Reflections on TaPRA 2018 Performing Training Open Panel: Training Across Cultures: Connections, Community and Cultural Cannibalism

Activating the Space: Memories and Metaphors

One of the greatest things about going to a conference where you are to discuss, reflect on and explore performer training is that at some stage you are likely to revert to/experience being a drama student. For our performer training working group at TaPRA 2018 we were based in the R Gerallt Jones Studio at the Parry-Williams building, Aberystwyth University, which coincidentally was the same room I had my undergraduate voice and acting classes with Joan Mills. So, when Kate Craddock (co-convener, with Maria Kapsali and Tom Cantrell) said we were going to ‘activate the space’ it was a particularly surreal moment.

This is how Day 2 of the conference began. Our instructions from Kate: Do not speak during the exercise; if you notice something in the room go to it and explore it; if you notice someone else noticing something, and you are compelled, go to it. Continue reading

CfP TaPRA Performer Training Working Group

TaPRA Performer Training Working Group

University of Aberystwyth 5th  – 7th September 2018

 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, dedicated to training in all its manifestations, and the associated blog http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org.

The working group co-convenors are delighted to issue a call for contributions for the forthcoming 2018 TaPRA conference.

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

  • provocations or position statements (max 10 minutes)
  • laboratory explorations rooted in practice research e.g. workshops, demonstrations, performance lectures or other appropriate formats (30-60 min)
  • formal papers (max 20 minutes)

 

2018 Theme: “Who are we training for?”

This year we invite proposals that respond to a purposefully provocative, playful and open question that the WG Convenors have derived at to address a very particular set of current concerns and debates in our field.

As was experienced at the conference last year, in which ‘the end of training’ was explored, ‘training’ in itself remains an open, ambiguous and contentious term.  Whatever form ‘training’ takes (i.e. however it is experienced or defined) it will not conform into one neat homogenous experience, nor should it. Indeed, training can be understood and experienced in numerous ways: as a self-practice; a collective endeavour; a means to an end; a means in itself; a discovery. It can be embarked upon to fulfil an ambition; to land a role; to develop a particular skill, craft, or discipline.  However, something that remains unclear, yet applicable to all forms of training, is who the beneficiary of this endeavour is.  Indeed, who or for whom are we training?

This question, and its series of sub-questions, call for equally urgent critically framed responses. This Call for Papers encourages contributions positioned, although not exclusively, in light of one or more of the following contexts:

 Institutions and Pedagogical Approaches

Specifically with reference to the rapid decline of access to arts provision across core compulsory state education in the UK and the predicted knock on effect this will have on the viability and perceived value of ‘training’ in our field in Higher Education.  (See numerous recent  reports and studies based on Government and independent research, including for example: BBC, January 2018, which states nine in every ten schools has significantly cut back on its arts provision: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-42862996 and Arts Professional, June 2017 https://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/news/devastating-decline-arts-schools-surges)

 Industry and Professional Organisations

Particularly in light of an industry that has been globally disgraced, outraged, and left searching for solidarity and solutions through committing to the mass movements and global campaigns of #Metoo and ‘Time’s Up’.  (See, for example, numerous recent industry guidelines and statements by organisations including Society of London Theatre (SOLT); Equity; and many independent theatres)

Employability

With reference to agendas that demand trained graduates to be multi-faceted practitioners who can readily devise, perform, self-produce, fund and promote their own practice, as well as desperately seeking to improve and address diversity quotas and credentials. (See, for example, ‘Skills for Theatre: Developing the Pipeline of Talent’ 2017 and Arts Council England ‘Creative Case for Diversity’: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldcomuni/170/170.pdf

http://www.artscouncil.org.uk/how-we-make-impact/diversity-and-equality)

In relation to this background, we invite proposals that may address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

  • How do performer training approaches and regimes understand and frame ‘the Other’ and/or questions of otherness?
  • At what point in training does a consideration of ‘an audience’ arise?
  • How do I consider and position myself in relation to those others that I am in a training situation with?
  • To what extent is training recognised and experienced as a solo endeavour?
  • Can training respect and work through marginality or does its very process and logic cultivate homogeneity and conformity?
  • When and how might training become ‘counter-training’?
  • How might a trainer or trainee be experienced as ‘other’ and what impact might this have on my experience of training?
  • How might performer training practice and discourse relate to recent theorisations of marginality, queerness and otherness?
  • How do we experience training in relation to our social media selves/other personas?
  • How do we train in relation to a digital other? How do I relate to and experience/feel a training mediated through digital technologies?
  • How has intersubjectivity in performer training practice and discourse been framed?

