1st Edition

Inclusivity and Equality in Performance Training Teaching and Learning for Neuro and Physical Diversity

Edited By Petronilla Whitfield Copyright 2022
    326 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    326 Pages 22 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    Inclusivity and Equality in Performance Training focuses on neuro and physical difference and dis/ability in the teaching of performance and associated studies. It offers 19 practitioners’ research-based teaching strategies, aimed to enhance equality of opportunity and individual abilities in performance education.

    Challenging ableist models of teaching, the 16 chapters address the barriers that can undermine those with dis/ability or difference, highlighting how equality of opportunity can increase innovation and enrich the creative work. Key features include:

    • Descriptions of teaching interventions, research, and exploratory practice to identify and support the needs and abilities of the individual with dis/ability or difference
    • Experiences of practitioners working with professional actors with dis/ability or difference, with a dissemination of methods to enable the actors
    • A critical analysis of pedagogy in performance training environments; how neuro and physical diversity are positioned within the cultural contexts and practices
    • Equitable teaching and learning practices for individuals in a variety of areas, such as: dyslexia, dyspraxia, visual or hearing impairment, learning and physical dis/abilities, wheelchair users, aphantasia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and autistic spectrum.

    The chapter contents originate from practitioners in the UK, USA and Australia working in actor training conservatoires, drama university courses, youth training groups and professional performance, encompassing a range of specialist fields, such as voice, movement, acting, Shakespeare, digital technology, contemporary live art and creative writing.

    Inclusivity and Equality in Performance Training is a vital resource for teachers, directors, performers, researchers and students who have an interest in investigatory practice towards developing emancipatory pedagogies within performance education.

    1. Introduction

    Petronilla Whitfield

    2. Acting Training and Instruction for Wheelchair-Using Artists

    Regan Linton

    3. Acting without Imagery: Aphantasia in the Theatre Classroom

    Alexis Black, Cameron Michael Chase, Brian De Vries, Rob Roznowski

    4. Twelve Steps towards an Anti-discriminatory Approach to Neurodivergence in Actor Training

    Daron Oram

    5. Disabling Actions and Enabling Actors: Exploring the Method of Actioning the Text for Actors with Dyslexia

    Deborah Leveroy

    6. Exploring Digital Technology to Enable Acting Students with Dyslexia in Their Reading of Shakespeare

    Petronilla Whitfield

    7. How Can Imagery, Sounds, Textures and Other Creative Mediums Help an Actor with Dyslexia Understand and Connect to Shakespeare’s Text?

    Elizabeth Bartram

    8. Somatic and Spatial Approaches to Essay Writing for Drama Students with Dyslexia

    Jodie Allinson

    9. When I Can’t ‘See You at the Theatre’: Creating Inclusive Processes for Vision-Impaired Performers

    Heather May

    10. Politicized Identity: Developing a Dialectical Relationship between Disability and Ability

    Jo Ronan

    11. ‘Embodied Voice’ and Inclusivity: Ableism and Theatre Voice Training

    Tara McAllister-Viel

    12. Experience as Curriculum: Developing an Intuitive, Affective, Affirmative Approach to Actor Training with (Disabled) Students

    Kieran Sheehan

    13. Dyspraxic Approaches to Teaching Live Art in a ‘Neurodivergent’/ ‘Normodivergent’ Classroom

    Daniel Oliver and Sumita Majumdar

    14. The Inclusive Drama Studio: Adaptive Strategies in University Actor Training

    Rea Dennis

    15. ‘See a Sign’ – Training for Deaf Actors Who Use British Sign Language as Their Preferred Language

    Paula Garfield

    16. Towards Equity and Agency in a Word-Dominated World: Working with Actors with Learning Disabilities

    Richard Hayhow


    Petronilla Whitfield is Associate Professor in voice and acting at the Arts University Bournemouth, UK. She has a PhD in arts pedagogy (Warwick University) and an MA in voice studies (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama). Trained originally as an actor at Arts Educational Schools, she was a professional actor for 20 years and has taught at leading British actor training institutions for 21 years. Her book, Teaching Strategies for Neurodiversity and Dyslexia in Actor Training, was published by Routledge in 2020. In 2020, she was awarded the Johnny Saldaña Outstanding Professor of Theatre Education Award by the American Alliance for Theatre and Education.

    "One of the strengths of this book is the way it overcomes stale narratives about dis/ability and how those narratives have protected systems of exclusion and oppression for our students with varying abilities. Each chapter adds to the discourse, but could also be consulted individually, as the reader sees fit. The practical offerings make this book a successful guide to teaching inclusively in the studio, providing the reader with the power and agency to translate the research on the page into actionable revisions to their own classroom environments and teaching styles."

    Kevin Kemler, Voice and Speech Review, USA

    “This most recent 2021 publication draws together a powerfully experienced, pioneering, and representative group of practitioners, not only in this moment of book release, but also spanning over time as this work has progressed, interconnected, and developed. The chapters jointly and urgently progress matters of performance students and professionals being able to ‘get on’ with having so much to offer and lead on due to their passion and talent for performance training and study. […] Overall, I would highly recommend this book.”

     Beth Loughran, National Drama: Drama Research Volume 14’, UK

    “By including the perspectives of multiple authors across a range of settings, this volume offers diverse voices and viewpoints that come together to form a logical progressive throughline, developing a clear narrative of empowerment and equity. As a publication that advocates for and models inclusive and enabling practice through the illustrative case studies, teachers and student teachers alike will value this edited book as a useful and thought-provoking coherent collection of analytical reflections on learning and teaching in the performance studio.”

    Anna McNamara, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, UK