Professor Anna Furse was Head of Department of Theatre and Performance from 2011 to 2015. She leads the MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths - an international laboratory programme in performer-driven theatre/dance/live art making.
She supervises undergraduate Dissertations and practice-led PhD students. She is the curator of the Performance Research Forum PRF (Dis-Play) - currently entering its 25th programme - for which she received a Peake Teaching Award in 2005, is a Principal Academic Staff member of Goldsmiths Digital Studios, Department of Computing and co-director, with medical historian Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, of the interdisciplinary Centre of the Body. Among numerous college committees and working groups she serves on, she is a member of the new Goldsmiths Press Editorial Board.
Anna is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of several professional artist networks and The Directors Guild UK. She was recipient of two Goldsmiths Learning, Teaching and Assessment Fellowships (2007/8 and 2008/9), looking at ‘Assessing Ephemeral Practice’ and ‘the Research/Teaching Nexus’ respectively. In February 2013 she presented an aspect of her research GlassBody - Reflecting on Becoming Transparent as an installation for the Made in Goldsmiths in St James Church.
Artistic Background and Practice Research
Anna was one of the handful of the first generation of women directors in the UK, uniquely combining feminist concerns with Laboratory Theatre research from the late 1970’s.
Originally a classically trained dancer (The Royal Ballet) she has developed her own movement training methodology based in a range of influences from her studies with Peter Brook at the CIRT in Paris, ‘paratheatre’ with Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium in Poland, post-modern dance (e.g. Contact Improvisation) and martial arts (e.g. Tai 'Chi, Capoeira and Aikido) in particular.
Along with Laurie Booth, Kirstie Simpson and others (Transitional Identity) she introduced Contact Improvisation to a wide HE UK and European audience for the first time in the early 1980’s, with transformative consequences. At the time she was also a founder member of the Chisenhale Collective who created the now well-established new dance centre Chisenhale Dance Space.
The basic building blocks of Anna’s training methodology have been archived for digital dissemination via her research with the Arts Council England funded Choreographic Lab (2005-8) at the University of Northampton and with a CELT Fellowship from Goldsmiths.
An award-winning professional theatre director and published - and internationally performed - writer, staging modern and new plays, classics and a range of devised works as well as her own commissioned writing and creations, she has collaborated regularly with some key theatre artists including Peter Brook’s pioneering scenographer Sally Jacobs, and worked in a range of contexts from repertory theatres to applied theatre, ‘sci-art’ to experimental laboratory environments.She has received many Arts Council England (ACE) Writers Awards, Bursaries and Grants over the years as well as funding from the AHRC, the British Council, the Wellcome Trust and the British Academy.
Her Artistic Directorships include the innovative international-touring feminist project Bloodgroup 1979 - 1986, the new writing company Paines Plough 1990 - 1995, and her current company Athletes of the Heart. Productions have toured festivals in Western and Eastern Europe (Slovenia, Poland, Serbia and Russia) as well as in Asia, the Middle East and the USA, whilst she has co-produced internationally with theatres in France, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Anna is developing a new project with the overarching title THE THEATRE OF OUR BODIES, 2016 -18. A new performance collaboration, THE ANATOMY ACT, is a Residency commission with CREATE Ireland within their CAPP EU scheme, also funded by the Arts Council England. It premieres in November at Live Collision Festival and will tour thereafter.
An interdisciplinary talks series, AUTO -SCOPOPHILIA, co-curated with Dawn Kemp, Dawn Kemp Director of Museums and Archives, Royal College of Surgeons, will take place at the Old Operating Theatre Museum, the Freud Museum and Goldsmiths in Spring 2017, funded by The Wellcome Trust.
Anna is working on a book, NEUROTICAS, for Digital Theatre and a chapter on her career for The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Women on Stage, eds. Jan Sewell and Abigail Rokison (2018).
Recent talks on her practice include: ‘Working Lives’ VOLTage and CREATE Age and Opportunity BEALTAINE 2016, supported by Clare County of Culture (May 2016); Odin Theatre’s Transit Festival, Hostelbro; Dah Teatar 25th Anniversary; and the Athens’ Michael Cakoyiannis Foundation Summer School (July 2016).
Anna has taught freelance for over thirty years in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland and the USA, and held numerous teaching posts including Head of Movement at Rose Bruford College (1980 - 84) and Drama Studio (1987 - 1990).
