2015 Program

Gain insight from 2015 participants below and read on to examine the program from 2015.

2015 LAB: CATALYSTS FOR CREATION

The 2015 Lab will focus on the different catalysts that inspire Directors to make theatre. What is the initial spark that fascinates and compels artists to create? Where do ideas come from, and which ideas warrant creative investigation? Why do we as artists and audiences gravitate to certain ones?

Over the centuries, theatre has been made from varying source materials, who owns them, and how carefully should we be treating them, or not?

How do ideas evolve from source material into fully-fledged theatrical productions? What is the role of the Director in this transition?

The Lab will run from 9am – 9pm over 9 consecutive days, and will be a combination of masterclasses, dynamic conversations, investigations, creative explorations as well as seeing and discussing works presented by the Melbourne Festival. Directors will be actively involved in the participation as well as the presentation of sessions, sharing their skills, methodologies and techniques with a community of national and international directors.

SATURDAY 10 OCTOBER  

WELCOME from ANNE CATTANEO                                                         Founder and Director of the Lincoln Center Theatre’s Directors Lab

WELCOME from DANIEL CLARKE                                                            Creative Producer, Theatre Works

WORKSHOP: Body as Source with MELANIE LANE                    Resident Director, Lucy Guerin Inc      

Melanie is an Australian independent choreographer and performer, recently relocated to Melbourne from Germany. She has been based in Berlin from 2004, working with various companies and artists such as Kobalt Works | Arco Renz (B), Club Guy and Roni (N) and Tino Seghal (G).

SHOW: 32 Rue Vandenbranden                                                                 Peeping Tom, Melbourne Festival 


SUNDAY 11 OCTOBER  

WESLEY ENOCH in conversation with Justine Campbell                       and Mark Wilson

Wesley Enoch is currently the Artistic Director of the Queensland Theatre Company (2010-15) and will be the Director of Sydney Festival from 2017 – 2019. He has been the Artistic Director of Kooemba Jdarra in Brisbane (1994-97) and Ilibijerri in Melbourne (2003-04), Resident Director for Sydney Theatre Company (2000-01), Associate Artistic Director of Belvoir (2006-08), a Trustee of the Sydney Opera House (2003-2011) and a director of the Indigenous section of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony. He has worked with almost every major theatre company and festival in the country and toured shows internationally.

WORKSHOP:  Affective Dramaturgy with ALYSON CAMPBELL       Affect is widely recognised as a vital element in the impact of any piece of performance, but it can often be left to chance while focus is put on less slippery elements of dramaturgy, such as how various compositional components signify. Building on cultural theorist Jeremy Gilbert’s idea of an ‘affective analysis’, which merges the semiotic and affective, I have been working on the more active idea of how we merge these two strands when making, rather than analysing, theatre. This leads me to propose an affective approach to directing. The workshop will set out some of the thinking behind this and look at how dramaturgical decision-making on the floor can become more aware of affect (as separate from emotion) at work. We will look at this by focusing on the materiality of language and the  idea of ‘lang-scape’.

WORKSHOP: Dramaturgy & Adaptation with ANNE CATTANEO   What do dramaturgs do?   As an example, Anne Cattaneo discusses two projects she created some years ago for New York’s Acting Company:

Orchards, an evening of adaptations of Chekhov short stories by John Guare, Wendy Wasserstein, David Mamet, Spaulding Gray, Maria Irene Fornes, and Samm-Art Williams, and Love’s Fire – an evening of responses to Shakespeare’s Sonnets by Eric Bogosian, Tony Kushner, Marsha Norman, Wendy Wasserstein, Ntozake Shange, John Guare and composers William Finn and Adam Guettel.

SHARED SESSION: Technology in Theatre                                                         Some of the most exciting contemporary theatre-makers are playing with multi-media innovations, including live performers engaging with pre-made films, images shown on TVs, screens, sets, and bodies, and interactive audience experiences which use sound and image technology to take live performance out of the theatre entirely.  This panel will discuss the multi-media phenomenon in terms of aesthetics; the state of current technology; and ways to use that technology most effectively, while avoiding common pitfalls.  Participants will be Sean Bacon, whose video art and design has been seen around the world, from Sydney Theatre Company to the English National Opera; and Sandpit’s Dan Koerner, who combines innovative, real-world storytelling with emerging technology. Facilitated by Jonathan Wald.

