Being an actor can be fun … but working as an actor is no laughing matter!

AP13 flierIssue 13Join in the conversations about the lives of actors in this innovative series of webinars in which practitioners and researchers share their insights on the REAL lives of actors today – Dr Mark Seton PhD., internationally recognised scholar of wellbeing for actors, has hosted a series of live webinars in which contributors to the recently launched University of Sydney publication About Performance: The Lives of Actors have shared their thoughts and experiences about why the lives of actors really matter.

 

 

 

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 1 

 Acting – is it worth it?

This first episode explores the ‘everydayness’ of keeping acting skills fresh, pursuing likely jobs to advance careers, maintaining social/ and professional networks to ‘stay in the loop’ while doing other jobs that ensure one can afford to eat and have a place to stay. Many actors may find themselves with ongoing debts, paying off their actor training over many years, while knowing that the ‘marketplace’ for jobbing actors is highly competitive.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews Ashley Marinaccio about her photo essay ‘Waiting to be seen: A Photographic Exploration of New York City Actors’

Ashley Marinaccio is a director, writer, performer and photographer who creates work that challenges the status quo. She is co-founder/Artistic Director of Girl Be Heard (www.girlbeheard.org) and a director of Co-Op Theatre East (www.cooptheatreeast.org).

CLICK HERE REPLAY FOR EPISODE 1

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 2

How healthy are actors?

This second episode reviews the newly released findings of the Australian Actors’ Wellbeing Study, conducted in 2013, by the Equity Foundation (under the direction of Mary Cotter) of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) in association with the University of Sydney. The survey tested anecdotal claims of hazards and stresses associated with lives and careers of actors and establishes a health and wellbeing baseline.

SEE PRELIMINARY REPORT HERE (an excerpt from About Performance: The Lives of Actors 2015)

Actors appeared to be disposed to ‘finding the positive’ and, perhaps, to maintaining a bearing of optimism and ‘good energy’, even when the circumstances of their lives were presenting challenges which were having profound effects on their wellbeing. Surprisingly, there was little discrimination in job opportunities between trained and untrained actors, given the often precarious financial pressures and lack of cool down strategies.

Dr Mark Seton interviews his fellow researcher, Assoc Prof Ian Maxwell about the value of such studies.

Ian Maxwell is an Associate Professor at the Department of Performance Studies at the University of Sydney. He is a graduate of the School of Drama at the Victorian College of the Arts, where he majored in Directing. He is the Chief Investigator for the Australian Actors’ Wellbeing Study.

CLICK HERE REPLAY FOR EPISODE 2

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 3: “How do you ‘fit in’?”

How do you ‘fit in’?

This third episode explores various conversations and actions of how both actors and those they work with, and for (i.e. directors, producers, aagents), tend to relegate the craft of acting to a place of either servitude or marginalisation in relation to various processes of storytelling, stage or screen. This process creates various health impacts on some actors, alongside the rewarding delights of being part of a creative ensemble when it actually ‘all works’. (Unfortunately, this episode was disrupted by a technical fault partway during the broadcast – however, you can read the entire article by Terence when you purchase About Performance: The Lives of Actors)

ORDER About Performance Issue 13: The Lives of Actors HERE

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews the Terence Crawford about his essay, “Feudal Positions and the Pathology of Contentment”.

Terence Crawford is an actor, acting teacher, writer and scholar.  He is currently Head of Acting at Adelaide College of the Arts.His most recent performance was with the State Theatre Company of South Australia in the 2015 Adelaide Festival production of Chekhov’s Seagull.

CLICK HERE REPLAY FOR EPISODE 3 (NOTE: DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEM, THIS IS A SHORTER EPISODE)

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 4: “Do you need a day job?”

This fourth episode investigates the responsibility of acting institutions producing graduates who may need other income streams based on their education. In particular Dr Dixon and Dr Hay interrogate the evolving curriculum of NIDA and reviews what is the educational duty of care that should be extended to graduands to equip them with the most viable and adaptable skill sets for future employment. It also engages with the evolutionary merging of conservatoires and university-based programs.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews one of the contributors of the essay, “Being inside the story”, Dr Robin Dixon. UK Associate Professor Ross Prior, author of Teaching Actors, will also contribute his insights to this discussion.

Dr Robin Dixon is currently Associate Lecturer and Convener in Performance Practices at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia. He also maintains an occasional creative practice as dramaturg, composer and musician.

