Conference: 12-14 September, 2022, University of Essex.
Training isn’t easily contained within a single person. Although the individual subject is often the nexus where training is realized, it generally depends upon a community for its sustenance, upon trainers to pass the disciplines on, upon trainees to carry them forward, and upon successive generations to rediscover and renew the practices. The focus of this year’s meeting of the working group is about these processes of passing training on.
This discussion leads on from our focus in 2021’s conference on Training and Agency. From one perspective the genealogies and legacies of training might represent the structure against which individuals assert their agency. However, from another point of view these ideas might provide alternative structures that empower individuals through collectivity, tradition and community. What might be the narratives of training through which an individual ascribes meaning to their own practice? Could these narratives offer people and communities a site of resistance to an individualizing capitalist culture?
Special issue: Touch and Training to be published June 2023
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors
Guest editors Dr Ha Young Hwang, Korea National University of Arts, School of Drama, Seoul, South Korea (email@example.com) Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel, East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, London, UK. (firstname.lastname@example.org) Liz Mills, AFDA The School for the Creative Economy, Cape Town, SouthAfrica (LizM@afda.co.za).
Training Grounds editor Dr Sara Reed, Independent researcher, writer and project manager (email@example.com)
Touch and Training (Issue 14.2) Global happenings throughout this past decade, such as ♯MeToo, ♯blacklivesmatter, Asian Spring, Arab Spring, the Marriage Act (2013 UK) and Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” law (2013), and COVID-19, have radically repositioned touch in performance and performer training. Touch is a socio-cultural event, a political act between two people as well as a network of power positions and layers of institutional infrastructure: who touches, how does/should one touch, why and when can/should touch occur? These questions when raised within performance traditions, theatre, film and television rehearsal and performance spaces and performer training studios ask creative artists to (re)consider the ways we think about, talk about and stage touch: for instance, the rise of the “intimacy coordinator” in response to concerns about the inequitability of touch during re-enactments of intimacy is only one of a number of recent developments in performance-related fields (re)considering the role of touch during the creative process.
In an oft-repeated anecdote, Australian actor Nick Lathouris tells of the arrival of Jerzy Grotowski’s ideas in Australia in 1969 — courtesy of a badly-Xeroxed copy of Towards a Poor Theatre that circulated between the acting company that formed around director Rex Cramphorn in Sydney as a kind of hallowed totem, a connection to a rich vein of tradition and experimentation in training in a continent that was sorely lacking both. Speaking of the same period, playwright John Romeril remembers the early days of the Australian Performing Group (APG) recalls: “much of what we did by way of acting exercises we drew from magazines and books. We read of and ripped off whatever came our way”. Origin myths such as these inform Ian Maxwell’s characterisation of Australian trainers and trainees as “theatrical bowerbirds”, metaphorising the distinctive Austro-Papuan bird family that is renowned for a courtship ritual where the male decorates his bower with an eclectic range of bright objects, both natural and inorganic. Down under, disconnected from the celebrated training traditions of the northern hemisphere in the decades before globalised publishing, Australian trainers collected whatever they could get their hands on, arranging bespoke lineages that combined native and imported traditions.
Many trainers are used to writing – preserving their experiences, their systems of training, and their worldview in words. What is often forgotten is that there is more than one person in the studio, that the discoveries of the ‘master’ are due to the work of the ‘student’, and that the thoughts, voice, and discoveries of the students might be as valuable to understanding the phenomena of training as those of the trainer. A desire to demonstrate this was the impulse behind this collection of posts from five students who I have led through a version of Phillip Zarrilli’s psychophysical training at the University of Greenwich this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic set up a unique experience for me and the diversity of the students’ reflections shows that I am not alone in this. Alicia Bowditch-Gibbs’ piece shows the compromises made to allow an injured body to acclimatize to the training and the way a new training can resonate with older strata of training in the body. Paul Cole writes of recovering from Covid and the adjustments and innovations he was forced to make to fully engage with the work. To put these into context, I will introduce the student contributions with my own background with the training. In a follow-up post, three more students will reflect on the role of breath, spirit, and neurodiversity in training.
What is independence? Independent from what or whom? And what is training, learning and knowing?
These questions have formed the basis of our approach to this issue. Seemingly simple, these questions have been at the heart of Independent Dance’s work since 1984, when the organisation emerged out of informal collaborations between artists seeking a common ground to share training opportunities across dance forms. Remaining artist-led ever since, ID is preoccupied with supporting learning through dance, and with articulating what that might mean, and for whom.
We were therefore delighted to accept the invitation to guest-edit Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and have aimed to carry these threads throughout. We were also keen to reach beyond the boundaries of our own context and traverse borders between fields and forms. While ID has historically been associated with somatic practices, the range of practices featured in this issue is true both to the original intention of ID to support a very wide breadth of forms, and to our current commitment to supporting research across forms of dance, with questioning and open-ended curiosity being key ingredients, rather than an emphasis on product or aesthetic.
Through an international call-out, we invited proposals illuminating as broad a range of perspectives as possible, exploring how artists create, practice, and develop independent training forms, and what current practitioners consider relevant.
The resulting issue, published in July 2021, includes contributions ranging from articles to one-page ‘postcards’, by the following artists and writers: ‘Funmi Adewole, Casey Avaunt, Katrina Brown, Laura Cervi, Guy Dartnell, Thomasin Gülgeç, Stefan Jovanović, Lliane Loots, Simone Kenyon, Georgia Paizi, Helen Poynor / Hilary Kneale / Paula Kramer, Aswathy Rajan, Carolyn Roy, Stephanie Sachsenmaier, Niamh Dowling / Miranda Tufnell / Lucia Walker, Rebecca Weber, Simon Whitehead. It concludes with an obituary for Nancy Stark Smith written by Colleen Bartley.
The editors have selected the following two articles to be free to access until the end of October:
‘The dance artistry of Diane Alison-Mitchell and Paradigmz: Accounting for professional practice between 1993 and 2003’ by ’Funmi Adewole
‘Impermeable bodies: Women who lion dance in Boston’s Chinatown’ by Casey Avaunt
Henrietta Haleis co-director of Independent Dance (ID) since 2018, leading the curation of an artist-led, dance development and research organisation. She has a 25 year dance artist practice, most significantly as founder member of collective Dog Kennel Hill Project since 2004, creating performance research across theatre, gallery, screen and unusual sites, within a range of producing partnerships such as Whitechapel Gallery, Dance Umbrella, and Brighton CCA. Roles as a dancer/collaborator include Ricochet Dance Productions and Rosemary Lee projects and movement direction with visual artists. She has taught regularly in higher education contexts, significantly, Trinity Laban (2002 − 2013).
Nikki Tomlinsonis a producer and dramaturg with a background in curation and performance-making. Over the past 20 years she has developed interests in performance, participation, social justice and interdisciplinarity, advocacy for and with artists and widening access in every sense to experimental work. Her previous roles include Lead Artist Advisor/Producer at Artsadmin, Programme Manager and later co-chair of Chisenhale Dance Space, ESOL Course Leader and Refugee Advisor at Hackney Community College. She joined Independent Dance as co-director in March 2020. Alongside her role with ID she is a Trustee of Home Live Art and continues to work freelance across the UK and internationally.
Sara Reedis an independent academic, researcher, writer, project manager and a qualified Feldenkrais practitioner. With a career that has spanned a wide range of dance, performance, arts and education contexts, she has published widely in the area of embodied-movement, dance, somatic practices and pedagogy. Her experience includes interdisciplinary teaching across art forms. Sara is an Associate Editor for TDPT Training Grounds and on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Dance & Somatic Practices and Dance, Movement & Spiritualties. She is Co-chair for Independent Dance and a trustee for Wriggle Dance Theatre – for children and families.
Gitta Wigrois a former co-director of Independent Dance. She is a freelance dance film programmer and curator, and part of the team behind the MA Screendance at London Contemporary Dance School. She has worked in artist and artform development at The Place, Arts Council England, and Independent Dance, as well as in freelance roles. As a dance film specialist, she has worked with many international festivals, including Leeds International Film Festival (UK), COORPI (IT), Festival Quartiers Danses (CA) Dance Umbrella (UK), among many others. She co-ordinates the International Screendance Calendar and other resources to support the dance film field.
Jonathan Pitchesis Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds and Head of School of Performance and Cultural Industries. He specialises in the study of performer training and has wider interests in intercultural performance, environmental performance and blended learning. He is founding co-editor of the TDPT and has published several books in this area: Vsevolod Meyerhold (2003), Science and the Stanislavsky Tradition of Acting (2006/9), Russians in Britain (2012) and, Stanislavsky in the World (with Dr Stefan Aquilina 2017). His most recent publications are: Great Stage Directors Vol 3: Komisarjevsky, Copeau Guthrie (sole editor, 2018) and the monograph, Performing Landscapes: Mountains (2020).
Libby Worthis Reader in Contemporary Performance Practices, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a movement practitioner with research interests in the Feldenkrais Method, physical theatres, site-based performance and in folk/traditional and amateur dance. Performances include co-devised duets; Step Feather Stitch (2012) and dance film Passing Between Folds (2017). She is co-editor of TDPT and published texts include Anna Halprin (2004, co-authored), Ninette de Valois: Adventurous Traditionalist (2012, co-edited), Jasmin Vardimon’s Dance Theatre: Movement, Memory and Metaphor (2016). Chapter contributions include on clog and sword dancing for Time and Performer Training (2019, she co-edited) and ‘Improvisation in Dance and the Movement of Everyday Life’ for the Oxford Handbook of Dance Improvisation (2019).
