Arts Archives and Theatre Papers

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.  

https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/drama/research/projects/eda/

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 

Peter Hulton  

P.R.Hulton@exeter.ac.uk 

Call for Papers: Laban for Actors and in Acting Online Conference

Athens, 8-10 January 2021

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:

https://themakingsactor.com/

The Performative Power of Vocality, Book Launch.

Free online book launch event for the monograph The Performative Power of Vocality by Virginie Magnat, published by Routledge in 2020 (https://virginiemagnat.space/the-performative-power-of-vocality).

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.

Please register in advance for this meeting:

https://ubc.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5Yrf-yqqzgvGdJQO0gN-a0j3_05EN7FuJx-

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Call for Papers: TDPT 13.2 Special Issue on Performance Training and Well-Being.

Image: Arvin Singh Uzonov Dang, July 29, 2020.
Performance: Magnat, V. (2020). ’alhut (Hul’q’umi’num’ word meaning to honor, to look after, to be very careful with, to restore).

An Embodied Land Acknowledgement honoring the Sc’ianew First Nation’s traditional, ancestral and unceded territory (V. Magnat, 2020).

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special issue Performance Training and Well-Being to be published June 2022

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest editors: Dr. Virginie Magnat, University of British Columbia, Canada (virginie.magnat@ubc.ca) and Dr. Nathalie Gauthard, Université d’Artois, France (ngauthard@orange.fr).

Performance Training and Well-Being (Issue 13.2)

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:

Continue reading

The S Word: Teaching Stanislavsky Online

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

.

Registration:

https://universityofmalta.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Zy3fq0iVSryUdFIq4-Bcqg

Teaching with the special issue: ‘Against the Canon’

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.

Before beginning…

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.

Photo: Gender carnival at Embodied Poetics, © Amy Russell.

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?

Task students with reviewing well-established online resources: Getty Images, Digital Theatre, Drama Online, Routledge Performance Archive, National Theatre’s online video resources and NTLive (UK), Frantic Assembly Digital (UK), Independent Dance (UK), National Resource Centre for Dance (UK), Candoco (UK) and the performance work made available through live stream during the Covid-19 lockdown period. How are key practitioners and practices profiled? Who presents the work – what gender, class or ethnicity/race are they? Is ownership and collaboration examined in any detail? How are women and global majorities profiled within the work? Where is good practice and how easy is it to find?

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.

Reject…

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.

Celebrate…

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

Feminist canon

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1HwAHAwU83bW_jSzxbMrqWyyuAYmsOWtqK-7HxKA9yek/edit

Discuss with colleagues and students how to construct an inclusive and radical canon.

Studying Disability Arts and Culture: An introduction by Petra Kuppers https://www.macmillanihe.com/page/detail/studying-disability-arts-and-culture-petra-kuppers/?sf1=barcode&st1=9781137413437

Suggested reading on disability, arts and education.

For white people considering anti-racism, when your Black friends and colleagues have had enough by Alanah Nichole

White Academia: Do Better by Jasmine Roberts

Contacting-Improvising by Adesola-Akinleye

https://www.independentdance.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Essay-by-Dr-Adesola-Akinleye-contacting-improvising.pdf

Dancing, dance training and race.

Decolonising the Curriculum by Advance HE

https://www.advance-he.ac.uk/news-and-views/decolonisation-curriculum-conversation

Being Black by Jane Elliott

How would white academics and students feel about being black?

We Shall Not Be Removed

Josette Bushell-Mingo

White supremacy culture characteristics

https://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/white-supremacy-culture-characteristics.html

Consider the extent to which any of these are relevant to classroom situations and teaching strategies, and if so how they might be addressed.

Taking up space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change by Chelsea Kwakye and Ore Ogunbiyi (Merky books). https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/111/1117762/taking-up-space/9781529118544.html

Theatre and Class

https://www.theskinny.co.uk/festivals/edinburgh-fringe/theatre/is-theatre-accessible-to-working-class-artists

‘Power has to be grasped’: British theatre is battling its class problem – Catherine Love

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2018/mar/13/british-theatre-class-problem

Examine ways in which class discrimination operates within theatre – how does that impact on training?

