Stomp in Australia

Dominique Sweeney

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This article investigates one actor training exercise in order to question what we are doing as actor trainers. The Stomp is a particularly strenuous repetitive exercise imported from Japan in the 1990s and still used in Australian actor training systems like John Nobbs and Jacqui Carroll’s ‘NSP’ and Zen Zen Zo’s practice. Another much older stomp from traditional public Aboriginal performance practices exists in styles like wangga and offers knowledges that provide direct ways of appreciating our connection to country. The awareness developed through traditional performance practices involves careful and detailed observation of place. Traditional Aboriginal public performance practices contain deep knowledges of aesthetic and technical connection to country. Connection to country reaches beyond abstract performance aesthetics and physical training. It is a connection to the environment and to the history and future of places that Aboriginal performers embody while sharing their country with their audience. The question we need to ask ourselves is, how as actors and actor trainers do we learn respectfully from the elders of traditional practices that live, walk and breathe the country to tell our stories not as interloping invaders but as artists alongside Aboriginal performers and potential future creators? In negotiation with Traditional Owners Australian Actor Trainers could offer participant student actors power and the right to work respectfully located and developed in place. Actor training practices with an awareness of being emplaced in country is the starting point for representation and connection to ‘play’. Play, a term used by Jacques Lecoq as “le jeu”, is the basis of all acting. To enhance the ability to play actor training at Charles Sturt University extends students imaginations through identification beyond the constricts of the human body and psychology. Actors explore shape, colour, animals, elements, substances and poetry in the great themes of existence – the mundane, love, youth, aging, death, exodus, betrayal, conquest, exaltation, injustice and suffering. Training orients actors in their local environment as a starting point inseparable from the history, politics and social context of that place.


Place; Actor Training; Country; Pedagogy; Theatre; Wangga

To cite this article

Sweeney, Dominique. “Stomp in Australia.” Fusion Journal, no. 17, 2020, pp. 140-149.

First published online: April 2020

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