John Freeman, U.K. 2017
John Freeman is Professor of Theatre and has occupied senior roles at major universities. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, his books on practice-as-research, new theatre writing, autoethnography, memory and postdramatic theatre are on university reading lists worldwide. His latest book investigates authentic actor training at leading schools around the world. His recent texts of poetry/performance, Cabin Fever, Handsome Dogs, forever/elsewhere and Salt Water have been presented in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Freeman’s career began as an actor in the world premiere of Edward Bond's Jackets, the award-winning Clare de Luz and on various television programmes. Subsequent work focused on performances with community arts and social justice organisations, collaborating with prison inmates, ex-offenders, the National Probation Service and the National Offender Management System. Freeman has supervised and examined PhD students in the US, Australia and Europe, is a member of the Dance Doctorates in Europe Working Party and co-lead on an international exploration of immersive and intimate performance.
Immersive theatre forces spectators to abandon their role as observers, becoming co-creators of the narrative as it unfolds, directing events by taking decisions. Stand still and a woman might weep, move there and a man might respond with sudden rage, meet an actor's eye and set in motion a moment of unexpected intimacy: a kiss, a caress, a whispered secret, a confession, a prayer, a promise. There are no rules here, just ideas that can only be guessed at in the doing.
This workshop's concern is with spectators and performers navigating the architecture of participation where authenticity and artifice, acting and being, watching and creating are collapsed in on each other. Immersive theatre is not for the faint-hearted and participants need to be open to performance that is about revelation rather than concealment and to be prepared to mine their own lives for material. The approaches to immersive performance (iperformance) explored here will develop strategies for shows for one spectator at a time. Sessions will utilise space and participants' own concerns as a stimulus to generate performance ideas and content, exploring how working this way can create inspiring and intimate experiences for both performer and spectator.