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?
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:
A collaborative document, with contributions from: Mark Evans, Cass Fleming, Rebecca Loukes, Sara Reed and Amy Russell.
This piece of writing aims to offer reflection and provocation on the ways that the TDPT Special Issue ‘Against the Canon’ might be used as part of teaching and learning activities within theatre, dance and performance courses and training programmes. We write this as academics and artists, aware of our position as white and privileged – and we invite critique, challenge and debate.
For work ‘against the canon’ to have continuing impact, it needs to reach out beyond the page of academic journals and start to affect the ways in which pedagogy operates and the ways in which teachers and students engage with canonical forms of training and canonical content. Editing the special issue has brought to the fore for us so many questions about deep assumptions underpinning much practice in Universities and conservatoires. The changes being wrought by #MeToo and by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign also offer profound challenges to the ways in which training for performance is structured, taught, assessed and perceived. The suggestions and provocations outlined below are offered only as a number of possible starting points and are in no way definitive – they should themselves be open to challenge and critique. We suggest that those interested in this work should approach it collaboratively, as befits the subject matter, working in partnership with students, colleagues, industry partners and interested communities.
We post this in the midst of a global pandemic, which will hit hardest those who are traditionally marginalised. We acknowledge that in the context of this unprecedented situation, the start of a new academic year is difficult timing for people to engage with this blog, so we invite continuing debate and discussion when time and work allows.
Consider your own identity, where does it sit in the hierarchies of inclusion/exclusion, and the systems of power, privilege and ownership in the wider world, the cultural and arts sector and educational organisations – and perhaps self-assess and take a moment to dialogue with yourself (Daron Oram) – can you foreground and celebrate aspects of your identity (Kristine Landon-Smith), can you identify gaps in your knowledge about the lives and cultures of others (Kaja Dunn et al.), can you invite yourself to be curious and provocative?
Make an honest inventory of your objectives and motives on the one hand, and your hesitations, fears, and resistances if you experience any. For example, are you afraid of getting it wrong, or of letting something go that is important to you? Imagine having a conversation with one of your ancestors about this project of working against the canon. Are they for or against it? In what ways do you agree or disagree? Can you be curious about your own resistance if you experience any? Can you feel the excitement of change and enthusiasm at being part of it? If there is ambivalence or fear, how can you work with it?
Assess your own practices and the methodologies you draw on for your practice, teaching, scholarship and/or research. What are the implicit assumptions in those methods and whom do they exclude or marginalise? Do you feel empowered or disempowered by the methods you employ – why is this so? What techniques, terms and language do you use that require an element of transformation or critique – neutral, natural, trust, ideal, truth, authentic, cultural assumptions about ‘naturalistic’ acting, for example – and how might you adapt and/or critically situate them in your practice? Do you have aspects of your own cultural heritage and/or identity (in relation to race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexuality, age, disability) that may be marginalised in theatre, dance and performance training – and can these be brought to the fore, celebrated and shared?
Consider the context within which your course(s) takes place: the diversity of those teaching and studying in terms of race, age, gender, sexuality, class and disability. How does this composition reflect the diversity of the wider community? Does it reflect the wider societal need to recognise the achievements of those who have been marginalised, oppressed or ignored in the past? It is important and valuable to name the issues that are in the room – they are not things that anyone should be afraid of dealing with. The starting point however has to be acknowledging that they are there. In order to challenge white, heterosexual, non-disabled male privilege, consider the importance of pushing against the canon even if your students happen to be all white/male/straight!
Do you share any of your students’ fears? If you share some of their concerns and fears, can this compassion provide insight into how to address what students may not be willing to reveal about themselves unless they feel safe?
Take critical note of the texts, workshops and performances that are recommended for reading or identified as essential for students to read to complete your module or course. Make sure that authorship is diverse – that may mean extra work to identify scholarship that is less well known. Can all your students see themselves in enough of the documents that they read, the plays they study or perform, and the performances that they watch? Is disability arts and performance included in your curriculum? Where diverse examples are not available ensure that teachers and students recognise that omission (and at times exclusion) and critique the reasons for it. Where canonical works are used, ensure that they are critiqued through study and through practice. How much do we rely on the legacy of the written word? Whose words remain and for whom do they speak? Remember the value of oral histories – where books and articles don’t exist for contemporary practice, there will be people’s memories and experiences. If you access these, how might they be shared in order to encourage others?
