CfP: TDPT Special Issue, Training and Agency

Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal (TDPT)

Special issue: Training and Agency to be published in June 2024.

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

Guest editors:

Dr Jane Turner, Manchester Metropolitan University (J.c.Turner@mmu.ac.uk)

Dr James McLaughlin, University of Greenwich (J.a.mclaughlin@gre.ac.uk)

Dr Sarah Weston, University of Bolton (S.Weston2@bolton.ac.uk)

Training Grounds Editor: Aiden Condron (condrona@gmail.com)

Training and Agency (Issue 15.2)

Training could be thought of as a regime. A repeated practice with structures and boundaries, which the subject is required to conform to. Yet, this subject is an agent with their own thoughts, feelings and instincts who needs to both serve the discipline and rigour prescribed by training while retaining a sense of autonomy. In this Special Issue, we will be exploring performer training in relation to the idea of agency. Developed out of the TaPRA Performer Training Working Group 2021 Conference, the issue will examine to what extent the subject has agency within frameworks of training, through a variety of themes including: agency and creativity; the drama school or training institution; agency and consent; and the possibility of subversion within the structures of performer training. Contributors will come from a wide range of performance disciplines such as actor training; critical pedagogy; applied theatre; opera; studio practice; circus; and dance.

Agency, the ability of the subject to act according to their own will, is temporal: dependent on the past, present and projected future of the subject (Emirbayer and Mische, 1998). The capacity for agency is often defined in relation to structure, the social, economic, cultural or other circumstances in which the individual acts. Moving beyond believing purely that subjects operate entirely according to their freewill, or an approach that argues humans have no independence and their behaviour is entirely determined by circumstances, it is possible to conceive of structure and agency’s power as interlinked. In this sense, structure and agency could be argued to work in tandem: as structures increase, agency recedes, as the agent is empowered the structural power decreases.

The relationship between structure and agency is significant for any pedagogic practice as with the interplay of rules against the emergence of self-determination familiar to many learning processes. Performer training as an over-arching practice is highly contingent on the connection and tension between a training structure (the institution, the practice, the exercise) and the agency of the individual. In response to Maria Kapsali’s editorial to the Training Politics and Ideology Special Issue (2014), this issue directly addresses the notion of agency in relation to the external forces that surround practice. Kapsali describes how the content and structure of performer training is subject to many forces outside of individual control, such as the entertainment industry, government funding, education systems and curriculum, and limitations of particular institutions (ibid, 103). Yet alongside this, she writes, it is often within training practices, that we find the ‘last haven of liminality’ through experimentation, and the acceptance of failure as a strategy that can lead to new possibilities (ibid, 104). This precise tension highlights the ways in which the structures of training, or a training as a structure, can also provide the circumstances for the agent to push back.

Within this conversation, it is important to acknowledge the historic and cultural circumstances in which training structures emerge and have become dominant. Mark Evans (2014), for instance, discusses the extent to which training structures emerge in accordance to the subject’s own history, with the relatively privileged trainee less likely to come up against limitations to their agency as their history reflects the prevailing order. Similarly, Royona Mitra (2022), through her discussion of contact improvisation, highlights how power (particularly that of whiteness) operates through practice, and the danger of invisible power structures permeating activity; this also includes those practices that claim to be determined by subjective agency. Emma Gee and Matthew Hargrave also outline systems of performer training that require disabled students take on practice that mirrors the structures of a disabling society (2011, 36). They offer a difficult set of propositions to make us question the fine line between training as a liberatory activity, against training as perpetuating social discrimination and inequalities:

Clearly, it is problematic to require any person to ‘normalise’ what is not possible for them to ‘normalise’, for example requiring an actor with a lisp to refrain from lisping. Conversely, this ‘problem’ may be an ingrained set of habitual behaviours that have gone unchallenged and assumed to be impairment. We then hit upon the double barrier that learning disabled actors face: assumptions about ability go untested and habitual tropes are reinforced in an attempt to be ‘enabling’. (2011, 42)

Accordingly the authors ask whether performer training needs to be radically different: do we require ‘more an undoing of repressive social mechanisms than a goal-driven acquisition of a set of formal skills’ (Gee and Hargrave, 2011, 34)?

This special edition will investigate how training structures impacts on the agency of the trainee, and vice versa. Some of the questions we would like to explore are:

  • Are the boundaries of training necessary in order to define the individual agent?
  • Can performer training traditions, repertoires, canons, or training institutions, impede the creativity, imagination or abilities of those in training?
  • Is agency significant in relation to codified training practices, particularly non-western traditions, such as Noh Theatre or Kathakali?
  • Does training conform and/or perpetuate pre-determined requirements set out by the entertainment industry, in tension with the performer’s agency?
  • Are the social, economic, cultural and political structures that correspond to institutional power erasing social and cultural difference, or even preventing access to training? Or, are training structures an essential part of an individual’s journey to the realisation of agency?
  • Could the empowerment of individual agency subvert, counter or challenge the structures of training regimes? 

Contributors may wish to explore the following themes:

  • Performance training in negotiation with existing power structures: from the specific power of the institution, for example, to broader structural operations of power in terms of race, class, gender identity, sexuality, disability, nationality and more.
  • Performance training and the implications of a neutral stance promoted by some forms, such as Lecoq training and the neutral mask. Does this notion of neutrality erase individuality and autonomy and point to questions of disabling or double-disabling practices in an attempt to ‘normalise’?
  • The challenges of working as an autodidact to achieve self-development and personal training; does this approach offer different questions concerning the role of individual agency?
  • Access to performance training, particularly in terms of class, socio-economic deprivation, race and disability.
  • Agency, empowerment and/or liberation through the subversion of traditions of performer training, such as radical practice within existing frameworks or institutions, or approaches of decolonization in terms of performance training canons.
  • Agency as the use of personal, social and ethical values to foster personal responsibility, ownership and a self-determining artistic trajectory to animates one’s practice. 

