Tendencies in contemporary theatre directing and theatre-directing education – Fragments from a symposium

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Innovative Methods in Theatre Directing and in the Teaching of Theatre Directors

This volume offers an insight into tendencies in contemporary Theatre Directing and Theatre-directing Education. The presentations were delivered at the theatre symposium organized by the Theatre Faculty of Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in November 2018. The aim of the symposium was to enable an interdisciplinary dialogue between directors and theatre practitioners, as well as between the theorists and teachers of Theatre Directing, and to mediate their joint discussion on the contemporary forms of Theatre Directing and on various approaches to teaching Theatre Directing at performing arts academies and universities. The symposium continued the tradition of both biennial symposia on Theatre Anthropology and conferences hosted by the Theatre Faculty of Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno. In 2018, the symposium was held in memoriam Prof. PhDr. Josef Kovalčuk, one of the founders of this event.

The 2018 symposium continued in the performative turn by offering the possibilities of how to present one’s research. The “performative lecture” and “work demonstration” format enabled the participants to look for different ways of presenting their research, enriching the conference with the unique artistic dimension of theatre research. To facilitate the exchange of ideas, round-table discussions constituted an integral part of the symposium.

Considering Theatre Directing living art with significant transformative potential and undeniable ambition to reflect on important current issues and socio-political situations, it had become evident that our close attention had to focus on directing as a “craft of contextualizing reality and mobilizing the audiences”. In this regard, it was necessary to contemplate the nature of instructing young directors, who should not only be taught how to master the techniques of directing but should also be educated in how to take the responsibility for holding the power to influence the spectator as well as how to be thought-provoking creators. The term “directing” immediately associated power and responsibility. The increasing amount of information and stimuli we encountered daily radically challenged the established, considerably hierarchical models of theatre practice and questioned their adequacy. Being fundamentally collective and collaborative, performance art has always been thriving on dialogue. The intensity of the current digital era, however, forced us to reconsider the possibilities of dialogue with others.

The articles and audio recordings discuss progressive tendencies in contemporary Theatre Directing, current social trends reflected in the work of major directors, experience with education of the upcoming generation of directors, or the future of educating theatre directors. They reflect and analyse different cultural aspects and use diverse methodologies. Wojciech Baluch speaks about Krystian Lupa’s directing, Erhard Ertel introduces theatre work at Frank Castorf’s Volksbühne, Paul Bourne describes directing in a foreign language, Andrei Zagorodnikov focuses on “The Creative Cauldron”. The title of Richard Pettifer’s paper is “The New Direction: Boal, Bishop, and the Complex Expression of Power” and it is presented by audio recording; Bilge Serdar Göksülük names her revised proceeding, “Soma—A New Body Phenomenon: Somatic Practices in Theatre Directing and Director Training”. One symposium section was called “The Many Faces of Thomas Ostermeier”. During the symposium, Jitka Goriaux Pelechová, Viktoria Volkova, and Peter M. Boenisch wrote a collective text on this topic which followed up discussions and their own papers. It has been an ideal result of the whole symposium—the article written on the basis of presentations at the symposium, stimulating discussions and collaboration among participants.