To what extent is contemporary ensemble theatre practice influenced by the traditions and practices of its antecedents? How might these influence your own practice within context of an ensemble company?

Written for my masters, January 2012

A shared aesthetic, shared motives, collaboration and artistic freedom. Each of these things is seen as important to the work of an ensemble. For an ensemble to function properly, it is important to find common ground in each of these areas. Having a group of individuals working closely together, at a high level of intensity, for an extended period of time is what separates the ensemble way of working from the more ‘traditional’ producing theatre company structure. It has long been established that consistency of members is vital to what makes ensemble movements successful – this allows the group to explore each other, and themselves, over long periods of time, and to a greater degree of depth. It is a challenge, to work so closely with others for such extended, intense periods of time. Within the folds of a regular cast of performers, this challenge to work closely is only for a relatively short period. But as Peter Brook says about the work of Grotowski, working within a dedicated ensemble presents a challenge “not for a fortnight, not for once in a lifetime. Daily”[1]. This collaboration and exploration of each ensemble member can lead to discovery of new skills and unknown talents, as well as fostering of a deeper understanding of what is important to create truly new and exciting work.

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