Darren Tunstall

Darren Tunstall

Head of Theatre
PhD, MA Hons (Cantab), FHEA
+44 (0)1483 683338
19 GSA 00
office hours vary depending on duties


My teaching

My publications


Tunstall D (2017) Lecoq and Shakespeare,In: Evans M, Kemp R (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq30 Routledge
This chapter will show how an actor who has been trained in what I will call ?the Lecoq tradition? may approach the rehearsal of Shakespeare?s text. No one can legitimately claim to make statements that are true in all contexts for all actors who have come into contact with Lecoq?s work. It is possible, however, to argue for patterns of agenda, vocabulary and approach, and in trying to do so I will draw largely upon Ariane Mnouchkine?s production of Richard II (1981) for her company Théâtre du Soleil. In addition, I will refer to two productions of Shakespeare I directed, for which my approach was influenced by Lecoq?s ideas: A Midsummer Night?s Dream (2009) and Macbeth (2011), both at St Peter?s Arts Centre, Preston in the UK. I will also mention in passing two productions of Shakespeare plays by Theatre de Complicite for elements of supporting evidence.
Tunstall D (2012) Shakespeare and the Lecoq Tradition, Shakespeare Bulletin30(4)pp. 469-484 The Johns Hopkins University Press
This essay describes how an actor trained in what I call 'the Lecoq tradition' may approach Shakespearean performance. After giving a brief context for Lecoq's influence, I indicate some ways in which the actor uses his or her body in a playful and rhythmically precise manner to construct and perform meanings in the theatre. I show how a conception of theatre as 'game' can be transposed into the dramatic dimension. The primary impulse behind Lecoq-influenced work is a search for form, and I discuss how this can reveal itself through an eclectic approach to style and genre that sometimes leads to accusations of 'intercultural tourism'. Examples of Lecoq-inflected practice are drawn from Shakespearean productions by Ariane Mnouchkine (Richard II) and Complicite (The Winter's Tale, Measure for Measure) as well as my own work for the University of Central Lancashire in Preston (A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth). At the close, I reflect upon some of the issues at stake in the agendas and practices of the Lecoq tradition.
Tunstall D (2016) Shakespeare and Gesture in Practice, Palgrave MacMillan
This is the first study of gesture in Shakespeare, tackling not only those gestures declared in the text, but also drawing on recent scholarship on kinesics and gestural codes to shed new light on practice. Through theoretical and practical analysis of the role of gesture, Tunstall argues that it must be seen within a network of non-verbal acts.
This submission draws upon a range of evidence to account for the non-verbal features of theatrical performance. By blending rhetoric and gesture studies with psychology, I shed light on the acting of Shakespeare?s plays in the past, and ask what a scientifically-informed analysis of non-verbal communication can bring to actor training and performance theory. The centrepiece is a book which uncovers a key concept from Classical oratory of ?decorum? and explains how this concept became central to the development of the professional actor, including where it was translated as ?smoothness? in Shakespeare?s Hamlet. The book traces a history of Shakespearean acting using a taxonomy drawn from psycholinguistics and manuals of gesture. I relate smoothness to Stereotype Content Theory within social psychology to show how non-verbal behaviour influences perceptions of warmth and competence and how actors have exploited this perceptual bias. The second item, a book chapter on the theatre pedagogue Jacques Lecoq, relates key concepts from his teaching to Shakespearean performance, in particular his insistence upon ?élan? in the embodiment of a role. I show how this concept is an extension of the idea of smoothness. The third item, a book chapter, asks upon what basis of evidence we can train an actor to improve their timing. I introduce evidence for the psychological present, a window of attention critical to the sense of timing, and connect it to smoothness. I draw on the Stereotype Content Model to show how signals of warmth and competence play a primary role in an encounter, where smoothness of movement is such a signal. Finally, in a book chapter I outline the philosophy of Embodied Cognition, and show how it can be used to articulate a series of strategies for the rehearsal of a Shakespearean text.

Additional publications