Relational Dynamics: the use of coaching techniques in participative performance

Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, Volume 13, Issue 4 (2022)

As the first Artist Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme (2010/11) I was given the opportunity to undertake self-identified training. The coaching training that I undertook with Relational Dynamics 1st had a profound effect not just on my interpersonal relationships but also on the way I conceive and work with audiences in contemporary performance contexts. This article, just published in Theatre, Dance and Performance Training outlines some of ways in which performance training can make use of coaching techniques.

Joshua Sofaer (2022) Relational Dynamics: the use of coaching techniques in participative performance, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2022.2084449

This essay discusses the use of selected coaching approaches – specifically the person-centred philosophy of Carl Rogers, and clean language pioneered by David Grove, as synthesised by Relational Dynamics training given by Deb Bernard – as a key resource in performer training. The essay draws on performance research undertaken between 2012 and 2020 and on professional coaching practice with artists and performers from 2012 until the present. The author examines the possibilities and effects of coaching approaches as a means to facilitate conditions for audience-centred experiences in the context of contemporary performance practice. The careful use of ‘person-centred’, ‘clean language’ and ‘active listening’ on the part of performers, creates the conditions for audiences to feel personally addressed and to heighten emotional response, imbuing performance with audience-specific meaning. At the same time, the context of performance practice can lend coaching techniques a permission and focus to those who might otherwise eschew such forms of interlocution. Taking a coaching approach in works of performance that engage in participation also offers an ethical framework for artists and performers.

Keywords: coaching | person-centred | clean language | active listening | contemporary performance | social practice | participation