from contributors. In the first instance please contact either Simon or Dick, briefly describing the image(s) you are proposing. If you have enough to constitute an interesting and revealing photo essay please do write to us and we will have a conversation with you. All images must be at the appropriate resolution: 1200 dpi for line art, 600 dpi for grayscale and 300 dpi for colour.
Please contact Simon Murray (Simon.Murray@glasgow.ac.uk) and Dick McCaw (Dick.McCaw@rhul.ac.uk) if you wish to contribute to this section or have other ideas and suggestions. Either of us will then discuss your possible contribution as we begin to curate Training Grounds. The final deadline for this initial conversation is August 30th 2017, but let’s start the exchange going as soon as possible please. Some materials and contributions may be more appropriate for the TDPT blog and we will encourage these to be developed for the lead up to the special issue as well. The deadline for final delivery of all TG materials is January 31 2018.
Approximate timelines for this issue
January 2017: Call for papers published
20th April 2017: Abstracts and proposals sent to Bryan Brown and Libby Worth
End June 2017: Response from editor and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution
July to mid December 2017: writing/preparation period for writers, artists etc.
August 30th 2017 – deadline for discussing TG contributions with Dick and Simon
Early December to Early Feb 2017: peer review period
January 31 2018 – deadline for submission of all TG material to Simon and Dick
Mid Feb – end April 2018: author revisions post peer review
End April to June 2018: All main articles into production with Routledge
Early July 2018: Training Grounds articles into production
July to September 2018: typesetting, proofing, revises, editorial etc.
October 2018: publication as Issue 9.3.
We look forward to hearing from you.
Ric Allsopp, Bryan Brown, Dick McCaw, Simon Murray & Libby Worth
Symposium: On Showing and Writing Training
London, 30th November 2016, 2 – 5 pm
This blog post captures in a series of audio files the symposium that launched the special issue ‘On Showing and Writing Training’ of the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal. It brought together writing, improvisation, experimentation and images to explore how performance is made manifest, represented and reproduced through training.
Image: from ‘I Set My Foot Upon the Air’ by Elke Mark
Next to each of the contributors names in the programme below you can click on the audio file to hear their talk. The talks are mainly around ten minutes, while the introductory responses to the journal special issue by artist Karen Christopher and writer John Hall a little longer. Under each contributor’s name there is also a link to the abstract of the essay they contributed to the special issue.