Tonic Theatre Company (UK)

A Practical Guide to Achieving Gender Equality in Theatre by Lucy Kerbel

Also, Empower project: https://www.tonictheatre.co.uk/work/empower/

How can we combat sexism and gender discrimination with the performing arts?

Deborah Dean No Human Resource is an Island: Gendered, Racialized Access to Work as a Performer First published: 31 January 2008. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/j.1468-0432.2007.00389.x

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.

Remember…

  • 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?

TDPT 11.3 Against the Canon

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.

Contents

Editorial

Mark Evans, Cass Fleming & Sara Reed

.

Continue reading

Tributes for Ali Hodge (1959 – 2019)

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’.

These tributes for Ali sit together with an appreciation of her life written for the journal by Katie Normington.  

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.

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. 

Fig 1. Ali in Poland, photographer unknown.
Continue reading

ATHE Awards: Konstantinos Thomaidis’ Honorable Mention for Excellence in Editing on TDPT 10.3, ‘What is new is voice 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

Click here to see the full list of authors and issue contents as well as Blog posts related to the issue.

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. 

TDPT 11.2. Training for Performance Art and Live Art

We are delighted to announce the publication of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 11.2, Training for Performance Art and Live Art, guest edited by Heike Roms (University of Exeter).

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.

Continue reading

Phillip Zarrilli — Kaite O’Reilly’s Letter

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 jimmyacademy@gmail.com if you would like to write a stand-alone post from your own perspective. Rest in peace Phillip.

Kaite’s Letter:

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.

Continue reading

AntigoneNOW: rehearsing, making and performing Antigone online

Sinéad Rushe, May 2020

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.

Continue reading

10 Free-to-Access Articles to Celebrate 10 Years of TDPT

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’.

By Jonathan Pitches

A number of the authors of these articles are writing reflections on their work from their current perspective. These will be posted on this Blog in the coming weeks. The first of these is Roanna Mitchell’s reflection on her 2014 article, ‘Seen But Not Heard’, ”Seen But Not Heard’: Some thoughts on the actor’s aesthetic labour six years on.’

Continue reading

The Diaphragm in Performance — Postcard from IPPT Kent 2020

A short video postcard from the International Platform for Performer Training, Kent, January 2020.

TDPT Issue 11.1 published — celebrating 10 years of the journal

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

CONTENTS

Editorial
Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches and Thomas Wilson

Articles

Student and teacher attitudes towards overtraining and recovery in vocational dance training
Peta Blevins, Shona Erskine, Gene Moyle, and Luke Hopper

From bodymind to bodyworld: the case of mask work as a training for the senses
Frank Camilleri

Essai
On horses and contact
Thomas Wilson

Articles

How might Embodied Cognition, Contact Improvisation and Meisner’s Standard Repetition Exercise together illuminate actor movement training? Tine Damborg

The first class: Harold Lang and the beginnings of Stanislavskian teaching in the British conservatoire
Vladimir Mirodan

Emotional character: the prospects for a personality-based perspective on embodied learning in dance
Edward C. Warburton

Examining the pedagogy of theatre lighting
Kelli Zezulka

Events Review
Michael Chekhov Advanced Masterclass at Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance July 15th–19th 2019, led by Lisa Dalton and Janice Orlandi
Aiden Condron

Reviews

Performing Architectures: Projects, Practices, Pedagogies
Tessa Rixon

Creativity and the Performing Artist: Behind the Mask
Mark Seton

Correction
I Correction

Notes on Contributors

The Editors

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 Contest.

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 Arts Healthcare.

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 yoga -teacher practice. In 2005 she founded the Danish youth contemporary dance company, “U-kompagniet” and works as 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.

Vladimir Mirodan, PhD, 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).

Kelli Zezulka 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.

Extended Deadline for Proposals: TDPT Special Issue: Independent Dance and Movement Training

Dear Colleagues,

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?

