|Type of post:||Association news item|
|Posted By:||Glen McGillivray|
|Date Posted:||Wed, 27 May 2020|
Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal (TDPT)
Special issue on Performer Training in Australia to be
Call for contributions, ideas, proposals and dialogue with the editors
Training Grounds editor:
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-faireacceptance 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.
As we are reminded all too frequently, Australia is at the forefront of the climate emergency. Australia’s wide skies and open spaces have always proven a challenge and a stimulus to artists: playwright Louis Esson insisted in 1914 that “in an authentic Australian play, there should be a real atmosphere — some space and sunshine” (quoted in Fitzpatrick 1995, p. 117), while decades later legendary critic H. G. Kippax wondered “realistic drama makes much of scene; but what stage could hold the Australian bush and plains?” (1963, p. 13). In our new ecological epoch “marked by unprecedented human disturbances of the earth’s ecosystems” (Gilbert 2019, p. 220), how do we train performers to hold the burning Australian bush and plains on stage? What kinds of training philosophies and regimes might be required in the Anthropocene? How might training intersect with or even encourage sustainability in performance practice?
In this special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, we want to use the sweat of training in the heat of a crucible to think through performer training in Australia. To do so, we welcome proposals that consider topics including:
Other topics that are broadly sparked by the consideration of sweat in Australian training are also welcomed. We particularly encourage proposals from scholars and practitioners whose voices are traditionally under-represented in higher education, as well as collaborations between scholars and artists that seek to amplify practice from the margins.
We are seeking proposals in three distinct categories, and authors are invited to indicate which category they feel best suits their work:
We welcome a wide range of proposals for contributions including edited interviews.
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. The editors will correspond with authors about the most appropriate category for their work, and can happily provide guidance before a proposal is submitted. Prospective authors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with TDPT’s Scope & Aims, as well as with the Instructions for Authors for guidance on formatting.