Academic and research departmentsFaculty of Arts and Social Sciences.
Andrew Davidson is an Australian theatre practitioner, musician, and award-winning teacher. He is Senior Lecturer in Acting & Musical Theatre at Guildford School of Acting (GSA), University of Surrey. Andrew is a graduate of Australia’s National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA). He directs plays, opera, musicals, and cabaret. As Head of Dramatic Arts at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), Andrew established a unique training programme in Acting and Theatre Making. Andrew studied music composition at The University of Sydney. As a composer, he has written for drama, musical theatre, and dance. As a music educator, he is a qualified teacher of Dalcroze Eurhythmics and Kodály Musicianship. As a freelance musician, he plays piano for ballet and contemporary dance. Andrew is a published researcher and has presented at international conferences and symposia.
University roles and responsibilities
- Senior Lecturer in Acting & Musical Theatre
- Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Theatre
- Teaching on all performance programmes
- Wellbeing Champion for GSA
- Mental Health First Aider (MHFA England)
- LGBTQIA+ Awareness Trainer for UoS
Affiliations and memberships
In the media
2015-present: As a Senior Lecturer at GSA, Andrew teaches across all UG & PG programmes in Acting, Actor Musician, Musical Theatre, and Applied Theatre. He has directed projects such as: All My Sons, Away, Everybody's Talking about Jamie, Fiddler on the Roof, The Glass Menagerie, Hedda Gabler, The Heidi Chronicles, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Rabbit Hole, The Seagull, The Taming of the Shrew, and Women of Troy.
2013-2015: As an Associate Lecturer at Drama Centre London, Andrew taught Acting through Song for BA Acting, and Ensemble Singing for MA Acting. He was an Associate at Arts Ed and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Andrew was the Acting Tutor for Central School of Ballet and a Piano Accompanist for London Contemporary Dance. He taught Dalcroze Eurhythmics for Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Dalcroze UK.
2007-2013: As Head of Dramatic Arts at the Australian Institute of Music (AIM), Andrew created and led the Bachelor of Performance degree. Andrew taught Performance Skills, Performance Practice, and Contextual Studies. He directed productions including: Before / After, The Laramie Project, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, On the Razzle, Playhouse Creatures, pool (no water), Women of Troy, and The Who's Tommy.
2001-2006: As Musical Director for Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), Andrew wrote music for plays by Tommy Murphy and Rebel Wilson. He created music for the ATYP Foundation Launch and directed the new writing cabaret, Songs for the Numb. He was named ATYP Tutor of the Year in 2006. In this same period, Andrew directed Tony Kushner's The Illusion, and an acclaimed production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.
Actor training in Western culture evolved as an oral tradition. Formal education appeared in the late-nineteenth century with the work of Konstantin Stanislavski. Despite its relatively brief history, the family tree of theatre pedagogy now consists of many contrasting branches. Several branches contain the creative and educational DNA of an approach to Western music education known as Dalcroze Eurhythmics. Emile Jaques-Dalcroze was a Swiss pianist and composer whose work at the Hellerau Institute near Dresden in Germany had a significant impact on the Modernist movements in theatre and dance, 1911–1914. Historical records show that this embodied method of music learning was disseminated by Hellerau graduates in drama schools and theatre companies around the world. This essay traces four branches on the family tree of theatre pedagogy that are directly influenced by Dalcroze Eurhythmics. These branches include the legacies of Stanislavski in Russia; Jacques Copeau and Suzanne Bing in France; Rudolph Laban and Yat Malmgren in Germany and England; and Sanford Meisner and Anne Bogart in the United States of America. This essay is written from the author’s perspective as an actor trainer and music educator in a higher education conservatoire. It offers historical contexts for contemporary pedagogies in actor training.
Discussion on the role of listening in actor training is limited. Compared with studies on ear training for conservatoire music students, there is a gap in the literature regarding the ways in which student actors acquire and improve listening skills. This paper investigates the musicality inherent in Meisner Technique, an approach to actor training, and points to intersections with ear training in Dalcroze Eurhythmics, an approach to music education. It analyses the common ground between these pedagogical practices, drawing on sources from a variety of domains in which listening is foregrounded. It asserts that Meisner Technique and Dalcroze Eurhythmics promote similar forms of responsive, interpretative, and collaborative listening skills. This paper is written from the author’s interdisciplinary perspective as a teacher of acting and music at a university conservatoire. It offers insight into practical training through a personal, philosophical lens. Its themes are transferable to actor trainers and music educators engaged in continuing professional development.