We welcome submissions from authors both inside and outside academic institutions, from professional practitioners and those who are currently undergoing training or who have experiences to tell from their training histories.

To signal your intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to  Dr Jane Turner, Manchester Metropolitan University (J.c.turner@mmu.ac.uk), Dr James McLaughlin, University of Greenwich (J.a.mclaughlin@gre.ac.uk) and Dr Sarah Weston, University of Bolton (S.Weston2@bolton.ac.uk).  Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Aiden Condron (condrona@gmail.com), copied to Jane, James and Sarah.

Our deadline for these abstracts is January 9th 2023

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:

  • “Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-6,500 words)
  • “Sources” provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training. We are particularly keen to receive material that documents the histories and contemporary practices associated with the issue’s theme.
  • “Training Grounds” hosts shorter pieces, which are not peer reviewed, including essais (more speculative pieces up to 1500 words); postcards (up to 100 words); visual essays and scores; Speaking Images (short texts responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.); and book or event reviews. We welcome a wide range of different proposals for contributions including edited interviews and previously unpublished archive or source material. We also welcome suggestions for recent books on the theme to be reviewed; or for foundational texts to be re-reviewed.

Innovative cross-over print/digital formats are possible, including the submission of audiovisual training materials, which can be housed on the online interactive Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal blog: http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/.

About Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Issue Schedule

  • 9th January 2023: proposals to be submitted.
  • Early March 2023: Response from editors and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution
  • March to July 2023: writing/preparation period
  • July to early October 2023: peer review period
  • October 2023 – January 2024: author revisions post peer review
  • June 2024: publication as Issue 15.2

We look forward to hearing from you.

References

Emirbayer, Mustafa and Mische, Ann. 1998. “What Is Agency?” American Journal of Sociology 103 (4): 962–1023.

Evans, Mark. 2014. “Playing with history: personal accounts of the political and cultural self in actor training through movement.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 5 (2): 144-156.

Gee, Emma and Hargrave, Matt. 2011. “A proper actor? The politics of training for learning disabled actors.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 2 (1): 34-53.

Kapsali, Maria. 2014. “Editorial.” Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 5 (2): 103-106.

Mitra, Royona. 2022. “Unmaking Contact: Choreographic Touch at the Intersections of Race, Caste, and Gender.” Dance Research Journal 53 (3): 6-24.

Embodied and Oral Land Acknowledgement

Virginie Magnat (France/Canada): “HÍSW̱ḴE (SENĆOŦEN word used to express gratitude, to give thanks)”

Embodied Land Acknowledgement:

Oral Land Acknowledgement:

Virginie Magnat’s training is rooted in the teachings of Rena Mirecka and Zygmunt Molik, two founding members of Jerzy Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre (https://virginiemagnat.space/about).

Never Ending Narrative Video showcase

Never Ending Narrative is a video showcase created by the Wayne State University Virtual Dance Collaboratory (VDC)—a student-led dance company dedicated to digital media creation. The video series includes original screendances and video interviews of students speaking honestly about their experiences making art during the pandemic. The entire showcase was created during the Winter 2021 semester and exemplifies students’ desires to cultivate joy in the midst of deep frustration and loss.

https://vimeo.com/showcase/never-ending-narrative

For the authors’ discussion of this video showcase, please see their article in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing: Jessica Rajko et al. (US) “Reimagining Dance and Digital Media Training in an Era of Techno-Neoliberalism: Collective Pedagogical Models for Digital Media Education in Dance”

Notes on Contributors:

Jessica Rajko is an Assistant Professor at Wayne State University. Her research includes critical scholarly and artistic approaches to research at the intersection of dance and computing. Her most recent research investigates how and why dance-based practices are integrated, adopted, and at times appropriated in computing research. She has presented and performed nationally and internationally, including Amsterdam’s OT301, Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche festival, and The Joyce Theatre’s Gotham Festival. Author 1 has also presented her research at several transdisciplinary institutional programs such as Harvard’s Digital Futures Consortium, UPenn’s Price Lab for Digital Humanities, and University of New Mexico’s ART Lab.

Alesyn M. McCall is the Media and Production Coordinator in the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University. A multidisciplinary artist, Alesyn is passionate about producing and promoting media designed to empower marginalized communities. Since 2010, McCall has worked professionally as a videographer, photographer, cinematographer, hip-hop artist, and editor for numerous documentary, experimental and promotional films. McCall obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Howard University in Washington, DC with a major in Radio, Television and Film Production and will complete her Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Wayne State University in Spring 2022.

Ethan Williams is a recent graduate of Wayne State University with a Masters in Fine Arts in Theatre Management. His primary focus during his degree was photography and videography to market theatre and dance performances. Ethan hopes to continue to use these content creation skills in the future to market the arts in a visually compelling manner. He is currently pursuing career options in New York City, where he will be moving in October of this year, and is MS in Camp Administration from Touro University of Nevada. Lindsey has experience stage managing plays, musicals, dance concerts, opera, and special events. She has spent her professional career working in theatre as a project manager, as a teacher, and as a camping professional where she served as the head of the theatre department and production manager at French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts.

Warming up our hearts

“Warm up the body,
but not only the body,
because all inner motivations
are full of joy.”

