Dr John Matthews

Dr John Matthews

Associate Professor in Theatre

School of Humanities and Performing Arts (Faculty of Arts and Humanities)


Lecturer in Theatre and Performance


PhD, University of Surrey BA (Hons) 1st Class, Goldsmiths College, University of London AHRC Research Fellowship, 2013-2015 The Award for Excellence in the Field of Drama, University of London, 2004

Teaching interests

training, acting, theatre-making, theatre philosophy,

Research interests

training, acting, philosophy of embodiment, contemporary performance practices

Grants & contracts

AHRC Research Fellowship, 2013-2015 Research Fellow of the Stanislavski Centre, 2009-2011

Creative practice & artistic projects

NOTES TO HELP PEOPLE Aug. 2013 Exeter Phoenix THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER Aug. 2012 Roland Levsinky Building, Plymouth DAGENHAM ART BRUT June 2010 Theatre 503, London I THOUGHT OF THE SUN AND THE SEA Dec 2009 SHUNT vaults, London TALK TRASH Sept. 2007 South Bank Centre, London DELPHI, TEXAS May 2005 Pleasance Theatre, London 280, 000, 000, 000 March 2004 The Old Operating Theatre, London HECTOR / ACHILLES May 2003 Boiler Room Theatre, London FRIDAY ON MY MIND June-Oct 1992 BBC Film Drama

Anatomy of Performance Training, London: Methuen Drama, 2014 Training for Performance, London: Methuen Drama, 2011 A Life of Ethics and Performance, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2011 & 2014 ‘CORPSING’ 2014 & 2011 in A Life of Ethics and Performance ‘WHAT IS A WORKSHOP?’ Nov. 2012 in Theatre Dance & Performance Training journal ‘ACTING FREELY’ Nov. 2009 in Performance Research journal

Reports & invited lectures

‘ANATOMY: JOHN MATTHEWS IN CONVERSATION WITH DAWN KEMP’ June 2014 Centre of the Body, University of London ‘THE SIGNIFICANCE OF STRESS IN DRAMA SCHOOL TRAINING’ Jan. 2011 Research Seminars on Theory, Practice & History of Performance at Goldsmiths University of London ‘TRAINING IN THE CLINIC, THE CLOISTER AND THE STUDIO’ Nov. 2009 Spirituality, Education and Exegesis Lecture Series at Liverpool Hope University ‘ASKEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS’ Feb. 2007 How To Act, international conference at Central School of Speech and Drama ‘THE BODY IN THE MAGIC BOX’ Oct. 2006 The Centre of Theatre Research in Europe at Roehampton University ‘INSCRIBING THE PALIMPSEST FLESH’ Jan. 2005 The Changing Body Symposium, international conference at Exeter University

