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A Short History of Kantor at Bruford

Kantor studies at Rose Bruford is an exploration and celebration of European theatre, which began in 1998 when the former Vice Principal Professor Robert Cannon voiced concern that actor training programmes in the UK were working in aspic. This was because, he believed, there was a general lack of awareness about the other types of training from the continent, which did not seek to represent reality as it we see it but to challenge perceptions of it as well. Professor Kathy Dacre came to RBC to set up the American Theatre Arts and European Theatre Arts programmes to address the problem. Prior to this she was a doctoral student of the renowned Professor Richard Schechner at New York University in the early 1980s. Here, she developed a module in European theatre, which Jerzy Grotowski and Peter Brook contributed to.

Into the mix was added Professor Nesta Jones, who was head of drama at Goldsmiths before becoming Director of Research at RBC. After the fall of the Berlin wall, she set up CONCEPTS (Consortium of Communication of European Performance and Theatre Studies) with Professor Noel Witts and Dr Gerald Lidstone. The organisation acted as a way to forge relationships between eastern European countries and the west. To this end, an Erasmus programme was established with the University of Utrecht in the 1990s as a way to discuss how to address the new Europe. Noel Witts first encountered Kantor in the mid-1980s when he saw a production of The Dead Class at Riverside Studios. He was so impressed with the performance that he organised a Kantor conference in Krakow in the late 1990s, which was attended by Michal Kobialka and Richard Demarco. Nesta came to RBC in 2001 to lead the MA in Theatre Practices degree and included Kantor as a key practitioner as part of the How Do We Learn as Artists? module.

The European Theatre Arts programme was validated at RBC in 1999 with Emelio Romero as its head. Emelio and Jason Arcaro became interested in Kantor during their practice research work with students on European practitioners. Jason went on to complete a doctorate and he continues to teach Kantor in Japan. Kantor studies became a model of collaborative research at RBC.

Alexia Kokkali took over as head of ETA after Jason Arcaro left in 2009. In 2010, the first Kantor show was produced and transferred to the Edinburgh Fringe, where Alexia met Andrzej Welminski. She invited them to direct Kantor shows at RBC. The Welminskis have since devised and directed four productions.

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