Rena Mirecka is a founding member of Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre. She is the only woman to have performed in all of its productions, and is a specialist in the physical exercises known as plastiques.

https://grotowski.net/en/encyclopedia/mirecka-rena

http://en.grotowski-institute.pl/projekty/the-sun-the-school-of-rena-mirecka/

https://www.routledgeperformancearchive.com/browse/practitioners/mirecka-rena

Introducing the Barba Varley Foundation Website

The Barba Varley Foundation has been created to promote the vision, the causes and the values developed by the Odin Theater since its foundation. It continues a vision of groups and theatre artists who demonstrate the transformative function of theatre and establish themselves as autonomous cells of another system of production and relationships. In particular, the Foundation aimed at the « nameless » of theater. Its purpose is to support fields of action animated by people who are disadvantaged by gender, ethnicity, geography, age, ways of thinking and acting inside and outside theatre.

https://fondazionebarbavarley.org/

For more context around the Barba Varley Foundation, read the Extended Conversation with Eugenio Barba and Nathalie Gautard in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing.

Training to Grow into Our Imaginations 

There’s a story about my great-great grandfather and a group of wild, shipwrecked Shetland ponies. Apparently, they were untameable, but he managed to train them and even hitch them up to a large wagon cart. There are newspaper accounts with photos and a sense that the locals in the area were a bit in awe of him. Training in this instance is a kind of domesticating process, a moulding and shaping, but it is also one of relationality and understanding between person and ‘animal’. My great-great grandfather was of full settler ancestry but raised by Wabanaki peoples in what is commonly referred to as Northeastern Canada and Maine. He integrated into the white settler world in his mid-twenties, training himself in settler customs and beliefs, but throughout his life he always lived between both worlds. 

As an acting teacher in the 21st-century, I am acutely aware that training, particularly in a workshop or educational setting, is saturated with the expectation of acquisition: participants hope to gain a new skill or a new ‘key’ to unlock their abilities. Even in situations where performers might respectfully learn another’s cultural heritage, such as songs or dances, there is still the expectation of acquiring that particular cultural artifact. 

In the workshop exchanges between K’ómox Kwakwaka’wakw and Coast Salish Kumugwe Cultural Society representatives Jesse Recalma and Karver Everson, the University of Exeter and MED Youth Theatre, a different mode or approach to training was evident. This was brought to the sessions by Jesse and Karver who embody their traditional sense of potlatch: a long ceremony of gift exchange that reinforces traditional bonds. During a Northwest Coast potlatch, one watches and listens respectfully for hours, if not days on end. The songs, dances and other displays of cultural heritage are infused with the pride, knowledge and respect of one’s clan and one’s nation. 

In the workshop with young Devon theatremakers who explicitly use myth in their processes, one of Jesse’s gifts was to speak about his belief in beings from the world that sits just on the edge of ours – what we in a colonized world might consider the supernatural. For Jesse, these beings are an integral part of one’s cultural heritage, are in fact an integral part of reality. Seeing how he offered himself to the space, listening to how he sang and drummed and observing how he interacted with the students, it was clear to me that Jesse’s sense of self is informed by a rich imaginative relationality to the world. 

Jesse didn’t use the word ‘imagination’, but sharing space with him and Karver reminded me of how, for the Haudenosaunee (The Six Nations Confederacy), imagination is not bound within an individual’s skull. Rather, according to Joe Sheridan and Roronhiakewen ‘He Clears The Sky’ Dan Longboat, imagination is a growing into one’s being through one’s relationality with place: the land and ecology one is surrounded by.

In my own work as a performer and in particular as a trainer of performers, I focus on imagination and the importance of associations as stimuli for impulse and action. I’ve always tended towards the mythic, the speculative, the intimations of a world that sits just at the edge of our own, and I encourage my students to lean into these associations because I often find they can be powerful catalysts to changing the dynamics of the space and the ways in which the individual and the ensemble relate to, and synthesize, the training. However, in these instances, training is still primarily related to expanding and challenging the body to awaken and interact with an enlarged sense of imagination, as something that might not be fully contained within you but rather that you are contained within.  

Listening to Jesse speak about his understanding of the beings on the edge shifted even further my own sense of relations. I’ve often considered the narrative that my great-great grandfather ‘tamed wild animals’ part of the paradigm of colonization, but through witnessing Jesse and Karver’s workshops and sharings, I realized that my great-great grandfather was quite possibly consciously collaborating with other-than-human persons, i.e. that he knew and respected the ‘animal’ as a ‘person’. Such a shift in language is essential as it shifts our imaginations. Thinking this way about my great-great grandfather and the training of ponies, made me consider training and the environment one trains in as an even more holistic enterprise than I have heretofore believed – one in which we might not simply be taking inspiration from something or someone but learning how to be responsible for that other and our relations to it.

I’m indebted to Jesse and Karver for the generous sharing of their cultural heritage and artistic practice. It fortified in me the essential need for relational and reciprocal work in all aspects of our lives, but particularly in our artistic and educational practices. The time with them provoked questions for me that I hope to take into my teaching and practice this year:  

  • How might the act of training in artistic contexts become less about acquisition and more about the art of gift exchange?  
  • Without discrediting the importance of mastery and pedagogical necessity – how might the conditions for deep reciprocity be enacted in a ‘training space’?  
  • How might our quality of listening change in such a space if we are not focused on what we are ‘taking’ from this moment but rather what we are receiving?  
  • Might such a space of exchange between ‘teacher’ and ‘students’ allow everyone to imagine differently, and for such imaginings to inform the work being made to be more ecologically and holistically mindful? 

