Anna Furse is a professional theatre artist, academic researcher, creative and critical writer. She Directs the MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths - an international laboratory programme in performer-driven theatre/dance/live art making. She designed and convenes the BA in DTA Comedy and Satire and supervises undergraduate Dissertations and Practice Research PhD students. She curates the Performance Research Forum (PRF) - currently entering its 28th programme - for which she received a Peake Teaching Award in 2005. She is currently the Department’s Co-Director of Research. She is co-director, with medical historian Dr Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, of the interdisciplinary Centre of the Body. As Head of Department of Theatre and Performance 2011 - 2015, one of her key projects was the refurbishment of the George Wood Theatre and Studios that opened in 2018.
As one of the handful of first-generation of women directors in the UK, she uniquely blended feminist issues with Laboratory Theatre research in the early 1980s, earning her innovative international-touring feminist project Bloodgroup 1979 – 1986 critical acclaim and a London home at the ICA. Together with Suzy Gilmour, Kate Owen, Sylvia Hallet, Rick Fisher and other collaborators, she co-created 6 devised works that toured Europe, and directed Deborah Levy’s CLAM in 1985. Originally a classically trained dancer (The Royal Ballet School, where she received twice the Annual Choreographic Prize from Sir Frederick Ashton and Leonid Massine respectively), she developed her own movement training methodology based on a range of influences from her assisting at Peter Brook’s CIRT in Paris; ‘paratheatre’ with Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium, Poland; post-modern dance (e.g. Contact Improvisation) and martial arts (e.g. Tai 'Chi, Capoeira and Aikido). Her methodology was digitally archived for her research as a selected National Artist with the Arts Council England (ACE)-funded Choreographic Lab at the University of Northampton also supported by a CELT Fellowship from Goldsmiths (Graphic Body). Along with Laurie Booth, Kirstie Simpson and co (Transitional Identity) she introduced Contact Improvisation to a new UK and European audience and HEIs 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 London dance centre.
Professional direction and writing
An award-winning theatre director-writer, staging modern and new plays, classics and a range of devised works as well as her own commissioned creations, she has collaborated closely with some distinguished theatre artists including Peter Brook’s pioneering scenographer Sally Jacobs, lighting designer Rick Fisher, composers Stephen Warbeck and Graeme Miller, and musicians David Coulter and Henry Dagg. She has produced her work in a range of contexts, from repertory to applied theatres, ‘sci-art’ to experimental laboratory environments. In the 1980s she worked as movement director at the RSC and directed for numerous UK companies including Graeae, Scarlet Harlets and Womens Theatre Group (Sphynx). She has received many ACE Awards, Bursaries and Grants over the years as well as funding from the AHRC, the British Academy, Impact and People Awards and Small Grants from the Wellcome Trust. She was appointed Artistic Directorship of the new writing company Paines Plough 1990 - 1995, with whom she developed a pioneering programme of innovative touring productions, dialogic collaboration with Live Artists, musicians and dancers (The Pre-Text Laboratory), produced 6 major new writing works, and forged collaborative partnerships in Russia and France. As a Francophone, she was commissioned by the British Council to create a large scale new work to inaugurate a disused abattoir in Chalon Sur Saone (DOWN AND OUT IN PARIS AND LONDON, adapted from George Orwell, 1992), was Consultant on new UK writing at the Comédie de Caen, and presented her productions alongside Howard Barker’s Wrestling School as samples of the best contemporary British work both in Paris at the Theatre de Genevilliers and Theatre de La Métaphore, Lille (1981 - 85). She founded Athletes of the Heart in 2003 that remains an active company. Her productions have toured Eastern and Western Europe as well as in Asia, the Middle East and the USA, whilst she has co-produced internationally with theatres in France, Serbia, and Slovenia. She has taught workshops for over thirty years in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Poland, Greece, Lebanon, India, China, Singapore, Colombia and the USA, and held teaching posts that include 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, whose new BA in Performing Arts she had previously Validated. She has been Visiting Professor to the Program in Theater and Dance at Princeton University, USA, and Consultant and Guest Tutor for the Academy of Visual Arts, Ljubljana. She was recently Guest Tutor for Deree Athens, Beijing Dance Academy and Beijing Nanluoguxiang Performing Arts Festival; Artist in Residence at the Michael Cakoyiannis Foundation, Athens (where she produced other people's shoes) and a Symposium on arts activism in a zero-cultural budget environment, 2016); at Javeriana University, Bogota; and Trinity College, Dublin (Provost’s Fund for the Visual and Performing Arts, 2018). She has been External Examiner of several universities including University of Brighton and the MA in Scenography and Practice at Central St Martins, University of the Arts. In 2007, she was awarded an ArtsAdmin Roaming Bursary with which she travelled to India and Poland to work with the Grotowski duo Jola Cynkutis and Khalid Tyabji, and deepened her sense of scenography by studying privately with Sally Jacobs. She is a member of several professional artist networks, The Directors Guild UK and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.