SHARED SESSION: 8 Efforts – Laban                                                             Laban Movement Analysis (LMA) is a method and language for describing, visualizing, interpreting and documenting all varieties of human movement. Laban’s Technique is based in movement categories to identify the principles inherent in movement approaching to a notion of ‘Body Grammar’ to develop the body of the performer in an artistic instrument. ‘8 efforts {E X 8 = C}’ shared session is an approach learning of Rudolf Von Laban’s movement qualities for stage directors as a potential tool to create an effective communication system with performers to build a more profound characters, a powerful stage presence and resolve a common physical problem of how contemporary actors use their bodies to communicate classic theatre plays efficiently on stage.           Facilitated by Irene del Pilar Gomez.

SHARED SESSIONS: Practical Aesthetics                                                 Practical Aesthetics is a US based acting method/philosophy created by director and writer David Mamet and actor William H. Macy. The thinking behind the training is the idea that acting is approached as a set of skills, which, like carpentry, can be learned with discipline and assiduous practice. With tangible tools the actor is able to make clear, economical choices that will bring the best of her/himself to any role. Simplicity, commitment, and the truth of the moment are as important as remaining true to the intentions of the playwright and script. The Technique is designed to help free the actor to do their job, which is to simply, tell the story. Within the two-hour workshop, we will look at the intricacies behind this technique and why it remains one of the most sought out methods in contemporary acting training today, and how it can also benefit the modern-day director. Facilitated by Soseh Yekanians.


MONDAY 12 OCTOBER  

OPEN REHEARSAL: DANIEL SCHLUSSER ENSEMBLE                               All theatre rehearsal processes might be divided into systems for the generation of material for performance and systems that address how to organize that material with view to dramaturgical coherence and repeatability. Over two sessions participants will be introduced to the specific long-form improvisation process used by Daniel Schlusser Ensemble and Schlusser’s techniques for capturing and organizing the materials that are generated. Opportunity will be given to discuss the work with the artists as it evolves.

PANEL DISCUSSION: Using Other People’s Stories                       with Sophie Hyde, Roslyn Oades and Yana Taylor

WORKSHOP: Verbatim Theatre with ROSLYN OADES               Theatre maker, Roslyn Oades, is know for her pioneering work in the field of headphone verbatim and audio-cued performance. Headphone verbatim is a paperless form of theatre that features the faithful reproduction of speech patterns. In performance her actors wear headphones via which they are fed a carefully edited audio-script constructed entirely from documentary interview recordings. Headphone-verbatim offers performers a fascinating opportunity to explore characters outside of their experience. Actors literally adopt the actual words, breaths and speech mannerism of another human being with the aim of preserving the vocal print of a recorded interview. In this practical workshop, Roslyn will offer participants the opportunity to experience performing pre-prepared audio-scripts, as well as, to discuss and experiment with the possibilities of this exciting form on the floor.

WORKSHOP: Non-fiction as Source with YANA TAYLOR  
Working with non-fiction sources, documents, worded artefacts, found stuff in a broadly collaborative environment

Bring 1 or 2 ‘documents’- worded artefacts – not art materials (unless it is about art) – choose with care from your interests, fascinations, obsessions from what you have available or can search out. Not too long – or select a key section (highlighting is ok). Bring 2 hard copies. Recommend it comes from something that you think there should be a public conversation about – however you construe this. Any or all need to be willing to step ‘onto the floor’ – do the odd procedure, invent, tell a story, maybe – listen, ask questions, converse. Today all is speculative and disposable.

Will screen some extracts from finished full-length pieces from version 1.0’s collection speak to approach and angles of the joint making, including The Disappearances, The Wages of Spin, this kind of ruckus, Deeply Offensive and Utterly Untrue, CMI).

WORKSHOP: No-one’s story, everyone’s experience                             with SOPHIE HYDE                                                                                                 Running through the varied ways she has used source material as a starting point, this fast and furious workshop will investigate ideas around autonomy and collaboration, the ethics of using someone else’s story, and finding the ‘truth’ in fiction and non-fiction. Sophie will use examples of her film work to highlight lessons learned and spark conversation, as well as provide practical opportunities for participants to explore their own source materials.

LECTURE: American Theatre with ANNE CATTANEO                                A look at the not-for-profit theater movement in the United States from its beginnings in the 1960’s to its flowering today.  There are currently over 2000 professional theaters in the US with operating budgets over $75,000, a multitude of training programs, and a wide range of artistic missions from the strongly community based to the highly experimental- spanning all 50 states.  How did this movement develop and what are its challenges?  How is it supported?  Where is it headed?


TUESDAY 13 OCTOBER  

Working Group #1 – An investigation of Medea                                       led by Deborah Leiser-Moore with Adi Sappir, Daniel Han and Davina Wright.