Reference

Joe Sheridan and Roronhiakewen ‘He Clears the Sky’ Dan Longboat, ‘The Haudenosaunee Imagination and the Ecology of the Sacred’ Space and culture, 9 (2006), p.365-381.

Notes on Contributors: 

Bryan Brown 

Bryan Brown is an artist-scholar, currently Senior Lecturer at the University of Exeter, co-director of visual theatre company ARTEL (American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory), and advisor to cultural laboratory Maketank. He is an editorial board member of Theatre Dance and Performance Training and co-curator of the journal’s blog. 

OrcID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7033-4813 

Cultivating Vessel and Voice: Three Videos

This video demonstration connects to the essai “Cultivating Vessel and Voice: Embodiment as a Way of Being in Performer Training” by Gey Pin Ang and Ranice Tay in TDPT’s special issue on Wellbeing. 

Both practitioners shared their experience beyond paradigms of performer training by drawing on their physical and vocal practices stemming from Sourcing Within’s notion of “care of self”. 

Care of Self in Physical Training:

Care of Self in Song:

Care of Self – from Vessel To Voice:

Gey Pin Ang 

Gey Pin is a practice-researcher from Singapore. She co-founded and was the artistic director of Theatre OX. Formerly, she was an actress with the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards, Italy, under the company’s Project The Bridge: developing theatre arts. Since 2016, she initiated Sourcing Within comprising of international workshops, cross-disciplinary embodied researches in performing arts and anthropology. Her works are featured in journals and books dedicated to intercultural theatre and anthropology. She holds a PhD in Drama by Practice-as-Research from the University of Kent. 

Tay Kai Xin Ranice 

Ranice is a multi-disciplinary theatre and martial arts practitioner from Singapore. She graduated from the National University of Singapore with a BA (Hons) in Theatre Studies, where she was also a recipient of the NUS CFA Performing and Visual Arts Scholarship. She collaborates avidly with Ang Gey Pin, and has worked internationally as a teacher and performer. Her artistic practice is rooted in primality, embodiment, and surrender. She perceives the body as an open vessel, and creates to invite the encounter inside and beyond the self. 

Relational Performance Pedagogy: Documentary Film

This two-hour documentary film is linked to the essai “Relational Performance Pedagogy: North American Innovations in the Lineages of Decroux and Grotowski” in the TDPT special issue on Wellbeing. The film features the pedagogical innovations of the four teachers, Dean Fogal, Linda Putnam, Kathleen Weiss, and David MacMurray Smith. It includes footage gathered during a week of shared participatory research in July 2018 which I hosted with these senior artists, plus a subsequent three-day intensive workshop that three of the teachers led for twenty-three participants.  

Claire Fogal:

Supported by SSHRC and the Public Scholars Initiative, Claire Fogal’s doctoral work at UBC celebrates her father Dean Fogal and the other senior Grotowski and Decroux based theatre artists who are her primary mentors. A Vancouver director, actor, teacher and creator, Claire is a graduate of UBC (BA in Theatre and English Literature), UAlberta (MFA in Directing) and Tooba Physical Theatre Centre (where she became the Director of Educational Programming). Claire is Artistic Director of Minotaur’s Kitchen, supported by Cor Departure Physical Theatre Society, which she co-founded in 2000, and contract faculty at Douglas College. Portfolio: clairefogal.com. 

Performance Training as Healing

Sonia’s Monologue:

This is an excerpt of Sonya’s monologue from the Indigenous adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Floyd Favel and performed by Sabina Sweta Sen-Podstawska. This video was recorded by Adam Podstawski. Originally the adaptation took place on the Poundmaker Reserve, on the land by a lake. This excerpt was recorded in a park in Chorzow, Poland as Sabina tried to remember and recreate the original performance to demonstrate the use of Plains Indigenous Sign Language (PISL) in indigenous performance. Some of the PISL used in this excerpt are: time, before, know, woman and the dance mudras from Indian classical dance Odissi, incorporated are: flower, bird, mirror. The gestures, action signs from the sign language and dance mudras are used according to their original ways but also as impulses and half formed gestures that originate in the body as it connects with the land through movement. In this process, traditions, cultures and languages meet: English and Bengali language in a Tagore song meet the Plains Indigenous Sign Language and mudras from Indian classical dance Odissi.

Excerpts from Uncle Vanya:

This video presents excerpts from an Indigenous adaptation of Anton Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” by Floyd Favel as a tale of colonization. It was part of performance training workshops and festivals organized by Miyawata Culture on Poundmaker Reserve in Canada in the summer of 2018 and 2019. Participants included artists, theatre directors, performers and academics from Canada and Poland. The video was recorded and edited by Noah Favel. The adaptation focuses on a healing journey of two protagonists: Uncle Vanya and Sonya. Sonya returns back to her home and land to honour her beloved uncle on his funeral. As she enters the abandoned house, she encounters the memories of her own lost soul, younger Sonya who is stuck in the old house along with the spirit of her deceased uncle. According to Indigenous shamanistic beliefs, one of the major causes of life’s illness is we leave a part of our spirit behind, that does not grow. Re-living the story of colonization offers a healing process for Sonya and sets free the uncle Vanya’s spirit.

About the Practitioners:

Sabina Sweta Sen-Podstawska, an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Silesia in Poland, holds a PhD in Drama from the University of Exeter, an MA in South Asian Dance Studies from the University of Roehampton in London and BA-MA in English Literature and Culture from the University of Silesia in Katowice. Her research interests embrace sensory-somatic awareness in Odissi dance, body-mind relationship, somatic studies, and psychophysical training and performance, minority cultures, and dance and performance of Indigenous Peoples in Canada. As a dancer and performer, she continues her embodied explorations through Odissi dance crisscrossing disciplines and mediums. 

