Unrehearsed Futures Episode #16: Neutrality in Actor Training: Help or Hindrance livestreamed on the global, commons-based peer produced HowlRound TV network at howlround.tv on Thursday 22 July 2021 at 4 a.m. EDT (New York, UTC -4) / 9 a.m. BST (London, UTC +1) / 10 a.m. SAST (Cape Town, UTC +2).
Many actor-trainings refer to ideas of neutrality, whether explicitly or implicitly. Our discussion, hosted by Franc Chamberlain on behalf of Embodied Poetics, with Madhu Natraj and Dr. Ellie Nixon, will focus on these ideas, specifically in the Lecoq pedagogy and the Indian dance tradition of Kathak. We'll be considering the ways in which training in performative neutrality can assist or hinder actors, and what role it might play in reinventing traditions.
Speaker 1: Madhu Natraj
Organization / School: Choreographer, educator
Madhu Natraj is an award winning choreographer, arts entrepreneur, curator and educator. With over 300 choreographies to her credit, she has performed in over 36 countries. A graduate of Commerce, Journalism and Choreography, she trained in Kathak under the tutelage of her mother, the legendary Guru - Dr Maya Rao and with Guru Chitra Venugopal. Her ‘Taalim’ (training) from her mother lays special emphasis on the ‘Bhaav’ or ‘Abhinaya’ (expressional motif) aspect, ‘Kathavaachak’ (narrative content) and the poetry of the form.
She studied Contemporary dance in New York and founded –The STEM (Space.Time.Energy.Movement) Dance Kampni which comprises verticals of training, performance, documentation and outreach. Madhu has studied Indian martial art forms of Thaang Ta, Kalaripayattu, several folk/ ritualistic forms, is a certified Yoga teacher and pursues a PG in Anthropology.
To mention a few of her accolades, she is a recipient of the ‘Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar’ Govt. of India, the FICCI FLO Women achievers award and ‘Karnataka Kalashree’- by the Govt. of Karnataka. Madhu is also a part of the Aspen Global Leadership Network & the Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship.
Madhu also heads India’s premier dance education centre, The Natya Institute of Kathak & Choreography, founded by Dr Maya Rao and Kamala Devi Chattopadhyay (under the aegis of UNESCO).
Speaker 2: Dr. Ellie Nixon
Organization / School: Director, Actor, Teacher
Ellie Nixon is a director, actor and teacher with extensive international experience. In 2014 she was appointed subject leader of BA Acting at Bath Spa University. She graduated from Middlesex University and trained at the Jacques Lecoq International Theatre School in Paris (1987-89). In 1989 Ellie co-founded the La Mancha International
Theatre Company. The company has produced over twenty-five theatre projects, performing
throughout the UK, Europe, Scandinavia, Central and South America. Each production has used the devising process to create highly visual new work and theatrical adaptations. In 1995 she co-founded La Mancha International School of Image and Gesture in Santiago, Chile.
Ellie’s research explores approaches to contemporary performance practice and performer training. Drawing on a range of interdisciplinary perspectives, material engagement theory and environmental humanities, she seeks to articulate the projective interplay between the sensate imagining body and the material world as a dynamic force for creative practice. Ellie is currently writing a monograph titled ‘Imagining Bodies and Performer Training: The Legacy of Jacques Lecoq and Gaston Bachelard’, as part of the Routledge Perspectives on Performer Training Book Series. Developing projects exploring how processes of ‘situated imagining’ can highlight the challenges faced by communities surviving in volatile processes of climate change.
Host: Franc Chamberlain
Emeritus Professor in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield UK
Franc Chamberlain is an Emeritus Professor in Drama, Theatre and Performance at the University of Huddersfield UK. He is the founding editor of the Routledge Performance Practitioners series which he continues to edit in collaboration with Bernadette Sweeney (U. Montana). He edited Contemporary Theatre Review for its first decade as well as the book series Contemporary Theatre Studies. He has published on actor training, particularly on the work of Michael Chekhov but also on Decroux, Barba, and Lecoq. Franc regularly creates/co-creates performances addressing various social issues and these projects have been used in the training and development of social workers and mental health professionals. In 2015 he was the voice in Ensemble Anomaly's world première of Derek Bailey's setting of Samuel Beckett's ‘Ping’ which was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
Curator: Amy Russell
Founder of Embodied Poetics
Amy Russell is Founder and Pedagogic Director of Embodied Poetics, which offers exploratory workshops and three-month summer intensives on the pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq, Jacques Copeau and Suzanne Bing in London, U.K., internationally and online. She is the Pedagogic Co-founder of the London International School of Performing Arts (L.I.S.P.A.) and founder and Chair of the Naropa University M.F.A. in Lecoq-based Actor Created Theatre. She has taught theatre creation internationally since 2003, at schools and conservatories, theatre companies and festivals. She is also an award-winning playwright and a qualified and accredited Gestalt psychotherapist and group facilitator. Her doctoral research at the University of Tasmania, Australia, is focused on theatre devising as a practice of social space.