Don’t just decolonise the curriculum, decolonise the pedagogy.
Using the journal in the classroom:
As provocation – how does each contribution represent a provocation to question and challenge existing canons? What is the nature of each provocation? Is the form of each piece significant – why might a postcard, a conversation, diagram or a manifesto be provocative as a contribution to an academic journal? What is the purpose of provocation?
Look at the postcard pieces. Who would you ask to write a postcard and why? How might you curate such postcards? How can an image and a short piece of text work together – one counterpointing the other, one illustrating the other? Can an image work on its own? How might a series of postcards work – as a linear narrative, as a constellation of related ideas?
Create a board game that represents the ways in which privilege operates within the performing arts (historically and/or in the present) – a snakes and ladders or monopoly of opportunities and rejections. Could your students then create an alternative model or structure?
As model – Consider canonical practice not directly addressed in this special issue (Stanislavsky, Duncan, Graham, Brecht, Meyerhold, Cunningham, Brook, Grotowski, somatics etc.) – how might students use the journal contributions to construct challenges to such practice? What would they focus on? What models might they use – postcards and conversations are used in the special issue, are there other models (interviews, hot seating, letters/emails, cartoons, graffiti, vlogs, etc.)? Use images as the starting point for a critique of who is seen doing what – how is power preserved through images? Construct images that challenge this.
As dialogue – take an issue raised in ‘Against the Canon’ through one or more of the contributions, ask the students to formulate questions related to the issue and construct a formal debate around it. Ask students to construct arguments for and against, drawing on evidence they can find. Debate highlights difference and enables a multiplicity of viewpoints; various positions can be set up and defended – no position is established as definitive although it often creates a strong motivation for determining and arguing for what is ‘right’. In Russell et al. different views are expressed on whether there is such a thing as essential femininity and essential masculinity. The neutral mask used in Lecoq teaching is often gender binary. Your students could discuss this essentialism or debate it. If you can obtain even one neutral mask, you might consider using it “against the canon” as a way of eliciting conversation and awareness of gender performance. If this provokes a parodied use of the mask, refining the performance might raise interesting questions about gender fluidity and might serve to destabilize the reification of gender identities.
Encourage students to dialogue with practising artists – who should they contact (whose work is typically marginalised or under-recognised)? What contact might they have with them – perhaps via postcards they construct around themes, issues, questions? Would the artists be willing to construct postcards for the students? Ask students to construct dialogues between canonical figures and those who were marginalised within their practice – Brecht and his female collaborators, Stanislavski and his female students, Brook and theatre-makers from India and Africa – what would they say to each other? Where would they disagree and where might they agree? Consider ways in which conversations can be sexualised encounters – how might you queer a conversation? Use dialogue to question how and why terms such as energy, presence and character can become gendered and/or sexualised.
When using debate, discussion and role-playing consider how to create an open and supported space for students (for example, you can acknowledge that those who are asked to take an unpopular role or defend an unpopular position are doing something valuable for the overall debate). Ask students to play a role they don’t agree with, but are willing to give that role their best effort. If the dialogue or debate seems to veer at some point to students ‘calling each other out’, can you help to instil a culture of ‘calling in’ – where relationships are built rather than sacrificed, helping people to find their compassion for each other? This should not be about allowing people to hold on to prejudiced views, but about creating and sustaining a level of empathy with others that enables change to happen. With colleagues and students discuss how best to deal with problematic attitudes and difficult incidents (your institution may – or in some cases sadly may not – have useful guidance).
Challenge the sanctity of the clean document – take canonical text(s) and allow students to annotate and comment on them, encourage them to use images and illustrations to counterpoint text, making the unseen or unacknowledged visible.
How might a student construct a dialogue with themselves regarding their practice (Daron Oram) – what would they want to address in doing so? How could they record/document or share such a dialogue, and what would be the benefit of doing so?
Also consider this unique historical moment when institutions are moving from live teaching to online learning at lightning speed. What structures of power, inequality and accessibility need to be considered? In what ways might the shift to online pedagogies offer new opportunities in themselves to democratize or radically question existing methods?
