|Type of post:||Association news item|
|Posted By:||Chris Hay|
|Date Posted:||Thu, 13 Jan 2022|
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
Special Issue: Contemporary Directions in Director Training, to be published in September 2023 as TDPT 14.3
How does a director train?
This issue invites a broad range of contributions from scholars and artists globally, in order to offer a contemporary consideration of training for directing. We invite longer articles or ‘Sources’, each interrogating director training as it appears in a contemporary context; shorter ‘Essais’, inviting more personal reflections; and quick-fire ‘Postcards’ responding to a question or illuminating a moment of practice. We are especially keen to receive material that can host audiovisual contributions on the popular ‘TDPT blog’, integrated with the journal. See below for the full range of potential formats.
The figure of the director and the practice of directing seems to enjoy a kind of elusiveness of definition. In contrast to the long history of shared knowledge of acting technique and performer training, how the work of the director might be defined seems challenging. And where the director spends most of their time, rehearsal, has also been considered a ‘hidden world’ (Letzler Cole, 1992). Direction goes on behind closed doors and is made up of a combination of, perhaps, dramaturgical, literary, acting, collaborative, scenographic, stage-management, and financial concerns.
Given the ambiguity around what directing might be, the training of directors seems even more obscure. How do they know what to do? Does ‘training’ shift according to the contexts and needs of performance making? Whilst there is burgeoning publication on theatre directing, comprising scholarly work, practical guides and books by directors themselves (recently, for example, the Great European Theatre Directors series (Bloomsbury Methuen); Boenisch, 2015; Dunderdale, 2021; Simonsen, 2017; and by us: Ledger, 2019; Sidiropoulou, 2018), director training as a topic appears neglected and often dealt with as uncritically accepted directorial technique(s), methodology, and a discussion of productions.
Director training is certainly institutionalised: the most well-known European examples of schools being, for instance, the Ernst Busch Hochschule, Berlin, and the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts; in the USA, university-level, professional directing programmes have long existed, and there has been a noticeable growth in recent years in academic and conservatoire director training courses elsewhere. These models have, to an extent, been adopted by other institutions globally, though some major schools have opened branches in other countries; on the one hand, localised theatre traditions may benefit, but, on the other, a kind of colonisation of practice via imported Euro-American theatre methods predominates. This special issue might offer space to consider, instead, how a director can train in geographically and culturally specific practices.
Some directors have not explicitly trained in directing, but emerged from educational backgrounds other than theatre, or shifted from other roles. Normalised or institutionalised training for direction might also be set against more inclusive, experiential opportunities; for instance, the well-established Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme (UK) now explicitly seeks applications from emerging directors of historically excluded backgrounds, and the many artist development schemes in specific theatre organisations (the Directors Lab in New York, for example; see too the report ‘The Director’s Voice’ ). In the context of the ongoing pandemic and the emergence of hybridised theatre forms, training has now moved online (for instance, the NIPAI organisation, but also within academic or conservatoire curricula), to be delivered at a distance.
Finally, training might exist in-between performance preparation, or exist in rehearsal itself. We invite reflections on where and how ‘training’ might be considered ongoing professional development.
This special edition on contemporary director training aims to collect together productive examples that:
In remaining contemporary in our focus, we want to open new conversations about a clearly complex and under-theorised field and to examine the current moment from a broad, inclusive and international perspective. Contributions might consider, but are not limited to: contexts of training; the ‘validity’ of director training; canonicities; communities of practice; inclusivity; interdisciplinarity and hybridity.
Possible questions and topics might include:
To signal your interest and intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Adam J. Ledger (A.J.Ledger@bham.ac.uk) and Avra Sidiropoulou (email@example.com). Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson (firstname.lastname@example.org) with copies to Adam and Avra. Firm proposals across all areas must be received by 16 June 2022 at the latest.
Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).
Please consider the range of possibilities available within TDPT: Essays and Sources between 4000 and 6500 words; photo essays; shorter, more speculative, essais up to 1500 words; Postcards (up to 100 words); Speaking Images (short text responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.); book and event reviews. All contributors could extend their work through links to blog materials (including, for example, film footage or interviews). Questions about purely digital propositions can be sent directly to James McLaughlin at email@example.com along with ideas for the blog.