Working Group #2 – An investigation of Bröd und Wein                        led by Marcel Dorney with Chloe Camille Oestreich, Tamiah Bantum and James Paul.

Working Group #4 – An investigation of Objectum Sexualis                led by Zoey Dawson with Rebecca Jensen, Romanie Harper and Peter Paltos.

Working Group # 3 – An investigation of Frankenstein                        led by Teresa Izzard with Bert La Bonte, Terry Yeboah and Peter Farnan.

ROSEMARY MYERS in conversation with Matt Edgerton  Rosemary Myers is the Artistic Director of Adelaide’s Windmill Theatre where her directing credits include Pinocchio, The Wizard of Oz, Fugitive, Dance School, Big Bad Wolf and Girl Asleep. Prior to this she was the Artistic Director of Arena Theatre Company and also the Artistic Director of Queensland Performing Arts Centre’s Out of the Box Festival in 2010. She has worked for ABC Television, Back to Back Theatre Company, VCA, Queensland Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company. In 2006, she was a Creative Director for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.

SHARED SESSION: Inclusive Theatre Making                                             Kate Sulan and members of the RAWCUS Ensemble will lead a conversation around inclusive theatre making. They will share their methodology, practice and approaches to devising theatre with artists with a disability. The workshop will explore generating material with non-trained actors and creating work drawn from the hearts, minds and imaginations of diverse groups of individuals.

SHARED SESSION: Puppetry & Visual Theatre                                     Visual theatre is a wide and varied art form raging from tradition hand puppets through to digital puppetry and is often used in main-stage productions, combining actors and puppets on-stage such as The Lion King, Warhorse and King Kong as well as within independent productions. It is an extremely useful theatrical tool, allowing the impossible to become possible on-stage.  Directing visual theatre can be an interesting challenge as the director needs to develop double-vision that is not only viewing it from the audience’s point-of-view but also from the puppeteer’s point-of-view in order to understand what is possible within the performance. In this shared session, we will begin developing this double-vision through learning about puppetry from both perspectives. Facilitated by Sarah Kreigler.

SHARED SESSION: Comedy, Disobedience & Rebellion                           Post-Adorno, post-modern and post-dramatic; Tobias Manderson-Galvin leads a discussion on humour, trauma and sin. Taking examples from personal experience, political events and a philosophy of culture; with a focus on bouffon, satire and slapstick; the session will take the fate of humanity extremely seriously. Please bring instruments of your own oppression, laughter, and please, no animals, please.

SHARED SESSION: Task based improvisation                                               This workshop explores devising strategies for creating visual content from source materials. Strategies include task-based open improvisation, interaction with architecture and techniques that intersect dramaturgy and image making. The workshop will take the form of directors as performer participants and utilise the source material each director provides. Facilitated by Emma McManus.


WEDNESDAY 14 OCTOBER

BRUCE GLADWIN in conversation with Vanessa Chapple               Bruce Gladwin (born 1966) is an Australian artist and performance maker, who has been the Artistic Director of Geelong’s “Back to Back Theatre” since 1999. The work Gladwin has created with the company is recognized for innovation and excellence, touring regularly to major international arts festivals and institutions. The company has toured 70 cities in 20 countries and its innovative shows have received a multitude of awards along the way.

Gladwin is one of only two Victorians to be awarded a prestigious Australia Council for the Arts Award for his significant lifetime achievement in theatre.

WORKSHOP: Working with actors on text with JENNY KEMP  This lab will constitute 2 practical workshop demonstrations and dialogues around working with actors on text. A modern text will be used to introduce a two-pronged approach – both kinaesthetic/imaginative and analytic/verbal. Particular attention will be given to the integration of these layers and the stimulation of the actor’s imaginations as they begin to work in the space.

WORKSHOP: Theatre from interviews with JOHN SHEEDY                A look at verbatim theatre and the process of creating ‘Driving Into Walls’ and ‘1507’ for the Perth International Arts Festival. The workshop will be scaffolded through voice, movement, storytelling and interviewing activities to invite participants into the process of creating ‘reality’ both as an Director and Writer.  John will also be joined by playwright Suzie Miller.

WORKSHOP: Pulse Workshop with TANYA GERSTLE                              This workshop will give an insight into the Pulse rehearsal process – a physical approach to staging text. Pulse is a kinetic improvisational strategy for generating new material as well as for working with linear narrative and character to create text-based physical theatre. Using text from Polygraph by Robert Lepage and Marie Brassard, actors Stephen Phillips and Edwina Wren will work with me, and willing workshop participants, through several layers of the Pulse rehearsal process.

