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Training to give evidence: Performer training for verbatim, documentary, biographical and autobiographical performance practices

An interim TaPRA event of the Performer Training Working Group, hosted by Northumbria University, 11th May 2016, 11am – 6pm

Verbatim, documentary, biographical and autobiographical performance practices are prolific forms of theatre in the 21st Century. Hosted by Northumbria Performing Arts, ‘Training to Give Evidence’ is a one day event that seeks to explore the specific performer training processes that these various forms might require, and to map out commonalities and differences in diverse approaches. The event brings together practitioners with researchers and combines scholarly papers, with provocations, performances and demonstrations of practice.

Participants at the symposium are invited to use this blog throughout the day as a virtual ‘post it’ space in which to raise questions and offer responses to the presentations and conversations that they are engaging in. The idea behind this is to share the discussions taking place with a wider audience, extending and opening up the potential for dialogue. Delegates are also invited to tweet responses throughout the day, using the hashtag #trainingtogiveevidence

Please feel free to use this as a space to add to comments on the day as well as to keep conversations going beyond the day itself.

See Jonathan Pitches summary of the day here:

Call for Proposals for TaPRA 2016: Performer Training Working Group

The 12th Annual TaPRA Conference will be co-hosted by University of Bristol, UK from 5th to 7th September 2016 (see: http://www.tapra.org/ )

The Performer Training Working Group has been meeting for eleven years and has produced several collaborative outputs, including a variety of contributions to the thrice-yearly journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, dedicated to training in all its manifestations, and the associated bloghttp://theatredanceperformancetraining.org.

Konstantinos, Maria and Tom, the working group co-convenors, are delighted to issue a call for contributions for the forthcoming 2016 TaPRA conference on the theme Speech and Text in Performer Training.

We are interested in a range of presentation formats including the following:

  • formal papers (max 20 minutes)
  • provocations or position statements (max 10 minutes)
  • instances of practice as research or short workshops/demonstrations (1 hour)

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Yoga and Actor Training: Imagining and writing a character, by Dorinda Hulton from the DVD/Booklet ‘Yoga and Actor Training’ by Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali (Routledge 2016), DVD filmed and edited by Arts Archives.

This series of video clips offer glimpses of the six Workshop Approaches documented in Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali’s Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2016) DVD/booklet that focusses on ways in which the practice of yoga may be applied towards actor training purposes. Six Workshop Approaches are proposed, and contextualised with a historical overview of the use of yoga in the work of Konstantin Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski and Joseph Chaikin. Within the six videos, as well as the publication as a whole, two key perspectives are proposed as being directly, or indirectly, helpful to actor training: the first is an understanding of yoga in relation to actor training that does not prioritise, or pit, ‘interior’ against ‘exterior’, ‘mind’ against ‘body’, ‘mental’ against ‘physical’, but recognises their interdependence and interconnections. The second is an understanding that the ‘internalization’ of attention, which may be perceived in aspects of yoga, is not inimical to the creative processes of a contemporary actor, but can contribute to the cultivation of an attitude of ‘alert receptivity’ that is particularly relevant to processes within actor training.

The third video clip derives from Workshop Approach 3 which focuses on an application of the lying down yoga posture Savasana as a pathway towards tapping into the student actor’s imagination. It proposes that the channels within the posture between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ offer effective psychophysical tools that can help student actors to engage with writing, and creating, their own performance imagery. A glimpse of this process may be seen in the clip selected here. In it the student actors are guided in the practice of Savasana, during which there is a shift in attention from placing the body very precisely in ‘exterior’ space towards awareness of the breath and the ‘interior’ body-mind, as well as the sources of energy inside the self (Iyengar 1978).

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TaPRA Interim Event Training to give evidence: Performer training for verbatim, documentary, biographical and autobiographical performance practices

TaPRA Interim Event, Wednesday 11th May 2016, Northumbria University Newcastle, 11am  – 6pm

20th/21st Century Performer Training Working Group

Training to give evidence: Performer training for verbatim, documentary, biographical and autobiographical performance practices

Verbatim, documentary, biographical and autobiographical performance practices are prolific forms of theatre in the 21st Century. Hosted by Northumbria Performing Arts, Training to give evidence is a one day event that seeks to explore the specific performer training processes that these various forms might require, and to map out commonalities and differences in diverse approaches. The event will bring together practitioners with researchers and will combine scholarly papers with workshops, provocations, performances and demonstrations of practice.

