Christopher has taught many emerging actors, directors and playwrights
Acting and Playwriting Tutor - Australian Theatre For Young People
Acting Tutor - Shopfront Contemporary Arts Centre
Acting Tutor and Teaching Director - La Salle International College of the Arts - Singapore
Acting Tutor - The Actors Centre Australia
Teaching Director - James Cook University
Teaching Director - National Insitute of Dramatic Arts
Teaching Director - Ashfield Youth Theatre
Playwriting Tutor - St Aloysius College
The development of my creative practice has been marked by the belief that an actors’ director must aspire to be able to be as many different kinds of director as there are actors in the room: that each actor needs something different from a director in order to reach their full potential. This is nowhere more true than in my student productions, where I believe the teaching director must achieve a balance between drawing on a student’s natural strengths, and pushing them to explore new challenges, and work outside their comfort-zone. Accordingly, my productions for student actors might be characterized as meetings between two social and cultural worlds, that of the text, and that of the students working on that text. I developed this approach to encompass the entirety of the production process, from directorial concept up to create a learning experience that places the innate performance-background and strengths of the participant performers at the centre of the work, while also deploying a rigorous application of classical acting technique and actor development exercises to develop both skill level and imaginative capacity over the course of the rehearsal process. I’ve applied this process to productions with graduating acting students in Australia at NIDA, James Cook University and in Singapore at LaSalle, as well as with emerging actors and writers at several major Australian youth theatres. This approach also impacts my work with young playwrights. At Griffin I devised broad programmes of skills development, training and professional engagement for emerging playwrights, then took on often fragmentary first drafts of plays in which I perceived potential. I developed these works as resident dramaturg, and often brought them to the stage as director to national and international success.
Parallel to my freelance directing career I have maintained a regular teaching and coaching practice in the areas of essential acting skills, acting for comedy and through song, Shakespeare, play-writing, and directing, through sessional teaching at major institutions, as well as classes and masterclasses and through Assistant Director traineeships on my productions. Those traineeships are of particular importance to me. As mentioned in my covering letter, I undertook extensive formal training (which also included training in stage design) and industry apprenticeship in directing for the stage. I'm a passionate believer in directing as a distinct craft, which can, down to its very essential elements, be passed on through teaching. Over the years of my professional career I have adopted and developed precepts of the training in directing I received in order to provide a learning experience for my assistant directors, who work with me both in the rehearsal room and out. I have also coached young designers, lighting designers, stage managers and musicians through my productions. Throughout my time at Rose Bruford College, I was associated with the performance programmes as an individual tutor and group workshop leader, especially in the Voice, Text and Artistic Development area, in which I taught text and speech skills, and developed the performance skills of acting students in areas related to my own research into the speaking and performance of Shakespeare, as well as rhetoric, poetry and vocal production and remediation. In this capacity I was also centrally involved in the inauguration of an externally judged and moderated verse-speaking competition in memorial of one of the college’s illustrious graduates – Betty Mulcahy, who died in 2012.
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CASE STUDY – The Good Person of Sichuan – LaSalle, Singapore 2007.
Working with a student cohort from a diverse array of Eastern and Western cultural backgrounds, I contextualized the production as an exercise in political theatre-making, adopting the premise that the focus of the political theatre-maker is dual – on the text itself, and on the social and political context in which the production is presented. Accordingly I devised a series of exercises in which the students were asked to research both the play, and the relevant cultural phenomena and social conditions of their own environment, and to bring their discoveries on both subjects into the rehearsal process. These experiments generated images, music, texts, news articles and other artefacts of contemporary Singapore culture as well as a physical language for character and production style derived from extensive mask-work to expand the students’ physical exploration of character and style, and unlock their creative potential. From there we together devised a production that integrated these two strands of research, in such a way as to let cultural context shed light on the play, and the play shed light on the contemporary cultural context.
CASE STUDY – Rose Bruford College Symposium 2012-14
During my time at Rose Bruford College, I was instrumental in the organisation and programming of the college’s Annual International Symposium. This unique week-long event is a platform for practice-research, and a meeting place for academe and industry. It fosters the centrality of research to the practice of undergraduate conservatoire students by drawing them into the work of industry-leading research-oriented practitioners and simultaneously providing them with a context in which to undertake their own practice-based research. The symposium is run in the format of a performance research festival in which the entire student body participates, with performances, workshops, lectures and exhibitions. In 2014 the programme included over one hundred events with artists from arts organizations including Ashtar Theatre of Palestine, The Royal Shakespeare Company, Pan Intercultural Arts, Complicite, Punchdrunk, Teatr Piesn Kozla (Song of the Goat), Howard Barker’s The Wrestling School, and Border Crossings as well as academics from a range of UK, European and US tertiary institutions. In addition to the leadership work on this project, I personally conducted a variety of seminars and workshops relating to my research interests, and returning as a visiting artist in 2015, on my recent enquiry into the ground-breaking work of London’s Gay Sweatshop theatre company, as part of commemorations to mark the 40th anniversary of its foundation in 1975.
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