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About the Author: Brian Astbury

In the 70’s Brian Astbury founded and ran South Africa’s first non-racial theatre/arts venue, The Space, where he commissioned plays like Sizwe Banzi is dead, The Island and Statements after an arrest under the Immorality Act. The Space was the first theatre to engage resident playwrights. Athol Fugard, Pieter-Dirk Uys, Geraldine Aron (all of whom have since enjoyed successful careers on the international stage) and Fatima Dike, South Africa’s first black woman playwright, among others. Throughout its seven-year existence it survived entirely on the proceeds of its box office, never receiving any subsidies from an unsympathetic Government. Currently, many of the mainstays of post-Apartheid’s theatre and television community began life at The Space.

In the 80’s he moved to London when his wife, the actor Yvonne Bryceland, joined the National Theatre Company. He became a teacher, first at LAMDA, then, in the 90’s at Mountview. Here he started to teach actors how to devise and write their own scripts.

In 1989 he set up Arts Threshold to teach graduate students how to survive by staging their own work. Their first production – The Guise by David Mowat, directed by Astbury – won a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival and was invited to tour to Romania, Hong Kong and America. From their theatre base in Paddington the group staged productions throughout the year. Everyone worked without pay, all proceeds of the box office going to keep the venue running. Director, Rufus Norris – currently Director of the National Theatre; designer, Katrina Lindsay – winner of a Tony Award in New York for her stage designs, and currently also designing for the National Theatre; actor Julie Hesmondhalgh and many others received their first opportunities through Arts Threshold.

In 2003 he joined E15 Acting School where he set up the Contemporary Theatre Practice course to teach actors, directors and writers the arts of survival through production of their own material. Later he headed the MA in Professional Theatre for Writers and Directors, before retiring in 2008.

He has come out of retirement to start a new course - The Forge Initiative – at the Academy of Performance Training in Guildford. This is a course in survival for graduate theatre practitioners that will train working companies of directors, actors, writers and film-makers to create, write, publicise and produce the kind of energised, committed theatre that they all believe in.

Over the years Astbury has formulated techniques for training actors, writers and directors in collaboration with his students. Many of these techniques have their basis in the use of energy and emotion to free the practitioner’s imagination, allowing actors to understand and be able to access the mysterious state known as ‘being in the moment’. He has also developed methods of accessing and freeing the imagination of actors and writers through the use of mind-mapping and image-streaming. This is particularly useful in areas such as Devising, Line Learning, Character Development. It is also of help to dyslexics, as it frees them from the exigencies of printed text.

The development of these techniques forms the basis of his book – Trusting the Actor . He is currently working on two further books. Create Theatre - a DIY Manual puts together further techniques for acting, as well as more practical methods for surviving in the real world. Everyone Can Write is a practical manual (subtitled How NOT to learn how to write) based on Astbury's experience of teaching actors the basics of narrative structure and how to write their own plays.

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Paperback, Published in Dec 2011 by Createspace

ISBN10: 1467912328 | ISBN13: 9781467912327

Page count: 88

Anton is attempting to hide from a dark past in Apartheid South Africa. Jelly is a five-and-a-half year old without a father. Fate throws them together in a London tea room. A long short story which follows their relationship over several years. A tale of love, guilt, redemption and forgiveness.

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