International Conference: Amateur (?)Theatre Practices and Culture Heritages


17/06/2019 - 18/06/2019    
All Day


Theatre Berthelot
6 Rue Marcelin Berthelot, 93100 Montreuil, France, Paris, Montreil
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International Conference: Amateur (?)Theatre Practices and Culture Heritages  17-18 June 2019 – Berthelot Thêatre Municipality of Montreil Paris

Organized by Dr Kiki Selioni Post-doc Researcher Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Labanarium, MCF (Michael Cacoyannis Foundation) and hosted by Berthelot Thêatre Municipality of Montreil in Paris

Conference Venue: Thêatre Berthelot, 6 Rue Marcelin Berthelot, 93100 Montreuil, Paris, France

Following the successful conferences; Laban’s Philosophy and Theatre Practice’, held July 2018 in Athens and Rhythm and Resonance in Acting, held March 2019 in Copenhagen, Post-doctoral Researcher Dr Kiki Selioni, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Labanarium and MCF have taken the initiative to organize a third event in Berthelot Thêatre in Paris. The aim is to create a series of international events to meet colleagues, practitioners and researchers, to share experiences, knowledge and current research practices in the field of actor-training and performance practices. This event precedes a large-scale pilot event in Athens July 2019, towards the establishment of the International Centre for Actor’s training that will officially open the next year 2020 supported by several established institutions for actor training and performance practice.  Its mission is to gather international practitioners and researchers to discuss the needs of contemporary performance practice through Conferences, performances and workshops taking place internationally.

Keynote Speakers :

Olu Taiwo, Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts, Department of Performing Arts, University of Winchester, UK.

Apostolis Loufopoulos Assistant Professor at the Ionian University, Department Of Audio/Visual Arts, Corfu, Greece

Call for contributions:

The dinstinction between the professional and the amateur actor has been debated and there are many different approaches to where the boundaries and disticntions between them might be revealed. Instead of continuing the debate this Conference turns to what they share in common. Both the professional and the amateur need training in acting to improve their skills and creativity, usually either in a drama school, a theatre or in another community setting under the direction of a teacher. Nicoloson, Holdsworth, Milling (2018) in their book The Ecologies of Amateur Theatre, Palgrave Macmillan, write:

Contrary to the stereotype of shoddy practice, amateur theatre is often characterised by skilled labour and a desire to improve despite underlying material  constraints (p:14).

Acting as a practice requires  the training of body and voice, for the skillful embodiment of life in performance and, not least for ensuring the health of the performer. This conference is concerned with both the necessary training in skills for the actor, but also recognises theatre practice and pedagogy (professional and amateur) as a social, cultural and political force. Amatuer Theatre has played a role in the health of communities and individuals since ancient Greek theatre practice, indeed the ancient Greeks made no distinction whatsoever between the amatuer and the professional actor. It was no coincidence too, that Greek theatres were often situated next to hospitals – health in the body, the mind and the individual as part of a conscious and responsible society, theatre created the kalos kai agathos – kagathos – ”the beautiful and good man” in his/her community. Amatuer theatre as a part of a healthy society creates and leaves the trace-forms of our cultural heritages and tells the stories of our ever shifting identities. Although it can be argued that genetically and culturally, we are all from mixed heritages, there are some heritage discourses whose stories are still largely untold.

[Α] characterisation of the amateur in cultural practice sees amateurs as expert guardians of traditional forms, legitimated not by their high aesthetic value, but as important markers of national or community identity. This conception of being an amateur is already nostalgic, and produces the amateur as responsible to cultural heritage, particularly vernacular performance forms, examples of which from the UK might include folk dance, Morris sides, or mummings. There are parallel examples internationally that draw attention to the political and cultural stakes for amateurs in sustaining traditional performance forms (Nicholson, Holdsworth, and Milling (2017), in their article Theatre, Performance, and the Amateur Turn in Contemporary Theatre Review Volume. 27, issue 1).

This can be an issue with regards to performed identities for people who have been severed from their cultural roots, who have been subjugated by another culture or those whose heritage has been rewritten in the image of another; therefore, eradicating specific and distinct ‘effort forms’ from our collective and performed identities.

Anthropologist Erving Goffman in the 1950s, states that amateur theatre can provide a safe space for people to explore and perform different dimensions of their identities that may be a world away from their performance of self in school, work, or the home environment. (ibid).

How can we use collective and individual performances to reclaim, reconnect and re-invent ourselves, and as performers by rescuing these untold stories, to release these native instincts through a critique of different paradigms of thought and action both in theatre and life?

