If I am training myself or undergoing training, does the history that underpins the exercises that I do matter to me or have any meaningful impact on the efficacy of the training? Training typically takes place ‘in the moment’ and the immediate experience of the exercises is often what seems to matter the most. But what about the background to those exercises, their provenance and ‘heritage’? Can exercises come with baggage – either ideological, gendered, colonial or otherwise? And if so, how do we as trainers and trainees address that baggage and deal with it?
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 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.