Five-part Series Occuring Between October 14, 2023 and March 23, 2024
PAMA’s Education Committee is excited to launch a five-part Actors Wellbeing Webinar Series! This exciting series is being curated by Mark Seton, a PAMA Board Member based in Australia, and Alan Powell, based in the UK. Note that each panel will have at least one researcher that presents the issue with evidence, one practitioner and/or educator presenting an intervention i.e. one solution to the issue, an actor with lived experience of both an intervention and/or non intervention. We can’t wait for you to join us!
PANEL 3 (REGISTER)
Interventions in Actor Education – Sustaining the Centrality of Wellbeing
Saturday, January 20, 2024 (90 minutes)
8pm – London (GMT)
3pm Toronto (EST)
12pm – Los Angeles (PST)
7am (Sunday 21st) – Australia (AEDT)
The desired professionalisation of acting, with the belief that actor training can be formalised and quantified has been a phenomena since the 20th century – acting, voice and movement have been the bedrock of most qualification-based drama programs, where often a conservatoire model seeks to embody skills over time to ensure well-formed actors that are employment-ready. But the gradual recognition of the industry that actors lack skills and wisdom about self-care in a formalised way has been very slowly adopted in drama schools, alongside music programs and dance programs. At the same time, both historical and contemporaneous accounts of abuse, neglect, harassment, bullying, and inequity in opportunities continue to circulate in the sector, producing generations of potentially traumatised and injured actors who struggle to find and sustain careers they have trained for.
Join us for a conversation on current initiatives that are addressing the wellbeing of actors in training by educational Institutions and organizations .
Andrea Moor (Australia) Andrea Moor is an actor, director, performance coach, intimacy coordinator, researcher and academic, having worked extensively in theatre, film, television, and radio in Australia and internationally. Andrea holds the position of Associate Professor in Acting at Queensland University of Technology (QUT). Her research passions lie in actors’ wellbeing and consent and intimacy training in the actor training setting. Andrea has the award of Doctor of Creative Industries (QUT) and BA NIDA (Acting). Andrea is a Churchill Fellow and has served on the boards of Queensland Theatre and Metro Arts. She is a committee member of AusAct (Australasian Actor Trainers).
Kareena Hodgson (Australia) is a clinical Counsellor and Psychotherapist specialising in the entertainment industry. She splits her work between National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA) as the senior counsellor and her private practice The Manifesto.Kareena was a full-time circus performer for 20 years. Working with Rock’n’Roll circus (now Circa), Circus Oz and DV8 Physical Theatre. Kareena toured internationally until 2006 after the birth of her children. Kareena has a Bachelor of Counselling and Coaching and a Masters of Counselling and Psychotherapy. She is uniquely suited to working in the mental health space within the performing arts due to her lived experience. She is passionate about shining a light on the wellbeing of artists and crew, and believes that help seeking, reflection and mental health support is a critical element of self-care for creatives.
Cheryl McFarren (USA) is Associate Professor of Theatre at Denison University in Granville, OH, USA, where she has taught since 2009. She holds an M.F.A. in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory in Denver, Colorado, as well as a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Colorado at Boulder. McFarren is an actor and director, who teaches acting and theatre making and writes about acting theory.
Jennifer Wigmore (Canda) (she/her) is an activist, educator and multidisciplinary artist in; acting, writing, and visual art. As an activist she has worked with multiple arts associations including Canadian Actors Equity, ACTRA Toronto, the grass roots group, Got Your Back, NSIP – the National Society of Intimacy Professionals and is currently the co-administrator for AACE, the Association of Acting Coaches and Educators.where she works alongside its membership to educate in consent based practices and standards ensuring that all coaches and educators are trained in the basics of; intimacy, consent, mental health, anti-harassment, and discrimination. Jennifer also teaches acting and visual art in multiple post-secondary institutions as well as coaching privately. As an actor Jennifer appears in numerous television series and films. Recent credits include; Cross, Dream Scenario, Y The Last Man, Malory Towers, Designated Survivor, and many more.
Theresa Tova (Canada), Recognized by NOW Magazine as one the Top Ten Toronto theatre artists of 2017 for her starring turns on stage while “proving an effective spokesperson about zero tolerance for sexual harassment in the industry”. Tova is sitting past President of ACTRA Toronto, Treasurer of ACTRA National, Chairs the EIC Entertainment Industry Coalition, Co-chairs AACE, the Association of Acting Coaches and Educators, is a founding board member of CASCU Credit Union and serves on the boards of CANCOM and Theatre Teatron. As co-administrator of AACE, Tova works alongside its membership to educate in consent based practices and standards ensuring that all coaches and educators are trained in the basics of; intimacy, consent, mental health, anti-harassment, and discrimination.. Tova is also an award winning actor, writer and singer, with Gemini, Canadian Screen Award and Governor General Award nominations. She is a Dora award and Tyrone Guthrie award winner and is a recipient of the Cliff Pilkey Labour Activist Award.
