For twenty years with fellow professor John K. Wilson at Cornish College of the Arts we ran a class called ‘Auto-Cours’, which was patterned after a pedagogy devised by Jacques Lecoq at his studio in France. The curriculum we created was an investigation: into how people collaborate as art-makers, how different collaborative processes effect artistic outcomes, what prevents groups from achieving their artistic goals, and what compromises and discoveries they might make along the way. The class was our laboratory with students for understanding group process and through our work together we not only explored the core concepts of theatre arts, such as space, the text, the audience, sound, lighting, stage movement, etc., but also understanding how artistic relationships and interactions between the individual and a group influence the process. This is important because most of us have little concrete training into how a group functions and are not able to critically assess progress towards a common goal; indeed, we are encouraged both socially and educationally to search for the easiest (and most convenient) answer without understanding the process that got us there in the first place. Only by struggling and contending with differing viewpoints and personalities in a working process do we face the reality of our personal perspectives and viewpoints, our closely held beliefs, and of our preconceptions about how collaborations should function to produce a viable product.

This study can be introduced as a short workshop for theater teachers, directors, actors and dramaturgs or as an ongoing investigation: full length productions have been developed by theater companies through this process.

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