Practising Tradition in Performer Training: a Critical Approach
January 28-31, 2016

Organized by The Grotowski Institute, Wroclaw, Poland.

During the upcoming 2016 Wroclaw session of International Platform for Performer Training we would like to put into critical consideration the topic of tradition. It often works as legitimization and a mandate of trust for rising artists but at the same time it is used as a means to discredit others. It is considered valuable heritage or old-fashioned mannerism. That way or another it can serve as an easy label both in performing and teaching. In the Grotowski Institute, which is an institution strongly linked to a very specific tradition, we are all deeply aware of that fact. We are guided by the conviction that we train not to preserve tradition, but rather in order to create valuable art and educate outstanding performers. We would like to discuss real current situations and modes of operation in training and transmitting (or maybe overcoming) tradition. As the Grotowski Institute is not an academic institution, it is crucial for us to hear from international colleagues representing many differently set institutions and their views.

The Wrocław meeting of IPPT will focus on three main thematic fields:

  1. Studio and Academy – different models of training and transmission of tradition. What are their strengths, limitations and consequences of the way they work? What are the possible and implemented ways of cooperation or combining these models? Most theatrical traditions bring more than a training technique, they are a coherent theatre philosophy and/or work ethos. Is it always possible and desirable to incorporate them in the university teaching? Is traditionalism a positive or negative value in the context of contemporary teaching and performing?
  1. Tradition – strategies of use. We operate in so-called ‘liquid culture’. The most common pattern of use of tradition in contemporary European theatre and performer training is a composition of elements taken from different sources. What are the reasons behind specific choices and, in consequence, is there such a thing as an individual tradition in training? What are challenges posed by free and open access to knowledge and do they push to find new ways and methods for transmitting tradition in performer training? What are good and bad practices and their outcomes? What is the consequence of eclecticism in teaching? How are traditions processed and modified to serve the needs of next generations of performers? When and how is tradition born? What is the fate of broken tradition?
  1. Political aspect of tradition. Who and how determines the canon? Eugenio Barba talks about his artistic family tree, placing himself as the grandson of Meyerhold – and Grotowski’s younger brother. What is the meaning of tradition or invented tradition in the field of performer training and what is the reason to deploy it? Is it an element of prestige, or actual knowledge? And then – whose tradition (if there are grandparents and brothers, what happened to grandmothers and sisters)? This also brings forth the issue of ethnic traditions and ‘source’ techniques. Are they useful in the context of European theatre pedagogy? How do we guarantee fairness in choosing which tradition should have its place in school curriculum?

IPPT2016_Tradition_Call for Proposals: Closed 


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