Anna Furse is Professor and Head of Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths. She directs the international laboratory MA in Performance Making programme and is the co-director of the new research Centre of the Body at Goldsmiths. She sustains an active career as a theatre/ performance creator-director as well as being a published author of creative and critical writing. Her published plays have been produced internationally. The Peach Child was selected for the National Theatre New Connections programme in 2008 and was published in the Faber New Connections Anthology 2008. Her most recent book Theatre in Pieces – Politics, Poetics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration 1966 – 2010 (Methuen) introduces readers to unconventional performance texts, republishing Peter Brook’s US for the RSC in 1966 with a new text by Brook.
Originally a classical dancer (Royal Ballet School scholarship student 1965 -1970), she came into full time academia after a long career as an award-winning artistic director and writer. She was among the first women directors in the UK, researching a theatrical language that could reflect feminist concerns in both content and form. She was Artistic Director of her own pioneering feminist physical/visual company BloodGroup in the 1980’s and Artistic Directorship of the premiere UK new writing company Paines Plough in the early 1990’s. In 2003 she founded her own interdisciplinary company Athletes of the Heart that launched itself with a raft of projects under the overarching title The Art of A.R.T to explore the social and cultural – as well as emotional – impact of Reproductive Technologies via theatre production and a performance installation commissioned by the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Glass Body: Reflecting on Becoming Transparent. In 2007 the BBC commissioned My Glass Body drawing on this research that she wrote and directed for Radio 3 The Wire with Sweet Talk productions. She then co-produced the Anglo-Slovene Don Juan.Who?/Don Juan.Kdo? with Mladinsko Gledalisce, Ljubljana – an innovate devised project exploring gender relationships via a specially commissioned ‘cyberstudio’ in which she directed her collaborators in anonymous online collective writing for 18 months prior to creative devising. This production headlined the FeEast Festival at Riverside Studios in 2008.
With a special interest in the body in terms of training, expressivity and its social and cultural meaning – her research concerns have focused on the interstices between dance and theatre. Thematically, her work has encompassed hysteria, the body in extremis, sci-art, performance and technologies. Recent projects having focused on medicine and performance and the application of digital technology in collaborative practice. She is the recipient of many Arts Council awards as well as British Academy and Arts and Humanities Research Council awards and has received both an Impact Award and People Award from the Wellcome Trust.
Her current project ‘when we were birds…’ with her Royal Ballet School peer, Esther Linley, explores the dancer’s body-memory and trauma. Her collaborators include Cognitive Neuroscientist Professor Nicola Clayton (University of Cambridge, FRS), video artist Lucy Cash, sound artist Graeme Miller, with ‘dialogists’ across psychotherapy and neuroscience, including Susie Orbach, and Dan Glaser. She is also working with the Freud Museum and the London Mental Health Foundation on curating and creating an installation for the Bad, Bad and Sad and Anxiety 2014 Festivals respectively.