Many thanks,

                         Libby

Please see the updated Call for Proposals here:

CfP: TDPT Special issue: Performer Training in Australia

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 (chris.hay@uq.edu.au)
Professor David Shirley, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University (d.shirley@ecu.edu.au)
Dr Sarah Peters, Flinders University (sarah.peters@flinders.edu.au)
Training Grounds editor:
Dr Soseh Yekanians, Charles Sturt University (syekanians@csu.edu.au)

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.

Continue reading

Words In, Of and For Performer Training

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 discussion.

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.

The orginal event call out reads as follows:

Why does Movement Matter?

Explore the past and future of movement as a maker of meaning in theatre. Join world-leading industry professionals including performers, practitioners, directors, teachers and movement influencers for a series of workshops, presentations, discussions and observations.

This one-day symposium will explore the wide-ranging influences that movement has within today’s leading theatres and institutions and will look in more detail at the variety of practices that are now available. We will instigate conversations about the vital contribution movement practice and movement direction make to the industry. There will be open discussion, professional networking and the chance for emerging and established artists to share their work.

This event interrogates and celebrates how this powerful aspect of storytelling in theatre, film and television continues to shape developments in productions and training.

Booking

Tickets £50. Booking is made online, once you have booked your place at the event you will be sent an email requiring your choice of workshops.

https://www.rada.ac.uk/whats-on/movement-symposium/

Schedule

  • 9.15am Registration and welcome breakfast
  • 10am Keynote speaker
  • 10.30am Theatre industry panel
  • 11.45am Masterclass or two short workshops
  • 12.45pm Lunch provided
  • 1.30pm Keynote speaker
  • 2.15pm Industry practitioner panel discussion
  • 3.15pm Masterclass or two short workshops
  • 4.30pm Plenary session
  • 6pm Networking and drinks

Location: RADA Studios, 16 Chenies Street, London WC1E 7EX

Speakers, workshop leaders and panel members include:

Clare Brennan, Mike Alfreds, Vladimir Mirodan, Christina Fulcher, Ruth Anna Phillips, Ita O’Brien, Ingrid McKinnon, Lizzie Ballinger, Paul Christie, Nicola Herd, Hannah Garner, Pascale Lecoq, Jos Houben, Sue Lefton, Jane Gibson, Toby Jones, Nancy Meckler, Annabel Arden, Peta Lily, Vladimir Mirodan, Korina Biggs, Paul Christie, Niamh Dowling, Kate Flatt, Struan Leslie, Tine Damborg, Lizzie Ballinger, and Ayse Tashkiran.

Convenors: Shona Morris (Lead Movement Tutor, RADA), Mark Evans (Professor of Theatre Training, Coventry University)

The Makings of the Actor: The Actor-Dancer

International Conference, Athens 13-24 July, 2020

Hosted by Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation Alkmini Theatre  –   Cartel

Conference Venue: MCF, Alkmini Theatre, Cartel , Athens

The Makings of the Actor: The Actor-Dancer is an international conference held under the auspices of the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama,and the Labanarium, organized by Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni.

Conference Venue: MCF, Alkmini Theatre, Cartel , Athens

The Actor-Dancer conference will be the first of a series of international events under the aegis of The Makings of the Actor. The mission of The Makings of the Actor project is to gather international practitioners and researchers, from diverse fields of performance practice and scholarship, to develop and disseminate (through conferences and workshops) an evolving performance pedagogy that addresses the needs of present and future actors.

For info and booking please visit https://mcf.gr/language/el/%CE%B5%CE%BA%CE%B4%CE%B7%CE%BB%CF%8E%CF%83%CE%B5%CE%B9%CF%82/the-makings-of-the-actor-the-actor-dancer/ or email kiki.selioni@cssd.ac.uk

Keynote Speakers:

Prof. Vladimir Mirodan FRSA, Emeritus Professor of Theatre

Prof. Rob Roznowski  Head of Acting & Directing, Department of Theatre, Michigan State University

Prof. Frank Camilieri Associate Professor of Theatre Studies, School of Performing Arts, University of Malta.

