Sherrill Gow | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Sherrill Gow

Project Title

Towards a Feminist Practice for the Musical Theatre Performer in Conservatoire Training 

Supervisor

Tom Cornford

Abstract

This thesis develops a feminist approach to actor training for musical theatre by examining how feminist practices can critique and intervene in training modes and repertoire that tacitly accept or vigorously reproduce restrictively androcentric, ableist, eurocentric, and heterocentric worldviews. I identify principles and methods from feminist performance scholarship, pedagogies and critiques of musical theatre and acting techniques, and consider how these might work together to create an anti-oppressive framework for training students and making musical theatre. Through case studies of directing musical theatre students at Mountview in Anne of Green Gables – The Musical (1965) and Pippin (1972), I demonstrate interpretive strategies that offer approaches for performers and director-trainers to negotiate the wide-ranging repertoire of musical theatre and realise its feminist potential.
 
My research contributes to musical theatre practice and scholarship by demonstrating new, practical applications that build on existing feminist performance theory and criticism. I propose that using musical theatre as a platform for feminist exploration increases students’ critical and artistic facility, and that when approached with intention, musical theatre has productive potential for resisting and subverting the narrow and regressive stereotypes it frequently perpetuates. This thesis articulates how the theoretical and political reframing of musical theatre in conservatoire training contexts can support the development of experiential knowledge that resists the form’s hegemonic and conservative characteristics.

Profile

Originally from Canada, I have been living in London since 2000. I am a director and teacher, skilled in a range of acting methodologies and theatre-making techniques. I am Joint Head of the MA in Performance (Musical Theatre and Acting Pathways) at Mountview. I have also taught at Central, Kingston University, University of East London, Rose Bruford, and Arts Educational Schools London. I trained at  The Boston Conservatory, where I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre with an emphasis in directing, and completed a Master of Arts in Actor Training and Coaching from The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.  

Practice

2017, Director, Pippin, Bernie Grant Arts Centre 

2017, Associate Director, The Knowledge(dir. Maureen Lipman), Charing Cross Theatre 

2016, Director,  love and information, Lyric Hammersmith, (Lyric Young Company) 

2016, Director,  Anne of Green Gables, Unicorn Theatre 

2015, Director,  Red the Wolf Slayer!  The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2014, Co-director,  MIL-STD-1815, George Wood Theatre,  Au Brana Cultural Centre, Creative Development Residency (2013) 

2014, Director,  The Twee Musketeers, The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2013, Director,  The Wish!,  The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2012, Creative Producer,  The Hit, site-specific, Hotel Indigo, Tower Hill 

2012, Director,  Sleeping Cutie!, The  Royal Central School of Speech and Drama 

2011, Associate Director,  One Snowy Night, National Tour, Slot Machine and Seabright Productions 

2010, Director,  Bittergirl, King’s Head Theatre 

2010, Director,  On Our Street, promenade and site-specific, Story of London Festival

2009, Director, Broadsheet Ballads, promenade and site-specific, Story of London Festival

2009, Director, Women of Manhattan, Old Red Lion Theatre

Key Publications

2018 ‘Queering Brechtian feminism: Breaking down gender binaries in musical theatre pedagogical performance practices’, Studies in Musical Theatre, 12:3, pp. 343–353.

2016 ‘The Hit: Can Art and Commercial Promotion Coexist?’ In Framing Immersive Theatre and Performance, edited by James Frieze (Co-authored with Merryn Owen.) Palgrave.

2016 '"There's gotta be something better than this": Challenging the role of big emotion in the transition from speech to song', Studies in Musical Theatre, 10:1, pp. 133-41.

Conference presentations

2018 ‘Queering Brechtian feminism: Breaking down gender binaries in musical theatre pedagogical performance practices’, Bruce Kirle Memorial Debut Scholar Panel, Music Theatre/Dance Focus Group of The Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE), Boston MA.

2017 ‘Referencing as a rehearsal tool for reclaiming a feminist text,’ Intersections – The annual postgraduate conference of The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London 

2016 ‘When Stanislavski Encounters the Conventions of Musical Theatre’, The S Word: Stanislavski and the future of Acting, an international symposium, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance

Academic events organised

2014 Symposium Co-organiser, ‘Embodied Cognition, Acting and Performance’, the 50th anniversary conference of Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (AISB-50), Goldsmiths, University of London

Teaching areas/expertise

  • A range of Stanislavski-based approaches to acting
  • Acting through Song
  • Bogart & Landau’s Viewpoints and Composition
  • Directing
  • Methods of Devising Performance
  • Scene-to-Song
  • Sight Reading
  • Solo Performance
  • Text Analysis
  • MA Supervision

Email

sherrill.gow@cssd.ac.uk