Using the journal with online learning:
The web resources available are not neutral, and search engine algorithms prioritise what is established and popular. Task students with searching around key words, figures, training regimes and topics and ask them to review what comes up, what doesn’t and how difficult or easy it is to find alternatives. They might take one of the articles from the special issue and examine what results internet searches produce for different key people, practices and approaches within the article – how easy is it to find out about marginalised practitioners and practices? What does this tell students about internet resources and about the marginalisation of artists?
How might students create their own online resource for training? What materials and resources would they pull together? How would they operate together to realise collaboration as a way of working? What training exercises might they design and how might they present and share them?
Using the journal in the studio:
How might a student or group of students construct a series of postcards to represent their practice? How might image and text in this format work together? Who would the postcards be for – who would they be designed to be sent to (either living or dead)?
Use one of the contributions to provoke changes in how the students learn or how teachers teach. Make one issue a focus for a lesson and consider how teacher and student might reflect on a session (or sessions) in the light of these issues. Points of focus might include: the experience of disabled students, the experience of students from global majority backgrounds, the experience of privileged students, the experience of working-class students, the experience of older students, the experience of female students, the experience of transgendered students, the expectations teachers have of students, the possibility of meaningful failure. What assumptions are made within studio work: around acceptable forms of behaviour, around the limits and assumptions of touch and the direction of gaze, around the use of language, accent, body language, gesture and dialect? Who feels that they are allowed to ‘be themselves’ within the studio space – and what does that mean? What assumptions about wealth and privilege underpin most of our training intuitions and how do we make space for working class realities (Cornford).
How can students dialogue about their practice – talking to themselves (Oram), talking with others (Russell, Dunn), creating fictional dialogue (Cornford)? How about tasking students to construct a proposal for a blog entry for the TDPT blog – what would they write about? It could be a response to one of the articles in the special issue, or a proposal for a new contribution? What skills would they learn in doing this? Then encourage the students to post their blog on TDPT – their voices need to be heard!
Journal issues only ever include an edited selection of contributions. Ask students to consider what other issues might have been good to include in this special issue and how they might have tackled such issues. What might be hard about writing such pieces and why – where might obstacles, resistances or difficulties come from and how be overcome?
How might students create new representations of historical practice that deconstructs and challenges the narrative of the genius, the white male guru?
How might some of the content of the special issue work as provocations in relation to students practice? Who is their work for – who is able to engage with it? What do they want to say in their work? What training conventions are they taking for granted? Who takes responsibility for what within their group work – how is work apportioned, who leads, what voices are heard (or not)? What are the politics and ethics of these structures and relationships?
How might the practices of Bing, Boal, Brecht, Candoco, Gindler, Graeae, Henricks, Landon-Smith, Newson, Phoenix Dance, Talawa, Tamasha, WAC or others create models within which canonical practice and performance might be challenged, interrupted, disrupted, deconstructed, commented on and reveal those that the practice has historically marginalised or ignored? How do the practices themselves resist or activate resistance in the participants? What examples of such practices are available for students?
What does touch mean post #MeToo and the killing of George Floyd? Who owns space, how do we negotiate touch, what might touching signify, what can we learn from/through touch? Where are our embodied borders and what do they mean now for us and for others? How do assumptions around touch, weight and space play in to assumptions around gender, sexuality, disability and race/ethnicity?
The Language of the studio/practical class – discuss with students the impact of words and how choice of words can subtly delineated who is or isn’t included. What is implied by references to ‘guys and girls’ or ‘OK guys’? What is the effect of mispronouncing someone’s name? Work with students to be alert to assumptions within language about gender, class, disability and race/ethnicity. When asking students to write about practice, discuss with them the relevance of using alternative pronouns – he/she, s/he, they, she. Consider with all your students how being within the LGBTQI+ community may involve having very different impulses to those recognised by dominant heterosexist cultures and how this may/could/should impact on training performers (Lazlo Pearlman and Deirdre McLaughlin). Reviewing reading and resource lists for their course – encourage them to examine how often the actor is assumed as white, male, straight and/or non-disabled. Ask the students for suggestions and ideas.
