Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar – School of Literature, Art and Media

Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar

Liza-Mare Syron
Mittoo Boorilook (“Little Fly”): Dance and Movement in Indigenous Rehearsal Processes

Mittoo Boorilook (little Fly) is the title of her book based on a three-year research fellowship observing First Peoples, Maori, and First Nations theatre makers from Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Turtle Island (Canada). The content of the book is based on observations of the day-to-day working practices of indigenous theatre makers in rehearsal when developing stories for the stage and highlights the indigenous playwright, specifically women playwrights, as theatre makers, examining their role when present inside the rehearsal room. In writing these observations, I focus on how the life writings of indigenous women playwrights reflect a distinct practice and process of making theatre, one that is often informed by their relative beliefs about the nature of the world as it may be historically or personally known, and as that which a specific cultural framework of understanding often shapes.

For this presentation, I describe observations on dance and movement in rehearsal and discuss how in each cultural context the theatre makers observed were deeply involved in learning and revitalising cultural dance practices, and in other instances constructing specific vocabularies of movement and a gestural language to assist actors with the physical embodiment of the indigenous characters. As part of this process it was often the playwright who took on the role of showing or explaining how a body is performed in culturally specific ways.

Liza-Mare Syron is a director, actor, teacher, dramaturge and an award winning academic. Her clan are the Birripi people of the mid-north coast NSW. She is a founding member of Moogahlin Performing Arts, and is a key member of the company’s Artistic Directorate. Liza-Mare has recently completed an Indigenous Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Macquarie University. Her work history includes: Senior Aboriginal Cultural Development Officer for Arts NSW and Head of Theatre Performance at the Eora College for Aboriginal Studies, Centre for Visual and Performing Arts in Redfern. Her research has been recognised by the Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies (ADSA) through the following awards: the Marlis Thiersch Prize for excellence in English-language articles in the broad field of drama, theatre and performance studies (2010), the Phillip Parsons Prize for Performance as Research (2005), the Rob Jordon Prize award citation for a contributing chapter in Telling Stories: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Performance (2013).


Jeremy Johnson
The Shock of Presence: Peter Brook & Jerzy Grotowski – The Reinvention of Australian Theatre

Peter Brook and Jerzy Grotowski were seminal influences upon the Australian performance revolution in the 1970s and into the 1980s through the methodologies and concepts of theatre practice outlined in their respective texts: The Empty Spaceand Towards a Poor Theatre. These manifestos served as a blue print for a theatrical groundswell emerging from Melbourne in the early 1970s in Carlton at both La Mama and Australian Performance Group (APG) at the Pram Factory, and at the same time in Sydney with the Nimrod theatre and Rex Cramphorn’s Performance Syndicate. An examination reveals these Directors shared spiritual and traditional sources from Eastern European backgrounds (Brook being of Russian Jewish heritage and Grotowski Eastern Orthodox Catholic), the approach of Constantin Stanislavski (particularly for Grotowski), and their mutual reverence for the teachings of Armenian mystic, George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. An analysis of key moments and how Brook and Grotowski were central figures in the initiation of an Australian performance revolution of the 1970s; and the performance renaissance which emerged from women’s theatre as a reaction to the male-centric ‘ocker’ sensibilities at the time during a movement in which Brook and Grotowski figured prominently. How Brook and Grotowski’s methodological ideas uncovering meaning in tradition and deeper levels of performance enquiry were sidelined, and eventually marginalized to all but a few fringe groups as a result of mainstream performance concerns with aesthetic considerations, and the globalization of economic rationalism is observed.

Jeremy Johnson is a NIDA graduate and works as a Director and Playwright in Sydney. His plays have been performed in Australia and USA where he lived in Houston Texas for 8 years working as an actor, director and writer, as well as teaching script writing in secondary schools. His plays include: Direct From Broadway, Bohemian Grove, Palace of Mention, and Speak English or Die! Jeremy is the founding director of La Luna Youth Theatre Company in Townsville which celebrates its 30th birthday in 2017. As Co-director of Songe Arts he produced three successful seasons of 10X10 short play festival from which sprang the world wide ‘Short and Sweet’ phenomenon. A collection of Jeremy’s plays was published in 2013 and is currently undertaking a Masters in Research at the University of Sydney on Brook and Grotowski and their Influence of Australian Performance.

AV Room (S113), Woolley Building, Manning Road


Nov 01 2019


3:00 pm - 5:00 pm




John Woolley Building (A20)
University of Sydney NSW 2006

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