Funmi Adewolemoved from Nigeria to Britain in 1994. She performed with African dance drama and physical theatre companies in Britain for several years before studying for a doctorate in Dance Studies. She is a senior lecturer at De Montfort University, Leicester.
Casey Avauntis Assistant Professor of Dance in the Department of Performing Arts at Elon University. Her research interests include critical dance theory, Asian and Asian American performance, and the role of culture and gender in the production of choreography.
Colleen Bartleyis an independent dance artist and improviser who lives with an invisible disability. She co-edited Contact Quarterly CI Newsletter (US) with NSS & co-organises London Contact Improvisation (UK). She holds a degree from Swarthmore College and a diploma from Laban Centre London. She teaches movement & dance and creates film and performance.
Laura Cerviis Serra-Hunter Lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Communication Sciences of the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain. PhD in Political Science from the University of Pavia (Italy) and the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). Journalist and amateur dancer. Her main research interest is media literacy and citizen participation.
Niamh Dowling is Head of School of Performance at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance in London. Niamh trained with Monika Pagneux in Paris, Anne Bogart, Nancy Topf and Eva Karczag in New York and as a teacher of the Alexander Technique with Don Burton. She collaborated closely with Teatr Piesn Kozla in Poland for fifteen years. Niamh has been training in Systemic Constellations for 8 years, which has deeply influenced her practice and supported her holistic approach to education and performance training. Niamh is one of the practitioners on the online Routledge Performance Archive.
Stefan Jovanovićis a queer-neurodivergent performance-maker who designs spaces and site-specific performances. His artistic practice embraces a maximalist aesthetic, creating speculative fabulations about future-forms of kinship and social healing. As a trained trauma therapist and architect, he incorporates spatial dramaturgy and philosophies of well-being into spaces of cultural production.
Simone Kenyon is an intra-disciplinary artist, dancer and Feldenkrais practitioner. For over twenty years she has developed a practice of expanded choreographies; encompassing movement, ecology, cultural geographies and walking arts to create participatory events for both urban and rural contexts. She is a current PhD researcher at the University of Leeds.
Hilary Knealeis an independent interdisciplinary artist, who works in collaboration with others from different fields. She is a published writer, movement practitioner, educator, guardian of Vision Quest, and healer, living within her own quest to remember the true nature of interrelatedness. Her work is widely body based and includes performance and ritual in the landscape, calling strongly to the ancient stories held deep within the earth. Having trained to embody, develop and teach practices with support of the work of Helen Poynor, and Northern Drum Shamanic Centre, she inhabits ways of opening the body, heart and mind, that reawaken the native soul.
Paula Krameris an artist-researcher and movement artist based in Berlin. She holds an artistic PhD in Dance (Coventry University) and was a post-doctoral researcher at Uniarts Helsinki (2016–2019). Her work explores intermateriality through site-specific outdoor movement, rooted in Amerta Movement (Suryodarmo) and Non-stylised and Environmental Movement (Poynor). She collaborates with materials of many different orders as active agents in the creation of movement, performance and choreography; as well as daily life practices and sense-making. She publishes widely in the context of artistic research through bodily practices and is a board member of the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices.
Lliane Lootsholds the position of Dance Lecturer in the Performance Studies Programme at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. She completed her PhD in 2018 looking at contemporary dance histories on the African continent. As an artist/scholar her PhD research is framed within an ethnographic and autoethnographic paradigm with a focus on narrative as methodology. Loots founded Flatfoot Dance Company as a professional dance company in 2003 when it grew out of a dance training programme that originally began in 1994. As the artistic director for Flatfoot, she has travelled extensively within the African continent with her dance work.
Helen Poynoris an independent movement artist specialising in site-specific and autobiographical performance and cross-artform collaborations. She runs the Walk of Life training and workshop programmes in Non-stylised and Environmental Movement on the Jurassic coast in East Devon/West Dorset. Helen is acknowledged as a teacher by Anna Halprin and Suprapto Suryodarmo, with whom she trained. She is a mentor for established and emerging dancers and practitioners and a guest associate teacher with Tamalpa UK. Helen has contributed chapters and articles on her work to numerous dance publications including the Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices. Helen is a registered dance movement therapist and somatic movement therapist.www.walkoflife.co.uk
Aswathy Rajanis a Lecturer in Dance at the International School of Creative Arts, Cochin, Kerala. She received BPA in Mohiniyattam from Kerala-Kalamandalam (2009) and MPA Dance from University of Hyderabad (2012) with First Rank. She qualified for UGC- Assistant Professor in Dance and started her Ph.D. as a UGC-JRF/SRF at the University of Hyderabad in 2020. During her Ph.D., she worked as a teaching assistant at the Dept. of Dance, UOH. She authored two books; “Dancethesis: An Amalgam of Dance perspectives” and “Aesthetics of Kuchipudi” besides writing several articles.
Carolyn Royis a London based dancer who performs and teaches in the independent dance sector. Her work is concerned with attention, perception, being-with others and encountering our environment. Her current preoccupation is the political agency of dancing. She has recently completed a PhD at the University of Roehampton.
Stefanie Sachsenmaier(PhD Middlesex University, DEA Sorbonne Nlle, MA Goldsmiths College, SFHEA) is Senior Lecturer in Theatre Arts at Middlesex University and Programme Leader of BA Theatre Performance and Production. Her research centres on the processual in creative practice, with a particular interest in the ways that performance extends into the socio-political context. She co-edited Collaboration in Performance Practice (Palgrave 2016) and published a series of writings related to her long-term research with British choreographer Rosemary Butcher. She has a background as a performer and is an experienced practitioner of Wu Style tai chi chuan.
Miranda Tufnellis a dance artist, writer and teacher in movement and imagination and also an Alexander teacher and cranio-sacral therapist. She has been teaching and making performances for 40 years. Her work explores the ways movement shapes our sense of meaning, language and perception. With Chris Crickmay, she created a film Dance Without Steps and co-authored two handbooks on sourcing creative work: Body Space Image (1990) and A Widening Field (2004). She has worked extensively in the field of arts and health as documented in her most recent book, When I Open My Eyes – Dance Health Imagination (2017)
Lucia Walkerhas been teaching Alexander Technique internationally to both individuals and groups since 1987. She is also a movement artist and teacher specialising in contact improvisation and ‘instant’ composition, teaching and collaborating in dance, physical theatre, communication and movement research projects (Forgotten Angle Theatre Collaborative and Flatfoot Dance Company, South Africa, Rosetta Life, England). She works with a wide range of people including young people, people with chronic illness, professional musicians and singers. Working with performers is a particular interest and Lucia works regularly with classical musicians, singers, actors and dancers. She is also involved in Alexander Technique teacher training and assessment of readiness to teach Alexander Technique.
Rebecca Weber, PhD, MFA, MA, RSME/RSMT/RSDE, THE, FHEA is a Dance Studies lecturer at the University of Auckland. Co-director of Project Trans(m)it, director of Somanaut Dance, and editor for Dance, Movement, and Spiritualities, Weber’s research interests include: somatics, technology, choreography, cognition, and pedagogy.
Simon Whiteheadis a movement artist and craniosacral therapist living in west Wales. Simon hosts the Locator workshop series and is a member of Maynard, an interdisciplinary artist collective that collaborate on a programme of engaged dance activity in the village of Abercych, working through on-going residencies, the village dance, workshops, local and international partnerships. As part of an AHRC-funded PhD(PaR), based at the University of Glasgow, he is currently exploring what posthuman ecology means with reference to an expanded choreography of touch.
Amidst the current disruption the Training Grounds’ section of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal continues its search for responses to our regular themed Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme. Our next theme (for the Winter 2020 issue) is:
Training and Buildings
Call out for TDPT’s regular, themed, Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme.
We are interested in receiving responses from anyone engaged in thinking about/doing training for performance in all its myriad forms.
You could be a formal ‘Trainer’, a doer, a student, a practitioner, a provider, a supporter, or a thinker about training. You could work in theatre, dance, music, circus, live/performance arts, design or construction for performance, or any other connected discipline.
We would like to announce the call for proposals for the Performer Training Working Group of the Theatre and Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference : 6-10 Sept, online & co-hosted by Liverpool Hope University.
The Performer Training Working Group’s theme is Training and Agency.
For full details of the call, details concerning submission, costs and bursaries, please visit our TaPRA page:
Please do share to anyone else who you think would be interested in joining us.
Please note, deadline for submitting proposal is Friday, April 9th.
In addition, look out for an additional email call to an exciting online interim event that we are putting together and will share with you in a couple of week’s time.
Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us (the Working Group convenors: Sarah Weston (S.Weston2@bolton.ac.uk), James McLaughlin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Jane Turner (J.C.Turner@mmu.ac.uk) should you have any queries/questions.
This new issue of the journal is international in scope with rich contributions from around the globe including articles on indigenous theatre in New Zealand, explorations of planetary performance pedagogy from practitioner scholars in Singapore, USA and Australia, training histories in Australia and in the former Yugoslavia, and a collated series of conversations on theatre pedagogy from Drama School Mumbai. Contributions include short essais, postcards and reviews as well as articles, several of which respond to creative responses to being in the midst of a pandemic.
It’s always a delight to see how submissions to one of the open issues of TDPT reveal new debates simply by sitting side by side with each other. In 12.1 a prominent theme that emerges is that of tracing past training practices and examining how they link with or challenge contemporary training experiences. One way of exploring this, beyond the pages of the issue, is to read the essai on Peter Hulton’s pioneering work on Arts Archive that links perfectly with Hulton’s offer here in the blog to make a wide range of training workshops available to explore. .
