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Dr Roanna Mitchell

Lecturer in Drama and Theatre,
Course Lead, Drama, Theatre and Performance
Telephone
+44 (0)1227 823614
Dr Roanna Mitchell

About

Roanna joined the University of Kent as a Lecturer in 2015, having previously taught as an Associate at Kent, Goldsmiths and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Her work bridges theory and practice, specialising in psychophysical performer training in acting and dance, and the existing and potential relationship between performer training and social/political/health contexts.

Roanna is a founding member and co-director of The Chekhov Collective UK, the only practice-research centre on Chekhov Technique internationally. As of autumn 2021, TCC UK has run around 60 research- and public-engagement events and workshops, as well as the multi-institutional New Pathways project and resulting book. Roanna is a certified teacher of Michael Chekhov’s technique (MCIA Berlin), partners with MICHA and is a member of Michael Chekov UK and Michael Chekhov Europe. A portfolio of her work in the use of Chekhov Technique in actor-movement and dance can be viewed here.

In Spring 2020, Roanna initiated the project ‘Inappropriate’ Anger, run by a creative team including people with lived experience of a Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis and madness. This ongoing project explores the use of creative tools as a way of negotiating what it means to live with, and access help with, a BPD/EUPD diagnosis, and collaborates with participants to develop creative, psychosocial and trauma-informed support mechanisms to improve provision for individuals affected by the diagnosis. Partnerships for the project have included input from the national online survivor community, as well as organisations such as Medway Council, Kent-based peer support groups, Porchlight, Margate Wellbeing College.

Roanna is also associate editor for Training Grounds at Theatre Dance and Performance Training journal.

Artistically, Roanna works as a performance-maker and movement director internationally, often working site-responsively and including collaborations with Richard Schechner (Imagining O, UK/India, US), Platform 7 (Resting Place, Ramsgate / Charing Cross Station / Folkestone seafront) and Accidental Collective (Here’s Hoping, Theatre Royal Margate / Oval House London).

For eight years Roanna worked as Artistic Director for the body activist organisation AnyBody UK, convened by Dr Susie Orbach. With AnyBody UK she helped to co-found the local-global initiative Endangered Bodies, with chapters in eight countries, ran workshops, events and campaigns, and co-directed the Shape Your Culture project funded by Rosa UK. See Roanna’s 2014 TEDx talk on the struggle with body hatred and why magic wands don’t work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFqZOzrEyiM

Research interests

Roanna’s research interests bridge theory and practice and include:

  • Psychophysical performer training, and in particular interdisciplinary rehearsal- and training vocabularies in the intersection between ‘acting’ and ‘dance’
  • The existing and potential relationship between performer training principles and social/political/health contexts, especially mental health.
  • Politics of the body in the interface between art, business and self
  • Feminism in performer-training and performance practice, especially the contribution of 'forgotten’ practitioners to the traditional embodied theatre canon
  • Body activism and its impact on contemporary performance practice

Recent research includes:

  • Ongoing activities through Co-Directorship of The Chekhov Collective UK, including research events, publications, workshops and public engagement activities
  • portfolio of research addressing the use of Chekhov technique in actor-movement and dance, including a book chapter and article, conference presentations, workshops and interviews
  • Inappropriate’ Anger: a research project exploring the use of creative tools in the long term-support of, and developing provision for, individuals diagnosed with BPD/EUPD.
  • The ‘third space’ between performer training and therapy

In 2020, Roanna developed MACRO Map, a reflective tool designed to trace the effect of creative activities on other life areas. Originally designed for teaching, and further developed in mental health contexts, in 2021 the map is being used by the Marlowe Theatre’s Shakespeare Nation project with KRAN and Canterbury Umbrella as a tool for holistic evaluation.

In the past, Roanna has published on the (student) actor’s aesthetic labour, and applications of Michael Chekhov Technique in actor-movement and dance. This research also informs the curriculum and the dialogue with students on the MA Physical Acting.

Teaching

Roanna is programme lead and main lecturer for the MA Physical Acting, and also teaches on the MA Theatre Making.

Her teaching on undergraduate modules includes physical approaches to acting, physical theatre, ensemble devising and performance, body politics, autobiography and performance, and supervision of final-year performance projects.

Supervision

I welcome proposals for postgraduate research projects, including practice research. I am particularly keen to hear from students considering topics related to any of the following fields:

  • Psychophysical and interdisciplinary performer training
  • Application of performer-training principles in social and health contexts
  • Body politics and performance.
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