Juliet Chambers-Coe  Director of Labanarium; Laban tutor Rose Bruford College (FDS); Drama Studio London (FDS); PhD researcher University of Surrey  www.labanarium.com

Katia Savrami Associate Professor of Choreology at the Department of Theatre Studies at the University of Patras, Greece.

Ramunė Balevičiūtė Associate Professor in Theatre Studies, Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre

Dr. Evangelos Koudigelis Med. Orthopadisch-Traumatologische Darstellung in den epen homers, University Essen Germany.

Dr. Kiki Selioni Affiliate Research Fellow Royal Central School of Speech and Drama University of London.

Call for papers, teaching demonstrations and performances

Stanislavsky asserted: “[o]ur kind of theatre is fragile and if those who create it don’t take constant care of it, don’t keep moving it forward, do not develop and perfect it, it will soon die.” (qtd. in Toporkov, 2004:106). The Makings of the Actor project seeks to explore how those who create theatre can continue to move it forward and develop it, with a particular focus on the training of the actor.

Continue reading

CfP: TDPT Special issue: Independent Dance and Movement Training

Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest editors:

Henrietta Hale and Nikki Tomlinson, Independent Dance, info@independentdance.co.uk; Gitta Wigro, independent, gwigro@gmail.com

Training Grounds Editor: Dr Sara Reed, Coventry University ab5421@coventry.ac.uk

Independent Dance Training (Issue 12.2)

This special issue guest edited by Henrietta Hale, Nikki Tomlinson and Gitta Wigro draws from our roles at Independent Dance, an organisation that supports and sustains independent dance artists to develop dance as an art form. The ‘independent dance artists’ that ID engages with can be many things. They may produce or perform in choreographic works in theatres, galleries, digital formats or outdoor / informal sites. They may work as facilitators or teachers with other professionals or in community settings, engaging untrained people in dance. Or they may be practitioners from other disciplines such as fine arts, architecture or science who engage in an embodied movement practice to complement and bring new knowledge to their field.

The aim of this issue is to consider and map how movement practices that have evolved from specific traditions or situations are used and re-articulated for other purposes; and show how this plays out in inter-related, international networks of practitioners.

Continue reading

An Actor in Training – Endings and Beginnings – Part II

By Harri Pitches

This is the second of two posts that return to the serialised account of a First Year BA Acting student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).  It is a first-hand account of the experience of a student emerging into the industry from three years of sustained actor training.

After RCS

We graduated as the BA Acting Class of 2019 on the 4th of July, alongside alumnus and Honorary Doctor, Richard Madden. Rubbing shoulders with one of the high-flyers from our course on the day that we were finally unshackled and let loose upon the world to seek our fortunes was a most strange feeling. There we were, standing proud, smiling and chatting to someone who represented the peak we could aspire to, just as we were now embarking on the odyssey ourselves. Drama school prepares you for untold challenges as an actor, but there is no etude or vocal warm-up that can get you ready for the daunting mystery of life after the cosy bubble of higher education. I spent my graduation day utterly elated in celebration of everything I and my classmates had achieved, but I was not without fear and anxiety for the future – while it was a wonderful, freeing feeling to escape the shallows of RCS, the ocean beyond seemed unfathomable. It was only when feeling this uncertainty that I was able to reflect on how I felt in the weeks before I started at the RCS – I left my high school with the same sense of foreboding for the much larger pool of fish I was about to enter. However, three (all-too-short) years later, I am a much more natural and confident performer, very much at home at RCS, and eager to learn more. It stands to reason then, that the new proving ground of working life will soon feel just as much like home as my alma mater. Now, as the weeks after graduation become months, I am slowly but surely finding my feet as a jobbing actor.

