Dr Rebecca Loukes
Research through practice
- RedCape Theatre
- The Gindler Project
- Theatre Exchange
1 Beach Road by RedCape Theatre
A tale of defiance, a shrinking island, synchronised swimming and trying to turn back the tide...
- ACE funded research and development period July 2009.
- Scratch presentation in July 2009 - the culmination of ACE funded research on the North Norfolk coast developed at South Street Arts Centre, Reading.
- In early June 2009 RedCape went to Happisburgh where Beach Road is falling into the sea. We met an impassioned, battle weary campaign leader, a lighthouse trustee with a vertiginous overview, had a lesson in coastal erosion drawn in the sand, visited the hanging gardens of Clifftops B&B (closed for business) and, as the tide lashed in, walked amongst the disintegrating sea defences.
"I always wanted a sea view - you have to be careful what you wish for round here"
- During our three-week work period at South Street Arts Centre, Reading, RedCape are delighted to collaborate again with Andrew Dawson and Sabina Netherclift (The Idiot Colony), and are thrilled to be joined by New York playwright Solveig Holum and designer Tina Bicat (Critics Circle Drama Award for Design). Combining their successful mix of beautiful visual theatre, physical storytelling, new writing and a sense of humour 1 Beach Road will uncover people's stories hidden beneath the statistics and the rubble. What does it mean to lose your home from under your feet?
- Like The Idiot Colony our starting point is true stories; stories from the communities that are beginning to disappear from the east coast of England - Britain’s first climate change refugees.
The Idiot Colony
- More than 100 public professional performances in 2008 and 2009 including London premiere at ICA, London International Mime Festival 2009
- Scotsman Fringe First for Innovation and New Writing 2008
- Total Theatre Award for Best Visual Theatre 2008
- Finalist Carole Tambor, New York Award (last 4) 2008
- Finalist Holden Street Theatres, Adelaide Award (last 2) 2008
- Finalist Amnesty International Freedom of Speech Award (last 5) 2008
- 'Luminous... ravishing... one to catch before it slips away' The Guardian
- 'An affecting, humorous piece of physical theatre... an excellent vehicle for the company's founding members.' The Times
- 'Endlessly inventive... thoroughly disquieting. It's stunning; you can't help but catch your breath' Metro
- 'Proving the power of physical theatre' The List
- 'A delicate work of damaged poetry and slow-moving grace...a remarkable debut' The Herald
For full list of press and reviews see http://www.redcapetheatre.co.uk/reviews.html
During the making and performing of the piece Loukes has been asking the following research questions:
- How can specific performer training disciplines both inform and problematize each other?
- What existing theoretical models might be useful in furthering our understanding of the relationship between training(s) and performance?
- How is performer training made manifest on the level of the individual within a particular devising and performance process? How is it experienced? How can it be ‘seen’, described and disseminated? And how might these observations contribute to the development of our further understanding of performer training(s)?
Three women have spent decades wandering the wards and corridors of The Idiot Colony.
Locked away for their illicit loves, they relive their faltering memories amidst the drugs, brutality and restraints of the asylum.
The only respite is the hospital’s hairdressing salon. In this haven of intimacy, laughter and eighties pop songs, they find endings to the stories they have waited so long to tell.
Based on first person accounts.
From Newbury With Love by RedCape Theatre
A collaboration between RedCape Theatre, Amnesty International and Corn Exchange Newbury in 2010/11.
1971. In the depths of the Cold War, the daughter of an imprisoned Soviet dissident received a postcard from across the Iron Curtain that changed her family's life.
Harold & Olive Edwards, antiquarian booksellers in Newbury, wrote to the family of Marina Aidova, aged 8, because her birthday was one day before Harold's. They signed the postcard ‘From Newbury With Love’. The families wrote to each other for the next 16 years. The letters were inspired by an Amnesty letter-writing campaign asking people to support the families of Soviet prisoners of conscience. Marina's father had been sent to the gulag for running an illegal printing press. This remarkable correspondence chronicles a fascinating period of social, political history and the intimate, seldom heard details of daily life in two very different worlds. The letters finish when Harold passes away, aged 90. Marina was 24.
In an age of emails, texts and SMS, From Newbury With Love reminds us of the simple power of putting pen to paper.
The Gindler Project
The Gindler Project brings together a number of enquiries that have focused Loukes’ research since 2003.
All the elements of The Gindler Project are driven by one main research question: How can understanding of the practice of German body awareness pioneer Elsa Gindler (1885-1961) and her influence on contemporary training, performance and theories of performance be developed?