Editorial Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches, Chris Hay and Aiden Condron
This special issue wishes to reinvigorate discussion about the applicability and usefulness of martial arts in actor, dancer and performer training. It opens the door particularly wide to contributions which intend to critically re-evaluate and re-examine martial arts’ role and place in performing arts training approaches and schemes.
Following in the footsteps of proponents of the newly established scholarly discipline of martial arts studies, such as Paul Bowman, Benjamin Judkins and Sixt Wetzler, we see the widely used and discursively constructed notion of “martial arts” as inclusive rather than exclusive, embracing traditional martial arts, competitive combat sports, military and civilian self-defence systems, as well as many activities straddling the boundaries between these. Moreover, for us the term “martial arts” denotes not only those practices and techniques which when skilfully executed may prove effective in physical struggle/contests, but also a vast pool of adjunct activities related to health, wellbeing, meditation and performance broadly construed that have their roots in or are connected with combat methods. Borrowing from Wetzler, we advocate that “martial arts” activate several dimensions which often interrelate and intersect, including: (a) physical and psychological preparation for confrontation with violence, usually carried out according to systematic and reproducible protocols and schemes, (b) combat competition adhering to set rules and frameworks, performed for fun or to determine a prize winner, (c) the display of martial skills and techniques in front of others, (e) pursuit of transcendent goals, consisting of cherishing specific philosophies and worldviews as well as character formation, (f) therapies and illness prevention. Furthermore, we note that martial arts cannot be reduced to their Asian or – more narrowly – East Asian incarnations since the phenomenon pertains to every corner of the world and as such strongly questions the dominant East-West axis, just as it unsettles the South-North axis too, with highly influential forms such as capoeira practised worldwide.
We are therefore open to proposals which confront not only the practices most commonly associated with martial arts and most frequently employed in performer training contexts, such as Japanese aikido and Chinese taijiquan, but also lesser known styles and schools as well as other non-obvious manifestations of martial arts’ approaches, attitudes, ideas and techniques.
In the turbulent 1960s, with a hunger for alternative models of organizing socio-political realities and related fascination with Eastern philosophies and practices of bodymind cultivation, elements of various (mainly East Asian) martial arts started to populate various Western actor, dancer and performer training programmes and regimes carried out both in academia and professional studios. Over time, as Robert Dillon observed in 1999, “the notion of ‘martial arts for actors’ has gone from being alternative in every sense of the word to being mainstream” and presently martial arts are a well-established component of many theatre, dance, circus or performance training routines, often part of a larger programme of psychophysical activities and approaches. Different artists, practitioners and scholars (sometimes in one body, as in the case of theatre scholar and practitioner Phillip B. Zarrilli) have listed the numerous physical and/or psychological benefits of employing martial arts in the formation of performance artists. The most often cited examples include: (a) heightening psychophysical awareness, sharpening perception and a sense of being here and now (presence), (b) cultivation of bodily and mental flexibility, (c) integration of body and mind, (d) development of focus, rootedness, balance and a sense of timing, (e) elaboration of respect for discipline, (f) improvement in terms of stamina and movement capacities, etc. This long list of advantages, however, does not dispel doubts which arise when considering the presence of martial arts in performer training and should not make us overlook related questions. These dilemmas comprise, for example, risk of injury, the presence of violence (even in a nascent form) and the subjugation of critical thought in confrontation with (often mythologized) practices and attitudes enshrined in (often esoteric) traditions. In an age when hierarchies are being acutely questioned and overturned, in life as much as in the training studio or classroom, when inclusivity and equality determine our every move, how do the structured forms of martial arts and their related pedagogical or dissemination models speak to such concerns? Can they only reinforce authority, or can they overcome such binary models? How might martial arts help shape the performance revolution that is yet to come? And how do martial arts impact on wider notions and practices of gender and sexuality? Are they purely conformist, homogenizing, or can they offer possibilities for transgression and transformation? We are convinced that these problems and issues deserve attention and careful scrutiny.
We would also like to highlight the following questions to be – potentially – tackled by contributors to the special issue: • Are martial arts in performer training gender, race, class, age, (dis)ability determined? If they are, how does this manifest itself and what are the implications of this? • How do cultural, political and social contexts play out in martial arts as part of performer training? Amateur and youth involvement in martial arts is extensive; how does this feed into performer training? • How do social distancing and isolation as consequences of the global pandemic affect martial arts’ presence in performer training curricula? • Which style(s) or school(s) are better/worse suited for performer training? Are any not suited at all? If so, why? • Are martial arts primarily used as a movement training substitute? Are other dimensions of martial arts, such as meditation, work with energy, ethical dimension, etc., included in performer training regimes as well? How might work on martial arts support vocal practices and training?
Other important problems which we think could be addressed in this issue include: • Strategies, consequences and risks of adaptation of martial arts or their elements for performance training needs; • Interrelations between martial arts and other training systems within one curriculum (the problem of syncretism); • Martial arts in training for a specific performance type in terms of aesthetics and/or philosophy; • Martial arts’ performance pedagogy and its organizational milieus: drama school, university, studio theatre, workshops, etc. • Usefulness of the martial arts’ pedagogic strategy of dialectics of form and improvisation in performing arts training contexts; issues around imitation, form and discipline in martial arts – how do these aspects prepare performers for rehearsal and creative processes, if they indeed do?
We welcome submissions from authors both inside and outside academic institutions, from professional practitioners and those who are currently undergoing training or who have experiences to tell from their training histories. To signal your intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Paul Allain and Grzegorz Ziółkowski at: P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk and email@example.com. Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson (Thomas.Wilson@bruford.ac.uk), copied to Paul and Grzegorz.
Our deadline for these abstracts is 16th June 2021.
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:
“Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-7,000 words)
“Sources” provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training. We are particularly keen to receive material that documents the histories and contemporary practices associated with the issue’s theme.
“Training Grounds” hosts shorter pieces, which are not peer reviewed, including essais, postcards, visual essays, speaking image (short text responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.) and book or event reviews. We welcome a wide range of different proposals for contributions including edited interviews and previously unpublished archive or source material. We also welcome suggestions for recent books on the theme to be reviewed; or for foundational texts to be re-reviewed.
Innovative cross-over print/digital formats are possible, including the submission of audiovisual training materials, which can be housed on the online interactive Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal blog: http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/.
About Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)
Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training(TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge.
The two editors of the international journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training,Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Dr Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London), are seeking to recruit a coeditor to join them on this very successful journal, published by Routledge. Now in its 12th year, the journal has just moved to publishing 4 issues annually and attracts contributions from scholars and practitioners across the globe. It has a very active blog site, hosting multi-media content.
As the journal has grown in stature and in size, the editorial team has expanded, and we now have a group of associate editors and blog editors numbering over twenty individuals. True to our ethos of publishing and practising training, we seek someone who might be an ‘editor in waiting’, not necessarily fully versed in all the details of journal publication but with a deep-seated interest in performance training and with some experience of editing others’ work and engagement with academic journals.
While you may not be a fully fledged editor, you will need to bring strategic ambition and vision to the journal, helping us take TDPT into the next decade of its development with energy and imagination. Working on TDPT will offer you unique insights into academic publication and provide you with opportunities to expand your own networks with scholars and practitioners. You will be a key contributor, helping steer the journal’s direction and ensuring it keeps up to date and responsive to current ideas and movements in performance training.
You should be:
Invested in contemporary debates in training and performance and committed to the principles of ethical research.
Visionary and creative with clear ideas about how the journal can continue to develop and prosper.
Highly organised and efficient with excellent communication skills.
At your best when working in a tight-knit, collegiate team of editors and associate editors.
Editor’s responsibilities include:
Working with the other two co-editors of TDPT to set the strategic direction of the journal.
Upholding the highest levels of integrity in dealing with the journal’s contributors and content.
Liaising with the journal’s publishers, Routledge.
Collaborating with the TDPT extended team of associate editors (including blog and Training Grounds editors)
Sourcing (and liaising with) peer reviewers.
Becoming familiar with the the submission of manuscripts through the web-based peer review tool ScholarOne and the production platform CATS.
Commissioning and responding to proposals for Special Issues.
Sharing the writing of TDPT Editorials with the other editors.
Attending and helping to organise the Assistant Editors’ AGM and annual Training Grounds team meetings.
Supporting launch events for Special Issues and actively disseminating news about TDPT through social media.
Acting as an advocate for the journal at conferences and symposia.
TDPT is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, respect and equality of opportunity for all. We will select candidates on the basis of merit, and ability and aspire to further diversifying our community. We particularly welcome and encourage applications from candidates who have historically been under-represented in our journal including, but not limited to: Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people; gender non-binary, transgender or gender fluid people; and people with disabilities.
To apply please send a maximum two-page statement identifying how you see the journal developing over the next five years, plus an up-to-date CV. You may also want to include an assessment of your skills and interests along with a statement of what you would like to learn from working as co-editor. These can be sent directly to Jonathan Pitches and Libby Worth (details below).
Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge.
TDPT has an international profile and wide remit covering a range of arts training. For instance recent special issues have expanded to include training for: Popular Performance, Voice, Live and Performance Art, Immersive Performance, Independent Dance and focus on training places such as Dartington College of Arts. Current political and cultural issues that impact on, and that are generated by, training for performance, are regularly addressed in both open submissions and Special Issues such as ‘Training Politics and Ideology’, ‘Intercultural Acting and Actor/Performer Training’ and most recently ‘Against the Canon’.
