Elizabeth Talbot, professor of movement: ‘Own your body, there’s a myth it belongs to others’

Elizabeth Talbot. Photo: Igor Demby
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How did you start off in theatre?

I remember at eight being spellbound by the movement in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

What is the best piece of advice you have for drama students today?

Own your body. Know your boundaries. There’s a myth in our industry that performers belong to others and so do their bodies – thankfully this is slowly changing but it bears repeating.

What would you change about drama training in the UK?

More emphasis on keeping our performers safe with a codified system and training on how to create authentic intimacy on stage. Often performers are expected to create intimacy themselves (a lot of us have horror stories) with little or no specific direction instead of engaging in specialised movement training.

What is the best part of your job?

Learning from my students and professionals.

And your least favourite?

Saying goodbye to them.

Who are the practitioners you admire the most, who should students be looking to?

I always ask my students to strive to lift each other up and work with professionals who do the same. Our industry has a reputation for being cut-throat and it is unnecessary. I wouldn’t be doing the work I am if it wasn’t for supportive people. It can be difficult for women in every theatrical discipline and so ensuring you raise the profile of others and work in committees and groups to collectively improve the industry is where change happens.

What is the one skill that every successful actor should have?

The ability to keep learning.

How can we create a dialogue for the industry on intimacy work?

Theatrical Intimacy was created as an educational company to raise industry standards while creating powerful theatre.

Elizabeth Talbot, founder of Theatrical Intimacy, was talking to John Byrne