VASTA conference july
I have been invited to present a small section of a new performance I am working on with a core team of international collaborators using the current working title, THE VOICE LESSON. It is based on a piece of practice that I am developing in association with my doctoral research. In this project I am working to imbricate new materialist, post-human and feminist conceptual frameworks into the fabric of my voice and performance methodology otherwise known as 'ACT INTERNATIONAL' or Actor - Chorus - Text Ensemble Practice and Workshops. For the conference we will present 3 extracts of our work in progress as follows 1) A Feminist Anthem 2) A Feminized Alphabet of Gestures 3) Gardzienice's 'Mutuality' from a female/other lived perspective. After framing the practice I will slice open the practice for witnesses to engage with both experientially and critically before opening it out into a discussion. This may lead into a participatory workshop. The work aims to reveal the way women and other marginalised experiences have been overlooked within male dominated systems of pedagogy and bringing my particular experience of the Polish Laboratory to light. THE VOICE LESSON frames valuable training principles more inclusively than they might have been previously, and I am working to propose a more sustainable approach to developing best practice for a posthuman era.
A coach is conducting a voice lesson via a projected video call when a song dating 1450 BC instigates a breakthrough in her student and subsequent realisation about their identity. THE VOICE LESSON is a poetic exploration of agency and the female voice drawing on multimedia, physicality and original music to slip between the inner and outer worlds of the artist. Vocal acrobat and electronic cellist, Anna-Helena, leads ensemble acting training and draws on this background to deconstruct the liveness of her creative process with an interactive audience. Staging writings by women spanning 4000 years (Inanna, Woolf, Braidotti), the lesson positions audiences as one of many listening parts in a chorus of continuous becoming, sensitizing mind toward body and voice in an urgent reframing of the important work of women today.
The pandemic has forced the world and our performing arts industries to wake up to climate change, our dependence on one another and the fact that technology is fundamental to human survival. As an artist working in a profoundly body-centred field of practice (namely the Polish Laboratory Practice after Gardzienice) and an independent artist navigating a pathway for my own female voice to resonate in the world I - like many marginalised identities today - have almost given in to what seems like a futile mismatch of ancient knowledge in a concrete jungle. With New Materialism, Post-Humanism and Feminisms at large providing new conceptual frameworks and with them critical tools for bridging undervalued differences for the first time, suddenly the invisible work of women and the performative power of the voice too converge with the urgency of our current day reality like never before. This workshop and demonstration hopes test an alternative way of sharing a body of practice-knowledge in a way that will significantly advance and inform the research itself but also attuned with the pulse of performance making today. The participating audiences and witnesses will help to shape what might be better understood through practice. The platform also aims to stir up a way of being together as a network that can empower us as pedagogues converging with the urgency of lived experiences. This contribution works to frame questions about identity and the creative process, facilitating a way of sourcing a response practically and inclusively, a response that may not be immediately knowable but one that will feed an organic ecosystem of mutual development. One that listens-in to differences and opens worlds of new becoming in a practice that is not only 'best' practice but more sustainable for humans and non humans alike.
This demonstration is being developed in the lead up to July and it will be based on a presentation I made at Barbican Theatre in March 2021 which can be seen here as an example of the style. https://youtu.be/iDxWJupYFBk Between now and July it is not clear yet the extent to which the actors will be able to rehearse but Zoom rehearsals have already commenced at the time of submission and Snape Maltings are producing an early stage draft of the work as can be traced here: https://brittenpearsarts.org/profile/anna-helena-mclean I am only able to attend on the basis of a student loan and travel bursary as well as in-kind stay and with confirmation of support to my 6 year year old daughter. On the basis of these things I would be prepared to bring my electronic cello and loop station equipment to the conference with me.
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Anna-Helena is currently a Doctoral Candidate in Performance Practice at Guildhall School of Music & Drama while engaged as a Voice & Performance Tutor on the Acting Studies BA Hons course also at the Guildhall School. She is a supervisor for MA students in Classical Acting at Central School of Speech and Drama and guest lectures at Rose Bruford College since 2020.