This question is addressed, by Loukes, from three perspectives; performer, researcher/historiographer and long-term participant in training influenced by Gindler’s work.
Underneath Thought Performance Project, September 2005
A new piece of physical theatre directed by German choreographer Eva Schmale, performed in Exeter in September 2005. Loukes planned, facilitated, produced and performed in the four-week project, funded by Arts Council England.
Eva Schmale’s work draws on the body awareness practice of Elsa Gindler (1885-1961). Schmale spent two weeks leading six performers in an intensive period of training in Gindler work before devising material for the final performance.
The project investigates, from the perspective of the performer, how Gindler’s approach to the body can be applied to training, devising, rehearsing and performing.
The piece is currently in the planning stages of being re-worked for further performances internationally.
> View two minute promo of Underneath Thought (Quicktime movie 4Mb)
Underneath Thought Solo Performance Score
The Changing Body International Symposium, University of Exeter, January 6th 2006A solo performance score, performed by Loukes, was commissioned for The Changing Body International Symposium in January 2006. The piece was re-rehearsed with Schmale and material developed from the original performance.
View extract solo performance score, Exeter Digital Archives (Quicktime Movie, 5Mb)
Citation and reflection on performance in Drew Leder, ‘The Actor’s Body’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 2007, 17:1, pp. 107-109.
The Changing Body archive website
Contemporary Theatre Review Journal Article
‘How to be “Deadly”: The ‘Natural’ Body in Contemporary Training and Performance?’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 17:1, February 2007, pp. 50-58.
This article reflects on Loukes’ experience of performing the score from Underneath Thought and relates it to her research on Gindler’s legacy in performance.
Abstract: Joseph Roach notes in The Player’s Passion that our bodies are ‘damaged by the kinds of lives we have lived’ and that the contemporary actor’s spontaneity must be ‘extracted with difficulty from beneath the layers of inhibition that time and habit have deposited over our natural selves’ (Roach 1993: 218). This corresponds with a recent paradigm shift in performer training that could be identified as an attempt to ‘recover’ or ‘uncover’ the ‘natural’ body, and is illustrated by the current popularity of psychophysical awareness practices for actors and dancers. What assumptions, then, underpin concepts of the ‘natural’ body in training and performance that need to be acknowledged or challenged?
The article addresses this question with particular reference to the work of German performer and choreographer Eva Schmale. Schmale’s internationally known performance work and pedagogy is underpinned by the development of ‘sensory and sensual awareness and Leiblichkeit (the integration of body and mind)’ (Schmale 1996: 66). She has been inspired by the pioneering work of Elsa Gindler (1885-1961), who developed a radically simple approach to developing awareness through movement that has been utilized by therapists, doctors and athletes as well as performers.
Loukes contextualizes Schmale’s practice before examining in depth her work in training and performance with specific reference to the ACE funded project Underneath Thought. She explores how ‘natural’ psychophysical processes are uniquely configured within this practice, and discusses the implications of the work for our broader understanding of contemporary theories and practices of performance.
Access article online at Contemporary Theatre Review http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a770174244~db=all~order=page
Hidden Forest, Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, New York City, August 2007
Loukes was invited to assist choreographer, Elaine Summers in a new piece commissioned by the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts, New York City, called ‘Hidden Forest.’ It was performed on 23rd August 2007 as part of the Lincoln Center Out-Of-Doors Festival (2nd-27th August).
Elaine Summers (MA, Fulbright Scholar, MIT Fellow, CAVS) was an original member of the Judson Dance Theatre and founder of the Xperimental Intermedia Foundation in New York City. She is recognized as a multimedia artist combining dance with all art forms, including film and video. Her works have been favorably reviewed in Dance, Harpers Bazaar, MS Magazine, The Village Voice, The New York Times, Medion (The Museum of the Media), and in numerous other journals and news papers.
Twenty-one years ago Elaine Summers directed and choreographed Flowing Rock/ Still Waters for the Lincoln Center. In 2007, Elaine was invited to choreograph a new Intermedia work where the dancers are interacting with video projections of the dancers filmed during the performance of Flowing Rock/Still Waters.
Invitation to Secret Dancers, directed by Elaine Summers, Stuyvesant Cove, New York City, June 2005.
An experiential exploration of the application American choreographer Elaine Summers’ (founder of Judson Church Dance Theatre) training in Kinetic Awareness to a public performance project. The project was inspired by the work of Elsa Gindler and interrogated the process of training, devising and performance from the perspective of performer.
