Being an actor/becoming a trainer: The embodied logos of intersubjective experience in a somatic acting process
Dr. Stephe Harrop
This practice-as-research thesis explores the emergence of intersubjective/intercorporeal dynamics in contemporary conservatory actor training through the ongoing development of a somatic actor-training methodology. Grounded in my experience as an actress who has become an actor-trainer, I engage with each actor’s individual creativity and expression as an embodied process that develops between the actor and the actor-trainer, the actor and the actor, the actor and the group. This research particularly responds to dualistic binaries of mind-body, inner-outer, self-other and the universalizing of each actor’s unique experience as problematic logocentrism in Stanislavski-inspired actor- training traditions. It is informed in practice by principles of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen’s Body-Mind Centering® (BMC®) somatic practice, and suggests the modification of Cohen’s developmental process of embodiment in actor-training. For the conceptualization of my praxis, I propose the notion of embodied logos. It is based upon Merleau-Ponty’understanding of logos as flesh that allows the perception of logos as an embodied and intersubjective experience. An emergent original somatic actor-training pedagogy revisits the dialogue between the actor and the actor-trainer through the notion of the trainer-witness.
I am an actress, somatic acting/movement educator and researcher with an ongoing experience in acting since 2005 (including productions at the Athens Festival and the National Theatre of Greece). I am a Greek National Theatre Drama School (2008, Distinction) and East 15 Acting School (2011, Distinction) alumni, and a certified somatic movement educator (Cert IBMT) based on principles of Body-Mind Centering®, Authentic Movement and Somatic Psychology. I currently teach actors and artists within various London-based institutions (including East 15, RCSSD, Mountview) and independent workshops. My teaching takes place in individual and group environments through practical workshops, lectures and supervising processes. My actor-training methodology is developed upon a modification of Cohen’s somatic process of embodiment applying experiential anatomy and human movement development into acting and the embodiment of a role. I suggest a new BMC®/IBMT-informed actor-training pedagogy which aims at supporting each individual actor’s creativity and expression through intersubjective embodied awareness.
As an early career researcher I have presented my praxis in UK-based conferences hosted by institutions such as: Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of Oxford, Goldsmiths University, University of Portsmouth, and Royal Holloway as well as in New York’s Skidmore College. I am a member of TaPRA Performer Training Group, the international network of BMC® somatic practitioners and the Hellenic Actors Union. For my development as an artist and researcher I have been awarded a full-time scholarship in Theatre Studies by the Greek State Scholarships Foundation (IKY), and Elsie Fogerty Research studentship by RCSSD.
Since 2010 I moved to London, my practice develops upon my journey of becoming an actor-trainer through an actress’ experience and awareness. I formally shaped this process through my PaR thesis and my professional development as somatic acting/movement educator within two major actor-training institutions (RCSSD, East 15). As performer-researcher I currently start exploring a new form of experiential intersubjective performance which I identify as somatic immersive theatre. My latest performing experience focuses on collaboration with various research-based and socially-inspired projects. I am an associate member/artist of Andreas Skourtis’ Performing Architectures company.
2016 Associate Artist/Performer, EU Immigrants.EU Citizens (chapter 1): A bridge, TCCE Walking the City Weekend 2016, (project leader Andreas Skourtis-Performing Architectures).
2015 Performer/Facilitator, OLIVE GROVE SE1, Hotel Elephant, (project leader Andreas Skourtis-Performing Architectures).
2015 Director, International Voices Project, Corbett Theatre-East 15.
2015 Singer/Actress, Ebola and Orphans Appeal, Romsey Abbey (director Pauline Walsh).
2013 Performer, STRUNG (This is NOT Rubbish), RCSSD (research project by stage designer/ecoscenographer Tanja Beer).
2013 Actor-trainer, Bacchai, Embassy Theatre-RCSSD (director Zachary Dunbar).
2012 Actress-researcher, Cellular Metamorphosis: Medea, RCSSD (part of my PaR project).
2016 ‘The development of a somatic acting process in UK-based actor training: Challenging logocentric problematics’ (submitted for the upcoming issue of The Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices)
2016 Book review of Christina Gutekunst and John Gillett’s Voice into Acting: Integrating Voice and the Stanislavski Approach (2014), The Journal of Interdisciplinary Voice Studies, 1:1, pp. 99-101.
2014 ‘Strung: The Story Behind the Postcard’, co-author as performer with Tanja Beer (concept and scenography), and Jacqui Holland (active scenography), Blue Pages: Journal for the Society of British Theatre Designers, 3: 26.
2014 ‘Actor training and the camera: the documentation of a somatic approach to acting’, TaPRA conference, RHUL.
2014 ‘Reenacting the Beginning: from conception of Dionysus’, 29th Annual BMCA (Body-Mind Centering Association) U.S. Conference, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York.
2014 ‘Towards intersubjective dynamics in psychophysical actor training: logos and the use of metaphor’, TaPRA Interim Event, University of Portsmouth.
2014 ‘The Basic Neurological Patterns in a somatic approach to acting’, CFP: Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance at AISB-50, Goldsmiths University.
2014 ‘Intersections between embodied logos and embodied perception in a somatic approach to acting’, Intersections 2014: The Colloquium of Performance Research Conference, RCSSD.
2013 ‘Belated or Present? The Contemporary Actor in the Greek “Pastness” ’, 13th Annual Postgraduate Symposium on Ancient Drama, RCSSD.
2013 ‘The Exploration of the Cell towards the Embodiment of the Tragic Heroine’, CPR: The Colloquium of Performance Research Conference, RCSSD.
2012 ‘The Tragic Heroine through the Reception of the Actress’, 12th Annual Postgraduate Symposium on Ancient Drama, RCSSD.
16-17.01.2014 Intersections, RCSSD, London. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s annual conference led by the School’s research degrees community. Funded by RCSSD.
26.09-05.10.2013 Collisions, RCSSD, London. Royal Central School of Speech and Drama’s annual PaR festival led by the School’s research degrees community. Funded by RCSSD.
18-19.6.2013 13th Annual Postgraduate Symposium on Ancient Drama, RCSSD, London. An annual conference organized in collaboration between APGRD, University of Oxford, University of London, and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
18-19.6.2012 12th Annual Postgraduate Symposium on Ancient Drama, RCSSD, London. An annual conference organized in collaboration between APGRD, University of Oxford, University of London, and Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.
Somatic movement practices.
Actor-training pedagogies/Stanislavski-inspired traditions and beyond.
PaR methodology/dissertation supervision.