Actor training for lecturers offers new presentation skills

February 15 / 151

Last week lecturers from across the University headed to Southbank to learn actor training skills with Victorian College of the Arts’ theatre academics.

Last week lecturers from across the University headed to Southbank to learn actor training skills with Victorian College of the Arts’ theatre academics.

Led by Lecturer in Theatre (Physical Performance) Rinske Ginsberg and voice specialist Anna McCrossin Owen, and co-presented by Pro–Vice Chancellor Richard James and VCA Director Sue Baker, the two-day workshop offered teaching staff the opportunity to develop their classroom presentation skills using methods commonly taught to acting students.

Ms Ginsberg said, “Performance is inherent in all teaching circumstances. All of us can recall a teacher whose knowledge was embodied in a distinct and dynamic way that set them apart from their fellows and contributed significantly to our success in learning from them.”

In exploring the concept of the workshop Ms Ginsberg watched a number of recorded lectures by University of Melbourne teaching staff, “I imagined how much time went into preparing the content of a lecture and wondered what amount of time (if any) was devoted to rehearsing the performance delivery of that content.  With that in mind, I decided that the basic physical, spatial and vocal skills training that acting students experience would be eminently applicable to all lecturers and tutors who need to interact with students.”

Lecturer in Italian Studies in the Faculty of Arts, Matthew Absalom, chose to do the workshop because he was aware that teaching is increasingly physically taxing – especially on his voice.

“I was really excited to be offered the opportunity to do some work on how to use my voice better and in a more sustainable fashion,” he said.

“The two major take-away messages for me were: the importance of the breath and using your full lung capacity and the power of space and movement … In each and every case, the transformation by attending to these two issues was breathtaking.”

Ms Ginsberg said, “This was a first for us, a real laboratory that necessitated trusting our knowledge bases and instincts, and being open and responsive to the group dynamic. It was a very positive experience and a successful experiment, our students were so willing and trusting we all felt we had grown enormously in just two days.”

By Susan Bird.

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