Confirmed contributors include Alexander Kelly (Leeds Beckett University and Third Angel), Alison Forsyth (University of Aberystwyth), Lazlo Pearlman (Northumbria University) Tom Cantrell (University of York), Richard Gregory (Quarantine), and Steve Gilroy (Northumbria University) as well as panels of performers, directors and writers working in these forms.

Some of the questions we will be exploring on the day include:

– Is there a specific training methodology for verbatim, documentary, biographical or autobiographical theatre? If so, what does it/do they look like? What are the characteristics of these forms that call for a specific performer training?

– What are the ethical implications/considerations for a performer in training for one of these forms?

– What role does the ‘document’ play in training the performer? How much does the process of making, (e.g. archival research, interviewing, the interviewee themselves) influence a performer in training for verbatim, biographical or documentary theatre?

– In verbatim theatre, where does the interviewee end and the performer begin?

– What is the role of technology in the process of performer training for these forms?

Registration

If you would like to attend the event, please send an email off list directly to Kate Craddock by Friday 18th March at kate.craddock@northumbria.ac.uk

This event is open to TaPRA members only, and has a limited number of places available. If you would like to attend and are not a TaPRA member you can renew or buy a new membership here: http://tapra.org/membership/

Call for Bloggers

This event is being planned to work closely in conjunction with the blog.

We are keen to hear from delegates who are interested in contributing to the event by creating a series of short blog posts throughout the day, helping to give the event an immediate online presence, by taking on the role of ‘live blogger’.

Likewise, we are interested in hearing expressions of interest from delegates interested in producing writing for the blog that responds to the questions and ideas raised as a follow up to the event.

If you are interested in taking on the role of live blogger for the event, or would like to pitch an idea for a subsequent blog contribution, please send a short expression of interest off list directly to Kate Craddock by Friday 18th March at kate.craddock@northumbria.ac.uk

Postgraduate Support:

There are funds available for Postgraduate Working Group Members to apply for support towards the cost of travel in order to attend this event. If you are interested in applying for this support, please contact Kate Craddock at kate.craddock@northumbria.ac.uk

Many thanks, and look forward to welcoming you to Northumbria in May,

Kate (as host) and Working Group Convenors: Maria Kapsali, Tom Cantrell and Konstantinos Thomaidis

About

The Studio is the area of the TDPT blog dedicated to the audio-visual documentation of training practices. We hope that over time the studio will act as a repository of performance training materials, making them available for research and for use in studios and classrooms across the world. Some materials will also provide models of how to document training, possibly with short examples of reflective writing to complement the documentation.
Audio-visual materials should clearly demonstrate a particular aspect of the research/practice. They can be a recording of a training exercise, a series of comments/interviews on a particular approach, or a provocation to adopt, rethink or transform a training example – and an invitation to share these transformations on the blog.

Welcome

Featured

There is great mystery surrounding what really goes on in our acting workshops. Almost a mystique. We hear of particular uses that teachers are making of Alexander [Technique], Tai Chi Chuan, yoga, the work of Slater, Horney, Berne, Laing, May, Lowen, Rogers, Reich, Levi-Strauss; of the exciting things being done with actor training methods with disturbed children, of the extension of theatre games into new areas of gestalt, of new thoughts on Stanislavski System. But little of this work and the ideas, experiences, goals and philosophy which lie behind it, is open to use for sharing. Mostly, there is silence.
Richard Brown (ed), Actor Training I, The Institute for Research in Acting, 1972: xiii.