Dr Chris Hay is an Associate Lecturer in Performance Practices at the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), Australia. He was awarded his PhD in 2014 for a thesis which examined the shifting modes of knowledge transfer and legitimation in creative arts higher education.

Assoc Professsor Ross Prior is a teacher, academic, performer, producer, director, and former casting/theatrical agent. He is currently Principal Lecturer teaching on the BA (Hons) Acting programme at the University of Northampton, UK. He is the author of Teaching Actors and Editor of the Journal of Applied Arts and Health.

CLICK HERE REPLAY OF EPISODE 4

LINK TO JOURNAL OF APPLIED ARTS AND HEALTH

LINK TO ORDER TEACHING ACTORS

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 5: “Is your body really yours?”

This fifth episode dissects the various ‘crises’ of the body in actor training through a discussion of student actors’ perception and negotiation of their physicality as a kind of investment or capital to be offered into the marketplace. In such ways wellbeing can be impacted by the de-stabilising of identity through various attempts to create and offer a more ‘marketable’ body.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews Roanna Mitchell about her essay, “The Body That Fits the Bill”

Roanna Mitchell works as a movement director and performance-maker in the UK and internationally, and as a lecturer at the University of Kent, UK. Her current research focuses on body politics and embodied cognition in actor training, and she has previously published on the student actor’s aesthetic labour.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 5

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 6: “Are you in this for the long haul?”

This sixth episode investigates the ages and stages and costs of actors as they reach their middle years of a career. Professional actors were interviewed to discern what it means to have and sustain an identity as an actor as their working relationship to the industry changes over time. Alongside financial concerns, some of the challenges these actors experience include the deterioration of memory, sight and hearing that are crucial tools of their acting craft.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews the contributor of the essay, “Dropping a part”, Dr Felix Nobis.

Felix Nobis is a lecturer with the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University. His research interests include contemporary storytelling, medieval theatre, as well as the intersection between contemporary and medieval performance practices. As a professional actor, Felix performed with Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir St, Q Theatre and Redstitch, as well as several television series for ABC TV.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 6

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 7: “How do you ‘shake it off’ after performance?”

This seventh episode investigates the destabilising of identity through the experiences of enacting trauma on stage. Dr Cheryl McFarren, an acting practitioners (and scholar), share her journey through the challenges of material, some of which resonates with her own life experience. She provides an opportunity to explore what is at stake when the actor carries personal experiences into the rehearsal room and, subsequently, onto the stage. What are the various factors that support or threaten maintaining healthy psychological, emotional and relational boundaries while engaging and disengaging with both the role and interpersonal relationships with fellow actors? Potent and traumatising experiences may also be counterbalanced by the conscious and active care of the director and production team to provide a safe working environment.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews the contributor of the essay, “Mourning becomes cathartic”, Dr Cheryl McFarren, and the contributor of the essay “The Monster under the bed”, Jane Griffiths.

Dr Cheryl McFarren, PhD., is an Associate Professor from Denison University in Granville, Ohio (USA). She continues to work as an actor, notably as Sarah Bernhardt in John Murrell’s Memoir (Chicago, 2011) and as Vivian Woolsey in Ghost-Writer (Creede, 2012). Her dissertation, “(Re)Thinking Affective Memory: Background, Method, and Challenge for Contemporary Actor Training” examined the concept and technique of affective memory (also known as “emotional recall”) in light of neuropsychological research on trauma.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 7

ORDER About Performance Issue 13: The Lives of Actors HERE

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 8: “Preserving your vulnerability as an actor”

This eighth episode provides an opportunity to hear about the research and teaching of webinar host, Dr Mark Seton, who has developed a training program to enable actors to preserve their vulnerability and risk-taking capacity without losing their resilience and wellbeing. He coined the term “Post-dramatic stress” to provoke much more open conversations among actors and other stakeholders in the performing arts industries about the challenges of aspiring to great heights (and depths) in performance without ensuring there are healthy, sustainable cool-down strategies in place. Mark has asked his long-time research colleague and friend, Dr Lycia Trouton, to interview him on this episode

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, is interviewed by Dr Lycia Trouton. Dr Trouton and Dr Seton have taught and written together on ethics-in-the-arts and emotional/cognitive student challenges in Higher Education.

Dr Lycia Trouton, DCA., is a Sculptor / conceptual Installation Artist (including socially-engaged public practice) and contemporary Visual Art History and Theory scholar/teacher, with a specialization in Craft theory (Textile Arts/Text). She has a long-term engagement in art-about-trauma and counter-monumentation from contemporary (post-1968) Northern Ireland.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 8

Dr Lycia Trouton’s Linen Memorial project

Foundations of Resilient Vulnerability – 5 session online course

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 9: “Who cares about professional actors’ health and wellbeing?”

