Theatre and Performance Studies Research Seminar: Jesse Jensen-Kohl / Dr Mark Seton
Jesse Jensen-Kohl, PhD Candidate, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney
From a Pram Factory to the World Stage: A Critical Investigation of the Performative and Cultural Role of Circus Oz from 1978 – 2018.
In this presentation, I will briefly outline the present state of circus studies and discuss the results of my Masters of Research thesis which lead me to my current area of investigation (Circus Oz) which I will then present, including my current findings and progress. Circus itself has performance roots going back to ancient times incorporating performance forms including commedia dell ‘arte, vaudeville and village fair entertainment. In the 1970s, the post-World War II youth counter-culture ideals which developed across the Western world led to the appropriation of the form by experimental theatre practitioners, which in turn led to the development of Contemporary Circus, a medium different in character and style from the traditional circus form. From its roots in the New Wave Australian Performing Group (APG), in Australia Circus Oz (est. 1978) led the way to the emergence of the performance form Contemporary Circus which continues to grow in style and popularity across the world in the work of companies like the Canadian Cirque du Soleil (est. 1984) and Australian Circa (originally called Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus est. 1986). My research will be focussing on the historical development of Circus Oz and discuss the way in which it has paved the way for and influenced the current state of Contemporary Circus.
Jesse Jensen-Kohl has had over 20 years experience working and being involved in the circus industry. In July 2017, he stepped down from his position as Head Instructor and Artistic Director at Sydney Trapeze School, where he was a founding staff member and had worked since 2008, in order to concentrate on full-time research at Macquarie University in circus studies. His interest is in attempting to bridge the gap between circus academia and the circus community. His Master’s thesis investigated the motivations of Australian Contemporary Circus practitioners, through which a new framing for how circus can be identified and understood was formed. He now looks forward to continuing his investigation in Australian Contemporary Circus at the University of Sydney in the Department of Performance Studies as a PhD Candidate.
Dr Mark Seton, School of Performing Arts, Excelsia College, and Honorary Associate, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Sydney
Necessary Vulnerabilities: Actor training and personal formation of identity
It’s taken a while, but many acting schools are now taking seriously the vulnerability of students when they’re instructed to rehearse and perform scenes of intimacy and violence.
Such a conscious shift in the duty of care in training institutions might be a logical consequence of shifts being gradually welcomed by the industry, at both union and management levels, in the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. But are those the only vulnerabilities that acting schools need to take accountability for? In my doctoral field research, I observed many formative experiences of student actor both submitting to, and resisting, changes to their sense of self. And while teachers may say “of course!” how transparent can and/or should be ‘identity formation’ as an inevitable element of an acting school’s curriculum? In this presentation, I’ll outline a recent review at Excelsia College of acting, movement, and voice training in the 1st year of a vocational acting program, and I’ll analyse and reflect on what expectations teachers may have in creating a space for change for their students. This paper is part of a larger project on the significance of identity attachment in the advocacy for self-care by professionals.
Dr Mark Seton is an adjunct Lecturer in the School of Performing Arts at Excelsia College. His research and scholarship in the field of actor health and wellbeing, both in training and in the workplace, have been recognized internationally: by a Churchill Fellowship to the UK, and by his ongoing contribution to the annual training Certificate program for Performing Arts Medicine, conducted by the Performing Arts Medicine Association each year in the USA. He has contributed chapters to several books and has authored peer refereed publications and reports in key areas of actor wellbeing in training and in the workplace. Mark is an invited examiner of Honors, Masters and Doctoral theses in this field and is on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Applied Arts and Health. He is also Vice-President of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare and is an Ambassador for Entertainment Assist.