As the journal has expanded over the years to full quarterly status in 2020, the number of submissions to both the Special and open issues has risen substantially. This welcome enthusiasm for writing on and from performance training comes with additional demands on the peer review process. The journal operates a single blind anonymous review process (i.e. reviewer’s name is not revealed to the author) with two reviews for each article. Given this growing need, the TDPT editors see that there is an opportunity for a new role within the journal for an Associate Editor (Peer Review), to lead on the journal’s strategy for peer review and to help us ensure its continuing rigour and supportiveness.
As this is a new editorial position, we invite you to contribute to its development and shaping. We expect that you will gain valuable experience in editorial processes within a highly respected and lively journal. Contact with a wide range of peer reviewers will increase your network substantially and has the potential for you to offer mentoring. Given both the numerical increase in submissions and expansion of fields of interest we envisage the role as follows:
Researching internationally for appropriate reviewers for the wide range of articles submitted.
Expanding the pool of peer reviewers the journal can draw upon and developing a clear system for access.
Encouraging new scholars and practitioners unfamiliar with the reviewing process to contribute. This is an extension of our current practice in mentoring practitioners and new writers to submit to the journal and the blog.
To contribute to actions and discussion on peer reviewing that support the further diversifying of our contributor base. In particular it is important to invite engagement from those who have historically been under-represented in our journal.
To reach out and engage with related journal editors in the current lively debates on the ethics, challenges and potential of the peer reviewing process.
To work closely with the editorial team and with Routledge.
You should be:
Interested and fully engaged in many aspects of performer training.
Very well organised with strengths in preparing spreadsheets or similar for easy retrieval of information.
Keen to participate as part of a close team and excellent at communication.
Interested and able to contribute within the wider related scholarly/artistic community on peer reviewing.
Eager to learn or develop your skills in editorial work within TDPT.
TDPT is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, respect and equality of opportunity for all. We will select candidates on the basis of merit, and ability and aspire to further diversifying our community. We particularly welcome and encourage applications from candidates who have historically been under-represented in our journal including, but not limited to: Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people; gender non-binary, transgender or gender fluid people; and people with disabilities.
To apply please send a maximum one-page statement identifying how you see the journal’s approach to Peer Review developing over the next couple of years, plus an up-to-date CV. You may also want to include an assessment of your skills and interests along with a statement of what you would like to learn from working as an Associate Editor. These can be sent directly to Jonathan Pitches and Libby Worth (details below).
We are delighted to announce issue 11.4 of TDPT. With this issue we are formally ‘a Quarterly’, both in the planning and the execution. As you will see, this is another very full issue, replete with six long-form articles, threaded through with postcards, a vibrant transcribed discussion, book and event reviews and a beautiful obituary, marking the passing of our dear friend Ali Hodge, and complementing a moving series of blog posts already published.
Look out for another innovation too: Speaking Image which takes forward – in microcosm – a key debate we have been having in the journal since its inception: how are embodied training practices communicated across media – and what does the interplay of image and word offer to this communication?
The not-for-profit documentation project ARTS ARCHIVES and THEATRE PAPERS — a millennium compendium of performance practice research 1985–2015 — is closing and going into the British Library where it will sit alongside the International Workshop Festival collection. The material is also in the special collections at Exeter University as part of Exeter Digital Archives of performance research.
However, if anybody is interested in obtaining at cost a private copy of all the material – it has been placed onto one sd card — for their own research and teaching, could they please get in touch. You can see catalogues of the material at www.arts-archives.org
The Laban for Actors and in Acting is an International Conference held under the auspices of The Makings of the Actor, the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, the Labanarium and Hellinoekdotiki, organized by Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.
The Makings of the Actoris organising a series of conferences based on books from international research practitioners discussing in theory and presenting in practice their works. Practitioner’s books are always a difficult task due to the struggle they have transferring practice into the written form of a book. Although there is always the possibility of recorded documentation with regards to practical work however this is unsatisfactory for practitioners to present their work in a complete way. Current practices like webinars offers a better understanding but still there is no immediate communication that can offer debates, questions and finally exchange of knowledge.
To submit a proposal, please visit the conference website:
This event will be hosted by the University of British Columbia Center for Mindful Engagement and Dr. Magnat will be joined by two special guests, Indigenous scholar Dr. Vicki Kelly and French scholar Dr. Nathalie Gauthard, who are members of the “Culture, Creativity, Health and Well-Being” Research Cluster that Dr. Magnat co-leads with Dr. Karen Ragoonaden (https://eminencecluster.weebly.com).
When: Dec 3, 2020 11:00 AM Vancouver – please see digital poster attached.
Conceived as a way of foregrounding the relevance of performance-based artistic practices in response to the current health crisis caused by the global pandemic, as well as a way of challenging neoliberal conceptions of creativity and performance as hallmarks of capitalist productivity, adaptability, and efficacy, this special issue will explore the relationship between performance training and the notion of well-being, broadly conceived, to reignite, reconfigure, revitalize, renew and/or reimagine their inter- and/or intra-action.
We seek contributions by performance and theatre studies scholar-practitioners, artists, educators, and activists committed to critically and reflexively investigating the cultural, social, political, ecological, and spiritual dimensions of performance training modalities that have the potential to promote, enhance, restore, and sustain the well-being of practitioners, audiences, and other/more-than-human participants and collaborators.
We are committed to integrating the perspectives of non-Western and Indigenous scholars and artists, and welcome contributions examining the ethical implications of conducting research on performance and well-being in the neoliberal academy, as well as decolonizing approaches to performance training that take into account the well-being of culturally diverse communities.
This special issue will therefore respond to the urgent need to acknowledge and to include multiple ways of knowing and being within Eurocentric paradigms that still inform dominant knowledge systems.
The contested term “well-being” is intended as a generative provocation. In this light, potential contributors are invited to engage with topics and questions such as:
A webinar brought to you by the Stanislavsky Research Centre, co-hosted by the School of Performance and Cultural Industries of the University of Leeds and the School of Performing Arts of the University of Malta.
Date: 4 November, 17:00 (GMT – London Time)
‘A Slice of Zoom Life: Uta Hagen’s Object Exercises in the COVID Era’
Prof. David Shirley, Executive Director, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia
Following a brief contextual overview of the aims and purpose of Hagen’s training techniques, this presentation will reflect on the advantages and challenges encountered during the delivery of a series of classes to first year actors at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) during April-June 2020. How do notions of authenticity change in this context and how important is the role of the actor’s imagination in this reconfigured approach to practical training.
‘Psychophysical Actor Training for the Small Screen’
Prof. Stephanie Daventry French, Professor of Theatre, East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania, US
French will demonstrate subtle mind-body exercises using the anatomy of thought (WEDGAG). These have the power to create a sculptural story through the body, stimulate inner life and thoughts in the circumstances, and activate emotions.
Session Moderated by Stefan Aquilina, Director, School of Performing Arts, University of Malta
A collaborative document, with contributions from: Mark Evans, Cass Fleming, Rebecca Loukes, Sara Reed and Amy Russell.
This piece of writing aims to offer reflection and provocation on the ways that the TDPT Special Issue ‘Against the Canon’ might be used as part of teaching and learning activities within theatre, dance and performance courses and training programmes. We write this as academics and artists, aware of our position as white and privileged – and we invite critique, challenge and debate.
For work ‘against the canon’ to have continuing impact, it needs to reach out beyond the page of academic journals and start to affect the ways in which pedagogy operates and the ways in which teachers and students engage with canonical forms of training and canonical content. Editing the special issue has brought to the fore for us so many questions about deep assumptions underpinning much practice in Universities and conservatoires. The changes being wrought by #MeToo and by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign also offer profound challenges to the ways in which training for performance is structured, taught, assessed and perceived. The suggestions and provocations outlined below are offered only as a number of possible starting points and are in no way definitive – they should themselves be open to challenge and critique. We suggest that those interested in this work should approach it collaboratively, as befits the subject matter, working in partnership with students, colleagues, industry partners and interested communities.
We post this in the midst of a global pandemic, which will hit hardest those who are traditionally marginalised. We acknowledge that in the context of this unprecedented situation, the start of a new academic year is difficult timing for people to engage with this blog, so we invite continuing debate and discussion when time and work allows.
Consider your own identity, where does it sit in the hierarchies of inclusion/exclusion, and the systems of power, privilege and ownership in the wider world, the cultural and arts sector and educational organisations – and perhaps self-assess and take a moment to dialogue with yourself (Daron Oram) – can you foreground and celebrate aspects of your identity (Kristine Landon-Smith), can you identify gaps in your knowledge about the lives and cultures of others (Kaja Dunn et al.), can you invite yourself to be curious and provocative?
Make an honest inventory of your objectives and motives on the one hand, and your hesitations, fears, and resistances if you experience any. For example, are you afraid of getting it wrong, or of letting something go that is important to you? Imagine having a conversation with one of your ancestors about this project of working against the canon. Are they for or against it? In what ways do you agree or disagree? Can you be curious about your own resistance if you experience any? Can you feel the excitement of change and enthusiasm at being part of it? If there is ambivalence or fear, how can you work with it?
Assess your own practices and the methodologies you draw on for your practice, teaching, scholarship and/or research. What are the implicit assumptions in those methods and whom do they exclude or marginalise? Do you feel empowered or disempowered by the methods you employ – why is this so? What techniques, terms and language do you use that require an element of transformation or critique – neutral, natural, trust, ideal, truth, authentic, cultural assumptions about ‘naturalistic’ acting, for example – and how might you adapt and/or critically situate them in your practice? Do you have aspects of your own cultural heritage and/or identity (in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, age, disability) that may be marginalised in theatre, dance and performance training – and can these be brought to the fore, celebrated and shared?