While I was in two minds about leaving drama school and entering the world beyond, I was blessed to have very little time to think about it, as I was immediately thrust into rehearsals for a children’s theatre production at the Shakespeare Rose Theatre in York. I completely appreciated my luck in securing acting work straight away after leaving RCS, and energetically and enthusiastically buried myself in my first proper job. I was the new kid on the block for the first time in three years, and I definitely felt that I had something to prove. My need to validate and cement myself as a professional in my first job was a very useful impulse – I conducted myself with utmost care, I was punctual, I was off-book within the first week, and I was  endlessly eager to demonstrate that my training had made me an efficient and indispensable utensil. I was the pen through which the director shaped the story, and it made my rehearsals deep, cerebral, and hard work. Although I have no doubt that I came off as a little green, and can probably afford to be less of a ‘Yes-Man’ in my next jobs, I think that the feeling of having something to prove brought enhanced attention to detail, sharpened performative senses, and a tighter control over my abilities. These are all qualities I would be loath to lose in any future acting employment, no matter how long I’ve been working or how comfortable I feel.

With the job itself came new challenges that were alien to me upon leaving drama school, revolving around the need to audition for Autumn and Christmas work while in the middle of performances for my current job. This was something I had never even had to think about during my time at RCS. For instance, in my third year, which was essentially theatre in rep, I would finish one performance and glide seamlessly into rehearsals for the next, having auditioned for parts in these plays many months prior. Not so in the real world. At its most hectic, we opened the play in York, I awoke at four o’clock the next morning to get to Norwich by eleven for a recall for a Christmas job, and then hopped back to York the same day ready to rouse myself at five o’clock the next morning to start the get-in for my current job. Needless to say, I was burned-out before I had even really begun. Although I was a waking ghost, appearing zombified and monosyllabic to my family in the mornings, I could only be grateful that I was busy enough to be so tired. This was all part of a learning curve that I was lucky enough to be following, as I began to navigate the new relationship between actor and agent. Indeed, in these first few months that I have been signed, I have sought to strengthen this relationship by taking a firm hold of each and every opportunity that has come my way. I think this is borne from a similar urge as my need to cement myself as a professional in the eyes of my director. It is a relationship that I am becoming ever more comfortable with, and I look tentatively but determinedly forward to the months to come.

I feel a distinct need, especially at the end of one of life’s chapter’s, to immediately keep the story going – to find a home outside the familial house, and to venture to new places beyond the boundaries of the home county and make them my own, in whatever small ways I can. Glasgow and Scotland are without question those places for me, and even while in gainful employment, I grew restless while living at home over Summer. The decision to move back up was not a difficult one – after all, I have spent the last three years building a life for myself up here. My friends, my partner, my agent, and indeed, the ethos that being at the RCS has imbued my life with are all part of this wonderful corner of the world.

As it stands now, I am currently ‘resting’ – living the indefinable and purgatorial state between acting jobs. It is not easy. I am a creature of endless internal disquiet, and only when I am working is some of my innate turbulence quelled. At school, it was easy to fight the pangs of jealousy that crept into my consciousness, for drama school is its own little bubble, and what happens inside it is inconsequential to life on the outside. It is harder now – the playing field is levelled, and thus there is little certainty of work in any creative capacity. I have found myself working as a bartender, more because I am in desperate need of something to do that will put an end to my ceaseless refreshing of the Spotlight Castings webpage than for any financial benefit. However, luckily, the aforementioned early morning dash to Norwich reaped the reward of an exciting Christmas job for which rehearsals begin in mid-November. So in reality, I have just over a month to spend in limbo before I tread the boards once more. I would do well to remember this when I feel the green-eyed monster crawl its way to my door again. I am sure that this period of uncertainty is not the last I will ever experience. It is the first of many, many, many more, and tackling it with gusto and honesty is perhaps the key to dealing with the others that undoubtedly lie in wait. What will be, will be, and as long as I am doing everything I can to keep active, engaged, and productive, then these periods will be fewer and further between. So. Lots to think about, and lots of time to do it. My drama school journey was hard; often disappointing and frustrating, but it was also magnificent and mind-blowing. It was long and full of doubt, both in myself and in the profession I had chosen, but it also built me up and strengthened my character and confidence in ways I probably don’t even realise yet. It was desperately sad, and it was the happiest I have ever been in my life. If I have learned anything in my time there, it is that you cannot have one half of things without the other – drama school is a balance; unsteady, swinging from floundering in confusion to clarity and assuredness in a heartbeat. It is how you decide to walk this tightrope that defines who you are on the other side of the chasm. For me, I think I can be proud of the person drama school, and indeed Scotland, has moulded me into. I arrived here at once a scared little boy, and at the same time arrogant, spiteful, and honestly, not very nice. I return here – for good – warm, kind, open, and as my Dad would say, ‘with a feeling of ease’. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Harri Pitches, January 2020.

