ATEC 11th International Forum: Seminar (Unit 1) Held in Beijing

On the morning of May 18, Unit 1 of the Seminar of ATEC 11th International Forum was held at the Academic Hall of The Central Academy of Drama, Changping District, Beijing. Themed as ‘Physical Training in the Teaching of Theatre’, the unit was hosted by Professor Fujisaki Shuhei from Nihon University. Professor Jiang Ruoyu from The Central Academy of Drama was invited to comment.

To kick off the unit, Professor Yu Xin from The Central Academy of Drama talked about ‘Physical Training and Character Shaping in Theatre Performance’. She proposed that there were three stages in this regard. The first stage is preparation, in which a trainee should be well-versed with his or her body and then obtain relevant qualities through game training. The second stage is in-put, in which the trainee improves his or her imagination and physical expression, and awakens the potential power and awareness to embrace more possibilities. The third stage is out-put, in which the trainee masters all skills and techniques and expresses himself or herself by consciously leveraging physical training.

The second speaker was Professor Ariunjoloo from Mongolian State University of Arts and Culture. In her speech ‘Physical Training Elements in Mongolian Theatre Education’, Professor Ariunjoloo highlighted the advantages enjoyed by physically well-trained performers in a technologically advanced society. She then listed seven reasons for physical training: emergence of new schools of art; new genres of theatre among relative communities coming into being; the recipients’ changing interest and perception of art; high-end technologies being adopted in performance; multiple skills being needed in performance; theatre theorists searching for breakthroughs; and students looking for new methods. Physical theatre, especially the method of ‘bio mechanics’ put forward by Meyerhold, has been an integral part of theatre art, and Mongolian schools are accepting it step by step.

The floor was then given to Mr. Wang Shengyue from Shanghai Theatre Academy with his paper ‘Returning to Body: Start and End of Contemporary Performance Training’. He pointed out that western dualism that separated souls from bodies tended to be replaced by eastern monism that combined the two parts, as new physical training accentuated physical beings on stage. He also urged the audience to pay more attention to physical perception in different cultures.

The fourth speaker was Mr. Yu Weijie, Chief Lecturer of Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore), who talked about ‘Physical Training in Drama Schools: Vocational Training Concept, Course & Curriculum Planning, Module Design and Pedagogical Innovation’. His speech touched upon seven concerns: 1) the difference in the requirements for physical training between professional and non-professional acting courses; 2) the perception of body and its constitution in verbal theatre; 3) the overlap and mutual interference of nature liberation course and physical training at the beginning of acting training; 4) adopting physical training for theatre of special forms and its influence on performers; 5) the advantages and disadvantages of replacing physical training by physical performance; 6) lack of boundary and interaction between art creation by performers and physical training; 7) challenges and opportunities in the innovation of physical training methods.