In episode nine, a special 2 hour edition, Dr Mark Seton reviews what has been accomplished so far in the field of Performing Arts Medicine and healthcare in researching and advocating for the health and wellbeing of actors. He interviews acting lecturer, Jane Brody, about her newly released book The Actor’s Business Plan. He also interviews Laura Rikard about her pro-active program of teaching student actors self-care practices. Dr Seton also reviews the various themes of work, training, pleasure, uncertainty, risk, fulfilment, trauma and longevity that have emerged over the previous eight episodes and opens up conversation about how the health and wellbeing of actors may be raised to the same profile that has already been accorded professional musicians and dancers.

Jane Drake Brody currently teaches both graduate and undergraduate acting at The Theatre School at DePaul University. Casting director, actor, teacher, producer, agent, and stage director, Jane Brody is a nationally recognized expert in how to create a sustainable, happy, and rewarding career in the acting business. Recipient of the Casting Society of America award for Best Location Casting for the acclaimed Coen brothers film Fargo, Jane is also a Los Angeles Weekly’s Best Actress award winner and has performed on some of America’s most prestigious stages, from the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and Drury Lane in Chicago, to Los Angeles Actors’ Theatre.

Jane tours nationwide as a popular guest artist in auditioning technique and conducts workshops based on the highly practical wisdom of The Actor’s Business Plan.

Laura Rikard is a stage and film actress as well as director, acting coach, stage moment specialist, devised theatre artist and public speaking consultant. She has taught acting, movement, mask, and theatre to youth in England, New York City and various universities, colleges and theatres in the United States.  She is the previous head of acting for the BFA/BA School of Theatre at Stephen F. Austin State University. Currently she is the Visiting Assistant Professor for Acting and Movement with the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies at Brown University.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 9

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 10: “Acting – Has it all been worthwhile?”

This bonus tenth episode explores how the use of biographical enquiry  proves a productive way of locating and analysing the personal, material and artistic stresses that have impacted on two actresses’ lives at different times in their careers, and, in their real-life roles as mothers. What particularly emerges from Dr Anne Pender’s interviews with two actresses are the significant relational supporters (sometimes family, sometimes teachers) and detractors (sometimes family, sometimes teachers) that have shaped their professional paths, and the need for adaptability towards changing technologies and their impact on the entertainment industry.

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews the contributor of the essay “Portraits of actors”, Dr Anne Pender, PhD.

Dr Anne Pender, PhD., is Associate Professor of English and Theatre Studies and ARC Future Fellow at the University of New England. A Menzies Scholar to Harvard University and graduate of the Australian National University and the University of New South Wales, Anne taught Australian Literature at King’s College London in 2002-03 and was Visiting Distinguished Professor (Australian Studies) at the University of Copenhagen in 2011.

CLICK HERE FOR REPLAY OF EPISODE 10

ORDER About Performance Issue 13: The Lives of Actors HERE

THE LIVES OF ACTORS

Episode 11: “Negotiating risk-taking and wellbeing as a performer”

This bonus eleventh episode investigates the distancing and renegotiation of identity through the experiences of enacting trauma on stage. Dr Jane Griffiths, an acting practitioners (and scholar), share reflections on her journey about the challenges of physically and psychologically demanding roles. What are the various factors that she discovers that either support or threaten maintaining her own healthy psychological, emotional and relational boundaries while engaging and disengaging with fellow actors? Like the experience of Dr Cheryl McFarren (see Episode 7 interview), Dr Griffiths has found that potent and traumatising experiences may also be counterbalanced by the conscious and active care of the director and production team to provide a safe working environment.

NOTE: THIS INTERVIEW HAS YET TO BE RECORDED AS A PHONE INTERVIEW

Dr Mark Seton, co-editor of About Performance: The Lives of Actors, and founding Board member of Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare, interviews the contributor of the essay “The Monster under the bed”, Dr Jane Griffiths.

Dr Jane Montgomery Griffiths, PhD., is Director of the Centre for Theatre and Performance at Monash University, and an award-winning actor and playwright. Most recently she has performed with The Rabble for MTC’s Neon (“Story of O”) & Malthouse (“Frankenstein”). Her stage and radio plays include “Sappho … in 9 fragments”, “Sectioned”, the libretto “Razing Hypatia”, “Wild Surmise”, and a new adaptation of “Antigone”.