Symposium: Training in a Cold Climate

Alexander, Catherine (2014) Symposium: Training in a Cold Climate. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 5 (2). pp. 219-232. ISSN 1944-3927


Training in a Cold Climate was a roundtable event that took place at the University of Leeds on 30th October 2013. This event was conceived and an adjunct this special issue and its aim was to open up a space in which those involved in training as students, educators, scholars and practitioners, could discuss, contest and challenge the present state of performer training as well as imagine its potential futures. In his introduction to the event, Jonathan Pitches identified a number of developments that possibly 'chill' the climate and beg for critical thinking and action: the recent proposed 'beefing up' of 'softer' subjects at GCSEs, including Drama, and a parallel move away from 'practice'; the absence of creative arts in a list of 'facilitating subjects' by Russell Group universities; the shift from training to apprenticeship in teacher training degrees; the encouragement of private universities to enter the marker. Add to this list the recent rise of university tuition fees, it would be fair to say that decisions and discussions are underpinned by a sense of anxiety and what Anthony Giddens calls 'manufactured uncertainty' (Giddens 1995 as cited in Levitas 2000, p. 201). What should the aims of a training programme be? How can a training programme be both artistically coherent and financially sustainable? How should a form or programme of training relate to global and local contexts? The event consisted of three parts. In the first, the guest speakers positioned themselves and their work within existing contexts and offered their perspectives on the questions above. In the second, they were invited to imagine and spell out their utopias; their ideal notions and conditions of training. What could possible futures hold and how can we navigate towards a future that is closer to the needs and ideals we feel in our present? The third was an open discussion amongst the panellists and the audience. This edited transcript follows the order of the event and captures about half of its content.


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