Prior to Goldsmiths she was Senior Lecturer in Performing Arts at London Metropolitan University. She is Visiting Professor to the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University, USA, and Guest Tutor for the Academy of Visual Arts, Ljubljana.
For Goldsmiths she has been on the academic development team with LaSalle in Singapore. She has been External Examiner of several universities including the MA in Scenography and Practice at Central, St Martins, University of the Arts.
Among recent international Masterclasses and Workshops (since 2013) are the Beijing Dance Academy and the Beijing Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival, LaSalle, Singapore, CREATE Ireland, the DEREE American University, Athens, the University of the Peloponnese, Greece (Erasmus Exchange) and the University of Ambedkar, Delhi.
In 2015 she curated, directed and taught the Goldsmiths Summer Intensive Laboratory, Palermo and tutored MA Costume for Performance Final Shows for LCF, University of the Arts.
In July 2016 she directed the Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation Summer School What is Performance Making? in Athens, creating a new performance OTHER PEOPLE’S SHOES with 15 artists.
In 2007 her GLASS BODY: REFLECTING ON BECOMING TRANSPARENT (Wellcome Trust People Award) toured the UK on an Arts Council grant, and her radio debut as writer/director MY GLASS BODY with Sweet Talk Productions was commissioned and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.
In 2007 she was awarded an ArtsAdmin Roaming Bursary with which she travelled to India and Poland to research with Grotowski performers Jola Cynkutis and Khalid Tyabjj.
Her co-production DON JUAN.WHO?/DON JUAN.KDO? with Mladinsko Gledalisce in Ljubljana (funded by Arts Council England, The British Council, the AHRC, The Victoria Halls Foundation and the British Academy) previewed at the SHUNT VAULTS in 2007 and premiered as the headline production for FeEAST Festival at Riverside Studios in 2008. This innovative physical theatre production was created in an online ‘CyberStudio’ in which geographically dispersed collaborators wrote together, anonymously, for over 18 months, to produce a text for rehearsal.
She created an installation GLASS BODY FRAGMENTS for The Gathering at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, and her play THE PEACH CHILD was performed in regional theatres and at the Cottesloe Theatre (NT) as part of being selected for the National Theatre’s NEW CONNECTIONS 2008 programme (published by Faber), whilst DON JUAN.WHO? was performed in Ljubljana.
In this period her play GORGEOUS sustained 6 years in the repertory of the New Conservatory Theater San Francisco and she launched the Athletes of the Heart Laboratory - a research company of graduates from the MA in Performance Making, premiering SICK OF LOVE as an Incubate commission for the Little Angel’s Suspense Festival of adult puppetry. This research continued with a lecture-performance BEING TOUCHED at Goldsmiths and Stratford Circus in 2010.
Her production SEA/WOMAN with Maja Mitic of DAH Teatar and Antonella Diana of Teatret OM, Denmark, was part of the Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing Fractured Narratives project, funded by the AHRC and ACE. This premiered in Belgrade in 2010 and toured in the UK in 2011, including a British Council sponsored residency with Zoukak in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2011. The performance headlined Stratford Circus’ Experimental Weekend in 2011.
WHEN WE WERE BIRDS, originally created with retired dancer Esther Linley, dance/film maker Lucy Cash and composer Graeme Miller, explored body memory through the conduit of autobiographical experience as a young Royal Ballet trained dancer. Research – that included into neuroscience – was triggered by a story of Bruno Bettleheim’s in his concentration camp memoir The Informed Heart. The project, operating within the Centre of the Body, premiered at the Cantieri Culturali Zisa, Palermo, Sicily in July 2013. Anna presented it as a solo at Live Collision Festival, Dublin and GIFT, Newcastle in 2014. Her video installation on hysteria was included in the Freud Museum Mad, Bad and Sad programme 2013 – 2014 alongside women artists Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Helen Chadwick and Louise Bourgeois.