Extra-departmental contribution at Goldsmiths
Includes as recipient of two Goldsmiths Learning, Teaching and Assessment Fellowships: Assessing Ephemeral Practice (2007/8), The Research/Teaching Nexus(2008/9); she was a member of the academic development team with Lasalle, Singapore; currently she is in the Athena Swan Working Group, remains a long-standing member of the Goldsmiths Practice Research Working Group and is on the Editorial Board for Goldsmiths Press. She served on Goldsmiths Learning and Teaching Committee for many years and the College Space Review Group. She currently serves on Goldsmiths’ Academic Board.
Notable recent productions over the past decade
Include: Glass Body: Reflecting on becoming transparent (2007) (Wellcome Trust People Award and ACE); her radio debut as writer/director MY GLASS BODY with Sweet Talk Productions commissioned and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 (2007); in 2008 her co-production Don Juan Who?/Don Juan.Kdo? with Mladinsko Gledalisce, Ljubljana (funded by ACE, The British Council, AHRC, The Victoria Halls Foundation and the British Academy) previewed at Shunt Vaults (2007) and premiered at FeEAST Festival, Riverside Studios and Mladinsko Theatre, Ljubljana (2008). That year she also created an installation GLASS BODY FRAGMENTS for The Gathering at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre, and her childrens’ puppetry piece for The Little Angel Theatre THE PEACH CHILD was performed in regional theatres and at the Cottesloe Theatre (NT) as part of the National Theatre’s New Connections 2008 programme (and published by Faber). In 2009 her play GORGEOUS (produced by Theatre Centre UK, and in Cairo) completed its 4th year 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 part of an Incubate commission for the Little Angel Theatre’s Suspense Festival of adult puppetry. This research continued with a lecture-performance BEING TOUCHED, Goldsmiths and Stratford Circus (2010). Her SEA/WOMAN, with Maja Mitic of DAH Teatar and Antonella Diana of Teatret OM, Denmark, was a Pinter Centre for Performance and Creative Writing Fractured Narratives project, funded by AHRC wwand ACE. This premiered in Belgrade in 2010, toured the UK, headlining Stratford Circus’ Experimental Weekend, and was presented on a British Council-sponsored residency with Zoukak in Beirut (2011). When we were birds, created with peer Royal Ballet dancer Esther Linley, dance/film maker Lucy Cash and composer Graeme Miller, premiered at the Cantieri Culturali Zisa, Palermo (2013). She subsequently presented it as a solo at Live Collision Festival, Dublin and GIFT, Newcastle (2014). Her video installation on hysteria was in the Freud Museum Mad, Bad and Sad programme (2013 – 2014) alongside works by Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas, Helen Chadwick and Louise Bourgeois. This was curated by Dawn Kemp, with whom she subsequently co-curated the Wellcome Trust-funded interdisciplinary talks series INTERIORITY at the Freud Museum and Old Operating Theatre Museum (2017). Following her invitation as an Associate Artist on Jesse Jones’ The Prosperity Project, produced by Create, Ireland (2013/14), she began a three-year Artist Residency with Create’s CAPP EU Project. This has included workshops and talks, her production Anna Furse performs and anatomy act- a show and tell (premiering Live Collision Festival 2016 and performing in Dublin and London), and a digital artwork, IAmNotAPieceOfMeat, that captures this work as an interactive research hub. Her latest production on WW1 shell shock, SHOCKS, created for the Chapel at Craiglockhart, Edinburgh, the former asylum for shell shocked soldiers, was commissioned by Napier Edinburgh (2018). This will be published in her forthcoming book of 4 of her play texts and contextualising theoretical essays for Routledge, Performing Nerves (2020). Following a short performed event TO THE MOON AND BACK with her daughter, Nina Klaff, at The Bush Theatre (2018) they have been commissioned by Fertility Fest 2019 and Motherworks to create a full-length work at The Barbican and Cambridge Junction, (2019).
include: 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 (ed. 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, eds 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; ‘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; Eric Bentley; The Introduction to People Show’s founder Mark Long memoir Everyone Was There and No One Remembers.
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, 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, Sozala Ozden, Ibidem 2007; In 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.
Conference papers and workshops
Anna is a regular speaker and workshop leader at international conferences. Recent Keynote Addresses include, in 2018: Ireland’s National Arts and Health conference Check Up/Check In in Cork, Javeriana University’s conference on ethics and creativity, III Encuentro Javeriano de Arte y Creatividad, and The University of Nantes’ Scène europe - Europe sur scène. Most recent papers have included University of York’s Death and the Culture II and University of Cork’s Living Well With The Dead. Other key papers include e.g. PsI New York University 2007; The Women’s 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; Dejouer l'Injouable (Playing the Unplayable) Colloquium, University of Grenoble, 2013.