Floyd Favel is a theatre theorist and Cree cultural leader based in Saskatchewan. He studied theatre in Denmark at the Tukak Teatret and in Italy with Jerzy Grotowski. He has developed his own theatre process he entitles ‘Native Performance Culture’, or NPC. He is the curator of the Chief Poundmaker Museum (winner of the 2018 International Indigenous Tourism Award). In 2020 he was awarded the Multi-Cultural Leadership Award in Saskatchewan. He produced a documentary on the Delmas Indian Residential School which opened the Presence Autochtone Film Festival in Montreal in 2021.

CfP: TDPT Special Issue: Touch and Training

Special issue: Touch and Training to be published June 2023

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

Guest editors
Dr Ha Young Hwang, Korea National University of Arts, School of Drama, Seoul, South Korea (hyhwang@karts.ac.kr)
Dr. Tara McAllister-Viel, East 15 Acting School, University of Essex, London, UK. (tamcal@essex.ac.uk)
Liz Mills, AFDA The School for the Creative Economy, Cape Town, SouthAfrica (LizM@afda.co.za).

Training Grounds editor
Dr Sara Reed, Independent researcher, writer and project manager (sbenhardreed@gmail.com

Touch and Training (Issue 14.2)
Global happenings throughout this past decade, such as ♯MeToo, ♯blacklivesmatter, Asian Spring, Arab Spring, the Marriage Act (2013 UK) and Russia’s “Gay Propaganda” law (2013), and COVID-19, have radically repositioned touch in performance and performer training. Touch is a socio-cultural event, a political act between two people as well as a network of power positions and layers of institutional infrastructure: who touches, how does/should one touch, why and when can/should touch occur? These questions when raised within performance traditions, theatre, film and television rehearsal and performance spaces and performer training studios ask creative artists to (re)consider the ways we think about, talk about and stage touch: for instance, the rise of the “intimacy coordinator” in response to concerns about the inequitability of touch during re-enactments of intimacy is only one of a number of recent developments in performance-related fields (re)considering the role of touch during the creative process.

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TDPT Issue 12.3 – Performer Training in Australia, Now Published

In an oft-repeated anecdote, Australian actor Nick Lathouris tells of the arrival of Jerzy Grotowski’s ideas in Australia in 1969 — courtesy of a badly-Xeroxed copy of Towards a Poor Theatre that circulated between the acting company that formed around director Rex Cramphorn in Sydney as a kind of hallowed totem, a connection to a rich vein of tradition and experimentation in training in a continent that was sorely lacking both. Speaking of the same period, playwright John Romeril remembers the early days of the Australian Performing Group (APG) recalls: “much of what we did by way of acting exercises we drew from magazines and books. We read of and ripped off whatever came our way”. Origin myths such as these inform Ian Maxwell’s characterisation of Australian trainers and trainees as “theatrical bowerbirds”, metaphorising the distinctive Austro-Papuan bird family that is renowned for a courtship ritual where the male decorates his bower with an eclectic range of bright objects, both natural and inorganic. Down under, disconnected from the celebrated training traditions of the northern hemisphere in the decades before globalised publishing, Australian trainers collected whatever they could get their hands on, arranging bespoke lineages that combined native and imported traditions.

A satin bowerbird at his bower in Lamington National Park, Queensland. Photograph by Joseph C Boone. CC BY-SA 4.0.
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Training Grounds Call for Postcards (TDPT Journal)

Amidst the current disruption the Training Grounds’ section of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal continues its search for responses to our regular themed Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme. Our next theme (for the Winter 2020 issue) is:

Training and Buildings

Call out for TDPT’s regular, themed, Postcards feature. This regular feature attempts to collect different perspectives of training from a variety of people via short responses on a given theme.

We are interested in receiving responses from anyone engaged in thinking about/doing training for performance in all its myriad forms.

You could be a formal ‘Trainer’, a doer, a student, a practitioner, a provider, a supporter, or a thinker about training. You could work in theatre, dance, music, circus, live/performance arts, design or construction for performance, or any other connected discipline.

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TDPT Issue 12.1 Published

This new issue of the journal is international in scope with rich contributions from around the globe including articles on indigenous theatre in New Zealand, explorations of planetary performance pedagogy from practitioner scholars in Singapore, USA and Australia, training histories in Australia and in the former Yugoslavia, and a collated series of conversations on theatre pedagogy from Drama School Mumbai. Contributions include short essais, postcards and reviews as well as articles, several of which respond to creative responses to being in the midst of a pandemic.

It’s always a delight to see how submissions to one of the open issues of TDPT reveal new debates simply by sitting side by side with each other. In 12.1 a prominent theme that emerges is that of tracing past training practices and examining how they link with or challenge contemporary training experiences. One way of exploring this, beyond the pages of the issue, is to read the essai on Peter Hulton’s pioneering work on Arts Archive that links perfectly with Hulton’s offer here in the blog to make a wide range of training workshops available to explore.  .

Contents

Editorial
Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches, Chris Hay and Aiden Condron

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CfP: TDPT Special Issue: Martial Arts Re-Visited

Special issue: Martial Arts Re-Visited to be published in September 2022
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors

Guest editors:
Prof. Paul Allain, University of Kent, Canterbury (P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk)
and Prof. Grzegorz Ziółkowski, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań (grzeg@amu.edu.pl).
Training Grounds Editor: Thomas Wilson, Rose Bruford College, London (Thomas.Wilson@bruford.ac.uk).