Recent publication includes editing a new experimental anthology for Theatre in Pieces: Politics, Poetics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (Methuen 2011); guest editing an issue on Gender and Performance for GenderForum, University of Köln; ‘Being Touched’ for A Life of Ethics and Performance edited by John Matthews, Cambridge Scholars Press, ‘In Every Litre of Sea Water There Are Two Tablespoons of Salt … On Making SEA/WOMAN’in Women: A Cultural Review. 22.4 (ed. Helen Carr) 2011, ‘Making a Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the Hysteric Dance’ in Dance and ChoreoMania, edited by Johannes Birringer and Josephine Fenger, Henschel, Leipzig, ‘Retracing Our Steps: On When We Were Birds’ in Affective Performance and Cognitive Science: Body, Brain and Being, ed. Nicola Shaugnessy and Rhonda Blair, Methuen Drama 2013 and ‘Independent theatre as a Political Position’, Theatre In The Arab World, ed. Rolf C. HeMKe, Theater Der Zeit, 2013, pp. 104-107, ‘Hospital Drama: Visual Theatres of the Medical Rendezvous from Asylum to Hospital with Reference to Specific Works by Anna Furse’ in Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 39.2 (September 2014) pp. 238-257.
Talks & Public Speaking
In November 2013 she collaborated with the London Mental Health Foundation’s Anxiety 2014 Festival of the Arts to curate and chair a panel on Women and the Arts for Parliament Week. Furse has been an Associate Artist in Jesse Jones’ The Prosperity Project, produced by Create, Ireland (2013/14).
Anna is a regular speaker and workshop leader at international conferences, e.g. PsI New York University 2007, The Womens Writing for Performance Project University of Lancaster 2005/6, Arts and Health, Kings College, 2006 and Contemporary Women’s Writing: New Texts, Approaches and Technologies San Diego State University, 2010.
She chaired a talk for Stratford Circus with contributors to her book Theatre in Pieces (2011), being a guest panelist for the Freud Museum’s conference Adult Love and Its Roots in Infancy chaired by Lisa Appignanesi (2011), the Affective Science and Performance round table at the ICA, a talk on her own practice as part of Graeme Miller’s residency at the Nightingale Theatre, Brighton (all 2012). The Argument Room live stream debating forum, on women’s theatre on January 30th 2013 and was a guest artist at Vincent Dance Theatre’s The Table (2013).
Public speaking engagements in 2013 included, as an artist/academic presenting at the Dejouer l'Injouable (Playing the Unplayable) Colloquium at the University of Grenoble; as a founder member of Chisenhale Dance Space speaking at an anniversary event in October and also at Chisenhale's Feminism and Dance: Have things improved? talk, chaired by Jacky Lansley.
In 2014 she chaired a discussion with Contact Gonzo, for the Japan Foundation and in November 2014 was invited to the panel of the Ethics of Play conference at the Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic to speak and give a workshop about her work with touch. She co-curated and chaired the Centre of the Body’s Summer Events 2014 that launched with a dialogue between Steve Paxton (founder of Contact Improvisation, choreographer and researcher) and the neuroscientist Dr Daniel Glaser, director of the new Science Gallery at King's College London.
Citations & Critical Reviews of her work
Aside from the press media, her work is cited/critiqued in numerous books including YES? NO! MAYBE!: seductive ambiguity in dance, Emilyn Claid, New York Routledge 2006; HYSTERIA, TRAUMA AND MELANCHOLIA Contemporary Anglophone drama, Christina Wald, Basingstoke [England]; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, PERFORMANCE RESEARCH Journal, On Memory - ‘Re-membering the Performing Body: Hysteria, Memory and Performance in Portrait of Dora and Augustine (Big Hysteria)’, By Joanna Townsend: Volume 5.3, Winter 2000 ISBN: 0415241049, Routledge 2000; HYSTORIES: hysterical epidemics and modern culture, Elaine Showalter. London: Picador 1997; WOMEN IN DRAMATIC PLACE AND TIME: Contemporary Female Characters on Stage, Geraldine Cousins, Routledge 1996; FEMINIST THEATRE PRACTICE: a handbook, Elaine Aston London, Routledge 1999; THEATRE AND MOTHERHOOD by Jozefina Komporaly, Palgrave Macmillian 2006. DEVISING PERFORMANCE: a critical history, Deirdre Heddon and Jane Milling. New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2005; The STAGED ENCOUNTER, CONTEMPORARY FEMINISM AND WOMEN’S DRAMA by Sozala Ozden, Ibidem 2007; In November 2006 GLASSBODY was the subject of a paper by Erin Striff, Assistant Professor of English, Hartford, Connecticut University USA for ‘Theatre and Medicine: Body, Interdisciplinarity, and Performance’, American Society for Theatre Research Conference USA.
Among several mentoring projects was the Arts Council England funded mentoring of Kerri McLean’s Memories of Mermaids that premiered at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre on October 31 2014.