Consider the context within which your course(s) takes place: the diversity of those teaching and studying in terms of race, age, gender, sexuality, class and disability. How does this composition reflect the diversity of the wider community? Does it reflect the wider societal need to recognise the achievements of those who have been marginalised, oppressed or ignored in the past? It is important and valuable to name the issues that are in the room – they are not things that anyone should be afraid of dealing with. The starting point however has to be acknowledging that they are there. In order to challenge white, heterosexual, non-disabled male privilege, consider the importance of pushing against the canon even if your students happen to be all white/male/straight!
Do you share any of your students’ fears? If you share some of their concerns and fears, can this compassion provide insight into how to address what students may not be willing to reveal about themselves unless they feel safe?
Take critical note of the texts, workshops and performances that are recommended for reading or identified as essential for students to read to complete your module or course. Make sure that authorship is diverse – that may mean extra work to identify scholarship that is less well known. Can all your students see themselves in enough of the documents that they read, the plays they study or perform, and the performances that they watch? Is disability arts and performance included in your curriculum? Where diverse examples are not available ensure that teachers and students recognise that omission (and at times exclusion) and critique the reasons for it. Where canonical works are used, ensure that they are critiqued through study and through practice. How much do we rely on the legacy of the written word? Whose words remain and for whom do they speak? Remember the value of oral histories – where books and articles don’t exist for contemporary practice, there will be people’s memories and experiences. If you access these, how might they be shared in order to encourage others?
Don’t just decolonise the curriculum, decolonise the pedagogy.
Using the journal in the classroom:
As provocation – how does each contribution represent a provocation to question and challenge existing canons? What is the nature of each provocation? Is the form of each piece significant – why might a postcard, a conversation, diagram or a manifesto be provocative as a contribution to an academic journal? What is the purpose of provocation?
Look at the postcard pieces. Who would you ask to write a postcard and why? How might you curate such postcards? How can an image and a short piece of text work together – one counterpointing the other, one illustrating the other? Can an image work on its own? How might a series of postcards work – as a linear narrative, as a constellation of related ideas?
Create a board game that represents the ways in which privilege operates within the performing arts (historically and/or in the present) – a snakes and ladders or monopoly of opportunities and rejections. Could your students then create an alternative model or structure?
As model – Consider canonical practice not directly addressed in this special issue (Stanislavsky, Duncan, Graham, Brecht, Meyerhold, Cunningham, Brook, Grotowski, somatics etc.) – how might students use the journal contributions to construct challenges to such practice? What would they focus on? What models might they use – postcards and conversations are used in the special issue, are there other models (interviews, hot seating, letters/emails, cartoons, graffiti, vlogs, etc.)? Use images as the starting point for a critique of who is seen doing what – how is power preserved through images? Construct images that challenge this.
As dialogue – take an issue raised in ‘Against the Canon’ through one or more of the contributions, ask the students to formulate questions related to the issue and construct a formal debate around it. Ask students to construct arguments for and against, drawing on evidence they can find. Debate highlights difference and enables a multiplicity of viewpoints; various positions can be set up and defended – no position is established as definitive although it often creates a strong motivation for determining and arguing for what is ‘right’. In Russell et al. different views are expressed on whether there is such a thing as essential femininity and essential masculinity. The neutral mask used in Lecoq teaching is often gender binary. Your students could discuss this essentialism or debate it. If you can obtain even one neutral mask, you might consider using it “against the canon” as a way of eliciting conversation and awareness of gender performance. If this provokes a parodied use of the mask, refining the performance might raise interesting questions about gender fluidity and might serve to destabilize the reification of gender identities.
Encourage students to dialogue with practising artists – who should they contact (whose work is typically marginalised or under-recognised)? What contact might they have with them – perhaps via postcards they construct around themes, issues, questions? Would the artists be willing to construct postcards for the students? Ask students to construct dialogues between canonical figures and those who were marginalised within their practice – Brecht and his female collaborators, Stanislavski and his female students, Brook and theatre-makers from India and Africa – what would they say to each other? Where would they disagree and where might they agree? Consider ways in which conversations can be sexualised encounters – how might you queer a conversation? Use dialogue to question how and why terms such as energy, presence and character can become gendered and/or sexualised.
When using debate, discussion and role-playing consider how to create an open and supported space for students (for example, you can acknowledge that those who are asked to take an unpopular role or defend an unpopular position are doing something valuable for the overall debate). Ask students to play a role they don’t agree with, but are willing to give that role their best effort. If the dialogue or debate seems to veer at some point to students ‘calling each other out’, can you help to instil a culture of ‘calling in’ – where relationships are built rather than sacrificed, helping people to find their compassion for each other? This should not be about allowing people to hold on to prejudiced views, but about creating and sustaining a level of empathy with others that enables change to happen. With colleagues and students discuss how best to deal with problematic attitudes and difficult incidents (your institution may – or in some cases sadly may not – have useful guidance).
Challenge the sanctity of the clean document – take canonical text(s) and allow students to annotate and comment on them, encourage them to use images and illustrations to counterpoint text, making the unseen or unacknowledged visible.
How might a student construct a dialogue with themselves regarding their practice (Daron Oram) – what would they want to address in doing so? How could they record/document or share such a dialogue, and what would be the benefit of doing so?
Also consider this unique historical moment when institutions are moving from live teaching to online learning at lightning speed. What structures of power, inequality and accessibility need to be considered? In what ways might the shift to online pedagogies offer new opportunities in themselves to democratize or radically question existing methods?
Using the journal with online learning:
The web resources available are not neutral, and search engine algorithms prioritise what is established and popular. Task students with searching around key words, figures, training regimes and topics and ask them to review what comes up, what doesn’t and how difficult or easy it is to find alternatives. They might take one of the articles from the special issue and examine what results internet searches produce for different key people, practices and approaches within the article – how easy is it to find out about marginalised practitioners and practices? What does this tell students about internet resources and about the marginalisation of artists?
How might students create their own online resource for training? What materials and resources would they pull together? How would they operate together to realise collaboration as a way of working? What training exercises might they design and how might they present and share them?
Using the journal in the studio:
How might a student or group of students construct a series of postcards to represent their practice? How might image and text in this format work together? Who would the postcards be for – who would they be designed to be sent to (either living or dead)?
Use one of the contributions to provoke changes in how the students learn or how teachers teach. Make one issue a focus for a lesson and consider how teacher and student might reflect on a session (or sessions) in the light of these issues. Points of focus might include: the experience of disabled students, the experience of students from global majority backgrounds, the experience of privileged students, the experience of working-class students, the experience of older students, the experience of female students, the experience of transgendered students, the expectations teachers have of students, the possibility of meaningful failure. What assumptions are made within studio work: around acceptable forms of behaviour, around the limits and assumptions of touch and the direction of gaze, around the use of language, accent, body language, gesture and dialect? Who feels that they are allowed to ‘be themselves’ within the studio space – and what does that mean? What assumptions about wealth and privilege underpin most of our training intuitions and how do we make space for working class realities (Cornford).
How can students dialogue about their practice – talking to themselves (Oram), talking with others (Russell, Dunn), creating fictional dialogue (Cornford)? How about tasking students to construct a proposal for a blog entry for the TDPT blog – what would they write about? It could be a response to one of the articles in the special issue, or a proposal for a new contribution? What skills would they learn in doing this? Then encourage the students to post their blog on TDPT – their voices need to be heard!
Journal issues only ever include an edited selection of contributions. Ask students to consider what other issues might have been good to include in this special issue and how they might have tackled such issues. What might be hard about writing such pieces and why – where might obstacles, resistances or difficulties come from and how be overcome?
How might students create new representations of historical practice that deconstructs and challenges the narrative of the genius, the white male guru?
How might some of the content of the special issue work as provocations in relation to students practice? Who is their work for – who is able to engage with it? What do they want to say in their work? What training conventions are they taking for granted? Who takes responsibility for what within their group work – how is work apportioned, who leads, what voices are heard (or not)? What are the politics and ethics of these structures and relationships?
How might the practices of Bing, Boal, Brecht, Candoco, Gindler, Graeae, Henricks, Landon-Smith, Newson, Phoenix Dance, Talawa, Tamasha, WAC or others create models within which canonical practice and performance might be challenged, interrupted, disrupted, deconstructed, commented on and reveal those that the practice has historically marginalised or ignored? How do the practices themselves resist or activate resistance in the participants? What examples of such practices are available for students?
What does touch mean post #MeToo and the killing of George Floyd? Who owns space, how do we negotiate touch, what might touching signify, what can we learn from/through touch? Where are our embodied borders and what do they mean now for us and for others? How do assumptions around touch, weight and space play in to assumptions around gender, sexuality, disability and race/ethnicity?
The Language of the studio/practical class – discuss with students the impact of words and how choice of words can subtly delineated who is or isn’t included. What is implied by references to ‘guys and girls’ or ‘OK guys’? What is the effect of mispronouncing someone’s name? Work with students to be alert to assumptions within language about gender, class, disability and race/ethnicity. When asking students to write about practice, discuss with them the relevance of using alternative pronouns – he/she, s/he, they, she. Consider with all your students how being within the LGBTQI+ community may involve having very different impulses to those recognised by dominant heterosexist cultures and how this may/could/should impact on training performers (Lazlo Pearlman and Deirdre McLaughlin). Reviewing reading and resource lists for their course – encourage them to examine how often the actor is assumed as white, male, straight and/or non-disabled. Ask the students for suggestions and ideas.