Martial Arts Re-Visited (Issue 13.3)

This special issue wishes to reinvigorate discussion about the applicability and usefulness of martial arts in actor, dancer and performer training. It opens the door particularly wide to contributions which intend to critically re-evaluate and re-examine martial arts’ role and place in performing arts training approaches and schemes.

Following in the footsteps of proponents of the newly established scholarly discipline of martial arts studies, such as Paul Bowman, Benjamin Judkins and Sixt Wetzler, we see the widely used and discursively constructed notion of “martial arts” as inclusive rather than exclusive, embracing traditional martial arts, competitive combat sports, military and civilian self-defence systems, as well as many activities straddling the boundaries between these. Moreover, for us the term “martial arts” denotes not only those practices and techniques which when skilfully executed may prove effective in physical struggle/contests, but also a vast pool of adjunct activities related to health, wellbeing, meditation and performance broadly construed that have their roots in or are connected with combat methods. Borrowing from Wetzler, we advocate that “martial arts” activate several dimensions which often interrelate and intersect, including: (a) physical and psychological preparation for confrontation with violence, usually carried out according to systematic and reproducible protocols and schemes, (b) combat competition adhering to set rules and frameworks, performed for fun or to determine a prize winner, (c) the display of martial skills and techniques in front of others, (e) pursuit of transcendent goals, consisting of cherishing specific philosophies and worldviews as well as character formation, (f) therapies and illness prevention. Furthermore, we note that martial arts cannot be reduced to their Asian or – more narrowly – East Asian incarnations since the phenomenon pertains to every corner of the world and as such strongly questions the dominant East-West axis, just as it unsettles the South-North axis too, with highly influential forms such as capoeira practised worldwide.

We are therefore open to proposals which confront not only the practices most commonly associated with martial arts and most frequently employed in performer training contexts, such as Japanese aikido and Chinese taijiquan, but also lesser known styles and schools as well as other non-obvious manifestations of martial arts’ approaches, attitudes, ideas and techniques.

In the turbulent 1960s, with a hunger for alternative models of organizing socio-political realities and related fascination with Eastern philosophies and practices of bodymind cultivation, elements of various (mainly East Asian) martial arts started to populate various Western actor, dancer and performer training programmes and regimes carried out both in academia and professional studios. Over time, as Robert Dillon observed in 1999, “the notion of ‘martial arts for actors’ has gone from being alternative in every sense of the word to being mainstream” and presently martial arts are a well-established component of many theatre, dance, circus or performance training routines, often part of a larger programme of psychophysical activities and approaches. Different artists, practitioners and scholars (sometimes in one body, as in the case of theatre scholar and practitioner Phillip B. Zarrilli) have listed the numerous physical and/or psychological benefits of employing martial arts in the formation of performance artists. The most often cited examples include: (a) heightening psychophysical awareness, sharpening perception and a sense of being here and now (presence), (b) cultivation of bodily and mental flexibility, (c) integration of body and mind, (d) development of focus, rootedness, balance and a sense of timing, (e) elaboration of respect for discipline, (f) improvement in terms of stamina and movement capacities, etc. This long list of advantages, however, does not dispel doubts which arise when considering the presence of martial arts in performer training and should not make us overlook related questions. These dilemmas comprise, for example, risk of injury, the presence of violence (even in a nascent form) and the subjugation of critical thought in confrontation with (often mythologized) practices and attitudes enshrined in (often esoteric) traditions. In an age when hierarchies are being acutely questioned and overturned, in life as much as in the training studio or classroom, when inclusivity and equality determine our every move, how do the structured forms of martial arts and their related pedagogical or dissemination models speak to such concerns? Can they only reinforce authority, or can they overcome such binary models? How might martial arts help shape the performance revolution that is yet to come? And how do martial arts impact on wider notions and practices of gender and sexuality? Are they purely conformist, homogenizing, or can they offer possibilities for transgression and transformation? We are convinced that these problems and issues deserve attention and careful scrutiny.

We would also like to highlight the following questions to be – potentially – tackled by contributors to the special issue:
• Are martial arts in performer training gender, race, class, age, (dis)ability determined? If they are, how does this manifest itself and what are the implications of this?
• How do cultural, political and social contexts play out in martial arts as part of performer training? Amateur and youth involvement in martial arts is extensive; how does this feed into performer training?
• How do social distancing and isolation as consequences of the global pandemic affect martial arts’ presence in performer training curricula?
• Which style(s) or school(s) are better/worse suited for performer training? Are any not suited at all? If so, why?
• Are martial arts primarily used as a movement training substitute? Are other dimensions of martial arts, such as meditation, work with energy, ethical dimension, etc., included in performer training regimes as well? How might work on martial arts support vocal practices and training?

Other important problems which we think could be addressed in this issue include:
• Strategies, consequences and risks of adaptation of martial arts or their elements for performance training needs;
• Interrelations between martial arts and other training systems within one curriculum (the problem of syncretism);
• Martial arts in training for a specific performance type in terms of aesthetics and/or philosophy;
• Martial arts’ performance pedagogy and its organizational milieus: drama school, university, studio theatre, workshops, etc.
• Usefulness of the martial arts’ pedagogic strategy of dialectics of form and improvisation in performing arts training contexts; issues around imitation, form and discipline in martial arts – how do these aspects prepare performers for rehearsal and creative processes, if they indeed do? 

We welcome submissions from authors both inside and outside academic institutions, from professional practitioners and those who are currently undergoing training or who have experiences to tell from their training histories. To signal your intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Paul Allain and Grzegorz Ziółkowski at: P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk and grzeg@amu.edu.pl. Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson (Thomas.Wilson@bruford.ac.uk), copied to Paul and Grzegorz.