Questions this conference asks include:

  • What distinguishes professional and amateur theatre (and dance) practice?
  • Are there distinct training/creative approaches for amateur theatre practice?
  • Is a ”student production” of theatre considered amateur or pre-professional? What is the difference?
  • What is the role of community/amateur theatre in retaining identities and heritages?

For further reading on the subject and existing literature and research on amateur theatre, see and the project

Call for Demonstrations, Papers and Performances.

 We welcome submissions from  theatre practitioners, actors, directors, training practitioners, theatre  researchers, practice researchers within varying aspects of practice across disciplines  including movement, voice, acting, music and dance.

The Demonstration allows practitioners/researchers to demonstrate their works in teaching in a dedicated session of 60-70 minutes, followed by a 20-minute discussion with the audience/participants. The paper presentations will be 20 minutes. Performances will be 20-90 minutes.

For papers please send your abstract of 200 words for your oral presentation (20 min) in a Word document form, including title, institutional affiliation, your brief CV and email address. The paper presentations will be 20-minute they are followed by a 10-minute discussion with the audience/participants.

Submissions of teaching demonstration must be in English and can be up to 4 pages (including references and figures) in a Word doc form, including title, institutional affiliation, your brief CV and email address. The first 2 pages are expected to describe your system. The third and fourth pages are expected to be used for images, references, and technical requirements. You should expect wireless network access. A number of  6-10 students will be provided for all accepted demonstrations. The Demonstration allows practitioners/researchers to demonstrate their works in teaching in a dedicated session of 60-70 minutes, followed by a 20-minute discussion with the audience/participants.

Performances will take place in Berthelot theatre. Proposals must outline the planned work accurately in two pages in a Word document form and must include title, brief CV, technical requirements, images and video. Performances running must be 20-90 min. and they are followed by a 20-minute discussion with the audience/participants.

Please send your submission by 15th May 2019 to:

If an official invitation is required earlier for research funding purposes, please contact  and ensure that you submit your abstract as early as possible.

The themes are, but not limited to:

Methods for amateur theatre practice

The (un) trained body of amateurs

Directing Amateurs

Amateurs and Professionals on the stage

Amateur /amateurism

Teaching Amateurs

Amateurs on screen

Amateurs and authenticity on stage/screen.

Identity and performance practices

Identity and the performer

Embodiment as mixed identity

Performance practices in Communities

Sexuality, Gender, Ethnicity in Performances

Actor’s Identity and Presence on Stage

Character’s Identity

Workshop facilitated by Dr. Olu Taiwo

Theatrical expressions in the Return Beat


This workshop will serve as a practical demonstration of the performative presentations that I gave at the hugely successful conferences in Athens and Copenhagen, where I revealed key concepts surrounding the ‘Return Beat’ and ‘Simple rhythmic acts from the edge of danger’, respectively. The practical aim will be to introduce professional and non-professional performers to a new language of performance based on the ‘Return Beat’, underpinned by some choreological concepts from an Afro-centric perspective. Performatively, we will explore aspects of:

  • The kinesphere as a perceptual membrane
  • The dimensional cross and postural situated-ness
  • Interactional proxemics, the space between performers
  • The Return Beat as a simple act of presence in temporal space


All this will be underpinned by our ability to analyse our gestures; our non-verbal-communications as a potent tool for theatrical storytelling.

Dr Olu Taiwo teaches in Drama, Visual Development and Performing Arts at the University of Winchester. He has a background in Fine Art, Street Dance, African percussion, physical theatre, martial arts, T’ai Chi Ch’uan and Animal spirit movement. He’s performed in national and international contexts pioneering concepts surrounding practice as research. This includes how PAR can explore the relationships between ‘effort’, ‘performance’ and ‘performative actions’. Consequently, his aim is to propagate issues concerning the interaction between the body, identity, audience, street and technology in the digital age. His interests include: PAR, Visual design, Movement, Theatre, Street Arts, New technology, Trans-cultural studies, Geometry, and Philosophy. He is currently finishing a Spoken word tour with double Grammy award winning percussionist Lekan Babalola and his Jazz ensemble. His publications range from, The Return Beat in Wood (Ed.): The Virtual Embodied. Routledge. Music, Art and Movement among the Yoruba: in Harvey (Ed.): Indigenous Religions Cassell (2000), to Art as Eudaimonia: Embodied identities and the Return beat in Susan Broadhurst and Josephine Machon (ed.), Identity, performance and technology: practices of empowerment, embodiment and technicity. Palgrave Macmillan (2012)

Info and booking:

Conference Participants Fees:

Papers: €150

Demonstrations/Performances: €100-300

Workshop fees:  100 euros

Conference Attendance Fees: €100

Student and unwaged €50

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