‘An Introduction to Physical Actor Training’ – A Leeds based MOOC


Katie Beswick (@ElfinKate) tells you all about ‘An Introduction to Physical Actor Training’, a MOOC, coming soon to a computer near you.

MOOCs, or ‘Massive Open Online Courses’, are all the rage in Higher Education. The new word in digitised distance learning, they offer participants the chance to study at elite institutions, tutored by academic experts, for free. Although I wouldn’t want to pretend they’ve been universally lauded, the most optimistic commentators have pointed out that MOOCs are a step towards the democratisation of education; certainly, they open up the research of some major worldwide institutions  – Harvard, Stanford and MIT all currently offer courses  –  to anybody with internet access who might be interested.

The University of Leeds launch their first MOOCs this spring. These include a ‘mini-mooc’, a three week course on the history of actor training, focussing on the Russian director Meyerhold’s revolutionary technique ‘biomechanics’, led by Professor Jonathan Pitches.

Titled ‘An Introduction to Physical Actor Training’, Professor Pitches’ course includes the chance to experiment with physical exercises as well as providing a grounding in the history and scholarship of biomechanics. ‘It’s for learners interested in theatre history and theatre practice,’ Professor Pitches told me, ‘I’m really looking forward to sharing my research interests online.’

Meyerhold worked alongside contemporaries including Stanislavsky and Michael Chekov, and the course will place his work in a historical context as well as exploring arguments regarding its significance today. Thus the MOOC might be of interest to working actors and directors as well as to students or prospective students of theatre – and just about anybody with a fledgling interest in the subject.

Professor Pitches is an expert in actor training and has published numerous books, chapters and journal articles on the subject – including Vsevolod Meyerhold, an introductory handbook offering an overview of Meyerhold’s life and work.

‘An introduction to Physical Actor Training’ starts on March 10th and you can sign up by visiting the futurelearn website. Just click here.