This may be of particular interest to those directors who can draw from the visceral experience of being the actor and are interested in using those skills on the rehearsal floor.

WORKSHOP: Non-traditional structure with MATT LUTTON          A workshop exploring ways in which a director can plan to use scenography to invent theatrical structures and rhythm. The workshop will begin with an analysis of a scene from a Wagner opera, investigating what can be perceived as ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’ structures and ways to explores this on stage. These principles will then be practically applied to preparing the scenography of a new piece of contemporary playwriting.

ARTIST IN CONVERSATION: MELBOURNE FESTIVAL Performance Space 122 Artistic Director Vallejo Gantner and the creator of Lincoln Center: Directors Lab Anne Cattaneo represent two significant performance platforms in New York. Join them in conversation as they discuss the dynamics of the arts landscape in New York, its unique origins and its future.

SHOW: YOUARENOWHERE                                                                          Andrew Schneider, Melbourne Festival 


THURSDAY 15 OCTOBER

Working Group #5 – Investigating the Elegy of Fortinbras                   led by Kristof Kaczmarek with Tom Healy, Ray Chong Nee and Kasia Kaczmarek.

Working Group #6 – Investigating The Mermaid and the Drunks        led by Kathryn Osborne with Peter Farnan, Laura Burzacott and Tim Paige.

Working Group #7  – Investigating Altered States                                          led by Leah Mercer with Jim Daly, Jodie Le Vesconte and Nat Cursio.

Working Group #8 – Investigating Actor Schmactor                                   led by Thomas Quirk with Emma Hall, Emily Tomlins and Penny Harpham.

PANEL DISCUSSION: Working with an Indigenous Source             with ISAAC DRANDIC, KAMARRA BELL-WYKES, IAN MICHAEL, JANE HARRISON and JASON TAMIRU

SHOW: Desdemona                                                                                                        by Toni Morrison, directed by Peter Sellars, Melbourne Festival


FRIDAY 16 OCTOBER

MOISES KAUFMAN in conversation with Jeffrey Jay Fowler.

MARION POTTS and PETA BRADY in conversation with Kyle Morrison.

LECTURE: The ethics of storytelling with DR SIMON LONGSTAFF

ADENA JACOBS and KELLY RYALL in conversation with Tamara Searle.

PANEL DISCUSSION: Community as Source                                               with CLARE WATSON, IRINE VELAJADE LILLIE, SCOTT RANKIN and CATHY HORSLEY.

SHARED SESSION: Creative Visioning & Auditing                                       If you have ever taken a step back in the rehearsal studio and thought, what the hell have I just made? Creative Visioning and Auditing Is a method used for assessing creative choices and processes. CVA assesses the creative development of new work from macro to micro scale against a set of criterion (artistic/creative goals), which you or the creative team have articulated as being most critical in the creation of this proposed new work. CVA is an in-practice development of methodologies James Berlyn has used over 25 years of devising and teaching devising. It can be used either before or after the creative development stage of a new work or a new interpretation of an existing work. Creative Visioning is used for those: what-the hell-is-this-work-missing moments, and Creative Auditing for those it’s-way-too-long or possibly it’s-nothing-like-I-wanted-it-to-be moments in the making of new work. This workshop will explore the methodology in a practical way so it can be applied to a project you are currently working on.

SHARED SESSION: Urbn Theatr                                                                             The moment you realize that no road can lead you to where you intend to go, then it’s time to become an explorer. Urbn Theatr’s method is not a dogma. It’s just some answers Urbn Theatr found to the basics questions of: What is the role and the position of theater in modern society? How can we involve the audience in our performances? What are the steps we should take in orderto bring new theatre pieces to the stage?  All in all, it is a “map” for a trip through the unknown. Like a ride on the ship of Odysseus. Facilitated by Ilias Panagiotakopoulos,

SHARED SESSION: Mining Australian Theatre                                             A quick crash course in the last 100-ish years of playwriting in this country and the industry that created them. We will only briefly touch on the stuff one can learn in any history book (The Firm, The Doll School, Major works of the New Wave, Internationalism, etc). Instead we will look at some of the most exciting and difficult pieces of writing for directors to tackle, read excerpts from these works, explore their cultural relevance, and discuss processes of turning these texts into exciting pieces of theatre. Texts focused on: Fire on the Snow by Douglas Stewart, The Cake Man by Robert Merritt, Cass Butcher Bunting by Bill Reed, and Chicago Chicago by John Romeril. Facilitated by Phil Rouse.