Traces, Fine Prints
A short piece of physical theatre, directed by Loukes and inspired by work derived from Elsa Gindler, performed at FNB Dance Umbrella, Johannesburg in March 2000.
Loukes reworked the piece with University of Exeter Performer Training DRA2049 students and performed in Exeter, January 2007. She discussed this devising process at How to Act International Conference, Central School of Speech and Drama, London, February 2007
The following conference presentations have been based on research from The Gindler Project.
‘Bodies of Knowledge’ How to Act International Conference, Central School of Speech and Drama, London, (February 2007).
‘How to Be “Deadly”: The “Natural” Body in Contemporary Training and Performance?’, The Changing Body International Symposium, University of Exeter (January 2006).
‘Sensation and Relaxation for the Theatre of the Future? The Work of Gertrud-Falke Heller’ Dartington College of Arts, (November 2005).
For more information on Elsa Gindler’s life, work and legacy:
Heinrich Jacoby/Elsa Gindler Stiftung http://www.jgstiftung.de/
The Stiftung is based in Berlin and holds a large collection of Gindler’s letters, photographs and class notes, as well as documentation of her students and material on the work of her colleague Heinrich Jacoby.
Sensory Awareness Foundation http://www.sensoryawareness.org/
The US Sensory Awareness Foundation has produced a range of publications about Gindler and her legacy, with particular focus on the work of Charlotte Selver.
Clay, Jack (1972) ‘Self-Use in Actor Training’, The Drama Review, 16:3, pp. 16-22.
Gindler, Elsa,  (1995) ‘Gymnastik For People Whose Lives are Full of Activity’, in Bone, Breath and Gesture: Practices of Embodiment, Don Hanlon Johnson (ed.), Berkeley: North Atlantic Press, pp. 5-14.
Loukes, Rebecca (2003) ‘Tracing Bodies: Researching Psychophysical Training for Performance through Practice’, Performance Research: Moving Bodies,8:4, pp. 54-60.
Loukes, Rebecca (2006) ‘”Concentration” and Awareness in Psychophysical Training: The Practice of Elsa Gindler’, New Theatre Quarterly, 22:4, pp. 387-400.
Loukes, Rebecca (2007) ‘How to Be “Deadly”: The “Natural” Body in Contemporary Training and Performance?’, Contemporary Theatre Review, 17:1, pp. 50-58.
Loukes, Rebecca (2007) ‘Body Awareness in Performer Training: The Hidden Legacy of Gertrud Falke-Heller (1891-1984)’, Dance Research Journal, 39:1 (in press).
Ludwig, Sophie (2002) Elsa Gindler: von ihrem Leben und Werken, Marianne Haag (ed.), Hamburg: Christians Verlag.
Roche, Mary Alice, (ed.) (1978) Elsa Gindler: Volume One, Caldwell: Charlotte Selver Foundation.
Roche, Mary Alice, (ed.) (1981) Elsa Gindler: Volume Two, Caldwell: Charlotte Selver Foundation.
Schmale, Eva (1996) ‘Sensual Unrest’, in Ric Allsopp and Scott deLahunta (eds.) The Connected Body? An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Body and Performance, Amsterdam: Amsterdam School of the Arts, pp. 66-69.
Theatre Exchange was an Arts Council England funded project co-founded in 2004 by Anna Helena-McLean (formerly of Gardzienice Theatre Association) Cassie Friend and Rebecca Loukes. Based at South Street Arts Centre, Reading, it brought together international artists specializing in different forms of physical theatre and intercultural psychophysical training in an attempt to find a common language from which to create performance.
Theatre Exchange Projects
March 2007 McLean and Loukes I/Thou Project
Presence is not what passes, but what confronts us, waiting and enduring. (Martin Buber, I and Thou, 1958)
This small-scale Practice as Research project (funded by University of Exeter) used concepts articulated by German philosopher Martin Buber in his 1958 text I and Thou as starting points for the exploration of performance presence, relation and dialogue.
Showing of work in process: 7pm Wednesday 21st March 2007, Department of Drama, University of Exeter.
Arts Council England funded Research and Development period based at South Street Arts Centre Reading. Outcomes included:
Workshops for professional performers (Friend, Loukes and McLean)
Work in progress showing at South Street
The Lear directed by McLean and performed in March and September 2006. Loukes was involved in the initial Research and Development phase of the project, funded by Arts Council England.