Performer Training

A group that shares research about performer training in all its manifestations.

TaPRA 2024 Performer Training working group

Deadline: Wednesday 10 April 2024

Centering Second Language Users in Performer Training

Among efforts to decolonise and decenter the actor training studio, practitioners and scholars consider the barriers for students who speak English as a Second Language (henceforth, ESL) and undertake performer training in English. Innovative and inclusive pedagogies draw on cultural studies and second language acquisition research to support ESL users in transcending barriers concerning dispositions about performance standards (Espinosa and Ocampo-Guzman 2010); how these relate to career prospects (Yuen 2017); developing attitudes that embrace bi- and multilingualism as a superpower (Landon-Smith 2020) and; the wellbeing challenges when training and performing in a second language (Coronel 2023; Stamatiou 2024).

Performer training across media has been invited to embed rigorous structures concerning inclusivity. Traditional performer training pedagogies have been challenged to offer an equal learning environment to all, centring the needs of marginalised social groups in distinct or intersectional ways (Ginther 2023; Pearlman and McLaughlin 2020; Whitfield 2022). Training in a second language has been mostly discussed as part of the student’s racial identity, but there might be commonalities in the experience of training in a second language across race. In general, when ESL students from around the world enrol on Anglophone courses, they are expected to meet the same standards as native speakers of English. University structures support the writing components of the ESL student, but there is little to no consideration for supporting the performance components. The ESL performance trainee is expected to navigate Anglophone learning environments unsupported after they meet typical English language requirements manifested through qualifications such as IELTS and TOEFL. This can be lonely, and challenging both cognitively and mentally.

As Anglophone performer training has traditionally proliferated from ESL students but also has contributed to the cultural exchange that benefits societies internationally, this year’s conference invites the teachers of performance and scholars of performer training to consider: 

  1. What might be challenging the ESL performer during their training on movement, voice, acting on stage or screen, digital technologies, live art or devising?
  2. What needs to be abandoned, adapted or reconsidered? What does this mean for performer training as we know it?
  3. How have we adapted our studios to accommodate ESL users? 
  4. How do we train ESL performers to navigate language-related challenges?
  5. How can trainees who are native speakers of non-European languages, such as Mandarin, be supported effectively? What are the specific issues and particularities?
  6. What are the implications for students with intersectional identities? 

Submissions might focus on questions concerning the relationship between trainer-performer, audience-performer, performer-performer, performer-technology, and performer-artefact. Topics and provocations may include but are not limited to:

  • ESL use and text in performance training.
  • Processes of training ESL users for live and virtual media.
  • Problematic genealogies of training.
  • Using Practice Research to investigate ESL use in performance training.
  • Boundaries and narratives of ESL use in performance training.
  • A paradigm shift concerning training ESL users in the classroom and beyond.
  • Processes of performing and training in a second language as psychophysical negotiations.

We invite submissions of paper presentations, panels and workshops. We encourage interactive sessions. For example, you might wish to share a video of practice with our members to watch asynchronously and discuss it during your conference presentation. Traditional papers should not exceed 15 minutes.

Conference structure
Northumbria University will host the TaPRA 2024 annual conference in central Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK) as a hybrid event from 4 to 6 September 2024. We welcome online and in-person delegates.

Process for submitting a proposal
Please email a submission with the following elements by midnight on 10 April 2024 to the Working Group convenors at

  • 300-word max abstract
  • 100-word max biography
  • Confirmation on whether you plan to attend online or in person
  • Any specific requirements relating to space or AV technology

Please note: You may only submit a proposal to one working group (or to the TaPRA Gallery) for this conference, proposals submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

TaPRA will inform you whether or not your proposal has been accepted in mid-May 2024. Registration will also be open from mid-May 2024, which will ask for accessibility and dietary requirements. A draft schedule will be ready by the end of June 2023. Registration will close on 1 August 2024. Accommodation options in central Newcastle with special rates will be available to all delegates.

Conference costs
There are two main delegate types (standard and concession, definition below) and all fees include one-year TaPRA membership of £35 (standard) or £17 (concession). Early bird rates only apply to in-person full conference fees.

In-person fees: (early bird/late bird)

  • Full conference fee: £250/£300 (standard) and £180/£230 (concession)
  • Day rate: £130 (standard) and £100 (concession)
  • WG Convenors and Exec: £198 (standard) and £17 (concession)
  • Life members: £163

Online fees:

  • Full conference fee: £110 (standard) and £90 (concession)
  • WG Convenors and Exec: £108 (standard) and £17 (concession)
  • Life members: £73

A day rate is not available for online delegates.

Concession definition
Concession rates apply to all students, postgraduate researchers (MA or PhD), unwaged, unaffiliated, and retired researchers, and staff on contracts of either less than 0.6FTE or else fixed for less than 12 months. These categories apply to the delegate’s circumstances on the first day of the conference.

Each Working Group manages a bursary to cover the fee and some expenses, offered on a competitive basis. Preference will be given to those without access to any institutional funds. This process is open to accepted presenters only and will be managed by the Working Group convenors post-confirmation of acceptance.

Please note: only one proposal may be submitted for a TaPRA event. It is not permitted to submit multiple proposals or submit the same proposal to several Calls for Participation. All presenters must be TaPRA members, i.e. registered for the event; this includes presentations given by Skype or other media broadcast even where the presenter may not physically attend the event venue.

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