Consider Landon-Smith’s article and discuss with students the ways in which they might bring their own cultures into the studio – through games, dances, songs, exercises, storytelling, patois/accent/dialect, postures and ways of sitting/standing, gestures and movements. Recognise that all cultures have these and be sure to reveal how these exist in straight, white, non-disabled culture even when they are ‘invisible’ in their ubiquity and dominance.
How can practical sessions be used to challenge canonical training practice? Change should not just be about making accommodation for difference, but about transformation and radical change. Be clear that inclusion is not just about ‘fitting in’ disabled, global majority or queer students, it is about celebrating their presence – what might that mean in terms of changes to studio practice, your work ideas and strategies?
Reflect on the practice that does not make it into the studio – why is it absent or excluded? Whose responsibility is it to find ways of including it? What ideas and approaches have our students contributed and how can we take this further in the future?
Open up discussions between staff and students around canonical practice and equality issues. This should not be threatening, but should enable multiple perspectives to enrich mutual understanding of the role and purpose of training and the ethical dimensions surrounding training practice.
White colleagues – Reject the assumption that you have to know everything about marginalised artists in order to teach about their practice. There is not time to wait for those books to be written. Invite the artists to be part of constructing the curriculum. Invite students to help create/curate the materials for learning. Don’t be afraid to start from a position of ignorance and learn with the students.
Reject the assumption that students have to learn about the canon in order to ‘really’ know their subject. The subject is the centre of the learning, the canonical figures are only a set of examples.
Reject the assumption that the canonical figures are all individual geniuses. What kind of mythologies, misunderstanding and ideologies are created by this assumption? Each one’s career involves multiple collaborations with forgotten or marginalised others. Recognising these others need not diminish the achievements of all involved, but does given recognition where it is due but not always given. It does no harm at all to recognise the value and success of collaboration and the ways in which artists work together. It does great harm to assume that the work of many can be understood as the achievements of only one.
Reject the assumption that marginalised work is somehow lower in quality, that it therefore deserves to be marginalised. Such an assumption does not recognise the ways in which value systems are socially and politically constructed and managed by those who hold power.
Reject the marginalisation of yourself or others in the field of work, study and practice because of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, age, class or disability. Reject being the token representative. Don’t allow that to happen to students either.
The diversity of your students – allow them to be themselves.
Your own identity, culture, history and experiences – they should inform your teaching without you being seen as exotic or a token member of staff. If that happens, complain.
Your own learning journey as a teacher and a person and those who you collaborated with within that journey.
The wonderful ways in which theatre, dance and performance enable us all to realise and challenge the ways in which our identities are created, policed and presented.
Reading/watching to help reflection and action – this list is not definitive!
An open letter to UK Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies
Look at work within the performing arts as an area of inequality and exclusion.
DV8 The Cost of Living (extracts)
Examine and explore representations of disability.
Calling In: A Quick Guide to When and How by Sian Ferguson
Reflect with students on when to call out and when to call in.
Change comes from action – so what will you do differently?
At Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK, the institution has set in motion a project to address issues of institutional racism through institutional review. You can see details at: https://www.cssd.ac.uk/repairing-curriculum. How might such a project relate to your own practice? What might you take from this at an individual level? What might you change, challenge or adapt? Should such a project be replicated in order to make provision for tackling issues around gender, sexuality, disability, age, class, etc.?
And then we have to make our intuitions follow through on agreed changes, actions and re-structures. What institutional support do you need in order to challenge the canon? What allies can help with this change – both from within and outside your institution?
You are not alone – who else can support you, share with you, join in conversations with you? What networks do you have or should you seek to establish that will support change? Who can you engage with as visiting professors, hourly paid lecturers, local/national/global professional contacts, audience/community members, students, campaigners and activists? How can you maintain pressure on your institution to recruit more diverse staff members as permanent members of staff and to remove the powerful glass ceilings to promotion that prevail in our sector?
We are delighted to announce the publication of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 11.3, “Against the Canon”, guest edited by Mark Evans (Coventry University) and Cass Fleming (Goldsmiths University), with Training Grounds section edited by Sara Reed (Coventry University)
This special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performer Training addresses the forgotten and marginalised contributions made by various collaborative artists and practitioners to the development of performer training during the twentieth and twenty first centuries.
Many previous publications on training have tended to focus on canonical figures and the dominant historical performer-training narratives. Less attention has been paid to collaboration as an important characteristic of avant-garde performance training, and to the complex exchanges through which pedagogy and work has been developed and disseminated. This journal issue intentionally centralises these acts of cross-fertilisation and collaborative exchanges, thereby shifting the focus away from canonical individual figures and towards frequently overlooked or under-recognised practitioners and pedagogues. In doing so, we are aware that this special issue is not alone in advocating for such a shift of focus. In many respects we see this issue as one particular marking point in a turn away from a linear, white and patriarchal history of theatre, dance and performance training.
Our contributing authors challenge the manner in which traditional performer training histories often still seek to capture the ‘purity’ of established methods and to identify individual (often white male) owners of successful techniques. This issue will seek to challenge the ways in which practitioners such as Stanislavsky, Craig, Copeau, Laban, Lecoq, Chekhov and Meisner are often uncritically revered as ‘Master Teachers’ and the ways in which this obscures or negates the existence of wider networks of artists who contributed to the development of these training practices, many of whom were women. To this extent our authors are not looking simply to critique existing canonical figures, but to bring forward the work of those who are usually ignored.
Ali was a long term and loyal supporter of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training and, as an innovative and rigorous advocate of the importance of research in performer training, a significant presence on the editorial board. There is little question that Ali’s texts such as Twentieth Century Actor Training (Routledge, 1999) and the second edition Actor Training (Routledge, 2010) were acclaimed when first published and remain valued and important resources for theatre artists and researchers. So too, her work with Wlodzimierz Staniewski, Hidden Territories: The Theatres of Gardzienice (with DVD, Routledge 2003) provide detailed analyses of the Polish company’s training and performance making processes, whilst Core Training for the Relational Actor (with DVD, Routledge, 2013) revealed much about her decades long development of directorial work with her company The Quick and the Dead. However, the following series of reminiscences open up a different kind of space in which to celebrate and reflect on Ali’s lifelong journey in theatre practice, together with the impact she had on those she met. The voices of some of those who worked and lived most closely with Ali, over different periods of her life, speak out in their own manner about what was distinctive and important to each of them in their contact with her. Each emphasises the essential connection between the personal and the professional in her work, her humour, courage, generosity, insight and rigour. The series of recollections, grouped very roughly around the place, company or type of work she undertook, opens with Chris Hurford’s, Ali’s husband, invocation of her passionate drive to ensure that theatre, through its performers, communicated meaningfully and compassionately. And they end with Ruth Way’s memory of Ali’s joy in her ‘incredible vegetable patch’.
Reading through these recollections reminded me of one of the aspects I found most compelling when working with Ali during her time at Royal Holloway This was her capacity to step back from an assessment or directing moment and pause before offering penetrating questions. Her own spaciousness in allowing time for the response process to happen, encouraged those she worked with the same freedom — to take time, to think, to reflect and importantly to gain perspective on even the most challenging, emotionally charged movement and vocal work.
Ali’s husband, Chris Hurford (who’s reflection is immediately below), has just completed work on www.alihodge.com, a website dedicated to Ali’s work. It is primarily intended as a resource and a portal for students, practitioners and academics — as many have already expressed an interest in such a site. For those who knew Ali it also is a great reminder of her extraordinary achievements.
Please feel free to comment below or contact the Blog editors to submit a post if you wish to add your thoughts, this is the beauty of a blog space.
Libby Worth Reader in Contemporary Performance Practices, Royal Holloway and Co-editor with Jonathan Pitches, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training.
Huge congratulations from all at TDPT to Konstantinos Thomaidis who has just won the Honourable Mention for Excellence in Editing at this year’s ATHE Awards, for his special issue for TDPT ‘What is new in voice training?’ 10.3. The award was announced today at the annual (online) conference. The full list of winners and mentions in this category are posted here.
Konstantinos’ success arises from his tremendous hard work and dedication as a guest editor on the journal combined with his extensive knowledge and experience in the field of voice studies. Jonathan and I as co-editors were full of admiration at the way Konstantinos overcame some initial setbacks that were out of his control to ensure the quality and adventurousness of the issue.
In his introduction to the special issue Konstantinos offers a brief survey of the literature and practices of the ‘emergent field of voice studies’ and comments in the following way:
‘These studies have invited us to listen to the voice anew: voice as that which encompasses and exceeds textuality and linguistic meaning-making, voice as embodied and materially intersubjective; voice as both individual and political, affective and ideological, semantically potent and pragmatically interpolated, demandingly present and abjectly haunted – as simultaneously knowable and perpetually undefinable.’ (2019: 295).
And listen he does in his role as guest editor, inviting us to engage with the wide range of authors who address ‘what is new’ through both varied content and in a range of different formats.
To celebrate this achievement, Taylor and Francis Online and the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal has made the following three articles from the Special Issue free to view until October:
Beth Osnes, Chelsea Hackett, Jen Walentas Lewon, Norma Baján & Christine Brennan (2019) Vocal Empowerment Curriculum for young Maya Guatemalan women, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 10:3, 313-331, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2019.1637371
Konstantinos Thomaidis (2019) Between preservation and renewal: reconsidering technology in contemporary pansori training, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 10:3, 418-438, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2019.1645040
Mel Drake (2019) ‘Next year’s words await another voice’1: British Sign Language and voice work with D/deaf actors at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 10:3, 448-454, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2019.1677388
At a time when TDPT had to postpone its 10th Birthday celebrations it’s wonderful to have this moment of success, an opportunity to raise a glass to Konstantinos and shout out our congratulations – whilst listening anew, of course, to our voices.