An Actor in Training – Endings and Beginnings – Part I

By Harri Pitches

This is the first of two posts that return to the serialised account of a First Year BA Acting student at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).  It is a first-hand account of the experience of a student emerging into the industy from three years of sustained actor training.

My final year of training has without question been my favourite. I had a difficult start to the year, battling very poor mental health, which led me to question my worth as an actor and my place in the cohort. Seven months later, I feel like a new man – I know exactly who I am, exactly what I can do, and, while I have not been without disillusionment in my third year, I feel like I am ready to leave The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) as a professional actor in control of their abilities practically and professionally. In this blog entry, I talk about this growth.

This year has been one full of opportunity to develop and hone my professional skills, from showcase, to meeting agents, to auditioning in the latter half of the final year. Personally, I feel that in terms of my professional conduct, I’m pretty good. I feel like I come across well in auditions and interviews; I’m always very polite and open without being disingenuous and labouring. I do feel that this want or perhaps need to be liked comes at the cost of confidence sometimes – I am not naturally a very confrontational person, and I default too often to subservience. It has often been reflected in the characters I’ve played at drama school! This will not serve me well when fighting for jobs or standing out to casting directors, or even as I develop my working relationship with my agent – I need to be more pushy and more ready to say what I want rather than to immediately compromise, or at worst, simply do what others tell me. This is an industry that will take advantage of me if I continue this sort of behaviour.

However, I do feel that my having an agent gives me a great opportunity to start to change this. I have been offered a chance to act with more agency, and will lose out if I don’t start doing this. My training has well prepared me for the working world; particularly the discussions with Casting Directors like Simone Perreira Hind and Laura Donnelley that have made me far more aware of the kind of attitude I need to have in interviews and castings. I of course don’t mean that I now need to be self-absorbed and bratty, but that I need to have a better grasp of my own worth in these situations if I am to be successful. Currently, things are going well – through auditions I have had I am now fortunate to have work set up for the whole summer and will graduate and go straight into a two-month long job in York. I strongly believe that without this ‘go-getting attitude’, I would not be in this position. I am improving in this aspect of the industry, but I know there is a way to go.

The job of an actor is not an easy one, and I feel like I have never been under any illusion as to how difficult it could be. I know that I will not always have work lined up, and so have sought to make myself as castable as possible in order to stay in work for as long as I can. Throughout my training, it has been made abundantly clear to me that the 21st century performer cannot be simply one thing; one must be multi-faceted in order to stay in work. Accordingly, I have developed my skills as a musician in my free time during drama school, and can now play three instruments; ukulele, guitar, and cajon – the latter two to a high standard. Where possible, I have used my talents as a musician in my own devised work, and in productions outside of RCS that I have been in while in training. I feel confident talking about myself as an actor-musician, and believe that this is what I need to be in order to be successful.

I have also used my training to hone my skills as a writer – I wrote a play for On The Verge Festival of New Writing at the Citizens Theatre in second year, and am continuing to write and devise new projects that I am eager to produce. From discussions with graduate actors and through talking with Vanessa Coffey, Professional Practice Lecturer at the RCS, I understand what to do to get my work seen in Scotland. I believe that the RCS has fully prepared me for a portfolio career; I understand that the nature of my work may change, and I may not always be an ‘actor’ in the traditional sense. However, I find that I do not particularly want to be – I feel most at home when I am stretching multiple creative muscles, and think that the challenge of employability will be best tackled by me while I am doing this. I am already seeing the benefits of this – over summer, I am first working as a deviser for a festival, and then as an actor-musician. I am keen to keep developing my skills in these areas, and my ideal career will allow me to do this.