Our deadline for these abstracts is 16th June 2021.

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:

  • Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-7,000 words)
  • “Sources” provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training. We are particularly keen to receive material that documents the histories and contemporary practices associated with the issue’s theme.
  • Training Grounds” hosts shorter pieces, which are not peer reviewed, including essais, postcards, visual essays, speaking image (short text responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.) and book or event reviews. We welcome a wide range of different proposals for contributions including edited interviews and previously unpublished archive or source material. We also welcome suggestions for recent books on the theme to be reviewed; or for foundational texts to be re-reviewed.

Innovative cross-over print/digital formats are possible, including the submission of audiovisual training materials, which can be housed on the online interactive Theatre, Dance and Performance Training journal blog: http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/.

About Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its own blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Issue Schedule

  • 16th June 2021: 250 word proposals to be submitted to Paul Allain and Grzegorz Ziółkowski at: P.A.Allain@kent.ac.uk and grzeg@amu.edu.pl.
  • Early July 2021: Response from editors and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution.
  • Early July 2021 to end October 2021: Writing/preparation period and submission of first drafts.
  • End October-End of December 2021: Peer review period.
  • January 2022: Author revisions, post peer review.
  • September 2022: publication as Vol. 13, Issue 3.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Call for TDPT Co-editor

Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge.

The two editors of the international journal, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Dr Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London), are seeking to recruit a coeditor to join them on this very successful journal, published by Routledge.  Now in its 12th year, the journal has just moved to publishing 4 issues annually and attracts contributions from scholars and practitioners across the globe. It has a very active blog site, hosting multi-media content.

As the journal has grown in stature and in size, the editorial team has expanded, and we now have a group of associate editors and blog editors numbering over twenty individuals. True to our ethos of publishing and practising training, we seek someone who might be an ‘editor in waiting’, not necessarily fully versed in all the details of journal publication but with a deep-seated interest in performance training and with some experience of editing others’ work and engagement with academic journals.

While you may not be a fully fledged editor, you will need to bring strategic ambition and vision to the journal, helping us take TDPT into the next decade of its development with energy and imagination. Working on TDPT will offer you unique insights into academic publication and provide you with opportunities to expand your own networks with scholars and practitioners. You will be a key contributor, helping steer the journal’s direction and ensuring it keeps up to date and responsive to current ideas and movements in performance training.

You should be:

  • Invested in contemporary debates in training and performance and committed to the principles of ethical research.
  • Visionary and creative with clear ideas about how the journal can continue to develop and prosper.
  • Highly organised and efficient with excellent communication skills.
  • At your best when working in a tight-knit, collegiate team of editors and associate editors.

Editor’s responsibilities include:

  • Working with the other two co-editors of TDPT to set the strategic direction of the journal.
  • Upholding the highest levels of integrity in dealing with the journal’s contributors and content.
  • Liaising with the journal’s publishers, Routledge.
  • Collaborating with the TDPT extended team of associate editors (including blog and Training Grounds editors)
  • Sourcing (and liaising with) peer reviewers.
  • Becoming familiar with the the submission of manuscripts through the web-based peer review tool ScholarOne and the production platform CATS.
  • Commissioning and responding to proposals for Special Issues.
  • Sharing the writing of TDPT Editorials with the other editors.
  • Attending and helping to organise the Assistant Editors’ AGM and annual Training Grounds team meetings.
  • Supporting launch events for Special Issues and actively disseminating news about TDPT through social media.
  • Acting as an advocate for the journal at conferences and symposia.

TDPT is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, respect and equality of opportunity for all. We will select candidates on the basis of merit, and ability and aspire to further diversifying our community. We particularly welcome and encourage applications from candidates who have historically been under-represented in our journal including, but not limited to: Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people; gender non-binary, transgender or gender fluid people; and people with disabilities. 

To apply please send a maximum two-page statement identifying how you see the journal developing over the next five years, plus an up-to-date CV. You may also want to include an assessment of your skills and interests along with a statement of what you would like to learn from working as co-editor. These can be sent directly to Jonathan Pitches and Libby Worth (details below).

For more information and an informal discussion please contact: Jonathan Pitches j.pitches@leeds.ac.uk and/or Libby Worth libby.worth@rhul.ac.uk.  Our consultant editor Simon Murray is also available for advice simon.murray@glasgow.ac.uk.  Finally, please feel free to contact any one of our international editorial board members, who can offer a more distanced but invested perspective on the journal’s culture and operation.

The post is unpaid but all expenses incurred in working for the journal are covered.

Deadline for applications

March 31st 2021

Interviews will be held in April

Call for Associate Editor (Peer review) for TDPT

Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT), Routledge.

TDPT has an international profile and wide remit covering a range of arts training. For instance recent special issues have expanded to include training for: Popular Performance, Voice, Live and Performance Art, Immersive Performance, Independent Dance and focus on training places such as Dartington College of Arts. Current political and cultural issues that impact on, and that are generated by, training for performance, are regularly addressed in both open submissions and Special Issues such as ‘Training Politics and Ideology’, ‘Intercultural Acting and Actor/Performer Training’ and most recently ‘Against the Canon’.

As the journal has expanded over the years to full quarterly status in 2020, the number of submissions to both the Special and open issues has risen substantially. This welcome enthusiasm for writing on and from performance training comes with additional demands on the peer review process. The journal operates a single blind anonymous review process (i.e. reviewer’s name is not revealed to the author) with two reviews for each article. Given this growing need, the TDPT editors see that there is an opportunity for a new role within the journal for an Associate Editor (Peer Review), to lead on the journal’s strategy for peer review and to help us ensure its continuing rigour and supportiveness.