Consider Landon-Smith’s article and discuss with students the ways in which they might bring their own cultures into the studio – through games, dances, songs, exercises, storytelling, patois/accent/dialect, postures and ways of sitting/standing, gestures and movements. Recognise that all cultures have these and be sure to reveal how these exist in straight, white, non-disabled culture even when they are ‘invisible’ in their ubiquity and dominance.
How can practical sessions be used to challenge canonical training practice? Change should not just be about making accommodation for difference, but about transformation and radical change. Be clear that inclusion is not just about ‘fitting in’ disabled, global majority or queer students, it is about celebrating their presence – what might that mean in terms of changes to studio practice, your work ideas and strategies?
Reflect on the practice that does not make it into the studio – why is it absent or excluded? Whose responsibility is it to find ways of including it? What ideas and approaches have our students contributed and how can we take this further in the future?
Open up discussions between staff and students around canonical practice and equality issues. This should not be threatening, but should enable multiple perspectives to enrich mutual understanding of the role and purpose of training and the ethical dimensions surrounding training practice.
White colleagues – Reject the assumption that you have to know everything about marginalised artists in order to teach about their practice. There is not time to wait for those books to be written. Invite the artists to be part of constructing the curriculum. Invite students to help create/curate the materials for learning. Don’t be afraid to start from a position of ignorance and learn with the students.
Reject the assumption that students have to learn about the canon in order to ‘really’ know their subject. The subject is the centre of the learning, the canonical figures are only a set of examples.
Reject the assumption that the canonical figures are all individual geniuses. What kind of mythologies, misunderstanding and ideologies are created by this assumption? Each one’s career involves multiple collaborations with forgotten or marginalised others. Recognising these others need not diminish the achievements of all involved, but does given recognition where it is due but not always given. It does no harm at all to recognise the value and success of collaboration and the ways in which artists work together. It does great harm to assume that the work of many can be understood as the achievements of only one.
Reject the assumption that marginalised work is somehow lower in quality, that it therefore deserves to be marginalised. Such an assumption does not recognise the ways in which value systems are socially and politically constructed and managed by those who hold power.
Reject the marginalisation of yourself or others in the field of work, study and practice because of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, age, class or disability. Reject being the token representative. Don’t allow that to happen to students either.
The diversity of your students – allow them to be themselves.
Your own identity, culture, history and experiences – they should inform your teaching without you being seen as exotic or a token member of staff. If that happens, complain.
Your own learning journey as a teacher and a person and those who you collaborated with within that journey.
The wonderful ways in which theatre, dance and performance enable us all to realise and challenge the ways in which our identities are created, policed and presented.
Reading/watching to help reflection and action – this list is not definitive!
An open letter to UK Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies
Look at work within the performing arts as an area of inequality and exclusion.
DV8 The Cost of Living (extracts)
Examine and explore representations of disability.
Calling In: A Quick Guide to When and How by Sian Ferguson
Reflect with students on when to call out and when to call in.
Change comes from action – so what will you do differently?
At Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, UK, the institution has set in motion a project to address issues of institutional racism through institutional review. You can see details at: https://www.cssd.ac.uk/repairing-curriculum. How might such a project relate to your own practice? What might you take from this at an individual level? What might you change, challenge or adapt? Should such a project be replicated in order to make provision for tackling issues around gender, sexuality, disability, age, class, etc.?
And then we have to make our intuitions follow through on agreed changes, actions and re-structures. What institutional support do you need in order to challenge the canon? What allies can help with this change – both from within and outside your institution?
You are not alone – who else can support you, share with you, join in conversations with you? What networks do you have or should you seek to establish that will support change? Who can you engage with as visiting professors, hourly paid lecturers, local/national/global professional contacts, audience/community members, students, campaigners and activists? How can you maintain pressure on your institution to recruit more diverse staff members as permanent members of staff and to remove the powerful glass ceilings to promotion that prevail in our sector?
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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:
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’.
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
Editorial Libby Worth, Jonathan Pitches and Thomas Wilson
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
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
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
practice. In 2005 she founded the Danish youth contemporary dance company, “U-kompagniet” and
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.
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).
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.
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?
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) Professor David Shirley, Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University (email@example.com) Dr Sarah Peters, Flinders University (firstname.lastname@example.org) Training Grounds editor: Dr Soseh Yekanians, Charles Sturt University (email@example.com)
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.
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.
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 →