I do worry that I have been at a disadvantage as an English actor training in Scotland, and that this will translate to my professional career. I want to build my career in Scotland and make use of the myriad of connections that training at RCS has allowed me to make, but fear that the Scottish-centric nature of the industry will not let me do this. For example, I have a strong ability for accents and can do plenty of specific Scottish ones. At my recent audition for the Dundee Rep, I was asked to perform specific Scottish accents, but I do not feel like I have been considered for Scottish parts with the same seriousness as a native Scottish person would be. I do however realise that my casting doesn’t exactly scream ‘Scottish.’ Regardless of this, I feel like Glasgow and Scotland is the place I want to be – the theatre scene is very exciting for new and devised work and there are a myriad of roles for multi-faceted performers like myself. I think I would be foolish to have spent three years making connections with acting role-models such as Dan Cameron and Finn den Hertog and not try to build on them. Ultimately, I just want to be comfortable and creatively fulfilled, and I feel like my training has set me up properly to achieve this. I am ready to take the leap of faith… and see what happens next.

Individual Acting Coaching by Sinéad Rushe

To complement the publication of her book, Michael Chekhov’s Acting Technique: A Practitioner’s Guide (Bloomsbury, 2020), Sinéad Rushe, theatre director and Senior Lecturer in Acting and Movement at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London is now offering individual acting coaching sessions for professionals in north London.

These include:

  • Character development on a specific role
  • Script analysis
  • Acting technique
  • Unlocking obstructions
  • Dramaturgical development on devised ideas

Sessions cost £75/hour and are tailor-made. Skype sessions are also available.

To book, contact: sinead@sineadrushe.co.uk

Sinéad draws on the methodologies of Michael Chekhov, Stanislavsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold, as well as on her own experience as a director and devisor.

Sinéad studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and the École Normale Supérieure, Paris before training as an actor at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, London. Her directing credits include Night Just Before the Forests (Macau Arts Festival, China 2019), Concert (The Pit, Barbican, London, Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York & international tour; Gradam Comharcheoil TG4 2018 Award-Winner), Out of Time (The Pit, Barbican, Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York & international tour; nominated for Olivier and Dance Critics’ Circle Award), Gogol’s Diary of a Madman with Living Pictures (Sherman Cymru, Cardiff, & international tour) and Something or Nothing with Guy Dartnell (The Place Theatre & tour), commissioned by Sadler’s Wells.

She has directed four shows with her own company, out of Inc: Loaded (The Old Rep, Birmingham, Jacksons Lane, London), Night-Light (Oval House, London, Bristol Old Vic & tour), Life in the Folds (BAC, London & tour), and An Evening with Sinéad Rushe (BAC, London), all supported by Arts Council England. www.sineadrushe.co.uk

A New York State of Mind: The Accumulated Baggage of my Meisner Technique

I have found that the histories of trainings are incredibly important, sometimes more significant than the results that they are trying to achieve in the performer.  From 2002-2004 I trained in the Meisner Technique of acting under Michael Saccente in Auckland, New Zealand.  Michael is a New Yorker by birth and culture and underwent the full Neighborhood Playhouse training with Sanford Meisner.  When he found himself in New Zealand, Michael began training professional actors in the technique.  These classes provoked the spontaneity and impulsive behaviour that I was looking for in my performance work at the time.

However, just as in the case of Meisner’s teaching, the personality and behaviour of Michael was vital in the way the training was transmitted to us.  His small stature was more than compensated for by his loud, machine gun repartee and his neurotic, wound-up rants at anything that got under his skin.  His character wouldn’t have been out of place in a David Mamet play, and as I began to reflect on the classes, I realized that our acting was picking up Michael’s particular New York state of mind (and expression) at the same time as we were learning to read each other’s behaviour and Repeat.

Continue reading

Feldenkrais Research Journal Volume 6 Launched

New format for journal features articles on Feldenkrais Method, arts and creative process.

The International Feldenkrais Federation is pleased to announce the publication of Volume 6 of the Feldenkrais Research Journal (FRJ). It is on the theme ofPractices of Freedom: The Feldenkrais Method and Creativity, and offers a critical forum for scholarship, articulation and evaluation of creative practices and pedagogies which are informed by the Feldenkrais Method.

