Performance Studies: Writing for Performance at NIDA / Spiritual Realism
The Rogue Less Travelled: Writing for Performance at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (Part 2)
Presenter: Adam Moulds
Abstract: In Semester 1 of this year, I presented to the TaPS Research Seminar collective the first half of my post-peer review submission for the Australia-focused special issue of the journal Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT). In that presentation, I argued that the history of writing for performance training in Australia—particularly as this history pertains to its premier performing arts conservatoire, NIDA—is one characterised by relative marginalisation within the Institute, as well as identity and existential crises. More specifically, I asserted that the roots of this somewhat beleaguered history could be traced back to the visionary yet slightly blinkered Anglo-European thinking that went into founding NIDA in 1958; thinking which, with the inception of the part-time training offering of the NIDA Playwright’s Studio in 1961, instantiated the separation of writing for performance training from the training of its creative counterparts: acting, directing and design. To conclude my presentation, I stated the fact that after decades of this creative discipline being undervalued, underfunded—and, indeed, occasionally overlooked altogether—at NIDA, that prospective students of writing for performance training in Australia were, with the formal accreditation of the NIDA Graduate Diploma of Dramatic Art (Playwriting) in 2006, finally offered the opportunity to study a full-time course of this nature. My Semester 2 presentation for the TaPS Research Seminar will not, however, include an account of the Graduate Diploma (Playwriting)—a short-lived course offering which, in the end, only ran from 2010-2013—but will instead focus on the current iteration of writing for performance training at NIDA. That is to say, this presentation will consist of a reading of the final section of my article for the TDPT special issue: an analysis of the NIDA Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance); a course which, in contrast to its precursors, is not only highly stable in terms of both leadership and student enrolments, but one that is also pedagogically well-defined.
Adam Moulds is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. He is a 2019 graduate of the NIDA Master of Fine Arts (Writing for Performance), a 2008 graduate of the UNDA Graduate Diploma in Education (Secondary), a 2003 graduate of the NIDA Bachelor of Dramatic Art in Acting, a 2000 graduate of the UWS Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies), and, formerly, a full-time high school drama teacher at The King’s School from 2007-2017, as well as a professional actor and stand-up comedian. Drawing on knowledge from all of these endeavours, in combination with theory on archival research, historiography and Analytic philosophy, Adam’s doctoral thesis is an attempt to trace a complete and comprehensive history of writing for performance training at the National Institute of Dramatic Art.
Presenter: Neil Anderson
Abstract: Rudolf Steiner (1861- 1925) is an elusive figure in the history of theatre, tending to appear in footnotes: as part of the occult revival (Lingan, 2010); a major influence on leading actor/teacher Michael Chekhov (Chamberlain, 2004); advocate for Weimar classicism (Clement, 2011); an influence on Goethe science in the theatre (Pitches, 2006). It is true that Steiner’s early focus was on producing Mystery Dramas for the Theosophical Society, that Michael Chekhov is the highest profile actor to publicly align himself with Steiner’s body of teaching, Anthroposophy, and that Steiner did regard Schiller and Goethe’s contribution to culture as a high point in the European Enlightenment. Yet perhaps because these scholars do not embrace the whole of Steiner career—his personal journey from child clairvoyant to noted Goethean scholar and philosopher, then founder of a new esoteric movement which offered new directions in the arts, sciences and in everyday life— they miss the point that Steiner’s artistic indications, including those for the actor, are based on his own significant research.
Neil Anderson is a doctorate candidate at Sydney University. He is currently a high school teacher in the Aurora Southern Highlands Steiner school. He is known in the field of Michael Chekhov scholarship. He trained in the Chekhov technique with Australian actor Dennis Glenny, and in Steiner’s Spiritual Realism under Mechthild Harkness in Sydney and with Peter and Barbara Bridgmont in London. He has staged and acted in a variety of performances including “Put some clothes on Clarisse” by Feydeau, “Cure at Troy” by Heaney, “Poetry and Music of the Romantics”, “Culhwch and Olwen” version by Williamson, “‘Caedmon’ by Fry and “Richard III” by Shakespeare.
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