Laban for Actors and in Acting

International Conference, Athens 8-10 January, 2021

Hosted by  Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation

The Laban for Actors and in Acting is an International Conference held under the auspices of The Makings of the Actor, the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, the Labanarium and Hellinoekdotiki, organized by Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London.  

The Makings of the Actor is organising a series of conferences based on books from international research practitioners discussing in theory and presenting in practice their works. Practitioner’s books are always a difficult task due to the struggle they have transferring practice into the written form of a book. Although there is always the possibility of recorded documentation with regards to practical work however this is unsatisfactory for practitioners to present their work in a complete way. Current practices like webinars offers a better understanding but still there is no immediate communication that can offer debates, questions and finally exchange of knowledge.

This Conference is part of a series of international events under the aegis of The Makings of the Actor. The mission of The Makings of the Actor project is to gather international practitioners and researchers, from diverse fields of performance practice and scholarship, to develop and disseminate (through conferences and workshops) an evolving performance pedagogy that addresses the needs of present and future actors.

Conference Venue: MCF

Laban for Actors and in Acting

The Conference is based on the themes of Dr. Kiki Selioni’s book,  Laban-Aristotle:Ζώον (Zoon) in Theatre Practice: Towards a methodology for movement training for Actor and in Acting (2014), Athens, Ellinoekdotiki. Dr. Selioni’s book is dealing with Laban’s work on actors and provides a new methodology regarding movement training for Actors and in Acting based on Aristotle principles as they are written in Poetics.

Dr. Selioni writes:
The application of Laban’s method in actor training has a long history that extends beyond his work in dance and it is in this area that the project focuses on. Although Laban himself applied his method to the training of actors, it was left mainly to his followers to develop, often erratically – or such is the proposal of this project – Laban’s insights. Practitioners such as Jean Newlove, Yat Malmgren, Geraldine Stephenson, Brigit Panet and so on have all continued developing his work by offering movement classes for actors based on Laban’s principles. Each of these individuals has developed a specific method for actors based upon Laban’s principles. It is worth noting that these methods do not differ from one another and all of them agree in principle that the philosophical foundation of Laban’s theory and practice is to be interpreted according to platonic precepts. In this work I will argue that it is this Platonic foundation that underscores each of the above practitioners’ own development and notwithstanding the differences between them, it is Platonism that unifies them all under a common philosophical approach.

This research proposes that Laban’s analysis of human movement is inextricably linked to Aristotle’s concept of mimesis conceived as a zώον (living organism as life force). The research, adopts an Aristotelian perspective and proposes that knowledge, which is the main issue in both episteme (science) and art, is gained through training, and that training requires a conscious and rational approach.

The research will discuss how, for both Laban and Aristotle, the process of art-making is one of intentionally creating a world per se, namely, a new poetic reality that does not exist in this world. This idea is the foundation for understanding mimesis based on a process of poetic science, the aim of which is for the performer to have a constant presence on the stage. In other words, the performer must constantly be attentive to his body’s ever-changing rhythms in present time and thus be able to continually experience what we might call, based on Aristotle, an aesthetic time and not merely a physical sense of time during the performance. This presupposes a well-trained body; the performer works under the condition that his training develops bodily awareness of both movement and voice and addresses the needs of dramatic art holistically. If the performer lacks that ability, his presentation stands as a schematic presence that reveals its inartistic character. Aristotle calls this constant presence on stage ζώον (living thing, or as the Greek philosopher Stelios Ramfos calls it, ‘life force’), whereas Laban defines it as kinaesthetic experience. This research can be seen as a practical explication of the manner in which the Aristotelian ζώον moves in mimesis, thereby contributing to Aristotle’s ontological and poetic theory by developing a practical training for the actor in the kinesthetic experience of ζώον.

The presentation of the book theoretically and practically will create the opportunity to actively involve practitioners and scholars who are dealing with the same themes raised from it.
We welcome submissions from acting/voice/movement/dance teachers, acting coaches, theatre practitioners, actors, directors, dancers, choreographers, film directors, dance-film directors, training practitioners, theatre and dance researchers and academic researchers within varying aspects of practice.