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Actor Training in a New Landscape
"There has been for some time now a feeling that a study should be done of theatre training in Canada ..."
So begins the Canada Council’s 1971 Report of the Committee of Inquiry into Theatre Training in Canada. The report provides a snapshot of the state of acting training in English and French Canada, focusing on various areas of education and professional training including acting, design, directing, production, stage management and technical training.
And many of the suggestions the report makes about acting training — that training institutions should affiliate with theatres, that people who teach should be active in the profession, etc. — stand today. However, two important issues are not dealt with in any substantial way, issues that are even more essential today: the cultural diversity of the actors and the theatres they are training for, and the aesthetic diversity in the theatre work actors are engaging in during their training.
This three-day meeting with Canadian actor trainers, directors, actors and others was part of Magnetic North 2011 event.
Given the complex overlapping of cultural heritages in contemporary Canadian society, and also given that much contemporary creation works away from psychological realism: there is an urgent need for a discussion on the issue of diversity in acting training in Canada, with respect to culture and to theatrical styles, and any resonances that can be drawn between them.
Avoiding the “Royal Commission” model, this training worked towards overviews, summaries, authoritative statements or conclusions. Instead, each participant arrived with a statement of provocation that was used as a starting point for discussion and deliberations were guided by key governing questions about diversity.
Participants worked through materials in both closed sessions and a final session open to the public. From these engagements, a series of affirmations and possible actions were collected and circulated within the Canadian theatre and acting training communities. Rather than serving a collective statement that all participants agree to, it simply stood as a record of what had been spoken: traces that can serve to vitalize others in their work and creative training.
Symposium: June 7-9, 2011
Open Public Forum: June 9, 2011
neXt Company Theatre
Theatre Educator's Forum
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