The view that one can only practice and not practice for performance art and live art has persisted since the emergence of time-, body-, and action-based performance artworks in the 1960s. After all, to speak of ‘training’ evokes ideas of technique, mastery or tradition, ideas that the artists engaged in performance art and live art have frequently sought to challenge or altogether abandon. However, many of the artists who have shaped the history of performance art and live art have also been committed teachers; pedagogical approaches to performance practices emerged at the same time as the practices themselves; educational institutions have frequently offered material support for the making of performance works and provided a living for artists; and artist-led, non-institutional training spaces have adopted events and publications as alternative forms of curricula. Acknowledging the importance of training not just in the formation of a performance artist but as part of their continuing practice also means to value experience, expertise and professional standing as part of the work of performance art and live art.
This special issue brings together contributions that address the theme of training for performance art and live art in reference to different histories (covering the 1960s and 1970s as well as the recent present); diverse geographies (examining developments in the UK and in Portugal); institutions and anti-institutions (covering art schools, summer schools, festivals and workshop programmes); and varied approaches to teaching and training as a performative inter-generational transaction.
Gavin Butt’s ‘Without Walls: Performance Art and Pedagogy at the “Bauhaus of the North”’ traces the impact of libertarian teaching in the 1970s at arguably the most influential teaching institutions for the history of performance art in the UK, Leeds Polytechnic. In ‘Lessons from Outside the Classroom: Performance Pedagogies in Portugal, 1970-1980’, Cláudia Madeira and Fernando Matos Oliveira recount approaches to performance training as they developed in Portugal in the wake of the 1974 revolution outside of formal institutions.
Deirdre Heddon’s ‘Professional Development for Live Artists: Doing it Yourself’ explores the history of the DIY professional development scheme as an example for how training practices are being reimagined as live art practices in themselves. In ‘Training for Live Art: Process Pedagogies and New Moves International’s Winter Schools’, Stephen Greer examines the New Moves International (NMI)’s winter school as another key example for an artist-led scheme that made productive live art’s resistant relationship to established forms of performer training.
In ‘“I’ve been as intimate with him as I have been with anybody”: Queer Approaches, Encounters and Exchanges as Live Art Performer Training’, Kieran Sellars identifies in the cross-generational performance collaboration between Sheree Rose and Martin O’Brien a form of queer embodied discipline that draws on BDSM as well as Live Art lineages. And in ‘Curious Methods–Pedagogy Through Performance’, Leslie Hill and Helen Paris document the close ways in which their training methods have reflected on and contributed to their creation of live performance work.
The Training Grounds section (edited by Bryan Brown) supplements this with a collection of shorter essais, postcards, and a book review (edited by Chris Hays). Will Dickie’s expanded essai (accompanied by videos available here on the TDPT blog) investigates the application of psychophysical actor training to live art. In the issue’s second essai, a trio of practitioners (Áine Phillips, Dominic Thorpe and Tara Carroll) offer insight into three generations of Irish live art practice by detailing transformative encounters with their teachers. The two postcards for this special issue (by Sara Zaltash and N. Eda Erçin) wrestle with the entanglements of live art practice, life and communities. And Campbell Edinborough’s review of Marina Abramović’s memoir Walk Through Walls furthers the discussion of how a live artist’s work is their life while querying the ability to turn that life into a method.
Below I have posted a letter from Kaite O’Reilly regarding the recent passing of Phillip Zarrilli. While this may not be news to some of you, I wanted to pay tribute to Phillip on this platform in the most fitting way. In the coming months, we will be posting reflections on Phillip’s work from some of his alumni, and if you would like to contribute, please feel free to comment on this post or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to write a stand-alone post from your own perspective. Rest in peace Phillip.
On 9th March 2020 when Phillip received the news from his oncologist that the cancer he had been living with for fourteen years had begun to ‘seriously party’ (his words) he said to me ‘this is our last adventure together.’
I have been so fortunate, having this great mind, this gentle and generous man as my companion in so many ways – loving, working, living, travelling, thinking, writing and making performance alongside him for twenty one years, with and without The Llanarth Group. The journey may continue, but now it is in parallel, perhaps, not our accustomed hip-to-hip together.
Phillip died on 28th April 2020 at 13.52 UK time. He rode out on a breath – like so many times in his teaching he spoke of riding the breath to that moment of completion at the end of exhalation – the space in-between at the end of one cycle before the impulse of the next inhalation begins. This time came no inhalation.
24 hour streaming on 22 May, 2020 midnight (22) to midnight (23) Pacific Standard Time
I was invited as the Spring 2020 Granada Artist in Residence to the University of California Davis to direct a stage production of the Greek tragedy, Antigone, at the Wyatt theatre, in the Seamus Heaney translation. With lockdown, when it was becoming clear that I wasn’t going to be able to go, my American collaborator Margaret Kemp and I started to imagine what we could do instead. Given that we were in a world pandemic, a global crisis, it felt essential to try still to do something. How could we follow through on our collaboration, creativity and community engagement in this unprecedented moment in history? How could we create a piece that would speak to this crisis? We decided to make a performance film instead, rehearsing online, creating it online and performing it online.
In the middle of last year when we were considering how best to celebrate 10 years of TDPT, we focused in on the idea of 10 free-to-access articles representing the last decade of the journal’s activity: A Desert Island Discs, or Training Top Ten.
That was before the profound changes brought about by the global pandemic, an event which seems to have carved history into two: BEFORE and AFTER. Then, in the blissful period of BEFORE, we had no idea how precious online resources would be, how far the digital space would become home for so many of us, so quickly and involuntarily.
Now in the deeply unsettling and unknown period of AFTER, this selective retrospective of the Journal’s activity since 2010, joins an unprecedented landscape of free digital resources and innovative online endeavour gifted to the world. In our selection, editors, Libby and Jonathan have tried to represent the international and intellectual diversity which has characterised contributions to TDPT from the very beginning. In doing so, we have had to leave out the vast majority of the excellent contributions we have published over the years. What we offer here, then, is a snapshot of TDPT’s sizeable intervention into the field of Performer Training, one produced in what now seems a different world. If you can, please read every one of the free to access articles, and engage with us and the authors, in the comments box on the blog. Why not start, where it all began in 2010, with Marijke Hoogenboom’s, ‘Building with Blocks’ article? Her final words, turning Kafka on its head, are more pertinent than ever: ‘We are here, so there is hope’.
We are delighted to flag up the publication of 11.1 – the open issue of TDPT and the one that marks the completion of 10 years of the journal. It was disappointing to have to postpone TDPT birthday celebrations, due to Covid-19, planned for Leeds earlier in the month. However, the flood of appreciative emails that came in marking the 10th Birthday were heart-warming and inspiration for the next decade.
When you have had a chance to look through the contents do feel free to respond in our Comeback pages of the blog. We’d love to hear reactions to this diverse and lively collection of contributions.
Volume 11 Issue, 1 March 2020
Editorial Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches and Thomas Wilson
Jonathan Pitches is
Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Leeds in the School
of Performance and Cultural Industries. He specialises in the study of
performer training and has wider interests in intercultural performance,
environmental performance and blended learning. He is founding co-editor of
the TDPT and has published several books in this area: Vsevolod
Meyerhold (2003), Science and the Stanislavsky Tradition of
Acting (2006/9), Russians in Britain (2012) and, Stanislavsky
in the World (with Dr Stefan Aquilina 2017). His most recent
publications are: Great Stage Directors Vol 3: Komisarjevsky, Copeau,
Guthrie (Sole editor, 2018) and the monograph, Performing
Landscapes: Mountains (2019).
Libby Worth is Reader in Contemporary
Performance Practices, Royal Holloway, University of London. She is a movement
practitioner with research interests in the Feldenkrais Method, physical theatres,
site-based performance and in folk/traditional and amateur dance. Performances
include co-devised duets; Step Feather Stitch (2012)and dance film Passing Between Folds (2017).She is co-editor of TDPT and
published texts include Anna
Halprin (2004, co-authored),
Ninette de Valois: Adventurous
Traditionalist (2012, co-edited),
Jasmin Vardimon’s Dance Theatre:
Movement, Memory and Metaphor (2016).
Chapter contributions include on clog and sword dancing for Time and Performer Training (2019, she co-edited) and ‘Improvisation in
Dance and the Movement of Everyday Life’ for the Oxford Handbook of Dance Improvisation (2019).
Training grounds editors
Aiden Condron has been an actor, performance maker and actor trainer for over
twenty-five years working across the UK, Europe and the US. He is a Lecturer in
Acting at The Institute of the Arts Barcelona (IAB). Aiden was founding
artistic director of Nervousystem,
a Dublin-based international performance laboratory from 2002–2012. Recent
theatre work includes performances in a number of works by Samuel Beckett
including Westward Ho, Ohio Impromptu and That Time, performed in Japan and Russia. Aiden’s
current teaching and research activity investigates processes and practices of
actor and performer training within the domain of presence, play and action,
examining the actor’s dramaturgy as a field of autonomous creation.
