Panel –  A sector in crisis: strategies for survival – Helena Grehan, Oscar Tantoco Serquiña Jr., Joanne Tompkins, Asher Warren

We cannot deny that things are currently in a state flux, or perhaps even disarray across the sector, not just in Australia but across the globe.  The  uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 has infected all facets of life and has made work within the academy incredibly difficult – for those at all career stages.  The  aim of this  panel is to provide  strategies for ADSA members on  coping with and surviving this difficult period. The panelists will each offer some ideas and suggestions from their different positions and perspectives but the main aim is to provide plenty of time to listen to the very real concerns of members and to provide – where possible – solutions and support in response.  As an organisation ADSA has always been collegial and supportive and this panel seeks to mobilise this collegiality for the common good of conference attendees.

Helena Grehan is Dean of Research for Arts, Business, Law, IT and Social Sciences at Murdoch University. She has published widely on performance studies and creative arts more broadly. Her current work focusses on listening as both a political and ethical act both within and beyond the borders of the performance space. She is a member of AusStage, a founding member of the Digitisation Centre of WA and is the Deputy Editor of Performance Research.

Oscar Tantoco Serquiña Jr. is a PhD candidate in Theatre Studies at the University of Melbourne, where he is working on a dissertation that explores sites of speech study, training, and performance in the Philippines from the 20th to the 21st centuries. He is also a faculty member in the Department of Speech Communication and Theatre Arts at the University of the Philippines. His essays have appeared in Theatre Research InternationalHumanities DilimanKritika Kultura, the Philippine Political Science Journal, and the Philippine Humanities Review

Joanne Tompkins has just completed a three-year term as Executive Director for Humanities and Creative Arts at the Australian Research Council. She has returned to the University of Queensland where she is a professor of theatre. She has published widely on theatre. Her recent work visualises theatres that no longer exist. She is a founding member of AusStage, and is Chair of its Management Committee.

Dr Asher Warren is a Lecturer in Theatre at the University of Tasmania. His research explores intermedial, networked, participatory and collaborative practices, and the sites of contemporary artistic practice. He is a member of Performance Studies international, the IFTR intermediality working group, ADSA, and currently sits on the PSi Future Advisory Board.

Panel – Mark Radvan and colleagues – Holding on to what we left behind?


Holding on to what we left behind?

Mark Radvan (chair) Andrea Moor (QUT) Budi Miller (VCA), Peter Zazzali (Lasalle, Singapore), Heather Timms (Toi Whakaari, NZ)

In previous work, Mark Radvan has argued that given the academic and regulatory frameworks that tertiary acting courses exist within, as course designers and teachers, we should be investing more creative attention in curriculum design, and less in the competency based approaches traditionally associated with our actor-training heritage.

The flight to online platforms, forced by recent pandemic measures, and the collapse of the business models we have been accustomed to operating in, makes a rethink of acting curriculum both more interesting and more necessary. Adding further urgency is the pandemic’s continuing impact on the industry that graduates aspire to be part of, and the ongoing sweep of social movements that are requiring us to question the social, political and philosophical foundations underpinning traditional acting curriculum.

Such a review would compel us to ask fundamental questions about what acting and performance means in contemporary society, and how that might lead us to redefining course learning outcomes and to reconsidering the pedagogies needed to fulfill them. This panel will reflect on the current learnings of tertiary teachers in this space, and indeed ask – are we holding on to what we left behind? Or, letting go of what held us back?

Mark Radvan’s career in actor and performer training began in the seventies as a youth theatre director at Sydney’s Seymour Centre. In 1981 he completed the NIDA director’s course, and then was associate director of La Boite Theatre (1982-83) directing mainstage and youth productions. It began in earnest in 1984 when he joined BCAE (now QUT) to coordinate its little-known Associate Diploma in Theatre. He commenced a ten-year program of expansion that saw it become a three-year degree, first showcasing its students’ stage and film work in Sydney in 1993. He re-joined the Acting degree in 2014, and since then has redesigned it twice in ongoing compliance with TEQSA requirements and processes. He was the founding director of Imaginary Theatre, a company devoted to innovating in theatre made for children and their families, and was the director of the theatre adaptations of the Tashi stories that were seen by young audiences all over Australia between 2004 and 2014.