Performance Studies: ‘Negotiating moral and spiritual values within professional identity formation/ Tango and Emotion
Wellbeing in enactment of morally questionable characters: Negotiating moral and spiritual values within professional identity formation
A presentation by Dr Mark Seton (in research partnership with Courtney Patten)
Recent scholarship into the wellbeing of professionals in training within the fields of law, medicine and the armed forces is identifying that intrinsic values, including a person’s moral and spiritual inclinations, are important factors for long-term wellbeing. The Healthy Conservatoires, an initiative of Conservatoires UK (United Kingdom), included spiritual (defined as ‘exploring beliefs, values and ethics and creating a sense of purpose and meaning in life’) as one of eight key dimensions in its online wellbeing framework. Yet few drama schools have formally incorporated considerations of moral and spiritual development as part of their tertiary level curriculum. In an Australian study of professional actors (Actors’ Wellbeing Survey 2013) actors often referred to the moral gap between the character’s behaviours and their personal moral and spiritual values. In 2020, Courtney Patten conducted interviews with nine professional actors on the impacts on playing a ‘villain’ or other amorally inclined characters. Together, we have explored the dynamic inter-relationship between three factors that can impact actors’ personal and relational wellbeing in enacting such characters: 1. the requirements of empathy in an actor, in the creation and performance of character; 2. the potentiality of moral distress and injury in the creation and performance of character; and, 3. the shaping and privileging of either intrinsic or extrinsic values during professional identity formation and how these impact student wellbeing.
Dr Seton is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, The University of Sydney. He has trained acting students in wellbeing and sustainable industry practices at the Sydney Actors Centre, Excelsia College, Academy of Film, Theatre and TV, and most recently, NIDA. He is also a founding member of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. He is currently creating online wellbeing training resources through his website – Actors Wellbeing Academy – www.actorswellbeingacademy.com
Tango and Emotion
A presentation by Glen McGillivray
I am initiating a new research project in 2022 that explores the different dimensions of emotion in Argentine tango performance. This work builds on my previous research that explored the emotional interactions between actors and audiences in the eighteenth-century theatre. Using the categories developed by Monique Scheer (2012) (and applied in that research) this project will analyse the interaction between tango dancers in terms of their emotional practices; in particular, how they communicate, regulate, name, and mobilise emotions. In her study of Australian dancers who practice Japanese butoh dance, Jasmine Robertson describes their taking up of the dance – with all its rigorous training and commitment – as a ‘conversion’. Although the contexts of these butoh conversions are quite different from tango, the end result is the same: foreigners encounter a cultural practice, specific to another culture, and commit themselves to it. This research is in its infancy, but my interest is in these tango ‘conversions’: What makes non-Argentinian dancers want to commit to dancing tango without having any cultural links to it? It is a question that cannot be separated from emotion.
Glen McGillivray is an academic staff member in the Department of Theatre and Performance Studies, The University of Sydney. His most recent research explored the emotional interaction of actors and audiences in the eighteenth-century theatre and his recently completed manuscript, Communities of Sentiment: Actors, Audiences and Emotions in the Eighteenth-Century Theatre, is currently under peer review. Glen has been an Associate Investigator with the ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions and a Fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.
He also dances tango!
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