The Inner Space

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A practical laboratory and seminar

7 days

Directors: Jonathan Chadwick, Robert Macdonald

This is a practical laboratory for 7 professional actors that culminates in a seminar for 35 people with leading contributions from 4 specialists.

The work focuses on the creative connection between the Alexander Technique, Yoga pranayama, meditation and the precepts on acting given in Motokiyo Zeami's nine treatises. The actors participating in the laboratory will work on methods of preparation and approach and also on selected play texts by Zeami. There will be two days of preparatory work over the weekend preceding the week before the laboratory. During these days the basic precepts and methods will be introduced and initial work on the texts will be carried out. There will then be a break of 8 days during which the actors will prepare and learn the given texts. This will mean that when the laboratory begins they will be free to implement the work.

The laboratory will be directed by Jonathan Chadwick and Robert Macdonald. A key contributor to the seminar will be Dr. Poh Sim Plowright.

The first part of the laboratory will be for two days. There will then be 8 days' preparation before the work resumes for 5 days, the last of which will be the seminar day.

Day 1 - laboratory introductory (Saturday)
Day 2 - laboratory introductory (Sunday)

8 day's preparation

Day 3 - laboratory (Tuesday)
Day 4 - laboratory (Wednesday)
Day 5 - laboratory (Thursday)
Day 6 - laboratory (Friday)
Day 7 - Seminar (Saturday)

Keynotes of the work:

The deep riches to be derived from a familiarity with Zeami's work, both his treatises and his plays, can and should be made available to more theatre practitioners and other interested parties. This would enable access in the UK to a wider appreciation of key aspects of Japanese culture.

By exploring other practices, Alexander Technique and Yoga (breathing and meditation), and by applying Zeami' precepts to the interpretation of his own plays we can bring modern acting sensibilities and techniques into a fruitful relationship with his work.

By focusing on the precedence of the inner work of acting, in accordance with Zeami's own advice, we can see past the formalised styles of the Noh into its beautiful heart.

Our work will concentrated first on the development of the presence of the actor, what Zeami calls the 'flower', secondly on the integrated image of the human being, discerned in his morphology of roles, and thirdly on the release of the creative imagination which lies at the heart of Zeami's aesthetic.

We will use the poetic and dramatic world of selected plays to explore character and root the laboratory's participants in the dynamic of Zeami’s narrative structures.

We will explore the spatial dynamics of Noh stage, especially focusing on the 'witness' position, looking at how this disposition allows deep practical and creative insights into the drama.

Preliminary work on the exciting formula that lies at the basis of this work has been accomplished by Chadwick and Macdonald in their delivery of four courses at The Actors Centre, London. This work and the tremendously appreciative response of participants to it are documented in our project website,

The aim of this laboratory and seminar is to engage with professional actors working at the top of their profession in a deep practical dialogue followed through in an exploratory seminar which will open up the work to a wider circle of interest.

The laboratory participants will be given adequate remuneration, similarly for the key contributors to the seminar.

We envisage the participation of two trainees who will be young actors who will be asked to collaborate to stage management and practical organisational tasks.

We are envisaging an interest from students and professionals but places at the seminar will be limited and the participation fee left at a sufficiently low level to ensure equal opportunity of access.

Az Theatre will be the administrative and producing centre for the work and will use its access to other theatre practitioners in gaining the quality of participants necessary for the work.

Biographical notes:

Jonathan Chadwick is currently Artistic Director of Az Theatre ( formerly Co-Artistic Director of Meeting Ground Theatre Company. He is a founder member of Paddington Arts, a former Artistic Director of the Vanguard Company at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield and Theatre Foundry. He was Associate Director of the Theatre Royal Stratford East London. He wrote and directed plays for Foco Novo and directed for 7.84, the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre and the Half Moon Theatre in London. He has directed plays in Australia, Canada, USA and Romania. He started out as an Assistant Director of the Royal Court London. He has directed courses at the London Film School, and the Actors Centre and has been a guest director a major UK drama academies including LAMDA and RADA. He has a BA (hons.) in English from Cambridge University and has studied Yoga for over 20 years with Christine Levy.

Robert Macdonald has given workshops in the Alexander Technique and Voice in theatres world wide. He is formerly Senior Voice Tutor at The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where he taught the Alexander Technique, Voice Projection and Classical Text Speaking for 17 years. His first book The Use of the Voice was published in 1997. Secrets of the Alexander Technique was published by Dorling Kindersley in January 2001. The Voice Handbook: A Practical Guide using the Alexander Technique is currently in preparation. He has an MA in Voice Studies from The Central School of Speech and Drama.