Additional information

Esteem: 'At a time in actor training institutions when the pressure is on to make vocational training more efficient/economical/expedient, it is refreshing and challenging to encounter a work of deep philosophical reflection and critical examination about what it is we think we are doing to, or for, those who want to become professional actors. This is not yet another book on acting techniques or systems - rather, more importantly, Matthews calls upon teachers and students alike to look "beneath the skin” as it were and "make strange" our valuing of, approaches to and experiences of, training. His lyrical meditations on various anatomical "parts" of the embodied, human experience stretch us to consider afresh what is natural and "un-natural" such that this polarity is no longer what it seems. One comes away from reading this book with many new insights and questions that hopefully will evoke new conversations for healthily sustainable training practices.' Dr Mark Seton, Honorary Associate, Department of Performance Studies, University of Sydney, Australia. ‘Shamelessly eclectic and enduringly thought provoking, John Matthews' latest intervention into performance training criticism is a highly engaging study. Using an innovative structure of training-as-anatomy - HAND, FOOT, MOUTH, HEART, EAR - Matthews treats us to a delicately layered discussion of the 'nascent ideology of training', navigating confidently between evocative vignettes of training experiences to an applied critique of western philosophical thought. Throughout, it is simply and beautifully illustrated, interwoven with a discussion of the craft of woodcutting and printing, prompting us to think productively about the parallel tracks of competence, expertise and mastery.’ Jonathan Pitches, Professor of Theatre and Performance, University of Leeds 'In this brilliantly conceived and imaginatively structured book, Matthews opens up the field of training for performance in new and unexpected ways. His erudite yet accessible style is sure to appeal to students and general readers keen to discover why training (and resistance to training) has become so important to the practice of theatre-making' Adrian Kear, Professor of Theatre & Performance, Aberystwyth University 'a thoughtful, stimulating and wide-ranging text that moves seamlessly across disparate fields of performance and reflects both on their specificities and their similarities' Franc Chamberlain, Professor of Drama, University of Huddersfield 'Anatomy of Performance Training provides the student of performance with a wonderful opportunity to delve into the profound physical and philosophical world of the body filled with exciting insights and stimulating provocations and challenges, thus deepening their theoretical understanding as well as their practice. This beautifully illustrated philosophical and theoretical perspective on practice captures an original, clear and compelling insight into the relationship between the body and contemporary performance practice. Anatomy of Performance Training proposes original innovative insights on the link between theory and practice in performance training and contributes new experiential perspectives to a growing body of writing about practice. Each chapter is woven beautifully around a specific body part and opens to the student the symbolic and practical significance of that body part in the context of contemporary performance practice. Anatomy of Performance Training invites the practitioner and reader on a physical journey into the philosophical and theoretical world of practice. It provides detailed analysis of the use of the hand, foot, ear, mouth, and heart in performance training and discusses the symbolic and practical significance of that body part in training and in a wider artistic and commercial context.' Niamh Dowling, Head of School of Performance at Rose Bruford John Matthews returns to ground he would never call ‘his own’, but a terroir marked ‘training’ that has provided the fertile soil for his recent work. On this occasion, in collaboration with woodcut artist Andy Park, an uncertain kind of ‘know how’ begins to emerge from meditations that allow him to make neighbours of Tom Daley and John The Baptist. While eminent philosophical figureheads such as Peter Sloterdijk are just getting around to relations between personal training and the self-help generation, Anatomy of Performance Training insists such historical processes of preparation for work are ontological and critical to the evolution of the human being. Alan Read, Professor of Theatre and Director of Performance Foundation, King’s College London. This is an exciting project. The book, in opening out the question of performance training beyond the manual or the historical and into a philosophical context, is timely and much needed a unique take on the whole issue of training Anna Furse: Director of the MA in Performance Making at Goldsmiths, Artistic Director of Athletes of the Heart and previously Artistic Director of Paines Plough among other companies rather than just being a survey of a field, or an idiosyncratic take on practical language, is asking a priori questions about the etymology and application of ‘training’ in contemporary practices both in industry and in academy. a fresh, innovative and structured account of ‘training’ in vocational applications and future implications for a new welcome discourse in research. Zachary Dunbar: Lecturer, MA Music Theatre, MA Performance Practices & Research, Central School of Speech and Drama Training for Performance is the first work of its kind; not in the sense that it addresses training for performance, but in that it invites a critical questioning of the imperatives and the rhetoric which govern academic and practical concerns for training alike. What makes this book so important is not only that it offers an interesting and contrasting set of accounts of training, but that in examining the differing economies and cultural politics within which they operate, it begins to shape a field of enquiry – ‘askeology’ – rather than simply respond to it. Dr Martin Welton: Lecturer in Performance, Queen Mary University of London John has a very useful and unique take on actor training methodologies His book would be very useful to students, performers and professional who train actors or who are interested in the process of performance. Professor Michael Earley: Principal and Chief Executive Rose Bruford A key contribution of the work, perhaps, is its unwillingness to take the value of training for granted, but instead to take training’s claims for value ‘seriously’, and to look closely at the terms upon which such value is constructed. Professor Joe Kelleher: Roehampton University London