When I began to think about an introductory statement to the Studio Space, I was reminded of this quote by Richard Brown in a volume, now out of print, that aimed to capture the actor training practices that were developing in the States at the time. What has changed and what has remained the same since then? Which of the observations in the quote above strike a chord today and which ones feel outdated?
To be sure the eclectic mix captured in Brown’s long list is still a feature of contemporary training landscape; some of the names no longer ring a bell, but virtually all of the named disciplines have survived and developed into valid training methods for performance. Partially as a result to this, Brown’s reference to ‘acting workshops’ feels quite outdated, since our instinct today is to speak of ‘performers’ and thus designate the breadth of both training regimes and subsequent work performing artists might be engaged in.
Brown also refers to a perceived silence that is disproportionate to the wealth of experimentation he recognises. This too might be considered outdated; training has since enjoyed numerous publications, conferences, professional bodies and of course a dedicated journal, this blog is part of. And yet a sense of Brown’s ‘mystique’ lingers. The practical and embodied nature of the discipline, its practice in small groups, its potential to effect change over a long period of time often leaves one with the sense that, no matter the number of demonstrations, conferences and publications, there is still a great deal of sharing to be done.
The TDPT Blog then is a step in this direction. The Studio Space, in particular, by testing and harnessing the potential of recording technologies to capture and transmit the tacit, kinesthetic, and practical dimensions that characterise training experiences aims to push the doors of studios around the world further ajar, so that when we are inside them we can look out and when we are outside we can look in. Welcome.

“Yoga and Actor Training: Movement Improvisation”, by Maria Kapsali from the DVD/Booklet “Yoga and Actor Training” by Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali (Routledge 2016), DVD filmed and edited by Arts Archives.

This series of video clips offer glimpses of the six Workshop Approaches documented in Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali’s Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2015) DVD/booklet that focusses on ways in which the practice of yoga may be applied towards actor training purposes. Six Workshop Approaches are proposed, and contextualised with a historical overview of the use of yoga in the work of Konstantin Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski and Joseph Chaikin.
Within the six videos, as well as the publication as a whole, two key perspectives are proposed as being directly, or indirectly, helpful to actor training: the first is an understanding of yoga in relation to actor training that does not prioritise, or pit, ‘interior’ against ‘exterior’, ‘mind’ against ‘body’, ‘mental’ against ‘physical’, but recognises their interdependence and interconnections. The second is an understanding that the ‘internalization’ of attention, which may be perceived in aspects of yoga, is not inimical to the creative processes of a contemporary actor, but can contribute to the cultivation of an attitude of ‘alert receptivity’ that is particularly relevant to processes within actor training.

The second video clip derives from Workshop Approach 2 which explores ways in which yoga can be combined with movement improvisation activities in order to train the student actor’s kinetic and spatial sensibility, and proposes that such combinations can facilitate both areas. The approach views possible combinations of yoga postures and movement improvisation as part of a continuum consisting of three frameworks.

Continue reading

“Yoga and Actor Training: Four Body Mind Dialogues”, by Dorinda Hulton from the DVD/Booklet “Yoga and Actor Training” by Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali (Routledge 2016), DVD filmed and edited by Arts Archives.

This series of video clips offer glimpses of the six Workshop Approaches documented in Dorinda Hulton and Maria Kapsali’s Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2015) DVD/booklet that focusses on ways in which the practice of yoga may be applied towards actor training purposes. Six Workshop Approaches are proposed, and contextualised with a historical overview of the use of yoga in the work of Konstantin Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski and Joseph Chaikin.
Within the six videos, as well as the publication as a whole, two key perspectives are proposed as being directly, or indirectly, helpful to actor training: the first is an understanding of yoga in relation to actor training that does not prioritise, or pit, ‘interior’ against ‘exterior’, ‘mind’ against ‘body’, ‘mental’ against ‘physical’, but recognises their interdependence and interconnections. The second is an understanding that the ‘internalization’ of attention, which may be perceived in aspects of yoga, is not inimical to the creative processes of a contemporary actor, but can contribute to the cultivation of an attitude of ‘alert receptivity’ that is particularly relevant to processes within actor training.

The first video clip derives from Workshop Approach 1, led by Dorinda Hulton and filmed by Arts Archives, and  focuses on four body-mind dialogues inherent in the safe practice of the yoga postures and proposes correspondences between these and processes relevant to first steps in actor training. Continue reading