Public speaking on her own practice include chairing 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 (2012); with Graeme Miller’s residency at the Nightingale Theatre, Brighton (2012); The Argument Room live stream debating forum, on women’s theatre (2013) ; as guest artist at Vincent Dance Theatre’s The Table (2013); panelist on the Ethics of Play symposium at the Institute of Philosophy, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic to speak and give a workshop about her work with touch (2014); with the London Mental Health Foundation’s Anxiety 2014 Festival of the Arts she co-curated and chaired a panel on Women and the Arts for Parliament Week; chairing a discussion with Contact Gonzo for The Japan Foundation (2014); as founder member of Chisenhale Dance Space anniversary event, and Feminism and Dance: Have things improved? talk, chaired by Jacky Lansley; at the Transit Festival, Odin Teatret, Denmark (2016) and Dah Teatar’s 25th Anniversary celebration, Belgrade (2016).
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 1980s 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.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. Anna Furse Performs An Anatomy Act: A Show and Tell. In: "Anna Furse Performs An Anatomy Act: A Show and Tell", Chisenhale Dance Space, London, United Kingdom.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. Anna Furse Performs An Anatomy Act: A Show and Tell - UK and International Touring 2018. In: "Anna Furse Performs An Anatomy Act: A Show and Tell - UK and International Touring 2018", Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, April-June 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2016. Performance Making Intensive Laboratory with Anna Furse. In: "Other People's Shoes / Public Talk / Weekend Symposium on Activism", Michael Cacoyiannis Foundation, Greece, 7/7/2016-17/7/2016.
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
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
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
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. Foreword to Performance Drawing: New Practices since the 1960s. In: Jane Grisewood, ed. Performance Drawing: New Practices since the 1960s. London: Bloomsbury.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. The Palgrave Handbook Of The History of Women on Stage "Birth, Copulation and Death: Feminist Theatre and Performance Practice across Four Decades". In: , ed. The Palgrave Handbook Of The History of Women on Stage. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
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.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2016. Yerma's Eggs 2003. In: Lena Šimić and Emily Underwood-Lee, eds. Live Art and Motherhood: A Study Room Guide on Live Art and the Maternal. London: Live Art Development Agency, pp. 9-11.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2016. Yerma's Eggs / Subfertility. In: Lena Simic and Emily Underwood-Lee, eds. Live Art & Motherhood: A Study Room Guide on Live Art and the Maternal. Live Art Development Agency, pp. 9-10.
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
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
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
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2011. Making a Spectacle of Herself: Charcot’s Augustine and the hysteric dance. In: Johannes Birringer and Josephine Fenger, eds. Dance & Choreomania. Henschel. ISBN 9783894877101
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
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
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
Conference or Workshop Item
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2019. 'Telling the Story of our Bodies, this will be an audio-visual presentation that animates a digital site: http://www.iamnotapieceofmeat.com/.'. In: Telling the story of the theatre of our bodies This will be an audio-visual presentation that animates a digital site: http://www.iamnotapieceofmeat.com/.. Verona, Italy.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'Being Touched - Theatre as Ethical Practice'. In: Encuentro Javeriano de Arte y Creatividad. Facultad de Artes Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Bogota, Colombia 11th September 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'An Anatomy Act: On death, anatomy and the status of the cadaver'. In: Death and Culture II. University of York, United Kingdom 6-7 September 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'Workshop: I Am Not A Piece Of Meat: Writing the Body'. In: CAPP Practice and Power. Create Dublin, Ireland 20th - 23rd June 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'The Body Spectacular: Hysteria, Subfertility, Anatomy and the Prosthetic Gaze'. In: Neurohumanities Seminar Series. Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'Her Spectacular Body: hysteria, subfertility, anatomy and the prosthetic gaze'. In: Her Spectacular Body. Amsterdam University College, Netherlands 28th March 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2018. 'Theatre as a Model of Collaborative Process and Ethical Framework'. In: Staging Europe - Europe on stage. Universite de Nantes, France 16th - 17th February 2018.
Furse, Anna F. D. and Kemp, Dawn. 2017. 'Interiority: an exploration of the inward gaze 3 interdisciplinary talks'. In: INTERIORITY An Exploration of the Inward Gaze. The Old Operating Theatre Museum, United Kingdom 15 - 16 September 2017.
Furse, Anna F. D.. 2014. 'Artist Talk on collaboration'. In: Success and failure in collaborative project and how they are measured from an artist, critics and participants perspective. Dublin, Ireland 1 December 2014.
Furse, Anna F. D. and Bosch, Susanne. 2019. http://create-ireland.ie/create-news/create-news-26-anna-furse-i-am-not-a-piece-of-meat.
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
Furse, Anna F. D., ed. 2010. Gender and Performance: Theatre / Dance / Technology, Gender Forum: An Internet Journal for Gender Studies, 31.