The Intracultural Actor: Embracing Difference in Theatre Arts Teaching

  • Chris HayEmail author
  • Kristine Landon-Smith


Embracing difference in theatre arts teaching and training requires pedagogical as well as philosophical adjustments in classrooms and rehearsal rooms. We propose that the unique cultural context of the individual actor is a rich hinterland for discovery and source of power for the student, and outline our intracultural training practice as a starting point for teachers and trainers seeking to engage with cultural and linguistic diversity. The argument of this chapter is divided into three sections. In the first, we consider the insidious impact of “neutrality” (and its synonyms) on actor training. Theatre arts training too often enables the erasure of difference through predicating teaching and learning on an imagined sameness across our student body. We argue that teachers and trainers must instead acknowledge that this sameness is determined by the hegemonic cultural power, and can therefore be wielded as an exclusionary device against students of diverse identities and diasporic heritages. The second section introduces an intracultural training practice: it first summarizes the ideas that have informed the development of our practice, and then sets out its main principles. In the final section of the chapter, we provide some practical suggestions of exercises and activities to begin implementing intracultural practice in class and rehearsal rooms. Across the chapter, our focus is on how our practice can be implemented by others, with specific reference to actor training.


  1. Alexandrowicz, Conrad. 2017. Straight-Looking, Straight-Acting: Countering Effemiphobia in Acting Training. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 8 (1): 5–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Appignanesi, Richard, ed. 2010. Beyond Cultural Diversity: The Case for Creativity. London: Third Text Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Bharucha, Rustom. 1996. Under the Sign of the Onion: Intracultural Negotiations in Theatre. New Theatre Quarterly 12.2 (46): 116–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. ———. 2000. The Politics of Cultural Practice: Thinking Through Theatre in an Age of Globalisation. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bourdieu, Pierre. 2000. Pascalian Meditations. Trans. Richard Nice. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  6. Conference of Drama Schools. 2010. CDS Outreach Report, 2010. London: Conference of Drama Schools.Google Scholar
  7. Ginther, Amy Mihyang. 2015. Dysconscious Racism in Mainstream British Voice Pedagogy and Its Potential Effects on Students from Pluralistic Backgrounds in UK Drama Conservatoires. Voice and Speech Review 9 (1): 41–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Hall, Stuart. 1990. Cultural Identity and Diaspora. In Identity: Community, Culture, Difference, ed. Jonathan Rutherford, 222–237. London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
  9. Kim, Sunhee, and Jeungsook Yoo. 2016. The Actor’s Process of Negotiating Difference and Particularity in Intercultural Theatre Practice. Theatre, Dance and Performance Training 7 (3): 417–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. King, Joyce. 1991. Dysconscious Racism: Ideology, Identity, and the Miseducation of Teachers. Journal of Negro Education 60 (2): 133–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Meerzon, Yana. 2009. The Exilic Teens: On the Intracultural Encounters in Wajdi Mouawad’s Theatre. Theatre Research in Canada 30: 82–110.Google Scholar
  12. Rea, Kenneth. 1991. Play’s the Thing for Good Actors. The Times, June 24, p. 13.Google Scholar
  13. Wiles, David Eulus. 2010. Beyond Race and Gender: Reframing Diversity in Actor Training Programs. In The Politics of American Actor Training, ed. Lissa Tyler Renaud and Ellen Margolis, 123–136. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Communication and ArtsUniversity of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Independent ScholarLondonUK

Personalised recommendations