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Maintaining and nurturing an ensemble theatre have been Anne Bogart’s foremost concerns in these past near-thirty years since she and Tadashi Suzuki founded the Saratoga International Theatre Institute (SITI) in 1992. Suzuki had established the Suzuki Company of Toga (SCOT) in 1976, making a secluded mountainous landscape of Japan its home to this day. Bogart’s venture in the United States, although inspired by Suzuki’s model of a production-based troupe of high artistic standards that, at the same time, developed its unique training methods, by no means merely duplicates its predecessor. In this Covid Conversation, Bogart briefly maps a segment of SITI’s history, reflecting on the company’s inter-arts endeavours with differing dance idioms and its engagement with Greek tragedy. She discusses the effects of the Covid pandemic on her troupe, also interrupting its performances of The Bacchae at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Her most recent opera production, Tristan and Isolde, was closed for the same reason at the Croatian National Theatre – a key work in her portfolio of nineteenth-century grand opera as well as contemporary avant-garde opera. An acclaimed theatre director, Anne Bogart runs and teaches the Graduate Directing Programme at Columbia University in New York. At the SITI summer school in Saratoga, she and the company have workshopped the Viewpoints method that she has elaborated from Mary Overlie’s six principles for theatre and dance training. Bogart’s international workshops have further developed her method. She is the author of A Director Prepares (Routledge, 2001) and of many influential books that include (with Tina Landau) The Viewpoints Book (Theatre Communications Group, 2004). The Art of Resonance is forthcoming (2021, Bloomsbury). Maria Shevtsova is the Editor of New Theatre Quarterly whose most recent book is Rediscovering Stanislavsky (Cambridge University Press, 2020). The following conversation took place on 27 August 2020, was transcribed by Kunsang Kelden, and was edited by Maria Shevtsova. It is followed by a short coda announcing the transition of SITI into a resource centre.
Stanislavsky's ‘life of the human spirit’ is at the heart of his understanding of how the actor could become an organic actor rather than a player of borrowed actions and lines. In this article Maria Shevtsova explores the links between Stanislavsky's aspirations for the actor and Grotowski's ‘holy’ actor, the latter providing the impetus for a theatre of presence rather than one of presentation – one that is concerned with the embodiment of fictional bodies and souls. The notion of actor ‘training’ is re-examined in the light of Stanislavsky's practice concerning the actor's mindful and probing work on himself/herself. Grotowski's work on presence-in-action, the basis first of the performer and then of of the doer, has been a catalyst for the singer-movers of Teatr ZAR and this group's goal of spiritual journeying, shared also by its spectators. Maria Shevtsova holds the Chair in Drama and Theatre Arts at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her most recent book is the The Cambridge Introduction to Theatre Directing (co-authored, 2013). She is co-editor of New Theatre Quarterly.
While the dialogical relationship between the early twentieth-century British theatre and the rise of socialism is well documented, analysis has tended to focus on the role of the playwright in the dissemination of socialist ideas. As a contrast, in this article Philippa Burt examines the directorial work of Harley Granville Barker, arguing that his plans for a permanent ensemble company were rooted in his position as a member of the Fabian Society. With reference to Pierre Bourdieu's concept of habitus and Maria Shevtsova's development of it in reference to the theatre, this article identifies a correlation between Barker's political and artistic approaches through extrapolating the central tenets of his theory on ensemble theatre and analyzing them alongside the central tenets of Fabianism. Philippa Burt is currently completing her PhD in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. This article is developed from a paper presented at the conference on ‘Politics, Performance, and Popular Culture in Nineteenth-Century Britain’ at the University of Lancaster in July 2011.
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