This volume features eleven articles. Several explore the challenges of bringing Feldenkrais-based practices to the context of higher education in music, dance, theatre and performance generally – how to introduce professional and performance-oriented students to the potential of somatic learning. Hypothesis and theory articles explore embodied cognition in dance and math, and include text of a performed piece on a variety of theoretical constructs linked to Feldenkrais Method practice. There is also an article linking Feldenkrais theory to piano technique. Also included are reviews of a recent book on Feldenkrais for Actors, and of theatre works by choreographer Ohad Naharin. The Research in Progress section previews interactive research design investigating active sitting.

Continue reading

International Platform for Performer Training (IPPT) 7th edition: 9-12 January 2020

Department of Drama and Theatre Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK



‘In the beginning was the Word…’  John 1.1


Words in, of and for Performer Training

In the Bible, Words came first. In performance practice, words probably followed movement, dance, art and sounds. Who knows….?  Exploring what comes next, this seventh edition of the International Platform for Performer Training will investigate how words function in, of and for Performer Training across three broad areas:

  1. How the denotative or nonsemantic properties of words in performance are explored through training, and how movement, voice and text can be combined to achieve an integrated mise-en-scène (or not)
  2. How trainers use words in training practice, in order to exhort, encourage, clarify or instruct as well as what they do and don’t say, to whom and when; 
  3. How words that are written about training, be it our own practices today or that of others past or present, might document or act as inspiration for practice. 
Continue reading

Emotion-Action/Musiciality as a practical tool for investigate and creating the invisible space.

Bred In The Bone is a multilingual and culturally diverse company of theatre creators. Musiciality, physical practise and development of the body, ear and voice as an eternal ever-inspired instrument, are at the core of our training.


The idea that there should be a practice of ‘scales’ for the actor is arguably an ancient endeavour, and it remains the best description of what we developing, both in our rehearsal work and in what we implement in our training and our teaching.

Continue reading

Call for Papers – TaPRA 2019, Performer Training Working Group: ‘Exercise’

University of Surrey, 4-6 September, 2019

The Performer Training Working Group

The Performer Training Working Group has been meeting for thirteen years and has produced several collaborative outputs, including a variety of contributions to the thrice-yearly journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), dedicated to training in all its manifestations, and this blog.

The Context – ‘Exercise’

Performer training is often conducted through and made up of ‘exercises’. These short activities, put together in a particular structure are the substance of what the trainee undertakes in the studio.  And yet, what is an exercise?  The most obvious definition from the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘a task set to practise or test a skill.’  However, the many meanings of the word imbue it with a host of connotations including physical training, military drills, or the use of one’s rights.

Exercises to train performers are documented in the Natya Sastra (500 BCE – 500CE) and Zeami’s treatise (14th Century CE) and have proliferated around the world in the wake of Stanislavski’s systemization of acting at the start of the 20th Century.  Exercises are the core of performance training; books about performance in all its forms commonly contain catalogues of exercises; workshops and masterclasses are often structured around engagement with and critique of exercises.  And yet, possibly through the blindness of familiarity, this fundamental building block of our work usually escapes interrogation.

We are seeking contributions that add to our understanding of what exercises are, the different ways they have been used in performance training, what their limits are, and what might be beyond them.

We Invite:

We invite contributions in a variety of formats from practical demonstrations and workshops (30-60 minutes), traditional academic papers (20 minutes) and provocations (10 minutes).   Practitioners and researchers without institutional support are encouraged to apply and may contact the convenors to discuss ways that we might facilitate this.  Contributors may also wish to make use of the TDPT Blog as part of their presentation.

For full details please go to the TaPRA website:

The deadline for the submission of a 300-word proposal, plus additional information, is Monday 8th April 2019.

Embodied/Embodying Performer Training: Practices and Practicalities

TaPRA Performer Training Working Group Interim Event

24th April 2019, University of South Wales, Cardiff Campus, The ATRiuM

Call deadline: March 15th

Continue reading