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Cass Fleming

Staff details

PositionLecturer
Email c.fleming (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone+44 (0)20 7078 5110
Cass Fleming

Cass Fleming:  Webpage update

 

I originally worked as an actor before transitioning to directing and teaching.  I trained at WAC, Goldsmiths, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and wrote a PhD on the use of play in actor training addressing the work of Michael Chekhov and Suzanne Bing.

Over the past thirty years I have trained in a broad range of embodied performance and acting practices including: Michael Chekhov Technique and the French play-based traditions, including the techniques developed by Bing, Lecoq and the post-Lecoq tradition.  As a trained teacher, I have a life-long commitment to the teaching and nurturing of young artists from all backgrounds.  

My specialism is play-based actor training, directing and theatre making methods, specifically the work of Suzanne Bing, Jacques Copeau and Jacques Lecoq,  Joan Littlewood’s work with Theatre Workshop, and Michael Chekhov.  After training in the French tradition in the mid-1980s, Clive Barker introduced me to the work of Littlewood in the mid-1990s; I began using Chekhov Technique in 1998. 

 My theoretical research explores how relational play-based practices can increase creativity, provide agency to artists, and lead to alternative performance making and directing processes.  This strand of my pedagogy and research also connects to what I have come to term as ‘Genealogy of Actor Training’ which seeks to identify, use, analyse and promote methods developed by artists who have been marginalised or over-looked in dominant actor training histories and practices.  This includes the work of Suzanne Bing and other women in the French play tradition in the early and mid-twentieth century. I am currently developing a related publication and have a forthcoming book section written with Professor Mark Evans that addresses the way in which Suzanne Bing collaborated with Jacques Copeau (see publications).

 Much of my current work is based on Michael Chekhov Technique and I am a Senior Associate of MCUK (http://www.michaelchekhov.org.uk/).  From 2013-2016 I led the major multi-institutional research project, Michael Chekhov Technique in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways, with

Dr Tom Cornford and a large team of international researchers and practitioners.  This research project made important contributions to both practice-based and scholarly research in the UK and internationally (https://www.cassfleming.com/new-pathways/). I am now Project Director of the next phase of this project Michael Chekhov Technique: New Pathways in Community, Therapeutic and Health Contexts.  Artistically, I am the Director of The Chekhov Collective, which fosters collaborative exchange between practitioners and practice-based researchers (https://www.cassfleming.com/chekhovcollective/). 

 

Academic Qualifications

 

  • PhD Performing Arts, De Montfort University
    Supervised by Professor Ramsay Burt and Mike Huxley
  • MA Performance Studies (practical/theoretical), distinction
    Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • BA Hons. Theatre Arts and English
    Goldsmiths, University of London

Teaching

 

My students are always at the forefront of my work; developing them is my inspiration. Over 25 years, I have built an extensive portfolio of teaching, coaching and mentoring actors, directors, dancers, theatre-makers, dramaturges and pedagogues.  I have worked with a broad range of students in the community and at Foundation, BA, MA, MPhil and PhD level in drama schools such as Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and Rose Bruford, and in various universities. In the professional sector, I have taught Michael Chekhov Technique at Royal National Theatre Studio and The Young Vic Genesis Programme.

 

At Goldsmiths, I have managed and taught 15 different practice-based courses, options and the final productions. For undergraduate students in Theatre and Performance, I developed the bespoke Personal and Professional Development Programme and established the BA Professional Alumni Network. Currently, I teach on theoretical modules and convene the three Processes of Performance modules: The Ensemble; Encounters with Space; and Politics of Play, Plays and Playing.

 

Areas of supervision

My particular interests in supervising are: actor and director training; play in actor training, direction, and theatre making; Michael Chekhov Technique both within and beyond the theatre; the work of Suzanne Bing, Jacques Copeau, and Jacques Lecoq; the work of Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop; radical pedagogy, play and performance; alternative feminist and queer genealogies of performer training and theatre making; embodied and devised theatre practice and history; clown, mask and mime practice; European directorial practices of the twentieth and twenty first century; dance-theatre practice; and new developments in the field of applied performance.

 

Professional Experience

Prior to becoming a teacher and lecturer I worked as a performer, assistant director, assistant choreographer and subsequently a director with companies such as Second Stride, Rubicon Performance and Flaming Theatre. As a director, I have adapted plays and other texts, devised embodied theatre, mime and dance-theatre (https://www.cassfleming.com/projects/).  Before working for many years in ENO Baylis (English National Opera’s Education, Community and Outreach team) I had a spell working in television. I have also worked as an academic consultant and external examiner, I am a frequent referee for Bloomsbury Methuen Drama, and am on the advisory board of a number of research projects.

