Portrait of Professor Paul Allain

Professor Paul Allain

Professor of Theatre and Performance
Dean of the Graduate and Researcher College

About

Paul Allain is Professor of Theatre and Performance at the University of Kent, Canterbury. He collaborated with the Gardzienice Theatre Association from 1989 to 1993 and published the book Gardzienice: Polish Theatre in Transition (1997). He co-edited the Cambridge Companion to Chekhov (2000) and his book  The Art of Stillness: The Theatre Practice of Tadashi Suzuki was published by Methuen (2002; second revised and expanded edition with DVD 2009) and Palgrave Macmillan, USA (2003). Routledge published his Companion to Theatre and Performance, co-written with Jen Harvie in 2006, second edition 2014.

He has published several edited collections on Grotowski as part of the British Grotowski project. In 2012, he published Andrei Droznin's Physical Actor Training with Routledge, a DVD/booklet. He has contributed extensively to the Routledge Performance Archive.  In 2015 his coedited book and online collection Voices from Within: Grotowski’s Polish Collaborators  was published. His coedited Acting with Grotowski: Theatre as a Field for Experiencing Life, by Zbigniew Cynkutis (Routledge 2015) was launched in New Delhi, India in November 2014, at the Polish Cultural Institute. His edited volume The Great European Stage Directors: Grotowski, Brook, Barba (2018) includes his chapter on Grotowski.

In 2015 he gained funding from the Leverhulme Trust to make films about physical acting for Methuen Drama Bloomsbury. These are published here with a companion website here. He was Research Mentor for the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, 2015-19 and has been selected as a REF panel member for REF 2021, both criteria and assessment phases.

Current administrative duties

General practice

  • Project Lead for ETRN project, Playing Identities, Performing Heritage
  • Jury member and Guest Lectures/workshops 17th University Theatre Festival, Tehran, Iran, May 2014
  • Co-director of The Massacre at Paris, with the Marlowe Theatre and Fourth Monkey, Canterbury Cathedral Crypt, March 2014
  • Producer of Schechner's Imagining O, performed at Kent and touring to Kerala, India in 2012
  • Organiser and initiator of student and staff exchange with the Moscow Art Theatre School - Leverhulme-funded staff exchange 2008-2010
  • Member of documentation team of and partner in EU funded project 'Tracing Roads Across' with the Workcenter of Jerzy Grotowski and Thomas Richards 2003-2006
  • Digital Theatre+ Advisory Board member

Research interests

Paul is a world-leading expert on Polish theatre and Jerzy Grotowski. After collaborating with Gardzienice Theatre Association, on whom he wrote the first book in English which came out of his PhD at the University of London, he worked extensively in the UK as Movement Director, most notably with Katie Mitchell on nine productions. He has published several books, DVDs and articles on theatre and actor training as both author and editor. From 2006-9 he led the British Grotowski Project, which culminated in an international conference and a series of publications. He has also collaborated with the Moscow Art Theatre School on a Leverhulme-funded network, ending in a conference hosted by the Royal Shakespeare Company on Movement and Actor Training.

In 2009 he received an award for services to Polish culture from the Polish government and in 2018 won the Witkacy Award, for promoting Polish theatre overseas. In 2015 he gained funding from the Leverhulme Trust to make films about physical acting for Methuen Drama Bloomsbury. These are published here with a companion website here

Current research interests include:

  • Contemporary Japanese theatre, especially the theatre practice of Tadashi Suzuki
  • Theories of Performer Training and Performing 
  • Polish, Russian and East European Theatre, the work of Gardzienice, Studium Teatralne and practices after Grotowski 
  • Intercultural Performance
  • Digital tools in performance research

Teaching

I teach a range of courses as well as actor training throughout the programme and at masters level.  I focus on physical approaches to movement and body work, drawing largely on the Grotowskian lineage and the approach of Gardzienice, with whom I collaborated from 1989-93.

I also work on an intercultural approach, with special reference to the work of Brook, Schechner and Barba, as well as contemporary Asian practices, especially the Suzuki method and his directorial approach.

Supervision

I have successfully supervised to completion several postgraduate research students (11 PhDs, 8 MAs and one MPhil) including in the following areas:

  • vocal action in contemporary theatre practice (PaR
  • Zeami, noh and Grotowski's total act
  • the politics of contemporary Polish theatre
  • catharsis in the theatre (PaR)
  • Vassiliev and Grotowski (PaR)
  • Grotowski's influence on British theatre
  • film improvisation (PaR)
  • Kunauka and Japanese theatre after Suzuki
  • Schechner's Performance Studies in Italy (cotutelle)
  • Grotowski and Sufism
  • paratheatre as a mode for theatre encounters
  • sourcing within for the performance act (PaR)

I am keen to supervise in any areas related to these topics as well as my core expertise: contemporary performance, actor and performer training, practice as research, Polish and East European theatre, vocal practices.

Professional

  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
  • Editorial Board Member: Contemporary Theatre Review, Polish Theatre Perspectives, Theatre Dance and Performance Training
  • Society of Authors
  • REF 2021 Panel Member
  • Member, Academia Europaea
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