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APATA Podcast with Emma Louise Pursey

Posted by Team APATA | Oct 2, 2023

An actor strives to deliver a powerful performance. Even their stillness should pack a punch. Often times though a disconnect happens once they step on stage, or in front of a lens, that leaves their audience unaffected.

Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki felt that disconnection. That loss of energy in his actors’ performances created a “talking heads” effect that left him underwhelmed. Suzuki wanted more. A way to harness an actor’s energy. To create a way to centre and ground yourself. Let the tension drop away, inside the high-pressure stakes of performance.

Suzuki gathered inspiration from the ancient forms of Greek, Kabuki and Noh Theatre as well as Dance and Martial Arts. In amalgamating these disciplines, he formed a repertoire of exercises that would feed the invisible body. Connecting mind, body and voice Suzuki’s holistic approach became known as the Suzuki Method of Actor Training.

Emma Louise Pursey is a 25-year veteran of the Suzuki Method of Actor Training. Evolving the exercises and developing Integrated Actor Training, which she facilitates at 16th Street Actors Studio and the National Theatre.

The training is at times challenging both physically and mentally, but the reward is awareness of body, mind and voice and energised embodiment in performance.

The entry point is simply just building that awareness first. Because ultimately what you want to give actors is autonomy. And you want to be creating actors who are forensic detectives of their own faculties.

We last spoke to Pursey between Covid shutdowns in Victoria and shared her journey from ballet to Frank Theatre (Oz Frank) Alum; ‘precision camp’ company Brides of Frank co-founder; to producer, actor & educator. Discover more by checking out her APATA Member Spotlight article HERE.

In this month’s podcast episode APATA’s Managing Director Yolande Smith and Emma Louise Pursey discuss educating actors, the benefits of Integrated Actor Training based on the Suzuki Method of Actor Training, and the creative process in today’s technologically evolving world. “Technology is so democratic”, Pursey says, “It opens up the options to take your power back. You can really explore your own creativity and get it out there. ”

Earlier this year Pursey revised and revitalised her 19-year-old script for a one-woman show called “Where is Joy” about the life of Joy Hester. Hester was Melbourne’s first female modernist and the only woman allowed into the Heide circle of artists known as the Angry Penguins. That reading led to an invitation to the estate of Hester’s fellow artist and friend, Barbara Blackman, and a private reading to the renowned artist.

“I actually interviewed her (Blackman) back in 2005”, recalled Pursey, “So, to make good on that all these years later and sit beside one of the significant elders of Australian Arts was a pretty incredible highlight of my life. “

Pursey’s point of view is thorough and highly evocative of a life dedicated to exploration of the ‘possible’. Curiosity plays a big part in her life and work and Pursey’s advice for students and emerging artists is to stay curious about the world, about people and their stories. Also, to remain curious about themselves and begin that journey of self-discovery which is the greatest journey of all.


Image by Amelia Julie Dowd





ELP’s APATA Member Spotlight Article

ELP’s APATA Podcast Episode Page


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