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Special Issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training: Against the Canon

Deadline: 16 June 2019

This will be a special issue of the journal which addresses the forgotten or marginalised contributions made by various collaborative artists and practitioners to the development of performer training during the twentieth and twenty first centuries.  Many previous publications on training have tended to focus on canonical figures and the dominant historical performer-training narratives. Less attention has been paid to collaboration as an important characteristic of avant-garde performance training, and to the complex collaborations through which pedagogy and work has been developed and disseminated.  This journal issue will intentionally centralise these collaborative exchanges, thereby shifting the focus away from canonical individual figures and towards frequently overlooked or under-recognised collaborators, practitioners and pedagogues. 

We invite contributions that might challenge the manner in which traditional performer training histories often still seek to capture the ‘purity’ of established methods and also to identify individual owners of successful techniques.  This issue will seek to challenge the ways in which practitioners such as Stanislavsky, Copeau, Laban, Grotowski and Lecoq are often uncritically revered as ‘Master Teachers’ and the ways in which this obscures or negates the existence of wider networks of artists who contributed to the development of these training practices, many of whom were women. To this extent we are not looking simply to critique existing canonical figures, but to bring forward the work of those who are usually ignored.

In addition, this edition will also explore strands of performer training that emerged for artists whose needs, and/or identities, have been poorly catered for or marginalised by the dominant trainings and institutions in the twentieth century. This might cover the emergence of performer training and talent development by companies such as Talawa, Graeae, Candoco and Tamasha or organisations such as WAC Arts, The Diversity School Initiative, Identity School of Acting and The Mono Box in the UK, as well as practices elsewhere in the world that challenge and disrupt conventional and canonical processes of training.  

The special issue proposes to contest traditional linear, colonial and/or patriarchal histories by encouraging an exploration of hidden acts of non-linear cross-fertilisation in the development of training practices, recognising the alternative forms of pedagogy developed outside the mainstream, and considering related critical and ideological ideas. The re-positioning of generally marginalised or overlooked artists and their work can also be seen to follow from a larger, and older, feminist project, from the rise of the #MeToo campaign, and from the need to de-colonise the performer training canon.  Proposals may also look to Post Colonial studies, Queer studies and Disabilities Art in terms of critically considering the reasons for exclusion and omission from the mainstream and the training needs of a more diverse community of performers. 

This guest edited issue welcomes submissions using alternative forms of historiography and documentations, and diverse critical approaches, that may be better suited to explore non-linear cross-fertilisation in the development of training practices, and the emergence of new forms of training that often existed outside the dominant historical models. 

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The special issue will:

  • re-position and re-examine generally marginalised or overlooked artists/pedagogues and their work.
  • examine the ways in which gender, race, disability, sexuality, social class and economics function to marginalise practices and practitioners.
  • question how diverse collaborations and training approaches have been distorted and blocked by social, cultural and industrial forces.
  • encourage contributions that engage with the ways in which we document and acknowledge previously overlooked collaborative exchanges.

Expressions of interest

We are particularly interested in (but are not limited to) submissions in the following areas:

  • Articles and Sources that draw critical attention to those pedagogues, practitioners and trainers whose collaborative contributions have been historically overlooked or denied. This can be groups of practitioners, or individuals.
  • Articles and Sources that question the single authoring of training methodologies and conventional notions of ‘ownership’.
  • Articles and Sources that explore the development of performer training outside of mainstream provision.
  • The role of post training professional mentoring in challenging traditional modes of training.
  • Articles using creative forms of historiography.

Submitting a Proposal

We welcome submissions from authors both inside and outside academic institutions and from those who are currently undergoing training or who have experiences to tell from their training histories. 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 Cass Fleming and Mark Evans at: c.fleming@gold.ac.uk and m.evans@coventry.ac.uk. Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Sara Reed, (ab5421@coventry.ac.uk) with copies to Mark and Cass.

Our deadline for these abstracts is 16th June 2019.

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training has three sections:

  • Articles” features contributions in a range of critical and scholarly formats (approx. 5,000-7,000 words)
  • Sources” provides an outlet for the documentation and analysis of primary materials of performer training. We are particularly keen to receive material that documents the histories and contemporary practices associated with the issue’s theme.
  • Training Grounds” hosts shorter pieces, which are not peer reviewed, including essais, postcards, visual essays and book or event reviews. We welcome a wide range of different proposals for contributions including edited interviews and previously unpublished archive or source material. We also welcome suggestions for recent books on the theme to be reviewed; or for foundational texts to be re-reviewed.

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: http://theatredanceperformancetraining.org/

About Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special issues of 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 own 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.

Editorial Information

Guest Editors:
Dr. Cass Fleming, Goldsmiths College, London, c.fleming@gold.ac.uk
Professor Mark Evans, Coventry University, m.evans@coventry.ac.uk

Training Grounds Editor:
Dr. Sara Reed, Coventry University, ab5421@coventry.ac.uk

Jonathan Pitches, University of Leeds
Libby Worth, University of London


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