We are particularly keen to receive proposals where responses are situated inside critical frameworks as well as recent cultural policy related to the aforementioned questions.

Additional Note

This year, the Performer Training Working Group will be collaborating with the Performance and New Technologies Working Group by holding a joint session, addressing performer training in relation to digital/networked technologies. If you believe your proposal is most appropriate for this session, please indicate this, though final decisions will be made by working group convenors.

Submitting a Proposal

Please email all abstracts (no more than 300 words in length),  along with an additional few sentences of biographical information. Please also include precise details of your resourcing needs, for example, any audio-visual technology, or a particular type of space (e.g. drama studio) that you will need to make your presentation.

Email abstracts and information to Kate Craddock (kate.craddock@northumbria.ac.uk), Maria Kapsali (M.Kapsali@leeds.ac.uk), and Tom Cantrell (tom.cantrell@york.ac.uk).

The deadline for the submission of proposals is Friday 20th April 2018.

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for the TaPRA 2018 Conference. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Papers. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the conference; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the conference venue.

 Early Career Researchers Bursary Scheme

If you are an Early Career Researcher, then you are eligible to be considered for a TaPRA ECR Bursary. Please follow this link for more information, and please indicate on your proposal whether you fit this criteria and wish to be considered for the bursary scheme: http://tapra.org/bursaries/

 Circulation of paper-based presentations in advance of the conference

Papers are circulated in advance of the conference, so paper contributors should be prepared to have a full paper by early/mid August.

Please note that our group also welcomes participation from colleagues who do not wish to submit papers or other presentations. However, if you do wish to participate in our working group, but are not delivering a paper, please email us your name and details so we can ensure you receive papers in advance.

We also warmly encourage, that where possible, contributors attend over the 3 days, so that conversations and experiences can grow and develop collectively during this time-frame.

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal (TDPT)

TaPRA Papers may be considered for further development and publication in the Routledge Journal TDPT, http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/rtdp

We very much look forward to hearing from you.

Kate, Maria and Tom

 

 

 

 

Reflections on the open panel of the Performer Training Working Group – ‘Training and Other Disciplines/Practices’ – 1st September 2017

In the whirlwind of PhD study, teaching, and the endlessness of admin tasks associated with these activities one can forget that there is very exciting research happening within the performer training world. It is only when you have the opportunity to attend a conference with the diversity of program that is included in the TaPRA ‘Performer Training’ working group, which took place at the University of Salford August 30th-September 1st, that you fully understand that there are others thinking and working fruitfully on this topic in research terms. Continue reading

TaPRA Conference 2017 — Performer Training Working Group — Training Comedy and Transgression

 

This session began Day Two of TaPRA. The three papers in the sessions all drew upon the personal experiences of the presenters as artists and performers. The papers questioned and reconsidered traditional paradigms of performer training for comedy and theatre. Continue reading

On Modes of Sharing: Blog Report on Training and the Ensemble/Training Beyond Training Session at TaPRA Conference 2017

The Training and the Ensemble/Training Beyond Training session of the Performer Training Working Group at TaPRA Annual Conference 2017, included three different modes of sharing new knowledge and new practice. The session started with the group’s reflective discussion about the blog “Tuning: Preparing to Perform Gaudete with OBRA Theatre Co.”, compiled and edited by Eilon Morris with contributions from Kate Papi, Oliviero Papi and Fabian Wixe. The session continued with the presentation of Jane Turner’s and Patrick Campbell’s paper “The End(s) of Training: Three Case Studies from the Third Theatre”. The session ended with the workshop “The Ends of Your Training Revisited—A Timeline Experience”, designed and delivered by Ysabel Clare.

After two long days of paper presentations, attending a session that involved three different modes of sharing findings, brings attention not only to the overall theme of how specific actor-training practices affect the individual/ensemble but also about the complications and challenges of the sharing mode itself.

Eilon Morris, Kate Papi, Oliviero Papi and Fabian Wixe are all members of an ensemble that creates work under the direction of the core members of OBRA Theatre Co., Kate Papi and Oliviero Papi. Inspired by Peter Brook’s use of the term ‘tuning’ for ensemble work, OBRA Theatre Co. members give an insight into specific exercises that they use for the purpose of pre-performance preparation.  The three exercises of this first sharing mode— ‘Bouncing’, ‘Balls’ and ‘Tuning’—are described in the Theatre, Dance and Performance Blog in a ‘workbook’ format. The sharing structure of each exercise includes basic description, how each exercise was deposited to the training capital of the performer who introduced the exercise to the group and the main objectives of the exercise.

