Concert (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)

Rushe, Sinéad (2020) Concert (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission). The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. ISBN 978-1-8383968-6-2


Concert illuminates Michael Chekhov’s little-known principles on interdisciplinary theatre practice and design. It develops Chekhov’s ideas in a dance-theatre production, which I directed for the Dublin Dance Festival and the Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New York. In line with Chekhov’s propositions that artists must work beyond the parameters of their assigned roles and expertise, I elaborated a collaborative rehearsal methodology that prioritised a direct exchange between performer Colin Dunne and sound designer Mel Mercier, a relationship traditionally overlooked in theatre production yet central to Chekhov’s philosophy. I address the importance of design in Chekhov’s acting technique which has largely been ignored in Chekhov scholarship.

Concert expands the prevailing understanding of Chekhov’s method; elaborates the technique in a devised, sound-driven performance in unconventional ways, answering Chekhov’s demand for creating new forms and ways of producing theatre; and illustrates the restitution of the performer at the heart of a creative dialogue most commonly reserved for the director and designer.

Following a period of research (2013–19) at the Michael Chekhov Studio Dartington Hall archive, I led a series of international practical workshops for theatre designers, directors and performers. In collaboration with scenographer Aldona Cunningham, we tested Chekhov’s exercises on aesthetics and form. Findings from these workshops fed into directing Concert: I placed design at the centre of the devising process, creating a rehearsal method where Dunne experimented with scenographic materials to create performance and choreographic motifs, and Mercier came to consider his sound propositions as psychophysical inspiration for Dunne. A new model for contemporary theatre-making emerged, born directly from the performer-designer exchange.

Between 2017 and 2019, Concert toured internationally to over 8,000 people. I disseminated my insights in a series of public talks in the UK, Australia and USA; in my practice book on Chekhov’s technique; a book chapter and a published interview.


Published Version - PDF (REF 2021 Practice Research Submission)

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