CfP - Contemporary Directions in Director Training - special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

04 May, 2022 by Avra Sidiropoulou | 0 comments

CfP - Contemporary Directions in Director Training - special issue of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

This issue invites a broad range of contributions from scholars and artists globally, in order to offer a contemporary consideration of training for directing.

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT)

Special Issue: Contemporary Directions in Director Training to be published in September 2023


Guest editors: Adam J. Ledger ( and Avra Sidiropoulou (

Training Grounds editor: Thomas Wilson ( 


Contemporary Directions in Director Training (Issue 14.3)

How does a director train? 

This issue invites a broad range of contributions from scholars and artists globally, in order to offer a contemporary consideration of training for directing. We invite longer articles or ‘Sources’, each interrogating director training as it appears in a contemporary context; shorter ‘Essais’, inviting more personal reflections; and quick-fire ‘Postcards’ responding to a question or illuminating a moment of practice. We are especially keen to receive material that can host audiovisual contributions on the popular ‘TDPT blog’, integrated with the journal (See below for the full range of potential formats).


The figure of the director and the practice of directing seems to enjoy a kind of elusiveness of definition. In contrast to the long history of shared knowledge of acting technique and performer training, how the work of the director might be defined seems challenging. And where the director spends most of their time, rehearsal, has also been considered a ‘hidden world’ (Letzler Cole, 1992). Direction goes on behind closed doors and is made up of a combination of, perhaps, dramaturgical, literary, acting, collaborative, scenographic, stage-management, and financial concerns. 

Given the ambiguity around what directing might be, the training of directors seems even more obscure. How do they know what to do? Does ‘training’ shift according to the contexts and needs of performance making? Whilst there is burgeoning publication on theatre directing, comprising scholarly work, practical guides and books by directors themselves (recently, for example, the Great European Theatre Directors series (Bloomsbury Methuen); Boenisch, 2015; Dunderdale, 2021; Simonsen, 2017; and by us: Ledger, 2019; Sidiropoulou, 2018), director training as a topic appears neglected and often dealt with as uncritically accepted directorial technique(s), methodology, and a discussion of productions.


Director training is certainly institutionalised: the most well-known European examples of schools being, for instance, the Ernst Busch Hochschule, Berlin, and the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts; in the USA, university-level, professional directing programmes have long existed, and there has been a noticeable growth in recent years in academic and conservatoire director training courses elsewhere. These models have, to an extent, been adopted by other institutions globally, though some major schools have opened branches in other countries; on the one hand, localised theatre traditions may benefit, but, on the other, a kind of colonisation of practice via imported Euro-American theatre methods predominates. This special issue might offer space to consider, instead, how a director can train in geographically and culturally specific practices.


Some directors have not explicitly trained in directing, but emerged from educational backgrounds other than theatre, or shifted from other roles. Normalised or institutionalised training for direction might also be set against more inclusive, experiential opportunities; for instance, the well-established Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme (UK) now explicitly seeks applications from emerging directors of historically excluded backgrounds, and the many artist development schemes in specific theatre organisations (the Directors Lab in New York, for example; see too the report ‘The Director’s Voice’ [2018]). In the context of the ongoing pandemic and the emergence of hybridised theatre forms, training has now moved online (for instance, the NIPAI organisation, but also within academic or conservatoire curricula), to be delivered at a distance. 

Finally, training might exist in-between performance preparation, or exist in rehearsal itself. We invite reflections on where and how ‘training’ might be considered ongoing professional development.


This special edition on contemporary director training aims to collect together productive examples that:

·       ask what directing training ‘is’, and, crucially, how its development can best serve contemporary concerns in theatre practice

·       invite an investigation and theorisation of the field, including how historical practices can be interrogated, reimagined and applied from a contemporary perspective

·       internationalise and diversify perspectives, including through a variety of submission formats

In remaining contemporary in our focus, we want to open new conversations about a clearly complex and under-theorised field and to examine the current moment from a broad, inclusive and international perspective. Contributions might consider, but are not limited to: contexts of training; the ‘validity’ of director training; canonicities; communities of practice; inclusivity; interdisciplinarity and hybridity.

Possible questions and topics might include:

·       how and on what terms do institutions offer director training? 

·       are there ‘methodologies’ or lineages of directing? How are these taught, learned and challenged now, and who by?

·       what models of director training exist beyond the Global North and Anglo-American traditions and are underrepresented in current scholarship?

·       are there modes of directing/theatre-making that require certain types of training? Does the director need choreographic, musical or scenographic skills? How can directors ‘learn’ to direct collaboratively?

·       where and what is the place for continuing professional development, intensives and workshops, and the rehearsal room as a laboratory for ongoing directing training?

·       how can director training attend to issues including, but not restricted to, ethnicity, disability, gender, and socio-cultural background? How do economic considerations impact upon the training of directors and what models or provocations might help ensure the role is not elite or privileged? 

·       what is director training in the (post)-‘COVID age’ and does the current situation change the director’s training, identity and role?

To signal your interest and intention to make a contribution to this special issue in any one of the ways identified above please email an abstract (max 250 words) to Adam J. Ledger ( and Avra Sidiropoulou ( Training Grounds proposals are to be made to Thomas Wilson ( with copies to Adam and Avra.

Special Issues of Theatre, Dance and Performance Training (TDPT) are an essential part of its offer and complement the open issues in each volume. TDPT is an international academic journal devoted to all aspects of ‘training’ (broadly defined) within the performing arts. It was founded in 2010 and launched its blog in 2015. Our target readership comprises scholars and the many varieties of professional performers, makers, choreographers, directors, dramaturgs and composers working in theatre, dance, performance and live art who have an interest in the practices of training. TDPT’s co-editors are Jonathan Pitches (University of Leeds) and Libby Worth (Royal Holloway, University of London).

Please consider the range of possibilities available within TDPT: Essays and Sources between 4000 and 6500 words; photo essays; shorter, more speculative, essais up to 1500 words; Postcards (up to 100 words); Speaking Images (short text responding to a photo, drawing, visual score, etc.); book and event reviews. All contributors could extend their work through links to blog materials (including, for example, film footage or interviews). Questions about purely digital propositions can be sent directly to James McLaughlin at along with ideas for the blog.

Firm proposals across all areas must be received by 16th June 2022 at the latest.

Issue Schedule


·       16th June 2022: 250 word proposals to be submitted Adam J. Ledger ( and Avra Sidiropoulou (

·       Early July 2022: Response from editors and, if successful, invitation to submit contribution.

·       Early July 2022 to end October 2022: Writing/preparation period and submission of first drafts.

·       End October-End of December 2022: Peer review period.

·       January 2023: Author revisions, post peer review.

·       September 2023: publication as Vol. 14, Issue 3.



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