How to bring the performing arts out of the compounding clouds of crisis

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


‘Crisis’ can be described as an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life, it is also an unstable situation of extreme danger or difficulty. Athletes undergo rigorous training programs to increase their personal best and improve on their general performance. This is a form of crisis as the body’s threshold is challenged, resulting in a certain level of physical trauma therefore testing the athletes’ stamina. This is not dissimilar to the type of ‘crisis’ actors may go through in certain training. Expanding the lens, adding to this form of ‘crisis’, there is a larger ‘crisis’ that affects student actors and institutions alike.

It is evident that in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, performing arts training across most major universities and institutions has been heavily affected. Not only through cuts in government and private funding but also through the deficiency of student engagement and physical attendance. Compounding shifts in the social consciousness have also impacted on training, such as inclusivity, gender identity and cultural diversity being at the forefront of decision making and program development. Although this may not be a ‘cloud’ as such, rather a parting of clouds, it adds another layer of complexity and consideration when designing content.

The question now is, how do we now pull ourselves out of this cloud and stay resilient as an industry? Can we use the adaptive methods of online training and performance implemented over the past few years to move forward and create new methodologies in performer training or does performer training only existent if we are all physically together in the room?

‘Crisis’, however, may be used to our advantage as nothing great has ever been achieved with some form of struggle. Successful traits of innovators are evidenced in their error recovery as opposed to their error avoidance. Successful people and successful programs are ones who have failed and recovered; those who have seen failure and learnt how to turn it into something positive. Solving a real problem that hasn’t been solved before is about resilience and adaptability.

Dr Robert Lewis and Dr Soseh Yekanians reflect on their experience having gone through multiple course changes which includes the dismantling of various creative disciplines, merging of performing arts programs and learning to adapt in challenging times.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCrisis and Creativity
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


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