Anna's early work from the 1980's can be found in Unfinished Histories and the Unfinished Histories: Alternative Theatre in Lambeth + Camden 1968-88 exhibition at the Oval House in November and December 2014.
GLASS BODY: Reflecting on Becoming Transparent
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2006. GLASS BODY: Reflecting on Becoming Transparent. In: "GLASS BODY: Reflecting on Becoming Transparent", Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, 3/9/2006 - 4/1/2007.
Hospital Drama: Visual Theatres of the Medical Rendezvous from Asylum to Hospital with Reference to Specific Works by Anna Furse
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2014. Hospital Drama: Visual Theatres of the Medical Rendezvous from Asylum to Hospital with Reference to Specific Works by Anna Furse. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 39(3), pp. 238-257. ISSN 0308-0188
In Every Litre of Seawater There are Two Tablespoons of Salt… On Making SEA/WOMAN.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2011. In Every Litre of Seawater There are Two Tablespoons of Salt… On Making SEA/WOMAN. Women: A Cultural Review, 22(4), pp. 411-427. ISSN 0957-4042
Don.Juan.Who?/ Don.Juan. Kdo?: From Cyberspace to Theatre Space
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2010. Don.Juan.Who?/ Don.Juan. Kdo?: From Cyberspace to Theatre Space. Gender Forum, 31(n/a), e-e. ISSN 1613-1878
From Blood to Athletes: 30 years of feminist performance making - an analytic reflection (provisional)
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. From Blood to Athletes: 30 years of feminist performance making - an analytic reflection (provisional). In: Jan Sewell and Abigail Rokison, eds. The Palgrave Handbook of the History of Women on Stage. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Independent Theatre as a Political Position
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2013. Independent Theatre as a Political Position. In: Rolf C. Hemke, ed. Theatre In The Arab World / Theater im arabischen Sprachraum. Gemany: Theater der Zeit, pp. 104-107. ISBN 978-3-943881-28-8
Retracing Our Steps... On When We Were Birds, A Work in Progress
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2013. Retracing Our Steps... On When We Were Birds, A Work in Progress. In: Nicola Shaughnessy, ed. Affective Performance and Cognitive Science: Body, Brain and Being. London: Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, pp. 57-68. ISBN 978-1-4081-8577-3
Making A Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the Hysteric Dance
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2011. Making A Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the Hysteric Dance. In: Johannes Birringer and Josephine (Hg.) Fenger, eds. Dance & Choreomania. Leipzig: Henschel, pp. 197-210. ISBN 978-3-89487-710-1
Performing in Glass: Reproduction, Technology, Performance and the Bio-Spectacular
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2006. Performing in Glass: Reproduction, Technology, Performance and the Bio-Spectacular. In: Geraldine Harris and Elaine Aston, eds. Feminist Futures? Theatre, Performance, Theory. Basingstoke; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 149-168. ISBN 9781403945327 HB 9781403945334 PB
Gorgeous: A Journey of the Body
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2003. Gorgeous: A Journey of the Body. In: Rosamunde Hutt, ed. Theatre Centre: Plays for Young People. Aurora Metro Publications, pp. 138-162. ISBN 0954233050
Those Who Can Do Teach
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2002. Those Who Can Do Teach. In: Maria M. Delgado and Caridad Svich, eds. Theatre in Crisis? Performance Manifestos for a New Century. Manchester; New York: University of Manchester Press, pp. 64-73. ISBN 978-0719062919
A Spectacle of Suffering
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2000. A Spectacle of Suffering. In: Graham Coulter-Smith; James A. Walker and Maurice Owen, eds. The Visual-Narrative Matrix: Interdisciplinary Collisions and Collusions. Southampton: Southampton Institute of Higher Education, pp. 73-77. ISBN 978-1874011095
THEATRE IN PIECES: POLITICS, POETICS AND INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION. AN ANTHOLOGY OF PLAY TEXTS, 1966-2010
Furse, Anna F. D., ed. 2011. THEATRE IN PIECES: POLITICS, POETICS AND INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATION. AN ANTHOLOGY OF PLAY TEXTS, 1966-2010. London: Methuen. ISBN 978-1-4081-3996-7
Gender and Performance: Theatre / Dance / Technology
Furse, Anna F. D., ed. 2010. Gender and Performance: Theatre / Dance / Technology.