Jo Loth and Rob Pensalfini – Creative negotiations: Combining Suzuki and Linklater actor training techniques


Jo Loth and Rob Pensalfini

University of the Sunshine Coast and University of Queensland

Creative negotiations: Combining Suzuki and Linklater actor training techniques

How can training methods from contrasting cultural, artistic and pedagogical lineages be successfully combined? This paper will reflect on the findings of a four-day workshop exploring ways to combine the Suzuki actor training method and Linklater voice. The workshop was led by the authors and held at The University of Queensland in June 2018. Both presenters have trained in these methods, one being a Designated Linklater Voice Teacher and the other an experienced teacher of the Suzuki Method. The workshop participants were actors and/or acting teachers, with previous training in at least one of the methods. The workshop was designed with the hypothesis that Suzuki and Linklater can be combined to create a performer who is powerful, responsive to impulse, expressive and capable of nuance. Within a phenomenological, intercultural framework and using reflective practice methodology, this paper will reflect on participant responses to discuss the value and challenges of integrating these techniques. Using this framework, we will observe and evaluate the ways that previous training experiences related to participants’ experiences of the workshop exercises. This paper draws on Zarrilli’s concept of an ‘aesthetic inner bodymind’ and McAllister-Viel’s insights on intercultural actor training, to argue that there is value in combining the techniques through processes of: layering; speaking from the physical experience; and creative negotiations between actor training methods. This research works towards the development of our own teaching practice to enhance and enrich actor training processes. 

Dr Jo Loth is a movement, voice and acting teacher, and Lecturer in Theatre and Performance at The University of the Sunshine Coast.  She has trained in the Suzuki actor training method with The Suzuki Company of Toga (Japan), P3/East (Seattle) and Oz Frank (Brisbane). She has trained in Linklater voice with Kristin Linklater and Rob Pensalfini.  Jo has worked as an actor, cabaret performer, director and writer and was a recipient of Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Performing Arts Fellowship in 2004.  

Associate Professor Rob Pensalfini has published several books and numerous articles in both linguistics and drama, including ground-breaking work on the performance of Shakespeare in prisons. He leads Australia’s only ongoing Prison Shakespeare program and is the Artistic Director of the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble. Rob is a Designated Linklater Teacher.