Across the conservatoire sector, resilience and wellbeing have come into sharp focus during the global pandemic. Until recently, research has paid only limited attention to the field of actor training in this regard. This chapter presents Andrew Davidson, director, musician, teacher, and Wellbeing Champion for Guildford School of Acting (GSA) in conversation with Associate Professor Ian Maxwell, lecturer and researcher at the University of Sydney, and co-author of the Australian Actors’ Wellbeing Study; and Dr Parvinder Shergill, award-winning doctor in mental health for the National Health Service (NHS), writer, actress, and filmmaker. The conversation considers current challenges for acting students and teachers, and the lived experiences of graduates and professionals in the industry. Two viewpoints emerge from the discussion: an individual perspective on the development of self during actor training; and an industrial perspective on the transition into and through the acting profession. The individual perspective gives a snapshot of wellbeing in actor training and offers a creative vision of resilience. The industrial perspective takes an anthropological and phenomenological view of the acting profession and recommends radical cultural change.
The influence of eurhythmics on Actor Training can be viewed as an elaborate and variegated family tree. In this article, I focus on a single branch of that tree. I identify and describe the artistic and pedagogical DNA of eurhythmics within Viewpoints: an approach to Actor Training developed by Anne Bogart in the USA over the past four decades. I begin with a brief outline of the historical and philosophical contexts for eurhythmics and Viewpoints. I illustrate the parallels and intersections between eurhythmics and Viewpoints as I have experienced them as an acting teacher at university and conservatory drama schools. I describe the Viewpoints of Time and Space in practice, and provide examples of complements to be found in eurhythmics. The article offers insight into my perception of a Dalcroze identity within Viewpoints Training that is transferable to eurhythmics teachers engaged in continuing professional development.
Research on the role of the ballet pianist is limited. A gap in the literature concerns the ways in which dance instructors and accompanists ‘make sense’ of their collaboration. The working relationship between a dance teacher and a dance musician in a ballet class was investigated. The researcher, a ballet pianist, conducted a semi-structured, in-depth interview with a ballet-teacher colleague who is also a musician and composer. The data was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), a methodology which takes into account the interpretations of the participant (dance teacher) and the researcher (dance musician). This single case study presents three higher-order themes: ‘the cycle of creativity’ between the teacher, musician, and students; ‘a tonic sense in the body’ facilitated by the musician’s playing; and ‘the ideal situation’ regarding the musician’s sensory awareness during the class. It also reveals two subordinate themes that challenge effective relationships: the students’ perceived response to percussion; and the teacher’s use of recorded music. The results offer insight into specific perceptions and understandings that are transferable to dance teachers and dance musicians engaged in continuing professional development.
This paper explores the fields of actor training and music education in order to illuminate the historical and pedagogical connections between the work of Konstantin Stanislavski and Emile Jaques-Dalcroze. It identifies historical parallels between their artistic practices, including their dedication to rhythm and polyrhythm. It illustrates the ways in which their pedagogical paths crossed. It analyses the artistic lineage that can be drawn from the work of Jaques-Dalcroze at the Hellerau Institute to the work of Stanislavski at the Moscow Art Theatre. This includes the influence of Dalcroze Eurhythmics on the development of Tempo-Rhythm. The paper considers how aspects of Stanislavskian actor training are reflected in aspects of Dalcrozian music education, including ensemble work, intention and emotion, and the evolution of psychophysical performance. It proposes that there is a correlation between the creative process undertaken by an actor on a play text, known as Active Analysis, and the creative process undertaken by a musician on a compositional score, known as Plastique Animée. Comparing the pedagogical principles of Stanislavski and Jaques-Dalcroze from the author’s own perspective as an actor trainer and music educator reveals areas for further research. This paper presents themes that are transferable to artists and educators engaged in continuing professional development.