Arts and culture | Symposium
Actio! Actio! Actio! European Acting Techniques in Historical Perspective
- Monday 5 December 2022 - Wednesday 7 December 2022
- Telders Auditorium (Academy Building), livestream available on this page
Actio! Actio! Actio!
The story of Demosthenes’ transformation from a much-mocked to a much-admired orator is well-known: he emerged from his ‘subterranean study’—after dedicated and rigorous physical training—a master of delivery. His diligence was spurred by the realization that a performance that was not only powerful, but also graceful and dignified, ‘could carry all before it.’ The pre-20th-century actor’s moving, declaiming body, flashing eyes and graceful hands hearkened back to the ancient Greek’s good example, for as Gilbert Austin re-told the tale in his Chironomia (1806): ‘When Demosthenes was asked, what was the first requisite in speaking, he answered, that delivery was the first, that it was the second, and that it was the third.’ Actio! Actio! Actio!
This symposium reflects on issues of propriety, emotion and virtuosity on the European stage, both past and present. Through lectures and performance, we address historical texts as thespian provocations; we see words not as mere thoughts, but as catalysts to histrionic display. While proposing a return of art and artifice to the actor’s craft, we welcome debate: can we revive a démodé, brightly-feathered, sweet-song’d (and sometimes double-tongued) tradition—a tradition that stretches back to Demosthenes—whose wings have been clipped by the modernist shears of 20th-century naturalism?
And if we can…should we do so, just because we can?
Please find the complete schedule here.
December 5 Telders Auditorium, Academiegebouw
13:00-14:30 Session One: Tools and Craftsmanship
Chair: Terry F. Robinson
João Luís Paixão (University of Amsterdam): The Actor’s Passion as Instrument: Ideas Toward Artistic Research into 18th-Century Acting
James Harriman-Smith (Newcastle University): Cultivating Macklin’s Garden: An Acting Lesson from the Eighteenth Century
14:30-15:15 Tea and Coffee
15:15-16:45 Session Two: At the Edges of ‘Authenticity’
Chair: David Wiles
Wojciech Klimczyk (Uniwersytet Jagiellonski w Krakowie): Embodying Psychotic Modernism: Some Notes on a Reenactment of Nijinsky's Last Performance
Jed Wentz(Universiteit Leiden): On Not Performing David Bispham’s The Raven
17:00-18:30 Reception (by invitation only)
December 6 Academiegebouw, Telders Auditorium
10:00-11:30 Session Three: Bridging Media and Genres
Chair: Tiffany Stern
Amanda Eubanks Winkler (Syracuse University): Making the Case for Pysche
Hayley Bradley (The University of Manchester): Gesture and Movement Across Mediums: Victorian Technique from Stage to Early Silent Film
11:45-12:45 Keynote: On Decolonizing Acting
Tracy C. Davis (Northwestern University)
13:30-15:00 Session Four: Performance Issues
Chair: Wojciech Klimczyk
Magnus Tessing Schneider (Syddansk Universitet): The Operatic Scream: Traetta, Gluck, Mozart
Tiffany Stern (University of Birmingham): Walking, Seeing and Hearing Genre on the Early Modern Stage
15:00-15:30 Tea and Coffee
15:30-17:00 Session Five: Feeling and Being
Chair: João Luís Paixão
David Wiles (University of Exeter, Emeritus): Acting, Self and Identity: A Historical Perspective on the Problem
Terry F. Robinson (University of Toronto): Focalizing the Passions: Garrickian Acting and Its Truth Effects
19:30 Conference dinner
December 7 Telders Auditorium, Academiegebouw
10:00-11:30 Session Six: Imagery
Chair: Anne Smith
Laila Cathleen Neuman (Universiteit Leiden): Staging Proserpina: Attitudes, Movement and Costume in Goethe/Eberwein's Melodrama of 1815
Martina Papiro (Schola Cantorum Basiliensis): The Dramaturgic Role of Scenery in Metastasio’s Didone abbandonata
11:45-12:30 Wrap-up and discussion: João Luís Paixão
The symposium is free but we do kindly ask you to register:
Unable to attend in person? The three-day symposium Actio! Actio! Actio! European Acting Techniques in Historical Perspective will also be livestreamed on this page. The dates and times of the livestream are listed below.
- 5 December: 13.00h - 16.45h
- 6 December: 10.00h - 12.45h and 13.30h - 17.00h
- 7 December: 10.00h - 12.30h
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