 

Selected work

 

  • 2013-2016. Co-Project Director. Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-First Century: New Pathways  (https://www.cassfleming.com/new-pathways/).
    • Knowledge production, exchange and transfer events 2013-2016 culminating in a conference and research events at Goldsmiths University of London, September 2016
    • Forthcoming Book Publication
      Fleming, C and Cornford, T (eds.) Michael Chekhov Technique in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (2018).
    • A multi-institutional research project that involved Goldsmiths University of London, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Queen Mary University of London, University of Kent and the professional organisations Michael Chekhov UK and The Chekhov Collective. This innovative, international, and interdisciplinary project brought together professional practitioners and scholars to investigate new uses of Michael Chekhov Technique both within and beyond the theatre and produced new critical discourse.
  • 2017 – ongoing. Project Director. Michael Chekhov in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways in Community, Therapeutic and Health Contexts.
  • Knowledge production, exchange and transfer events 2018-2020

o   Report and practitioners’ toolkit 2020

 

  • A multi-institutional practice-as-research project that involves Goldsmiths University of London, Queen Mary University of London, University of Kent, Bazooka Arts, The Chekhov Collective and a team of therapists, clinical psychotherapists and cultural psychiatrists. The lead researchers are Zoe Brooks, Martin Sharp, Dr Cass Fleming, Dr Caoimhe McAvinchey and Dr Roanna Mitchell.

 

         

  • 2013 – ongoing. Director of The Chekhov Collective.
    The Chekhov Collective fosters collaborative exchange between practitioners and practice-based researchers across different arts disciplines and career stages.  The workshops and events explore new developments in arts practices, their application within and beyond the context of theatre and performance, and foster lively critical debate (https://www.cassfleming.com/chekhovcollective/). 

 

 

  • 2018 – forthcoming. Evans, M and Fleming, C. ‘Jacques Copeau’ in The European Great Directors, Volume 3: Copeau, Komisarjevsky and Guthrie, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (2018)

 

Publications

 

Book: Evans, M and Fleming, C. (2018) ‘Jacques Copeau’ in The European Great Directors, Volume 3:  Copeau, Komisarjevsky and Guthrie, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama (2018)

Book: Fleming, C and Cornford, T (eds.) (2018) Michael Chekhov Technique in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways, Bloomsbury Methuen Drama.

Paper: Fleming, C (2016) ‘Chekhov’s Embodied Play’ University of Kent, Paper for post-graduate students.

Paper: Fleming, C, Cornford, T, Mitchell, R and Members of The Chekhov Collective (2015) ‘Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-first Century: New Pathways Research Project – The first phase’

Goldsmiths Public Performance Research Forum, Dis-Play, Department of Theatre and Performance

Paper: Fleming, C (2014) ‘Genealogies of Actor Training: The work of Suzanne Bing’
Queen Mary, University of London, Research Quorum.

Article: Fleming, C, Rushe, S and Cornford, T  (2013) 'The Michael Chekhov Centre UK Past, Present and Future: An Inter-Generational Dialogue,' an edited selection of interviews with Sarah Kane, Graham Dixon and Martin Sharp in Franc Chamberlain and Andrey Kirillov (eds.), 'Michael Chekhov in the C21st: New Sources, New Contexts, New Perspectives,' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Special Issue 4.2, Routledge, 2013.

Paper: Fleming, C (2009) ‘Michael Chekhov’s Play Methodology’
De Montfort University Postgraduate Conference
School of Visual and Performing Arts, De Montfort University, Leicester

Paper: Fleming, C (2009) ‘Michael Chekhov’s Play Methodology’
Department of Theatre and Performance Research Seminar Series
Goldsmiths, University of London

 

Selected practice-as-research and productions  (https://www.cassfleming.com/projects/). 

 

2003-2004       Flaming Theatre, London, Co-Director and Co-Devisor
- Co-Directed Jarman Garden with Ben Gove.  A queer fantasia on the life and work of Derek Jarman integrating original film with visual and physical performance.

- Co-Devised the show with Ben Gove and the Company
- 3 week run at the Riverside Studios, London 2004

 

Co-Directed and co-devised Jarman Garden with Ben Gove
Flaming Theatre, Riverside Studios, London 2004.  UK tour to regions in development.
A fantasia on the life and work of Derek Jarman integrating original film with visual and physical performance.  Co-Directed and co-devised Jarman Garden with Ben Gove
Flaming Theatre, Riverside Studios, London 2004.  UK tour to regions in development.
A fantasia on the life and work of Derek Jarman integrating original film with visual and physical performance. 1997-2006       Rubicon Performance Company London, Artistic Director
Director and Co-devisor on various productions in the UK and Australia

 

2002 - 2006 - Directed and Co-devised Passed Between Us
2006 La Mama, Melbourne, 2002 Battersea Arts Centre, 2002 Chats Palace, 2002 The Jerwood Space London
- A collaborative project devised with writer SJ Griffin (Winner of the Soho Westminster Prize and Verity Bargate Shortlistee) and actor Tamara Harrison. Revived for La Mama as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

- Sponsored by the Jerwood Space.

 

2001 - Directed and Co-devised Recollections
- Inspired by Marguerite Duras’ Eden Cinema, her writings, and colonial history
- Cockpit Theatre, London. Sponsored by the Jerwood Space.