SHARED SESSION: Viewpoints                                                                         Since Anne Bogart began to develop the Viewpoints in the Experimental Theatre Wing of NYU in the early 80s, her approach has become a training tool, a staging tool, and a vocabulary among theatre-makers around the world. I received a version of them when I worked Kate Gaul at Siren Theatre Company, and found them incredibly usefuly as a language for improvisation, composition and analysis. This will be a collaborative session, for those who used them in their own work and those curious to find out more. We’ll talk through what they are, how they work and approaches to applying them in rehearsals, coupled with some practical exploration, experiments and reflection. Facilitated by Mark Pritchard.


SATURDAY 17 OCTOBER

PETER SELLARS in conversation with Directors Lab.

WORKSHOP: A liminal space with ROBERT DRAFFIN                               A Liminal Space: Encountering Gong Feng Shui                                                     Or I do not know what I am doing and that’s OK.

In this laboratory we will explore, from a temporal, corporeal and kinaesthetic base, unlocking the imagination and stage action in a transformative and non-interpretive process. Central to my current practice as theatre maker, director or actor trainer, whether working with language, text, image, sound, character, story, is the understanding and manifestation of a particular imaginative state in which the body of the artist inhabits space and time. A state that sustains and clarifies the threshold encounters of change /transformation from one creative moment into the next and releases in the artist imaginative creative and embodied performance.

WORKSHOP: Structuring the Audience’s Experience                         with DR EGIL KIPSTE                                                                                                         Using the directing and acting theory of Stanislavski’s Active Analysis as a basis, this workshop looks at how dramaturgy can be combined with visuality to enhance staged performance.

Twenty-first century science posits that Events are the fundamental unit of human experience. Mid-last-century Georgi Tovstonogov proposed that all narratives can be divided into five major events. This division can be applied to all events/scenes within a play/text.

In addition, especially since the reportage of 9/11, cognitive scientists have analysed what makes people remember one event more than others. The findings from these studies can be appropriated to the stage in order to make staging more memorable.

The workshop introduces participants to event hierarchies and the key components that make these events stand out for an audience.

SHARED SESSION: The Actors Needs                                                           How can we create a space, communicate with, and stimulate actors in a way that enables them to feel wholly supported and safe.

From an actors’ perspective, I’d like to discuss the communicative  language that directors employ to invigorate, activate and captivate. On the flip side, let’s talk through what is not useful to the actor and how to read and manage that.

When it comes to giving performance notes and feedback, how can we harness our choice of words so that it meets the needs of each individual, the ensemble and serves the work itself.I don’t profess to have the answers, but I’d love to share my own experiences from the aspect of actor/director. Facilitated by Ben Pfeiffer.

SHARED SESSION: Identity and Representation                                        An open conversation facilitated by Joe Lui.

SHARED SESSION: Women in 3D                                                                    Let’s talk about women on stage (Wooohooo!) Let’s talk about how women have been traditionally (and often still are) represented -bring your horror stories! Let’s talk about authentic representation- bring your wildest dreams! Let’s talk about everything we can think of that stands in the way of that.

What are the major tropes and how might we be aware of them, subvert them and eventually destroy them? How can we be more critical of how gender is performed on our stages? We’ll be looking at textual and non-text based construction of character and talking about how it succeeds or fails in the representation of three dimensional women in all of their fantastical diversity. Facilitated by Rachel Perks.

SHOW: 1984                                                                                                          Headlong, Melbourne Festival


SATURDAY 18 OCTOBER

ANDREW SCHNEIDER in conversation with Jonathan Wald and Marcel Dorney.

ARTISTS IN CONVERSATION: After Tragedy Listening                           A roundtable response to Desdemona, Melbourne Festival

SHARED SESSION: Taking care of the actors wellbeing.                        An open conversation facilitated by Eugene Wong.

SHARED SESSION: Puppetry Encore with Sarah Kriegler

SHARED SESSION: Visual Communication with Jonathan Wald.

CHRIS DRUMMOND in conversation with Shannon Mackowski.

Closing provocation by JONATHAN HOLLOWAY.


The inaugural 2015 DIRECTORS LAB: MELBOURNE was created by Daniel Clarke and produced by Tahli Corin. 


Theatre Works was proud to present the 2015 Directors Lab: Melbourne with the support of Melbourne Festival, The University of Melbourne, Ian Potter Foundation, Besen Family Foundation and the U.S. Consulate General Melbourne. 

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