Carlos Simioni, Mia Theil Have and Carolina Pizarro are three actors who have a training relationship with Eugenio Barba’s Odin Theatre. Turner and Campbell share the actors’ training experiences, through a critical analytical account of the actors’ testimonies. Turner and Campbell’s critical analysis is driven by Barba’s writings, but they also draw on Gilles Deleuze’s and Félix Guattari’s philosophical concepts in order to elucidate their investigation. This second sharing mode uses a ‘case studies’ format: the three actors’ testimonies are used as a basis for offering different perspectives in which a specific practice may affect different individuals who embody different cultural and actor-training backgrounds.

The last sharing mode of the session was a practical workshop, which, under Clare’s facilitation, invited the participants to revisit memories of their own training life. The participants were invited to explore how this new embodied experience resonates through their prior training capital. The practical process inspired each participant to generate their own findings about how their past and future training work with and against each other.

Closing my report for the Training and the Ensemble/Training Beyond Training session, I would observe how the challenge of ‘curating’ innovative sharing modes in academic conferences speaks to contemporary challenges not only of participatory performance but also of practice research. I will summarise my point in a series of broader and more focused questions:

How much interaction is enough to keep a participant interested?

When does interaction distract from the new knowledge?

What is the most appropriate way of disseminating specific forms of new knowledge?

What are the expectations of specific audiences?

What is a ‘taster’/brief description of a practice and how can it be framed differently for academic and other environments?

How do different modes of sharing new knowledge to actor trainers reveal common assumptions about how an actor trainer should behave, like willingness to actively participate (thou shalt not refuse peers’ invitations to participate) and ability to use technology (thou shalt not live anymore without blogging and microblogging)?

Evi Stamatiou is an actor, director and writer who works across stage and screen with 14 years of international experience. She is currently finishing a PhD in Actor Training and Direction at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She trains actors in conservatoires and universities and is currently the Programme Coordinator for the BA (Hons) Acting at the University of Chichester. She specialises in comedy and in using a variety of text-based and devising practices that tackle under-representation and misrepresentation issues in the acting industry. Parts of her academic work are in preparation or have been published by Intellect Books, Routledge, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama and McFarland & Co. She also specialises in the development of new work, having workshopped new writing for various platforms, including Lincoln Centre Theatre Directors Lab. She is an Associate Artist to New Theatre Royal. She is represented by RD Casting in all aspects of her creative work. You can see more about her work at www.evistamatiou.com.

 

Artist Award announcement, and a new milestone of readership

We are delighted to share that the Theatre, Dance and Performance Training blog has now surpassed 20,000 views. Whilst this is only one measure we hope this is indicative of the many fine posts and comments being contributed to our site and we thank all the contributors who have made content for us so far.

To add to our growing community we have been supporting a handful of contributors through our Artist Awards. This week sees a new post by The Wardrobe Ensemble, our first Artist Awards recipient and the first post by Asha Jennings-Grant, who received the third Award.

The Artist Awards were conceived to highlight and support the most innovative creative practice in the field of performance training. Accordingly, we are excited to share Wardrobe’s reflections on the work that Complicite say, ‘fills us with joy and reminds us of why we love working in theatre.’

The two posts from The Wardrobe Ensemble trace two weeks in the development of their most recent show, Education, Education, Education, and the way training informs their remarkable ensemble dynamic.

Our second Blog Artist Award takes us to a territory that has remained relatively uncharted in the field of performer training. Please join dance artist Marie Andersen on a series of posts on Motherhood in/as training exploring a number of perspectives, including female artistic identity and embodiment, training beyond disciplinary boundaries, and training when there is no time.

Marie has currently posted two of a series of three posts that combine creative video and reflective writing in an innovative approach to this neglected topic.  The two posts published have already elicited stream of comment and discussion.

Finally, Asha, in her first post introduced the work she is developing on movement training for Motion Capture and will continue to post in the next coming months on the workshops she will be leading.

Visit the TDPT blog to follow this and other engaging threads, join the conversation by commenting on any of the posts, or even submit your own piece of writing to the blog to share your own practice.

Also look out for a series of reviews of the meeting of the Performer Training Working Group at the TaPRA Conference (Theatre and Performance Research Association) in Salford in September 2017.

The TDPT blog was launched in November 2015 to encourage a growing community of artists, academics, practitioners and researchers to share practice and debate issues that are currently alive within the disciplines of theatre, dance and performance training. One of our aims was to engage a new audience for the TDPT journal while also creating an online space that encourages spontaneous and productive conversation and debate.  With one milestone reached, these aims are becoming a reality and we hope that the TDPT blog is achieving its aim of offering a vibrant and engaging hub for discussion of the leading edge of theatre, dance and performance training.