Dr. Jessica Hartley (UK) (she/they) is the Course Leader of the MA/MFA in Actor Training and Coaching at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. The programme is one of only two in the world that considers the pedagogical and andragogical narratives at the heart of actor training. Jess’ experience in circus and as a secondary school teacher supports her to recognise, antagonise and resist narratives that focus on the vulnerability of actors. Their recent publications have highlighted the urgent need for trauma-informed and critically conscious training, one that maximises the agency and uniqueness of each actor to shape their own work and careers. Jess is looking forward to discussing the intersectional feminist narratives of poetry, love, celebration and abundance in this panel conversation.
Pat O’Toole (UK) is a Trainer, Facilitator, Mediator and Coach for Business, Education and the Arts. She specialises in Personal and Professional Development, Communication and Management Development for SME’s and organisations as well as Managing Well Being, conflict and building Mental Fitness. Pat is a Course Director for Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance and a Theatre Director and Acting Tutor. “Oh, I’m also a neurodivergent dyslexic”. Pat works across many programmes at Rose Bruford College delivering professional development workshops and classes as well as being a Mental Health First Aider. She also runs workshops in managing stress and anxiety and building resilience and is a mental health ambassador, speaker and campaigner in the performing and backstage industry. Pat started her own theatre company in the early 1990s, producing and developing new writing. She continues to work as a personal development coach and trainer for business, education and the arts, working with individuals and organisations, and she is also a freelance theatre director.
Mark Seton (Australia) Moderator
Dr Mark Seton is an Honorary Research Associate (Theatre and Performance Studies) at The University of Sydney, Australia. He was awarded a Churchill Fellowship to conduct a study tour of actor training healthcare practices in the UK. Arising from this study, the Equity Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Sydney, initiated an internationally ground-breaking Actors’ Wellbeing Study in 2013. Mark is a Board member of the Performing Arts Medicine Association, and a founding member of the Australian Society for Performing Arts Healthcare. He teaches actor wellbeing in several drama schools and also coaches actors, dealing with highly vulnerable and potentially traumatising roles, through the Actors Wellbeing Academy that he has established online. https://www.actorswellbeingacademy.com/
PANEL 4 (REGISTER)
Interventions in the Acting Process – Supporting Resilience & Vulnerability in Rehearsal & Performance
February 24, 2024
Acting craft is practically premised around ‘what works’ to achieve a particular result in the actor that makes a connection with an audience. And over the centuries actors (and more recently directors) have played with various ‘technologies of the body’ to see what could bring about the most efficient outcomes, often without addressing whether the ‘techniques’ were sustainable i.e. the technique didn’t create potential trauma or harm to the performer. Now, that actors are feeling empowered to acknowledge burn-out, or ‘emotional hangovers’ or ‘post-dramatic stress’, there needs to be a deeper enquiry into acting processes as to what helps or harms actors as they work through processes of creating meaningful, rewarding and connecting performances.
This panel will explore some of the innovative approaches that have been developed that prioritise actors’ wellbeing, as well as support their vulnerability when developing the emotional narrative of a character.
PANEL 5 (REGISTER)
Under the Spotlight – Research on Actors’ Health and Wellbeing
March 23, 2024
Investment in actor wellbeing has been overlooked in comparison to that of musicians’ and dancers’ wellbeing. Actor health and wellbeing has only been more recognised as worthy of academic scrutiny over the last 25 years or so – and many emerging researchers are often ex-actors who stumble into recognising that the questions they have of often painful lived experience have not been explored by psychologists or psychotherapists possibly because there didn’t appear to be an ‘audience’ who could do anything with the findings of research. Such neglect is often justified because music and dance ’injuries’ seem to be more physical and measureable than actor ‘injuries’ but surely actors, musicians and dancers all share many lifestyle health issues such as touring challenges, performance anxiety, addictions, body image issues, team stresses, and so on.
This panel will raise awareness of some of the current research being done, what has been done, what still needs to be explored and, where does it all lead – whether it’s new forms of educating/training the actor and/or how productions are executed e.g. codes of professional conduct, etc.