- Sponsored by the Jerwood Space.

 

2000 - Directed and co-devised Creative Mistrust
- A re-working of Peter Handke’s Self-Accusation playfully challenging Handke’s notion of Sprechstücke.
- Cockpit Theatre, London.

- Sponsored by the Jerwood Space

2000 - Directed and co-devised Pea Theory
- A show exploring surveillance and scientific observation based on Georg Büchner’s Woyceck
- The Gym, London

1998 - Directed and co-devised Platform

- A Devised dance-theatre production based on the troupe of Ophelia
- The Gym, London  

Research Interests

  • Play in actor training and theatre making. In particular the techniques developed by Michael Chekhov, Suzanne Bing, Jacques Copeau, Jacques Lecoq and Joan Littlewood
  • Michael Chekhov Technique
  • Clown, mask and mime practice in the French tradition (Bing, the Dastés, Barrault, Lecoq, post Lecoq)
  • Embodied / Physical Theatre practice and history
  • Devised performance practice and history
  • Dance-theatre
  • European directorial practices of the twentieth and twenty first century
  • Radical pedagogy in actor training and theatre making
  • Practical research methodologies
  • Cross-arts performance

Recent research

Michael Chekhov in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways Project

This is a tri-institutional research project that involves Goldsmiths, the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the professional organisation Michael Chekhov UK (www.michaelchekhov.org.uk).

The research team for this project includes:

Dr Tom Cornford (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London), Graham Dixon (MCUK), Dr Cass Fleming (Goldsmiths, University of London), Sarah Kane (MCUK), Dr Caoimhe McAvinchey (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Roanna Mitchell (University of Kent), Sinéad Rushe (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London), Martin Sharp (MCUK) and Daron Oram (Royal Central School of Speech and Drama).

This innovative project builds on current experiments and aims to bring together professional practitioners and scholars from various disciplines to investigate new uses of Chekhov’s techniques both within and beyond the theatre in the twenty first century.  The project seeks to explore how Chekhov’s techniques can now be used in contexts other than actor training designed for the interpretation of existing dramatic literature.  

The New Pathways Research and Training Group based at Goldsmiths was launched in 2013 to start to explore these areas and various practitioners have been involved since this time.

The outcomes of this project will be discussed in the forthcoming publication Michael Chekhov Technique in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways, Methuen Drama (2017). 

Publications

Performance

Jarman Garden
Fleming, Cass and Gove, B.. 2004. Jarman Garden. In: "Jarman Garden", Riverside Studios, 2/17/2004 - 3/6/2004.

Passed Between Us
Fleming, Cass and SJ, G.. 2002. Passed Between Us. In: "Passed Between Us", Battersea Arts Centre, 3/1/2002 - 3/30/2002.

Project

Michael Chekov inthe 21st Century: New Pathways
Fleming, Cass. 2018. Michael Chekov inthe 21st Century: New Pathways.

Article

‘The Michael Chekhov Centre UK Past, Present and Future: an Inter-Generational Dialogue.’ An edited selection of interviews with Sarah Kane, Graham Dixon and Martin Sharp. Co authors: Tom Cornford, Cass Fleming and Sinéad Rushe in Franc Chamberlain and Andrey Kirillov (eds), ‘Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-first Century: New Sources, New Contexts, New Perspectives.’
Fleming, Cass. 2013. ‘The Michael Chekhov Centre UK Past, Present and Future: an Inter-Generational Dialogue.’ An edited selection of interviews with Sarah Kane, Graham Dixon and Martin Sharp. Co authors: Tom Cornford, Cass Fleming and Sinéad Rushe in Franc Chamberlain and Andrey Kirillov (eds), ‘Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-first Century: New Sources, New Contexts, New Perspectives.’. Theatre, Dance & Performance Training, 4(2), ISSN 1944-3927

‘Michael Chekhov’s Embodied Play’ in Franc Chamberlain and Andrey Kirillov (eds), ‘Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-first Century: New Sources, New Contexts, New Perspectives.’
Fleming, Cass. 2013. ‘Michael Chekhov’s Embodied Play’ in Franc Chamberlain and Andrey Kirillov (eds), ‘Michael Chekhov in the Twenty-first Century: New Sources, New Contexts, New Perspectives.’. Theatre, Dance & Performance Training, 4(2), ISSN 1944-3927

Book

Michael Chekhov in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways
Fleming, Cass. 2018. Michael Chekhov in the Twenty First Century: New Pathways. London: Bloomsbury Methuen.

Book Section

'Jacques Copeau' in The Great Directors, Vol 3, Copeau, Komisarjevsky and Guthrie
Fleming, Cass and Evans, Mark. 2018. 'Jacques Copeau' in The Great Directors, Vol 3, Copeau, Komisarjevsky and Guthrie. In: Jonathan Pitches, ed. The Great Directors. 3 London: Bloomsbury Methuen.