Aesthetic Diversities

Aesthetic diversities I: Realism and its discontents—some different ways forward

Daniel provides context for our theatre’s tendency to embrace a ‘realistic’ aesthetic, and provides alternative perspectives on space, time and action by drawing on a variety of other-than-Western performance traditions.

Aesthetic diversities I: Realism and its discontents — some different ways forward, Daniel Mroz.

  1. How might exercises like the one Daniel walks you through be linked to an actor’s aesthetic style?
  2. How has your own personal training been influenced by the ways in which you were taught?
  3. What is the risk an actor faces when doing repetitive physical scores? What are the benefits?
  4. How might an actor combat the risk of bias during their training?
  5. How might something like a ‘neutral position’ be linked with aesthetic style?
  6. In a group, research two of the artists from the list Daniel provides. Compare their aesthetic styles then and share your findings.

Freeman, B, Maclean, A; Mroz, D; Norris, S;  Wells, K; Yamamoto Bae, M. Aesthetic Diversity in Actor Training. Canadian Theatre Review No. 160.

Mroz, D. Cycles of Creation: Michael Chekhov and The Yinyang Wuxing Cosmology in The Routledge Companion to Michael Chekhov edited by Yana Meerzon and Marie-Christine Autant-Mathieu, forthcoming Routledge Press, published 2015.

Mroz, D., The Dancing Word: An Embodied Approach to the Practice of Contemporary Theatrical Performance. Rodopi Press (Netherlands/U.S.A.) for the series Consciousness, Literature and the Arts, editor Dr. Daniel Meyer-Dingräfe, University of Lincoln (U.K.) Published 2011

Mroz, D. La Chaleur est mémoire, L¹Annuaire Théâtral, Journal of the Société Québecoises des études théâtrales, numéro 52, automne 2012 (published fall 2014)

Mroz, D., Speaking in a Visceral Language: From performer preparation to performance composition. Theatre Research in Canada, Vol. 27, 2006, No. 1

International artists

  • Joan Littlewood
  • Michael Chekhov
  • Evgeniy Vahtangov
  • Rudolph Laban
  • Mary Wigman
  • Tadeusz Kantor
  • Julian Beck and Judith Malina
  • Pina Bausch
  • Anne Bogart
  • Elizabeth LeCompte
  • Ushio Amagatsu
  • Min Tanaka
  • JoAnne Akalaitis
  • Jacques LeCoq
  • Étienne Decroux
  • Jean-Louis Barreault
  • Tim Etchells
  • Edward Gordon Craig
  • Simon McBurney
  • Tadashi Suzuki
  • Peter Schumann
  • Eimuntas Nekrosius
  • Peter Sellars
  • Max Reinhardt
  • Richard Foreman
  • Jacques Copeau
  • Kazuo Ohno
  • Giorgio Strelher
  • Peter Stein
  • Meredith Monk
  • John Nobbs and Jacqui Carroll

Canadian Festivals showcasing Aesthetic Diversity

  • Évenement Zones Théâtrales
  • FTA
  • Push
  • World Stage

Aesthetic diversities II: Collaborative creation or devised theatre training for actors

In this video, Diana discusses collaborative or devised theatre and the role it can play in actor training—especially how it provides young artists the ability to create original and complex work that extends the more specifically technical part of their training.

Collaborative creation or devised theatre training for actors, by Diana Belshaw, actor and director of the Theatre Performance Program at Humber College

  1. Diana Belshaw outlines the 3 main streams Canadian teachers of devised theatre originate:  “improvisational collective creation, Lecoq methodologies of clown and mask, and the training-into-creation model developed by Jerzy Grotowski and Eugenio Barba and their followers.” These schools are predominantly the source of training for actors interested in devising their own work. What key concepts and skills might a student of one of these streams acquire during their training?
  2. Devised theatre training tends to base its work heavily on the body—it promotes a concentration on physicality, and creates actors that are well-versed in improvisation. How can this concentration on the physical body embrace the diverse physical and intellectual capacities of the actors? How can diversity strengthen the ensemble?
  3. Diana discusses that “[o]ne of the great challenges in actor training is how to wean actors off their need to illustrate their emotional circumstance through stereotypical behaviours.” She goes on to state that “traditional realism-based approaches simply reinforce personal mannerisms and encourage minimalistic physical or emotional decisions more appropriate for film than theatre.” What exercises are useful in promoting a non-naturalistic physicality? How might these exercises build a foundation where physical exploration has the ability to precede text when devising?
  4. Diana confronts the myth that training actors in devised theatre will make them unable to exist in the theatre ‘industry,’ and counters this with her own lived experiences. She has seen that “they have been able to engage with the needs of the commercial theatre world, film and television, even voice acting.” What skills can devised theatre training promote in actors-in-training?
  5. Devised theatre training allows for a diversity and a fluidity in inhabiting identities that exist outside of an actor’s own lived experiences. How can this training allow actors to explore gender identities and experiences in a way that may not be possible through studying and staging a classical text? How can it shed light on the complexities of gender and sexuality? How can it work to abolish stereotypes of strict gender binaries?

Barker, Clive. Devised and Collaborative Theatre: A Practical Guide. Grantham: Crowood Press, 2002.

Govan, Nicholson, and Normington. Making a Performance: Devising Histories and Contemporary Practices. London and New York: Routledge, 2007.

Heddon and Milling. Devising Performance: A Critical History. London: Palgrave McMillan, 2005.

LeCoq, Cariasso and Lallias. The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

Oddey, Alison. Devising Theatre: A Practical and Theoretical Handbook. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.