Theatre Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) Issue 7.3
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors:
Special Edition dedicated to Intercultural Actor/Performer Training, to be published October 2016.
Guest Editors for Special Edition: Phillip Zarrilli, Artistic Director The Llanarth Group, Emeritus Professor of Performance Practice, Exeter University, Fellow IRC, Freie Universitat (P.Zarrilli@exeter.ac.uk); T. Sasitharan, Director, Intercultural Theatre Institute (Singapore); Dr. Anuradha Kapur, former director, National School of Drama (New Delhi)
Background: This Special Issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, follows other special issues on sport, Chekhov, politics and ideology, and Moshe Feldenkrais. Special issues do not necessarily follow the form and structure of the standard journal offer and will adapt to the material received.
This specific edition of Theatre Dance and Performance Training will focus on intercultural actor/performer training. Contributions will explore, describe, and interrogate the complex issues, structures, practices, techniques, paradigms, histories, and discourses of intercultural actor/performer training taking place in the spaces ‘between’ in our twenty-first century, globalized world.
Early in the twenty-first century, contemporary theatre practices are shaped within the crucible of a global, (largely) urban, cosmopolitan context, which is inherently multi-cultural, inter- and or intra-cultural. As Kay Li explains, ‘Hong Kong is a globalized city’ with a ‘long history of cosmopolitanism and capitalism’; therefore, ‘theatre in Hong Kong captures the city’s response to the challenges of globalization’ and as ‘a meeting place between Eastern and Western cultures’ (2007:440–442). Mass media allows immediate access to the multiple ‘worlds’ of performance and performer trainings available today. Global higher education means that most young people today aspiring to become actors have received an education shaped in part by Western pedagogy and Western institutional models. Therefore, any consideration of acting today must address our global, urban, multi-cultural, intercultural realities as the norm rather than the exception. As two examples of many, in 1994 Veenapani Chawla founded Adishakti in Pondicherry (India) in order to pursue a ‘hybrid’ theatre between traditional and contemporary practices, and in Chicago (USA), new modes of ‘polycultural’ theatre are being created in the work of theatres such as Silk Road Rising. What modes of actor training are needed to create new ‘polycultural’/global mixing ‘between’?
Most theories and analyses of interculturalism in theatre have focused on production and reception of iconic Western performances directed by Brook, Mnouchkine, Barba, et cetera or more recent productions such as those of Singaporean TheatreWorks director, Ong Ken Sen., Insufficient attention has been given to a number of key areas of intercultural exchange and interaction relevant to acting and performance making.
A next-to-invisible history exists of how non-Western actors and directors have negotiated their encounters with realist drama and Stanislavskian-based techniques, and/or with the legacy of Grotowski’s and other approaches to contemporary acting/performance-making. Recent publications have only begun to address the complex set of intercultural negotiations, displacements, and replacements that began to take place in the twentieth century between Stanislavsky and Chinese acting (Tian 2008:159–174) and Stanislavsky and Indonesia (Winet 2010:134–140).
We also need to consider the role that (new/alternative) discursive/explanatory paradigms play in shaping how acting can be framed, viewed, and practised. Ever since the seminal work of Stanislavsky, the dominant commonplace paradigm informing how Westerners usually think and talk about acting is psychology – a discipline invented in the nineteenth-century at the same time theatrical realism and naturalism focused attention on the individual self. An intercultural perspective on acting invites us to re-frame discussions of contemporary acting by displacing psychology from its primary explanatory position and replacing it with alternative paradigms for understanding the interior/inner processes and possibility of acting as an embodied phenomenon and process.
Key questions that might be addressed in contributions include:
What alternative models or paradigms of interculturalism might better illuminate issues of intercultural and/or intracultural exchange?
What is the ‘view’ from ‘elsewhere’ on issues of intercultural actor training? Is the ‘default’ training of contemporary actors in non-Western countries still Stanislavskian-based approaches and, if so, how do these fall short in terms of the needs of intercultural training programmes?
What new models and programs for training today’s (intercultural) actors in a globalized world have emerged, and how are they different from the iconic Western drama/acting school model?
How is contemporary training being negotiated institutionally, programmatically, practically, and/or theoretically outside of Europe/North America in Africa, Asian, Latin America?
What happens if and when we shift the focus from the obvious and highly visible aspects of production to the training grounds, studio, and/or rehearsal room where face-to-face/body-to-body/consciousness-to-consciousness transactions ‘between’ are taking place?
Are there different forms, structures, and approaches to intercultural performance emerging today which are ‘subtler’ or ‘alternative’ to the iconic models of making/producing intercultural performance? And if so, how are the acting/performance ‘problems’ of subtler modes of intercultural interaction being negotiated in the studio/training space?
When master-teachers of ‘traditional’ genres of performance such as Japanese noh or India’s kutiyattam teach their performance traditions to contemporary actors who have no intention of becoming virtuosic masters, how does their pedagogy or approach change? Why engage in teaching contemporary actors at all if they are NOT going to become part of that ‘tradition’? Does a traditional teacher’s discourse or way of teaching change in this ‘new’ acting school context?
Contributions might focus on
description and analysis of intercultural exchange taking place in training studios among actors/performers at the micro-level of transmission of embodied performance techniques, devising processes, the exercise of the imagination, et cetera;
discussion of the underlying paradigms of psychophysical embodiment unique to specific cultures and of the elements and principles informing specific modes of embodied practice;
analysis of processes of teacher/directors’ approach to translating or transposing elements, principles, and techniques ‘between’;
from the perspective of the contemporary actor, how does exposure to, and in-depth engagement in ‘traditional’ modes of embodied training contribute to an actor’s ability to utilize her ‘imagination’, to be focused/attention/engaged/aware;
alternatively, what are the potential problems and/or pitfalls of (naively) engaging in ‘traditional’ modes of training?
Submissions might take the form of articles, interviews, documented discussions between professional performers and trainers, practitioners’ reflective profiles of teachers working in an intercultural context, reviews, case studies, documentation of relevant events/practices/projects, performative writing, or photographic essays. Cross- or inter-disciplinary approaches will be welcomed.
To signal your interest and intent to write an article or a source document in this special issue please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Phillip Zarrilli at P.Zarrilli@exeter.ac.uk. Our first deadline for these is 2nd April 2015.
2nd April 2015
250 word proposals identifying key topics to Editor, Phillip Zarrilli, for Articles and Sources sections
Late April 2015
Response from Editors and, if successful, invitation to submit full essay
September 7th 2015
Deadline for full submissions: Full papers should normally be no less than 5000 and no more than 6500 words but shorter pieces will be considered.
September – November 2015
Proofing and final typesetting
Publication in TDPT Issue 7.3