Immunity to change? Attending to symptoms of culture and cultish in the actor’s training regime

Mark Seton

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Participant observation in places of actor training in Australia has identified instances of transformative actor training across a spectrum – from healthy learning cultures to cultish Master-Apprentice training. While cult-like abuse of power by teachers manifests as perhaps the most transparent mistreatment of student wellbeing, how do we address resistances in students to new learning experiences – what psychologist Robert Kegan and educator Lisa Lahey might describe as “immunity to change” – without undermining the student’s appropriate rights to self-care and respect? When is resistance apparently laziness and when is it a sign of something more that needs compassion and patience? How might both teachers and students participate together in meaning-making that respects the challenges of transformative change as crucial to embodied learning?


Acting; Education; Abuse; Cults; Culture; Resistance

To cite this article

Seton, Mark. “Immunity to Change? Attending to Symptoms of Culture and Cultish in the Actor’s Training Regime.” Fusion Journal, no. 17, 2020, pp. 129-139.

First published online: April 2020

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