Future Proof (With Courage & Curiosity): Training for a Theatre That Does Not Yet Exist

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This presentation explores the strategies, conditions and precedents of a theatre-training programme aimed to nurture practitioners not for the profession as it currently exists, but rather for how it might be – in the future, as yet, unforeseen and unimagined. Through examining specific historical evidence, the presentation asks how the rigorous integration of theory and practice would seem to generate the circumstances for radical and unorthodox ways of thinking and making theatre: courageous practices of innovation and reinvention, fuelled by insatiable curiosity. From a UK perspective it considers the impact and legacy of Dartington College of Arts (Totnes, Devon) especially in how it functioned in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s and spawned many alternative and experimental theatre companies and practices (perhaps the UKs equivalent to Giessen).

It also accounts for the sustained pedagogical programmes pursued by the Centre for Performance Research (Wales) throughout the last 40 years and other like-minded institutions that have forged innovative practice (pedagogy and training) outside the academy and through independent endeavour. But the paper will also (critically) survey the attempts made within UK university theatre departments to extend theatre and performance studies into theory inflected practice, generating articulate practitioners and practice informed theorists – practice as research and research-led practice. From a European perspective the presentation will incorporate insights gained from the five-year research enquiry – The European Laboratory Network 2011–2015 (funded by the Leverhulme Trust), organised by Richard Gough and the Centre for Performance Research that traced the (trans)formative influence and legacy of theatre Studios and Laboratories throughout the 20th century. The presentation will argue for an empirical-based, laboratory-style approach to theatre training, incorporating theory and practice, (innovation and tradition) within university theatre studies – one foot in the past, one foot in the future – as a way for enabling socially relevant, uncompromising, ferocious, and enthralling theatre … that does not yet exist.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalPolish Theatre Journal
Issue numberMay
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018


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