Chris Hay is Lecturer in Drama in the School of Communication & Arts at the
University of Queensland, Australia. Prior to this position, he held
appointments at the University of New England, the National Institute of
Dramatic Art (NIDA), and the University of Sydney, where he completed his PhD
in Theatre & Performance Studies in 2014. He has published on Australian
theatre history and creative arts pedagogy, including his book Creativity, Knowledge & Failure: a
new pedagogical framework for creative arts (2016). His current research projects examine the origins of Australian
government arts funding, and Australia’s participation in the Eurovision Song
Thomas J. M. Wilson is a Module/Year Coordinator for BA (Hons) European Theatre Arts at
Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, and a Fellow of the Higher
Education Academy. Initially training in Equestrian Vaulting he competed at
European-level in the mid-1990s. Subsequently he has engaged in practices
rooted in the intersection between dance and theatre methodologies, working as
both a performer and director/choreographer in a range of contexts. Thomas
served on Oxford Dance Forum’s Steering Group (2008–10) and has regularly
contributed to Total Theatre Magazine since 2001. He is an Associate of
Gandini Juggling working as their Archivist and Publications Author. He is the
author of Juggling Trajectories:
Gandini Juggling 1991–2015, which
was shortlisted for The Society of Theatre Research Book Prize 2016.
The Contributors for 11.1
Dr Peta Blevins is a sessional academic at the Western Australian Academy of Performing
Arts and works as a freelance dance educator, researcher, and performance
consultant specialising in dance and performance psychology, safe dance
practice, and mindfulness skills for performance. Her research interests
include enhancing psychological recovery in dance, mindfulness and performance,
and health and wellbeing in the performing arts. Peta is a member of the
International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, and is currently a
National Executive Committee Member of the Australian Society of Performing
Frank Camilleri is Associate Professor
in Theatre Studies at the University of Malta where he also directs the School
of Performing Arts’ research group for 21st Century Studies in Performance. He
is Artistic Director and founder of Icarus Performance Project, which serves as
the main platform of his practice as research (www.icarusproject.info). He has
performed and given workshops since 1989, and has published various texts on
performer training, theatre as a laboratory, and practice as research. He is
the author of Performer Training
Reconfigured: Post-psychophysical Perspectives for the Twenty-first Century
(Methuen Drama 2019).
Tine Damborg (DK), graduated
as a Master of Fine Arts in Movement: Teaching & Directing, from Royal Central School
of Speech and Drama (2016-2018). She holds the equivalent to a BA in
Contemporary Dance from The Danish School of Performing Arts (1992-1995) and has worked as a freelance
dancer and performer in dance shows, performances, rock-musicals, touring
children’s theatre, and site specific works. In 2005 she began to
develop her dance, movement and
practice. In 2005 she founded the Danish youth contemporary dance company, “U-kompagniet” and
a movement specialist at
The Danish School of Performing Arts, Acting department in Odense.
(EDITED BY EN)
Dr Shona Erskine is a registered psychologist in
private practice and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of
Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University. Dr Erskine has an expertise in
delivering psychology for performing artists through professional companies,
universities, and in private practice. Dr Erskine has developed curriculum in
areas of mental wellbeing and creativity with an interest in disseminating best
practice models to performing artist, teachers, and directors.
Dr Luke Hopper is a lecturer and Director of the Dance Research Group at the Western
Australian Academy of Performing Arts. Dr Hopper has published over 20 papers
in the field of performing arts health in collaboration with major ballet
companies and industry partners. In the interests of disseminating of health
evidence which prevents injury and illness in performing artists, Dr Hopper has
served on the Board of Directors (2014-2016) of the International Association
of Dance Medicine and Science and as President of the Australian Society for
Performing Arts Healthcare.
FRSA is Emeritus Professor of Theatre, University of the Arts London. Trained on the Directors Course at Drama
Centre London, he has directed over 50 productions in the UK as well as
internationally and has taught and directed in most leading drama schools in
the UK. He was Director of the School of
Performance at Rose Bruford College, Vice-Principal and Director of Drama at
the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Principal of Drama Centre London and
Director of Development and Research Leader, Drama and Performance, Central
Saint Martins. He is currently the Chair of the Directors Guild of Great
Britain Trust and of the Directors Charitable Foundation.
Professor Gene Moyle is a graduate from the Australian Ballet School and QUT Dance,
retraining as a sport and exercise psychologist following a brief career as a
professional dancer. Gene has focused upon both the application and research of
performance psychology and performance enhancement, particularly within the
performing arts and has significant experience in working with and leading
multidisciplinary teams within high performance settings (i.e., Olympic
programs). She possesses specific expertise in the area of career development
and transition in both elite sport and the performing arts, and contributes
regularly to the literature on the ethical considerations of sport, exercise
and performance psychology practice.
Edward C. Warburton is Professor of Dance at the
University of California, Santa Cruz. Warburton received early training at the
(U)North Carolina School of the Arts and danced professionally with American
Ballet Theater II, Houston Ballet and Boston Ballet. His interest in cognitive
dance studies began when studying for a doctorate in human development and
psychology at Harvard University. A widely published author, his research
explores the relational practices and cognitive processes that support (or
undermine) the doing, making, and viewing of dance. Warburton is the recipient
of several awards including UCSC’s Excellence
in Research (2012), the U.S. National Dance Education Organization’s Outstanding Dance Researcher (2016), and
Teachers College’s Sachs Distinguished
Lecturer at Columbia University, New York City, NY (2017).
is a postgraduate researcher in the School of Performance and Cultural
Industries at University of Leeds. A practising lighting designer, she is also
a non-executive director of the Association of Lighting Designers and editor of
its bi-monthly magazine, Focus. Her
research interests include theatre lighting education, creative collaboration,
early lighting designers in the UK (1950s to 1960s), trans-languaging and
code-switching, and interactional sociolinguistics.
Given the Covid-19 dramatic changes to life over the last weeks, we have extended the deadline for proposal submissions to the guest editors for the special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training on ‘Independent dance and movement training to 24th April 2020.
Please would you circulate widely amongst Independent Dance and Movement academics and practitioners?
Special issue on Performer Training in Australia to be published as TDPT Vol 12.3 (September 2021)
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors
Guest editors: Dr Chris Hay, University of Queensland (email@example.com) Professor David Shirley, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University (firstname.lastname@example.org) Dr Sarah Peters, Flinders University (email@example.com) Training Grounds editor: Dr Soseh Yekanians, Charles Sturt University (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Conjoined with blood and tears, the axiomatic price of supreme rigour and achievement. Sweat (water, ammonia, salt, sugar) is deemed a noble and miraculous secretion, yet we habitually strive to disguise it. […] In the unapologetic seclusion of the training space, it becomes the proof of our proud status as grafters, as corporeal, visceral, present, working.
As described in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training’s “A Lexicon of Training Terms” (3.1), sweat is a constituent part of training — a synecdoche for the tension and effort that underpin it. Sweat is also a precondition of living and training in Australia, from our corporeal engagement with a heating continent to the metaphorical ‘she’ll be right, mate’. This no sweat, laissez-faire acceptance of the status quo finds its way into training through “a willingness to ‘have a go’; a refusal to be cowed by received authority […] a characteristically Australian suspicion of influence” (Maxwell 2017, p. 326).
The image of sweat also brings with it metaphors of fear, tension and anxiety, often drawn out or extended. This sense of determination over time pushes back against a conception of Australia as the rushed continent, whose artists seek to take short cuts to success. Hugh Hunt, the inaugural director of the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust, cautioned as much in a 1959 public lecture:
We sometimes expect theatre to be made too quickly. Australians are impatient people, who would like their theatre to be made as quickly as wool grows on a sheep’s back. It takes many years to make it; it takes time to train and develop actors and producers. (Hunt 1960, p. 4)
What has changed since Hunt’s proclamations? What is the labour of training in Australia, and how do we train an “impatient people”? In a country where sweat comes easily, do we mistake the by-product of hard work for the work itself? Hunt, like many others in Australian performance history, speaks only for white Australians: how do (or might?) the distinctive temporalities, collaborative modalities, and lineages of practice of First Nations training and performance inflect performer training in Australia?
Despite the diversity and range of its performance ecology and the prestige in which its major training institutions are held, Australia’s influence in and contribution to key debates has, until fairly recently, remained surprisingly marginal. While much doctoral-level work has considered training in Australia, there is no authoritative, published history of Australian performer training. The history of training is thus another iteration of what Ian Maxwell terms “Australian theatrical bricolage” (2017, p. 338), its history an assemblage of sometimes contradictory facts, uncertain pathways, and unsubstantiated anecdote. In this special issue of TDPT, we endeavour to provide an update to Meredith Rogers and Elizabeth Schafer’s special issue of Australasian Drama Studies “Lineages, Techniques, Training and Tradition” (vol. 53, 2008). We also seek to curate a companion to the roundtable discussion “Training in a Cold Climate”, published in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 5.2, by considering training in a hot climate.
Reflections on the 2020 International Platform for Performer Training
For three days in January 2020, the University of Kent’s
drama department hosted the 7th edition of the International
Platform for Performer Training with a focus on how words operate in
performer training. The platform was organised and led by Paul Allain,
Professor of Theatre and Performance, Stacie Lee Bennett-Worth, PhD
candidate at De Montfort University and Honorary Research Associate at Kent,
Alicja Bral, PhD candidate at Kent, and Dr Roanna Mitchell, Lecturer in Drama
and Theatre also at Kent. The event involved some 50 participants, mostly from
across Europe, in a lively mixture of short workshops, presentations, talks and
Sessions focused on community-based applications of
training, voice and text work, languages used in training pedagogies, speaking
dreams and inhabiting avatars, verse-speaking and the breath, ideas drawn from
Russian and Polish theatre and Grotowski especially, using film for training
and how circus tends to ignore the voice. The journal Theatre Dance and Performance Training had a continual presence at
the platform, offering itself and this blog as spaces for continuing our
physical and vocal dialogues. Here we take up this challenge.
Bennett-Worth created this collage to visually and textually though silently activate some of the energy, ideas and words circulating during the platform, also depicting many of the people involved.
Please click the image below to open in a new window which will allow you to zoom in.