The Role

As this is a new editorial position, we invite you to contribute to its development and shaping. We expect that you will gain valuable experience in editorial processes within a highly respected and lively journal. Contact with a wide range of peer reviewers will increase your network substantially and has the potential for you to offer mentoring. Given both the numerical increase in submissions and expansion of fields of interest we envisage the role as follows:

  • Researching internationally for appropriate reviewers for the wide range of articles submitted.
  • Expanding the pool of peer reviewers the journal can draw upon and developing a clear system for access.
  • Encouraging new scholars and practitioners unfamiliar with the reviewing process to contribute. This is an extension of our current practice in mentoring practitioners and new writers to submit to the journal and the blog.
  • To contribute to actions and discussion on peer reviewing that support the further diversifying of our contributor base. In particular it is important to invite engagement from those who have historically been under-represented in our journal.
  • To reach out and engage with related journal editors in the current lively debates on the ethics, challenges and potential of the peer reviewing process.
  • To work closely with the editorial team and with Routledge.

   You should be:

  • Interested and fully engaged in many aspects of performer training.
  • Very well organised with strengths in preparing spreadsheets or similar for easy retrieval of information.
  • Keen to participate as part of a close team and excellent at communication.
  • Interested and able to contribute within the wider related scholarly/artistic community on peer reviewing.
  • Eager to learn or develop your skills in editorial work within TDPT.

TDPT is committed to fostering a culture of inclusion, respect and equality of opportunity for all. We will select candidates on the basis of merit, and ability and aspire to further diversifying our community. We particularly welcome and encourage applications from candidates who have historically been under-represented in our journal including, but not limited to: Black, Asian and ethnically diverse people; gender non-binary, transgender or gender fluid people; and people with disabilities.

To apply please send a maximum one-page statement identifying how you see the journal’s approach to Peer Review developing over the next couple of years, plus an up-to-date CV. You may also want to include an assessment of your skills and interests along with a statement of what you would like to learn from working as an Associate Editor. These can be sent directly to Jonathan Pitches and Libby Worth (details below).

For more information and an informal discussion please contact: Jonathan Pitches j.pitches@leeds.ac.uk  and/or Libby Worth libby.worth@rhul.ac.uk.  Our consultant editor Simon Murray is also available for advice simon.murray@glasgow.ac.uk.   Finally, please feel free to contact any one of our international editorial board members, who can offer a more distanced but invested perspective on the journal’s culture and operation.

The post is unpaid but all expenses incurred in working for the journal are covered.

Deadline for applications

March 31st 2021

Interviews will be held in April

TDPT Issue 11.4 Published

We are delighted to announce issue 11.4 of TDPT.  With this issue we are formally ‘a Quarterly’, both in the planning and the execution. As you will see, this is another very full issue, replete with six long-form articles, threaded through with postcards, a vibrant transcribed discussion, book and event reviews and a beautiful obituary, marking the passing of our dear friend Ali Hodge, and complementing a moving series of blog posts already published.

Look out for another innovation too: Speaking Image which takes forward – in microcosm – a key debate we have been having in the journal since its inception: how are embodied training practices communicated across media – and what does the interplay of image and word offer to this communication?

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Contents

Editorial

Editorial: dedicated to the memory of Alison Hodge (1959–2019)
Jonathan Pitches, Libby Worth, Thomas Wilson & Roanna Mitchell

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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:

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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.

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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

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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.

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‘Seen But Not Heard’: Some thoughts on the actor’s aesthetic labour six years on

MA Physical Acting improvisation, University of Kent (2019)

This is a 2020 response to my article ‘Seen But Not Heard: An embodied account of the (student) actor’s aesthetic labour’ (Mitchell, 2014), made available as open access as part of TDPT’s 10 year anniversary celebrations.

Six years after this article was first published, the thing that strikes me is what I find in the title. ‘Seen but not heard’ was my effort to create something brief and memorable for the potential reader, and in choosing it of course I was thinking about all the ways in which an actor’s body is put to work (and put at risk), in a tension between business, art and the personal which we often see but rarely discuss.

What I didn’t reflect on so much at the time was where that phrase comes from: the old saying, ‘Children should be seen and not heard’. This English proverb dates from the 15thcentury, where it was originally directed primarily at young women: ‘A mayde schuld be seen, but not herd’ (John Mirk, ca. 1403)[1].

This opens up a couple of things for me that I don’t discuss in the article, but which I think continue to be important:

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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.’

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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.

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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.

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Call for two Training Grounds Editors: Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Routledge

Now in its 9th year, the Journal of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training runs to three issues annually and attracts contributions from scholars and practitioners across the globe. As part of our tenth birthday celebrations, we are planning to grow to four issues per year and these two appointments reflect our expansion both in ambition and audience reach. The journal’s co-editors Professor Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Dr Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London) are seeking to recruit two Training Grounds Editors to work closely with them and with the rest of the Training Grounds (TG) editorial team, on this very successful journal, published by Routledge.

We seek two highly creative, motivated, organised and collegiate individuals with demonstrable specialisms in theatre, dance and/or performer training to join the rest of the TG team at this exciting moment in the journal’s growth. For the last nine years, we have been proud of the diversity of materials and innovation of writing forms offered within the pages of Training Grounds and with this set of appointments we hope to build on this track record, taking the spirit of the experimental backpages section into the journal’s main body. Continue reading