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June 09, 2015

Fun, Focus and No Apologies: Art Fundamentals with Susan Bertoia

At the Art Fundamentals workshop, Fun, Focus and No Apologies: Empowering Theatre Artists, artist and facilitator Susan Bertoia created a space where participants could access their own creative source, engaging in multiple theatrical forms and exercises.

Susan Bertoia presented with incredible passion and expertise. She initiated the session with a thorough warm up that involved movement and voice exercises, allowing the group to get ready for a workshop full of amazing discoveries and collaborations.

"We have a body and as theatre creators, that's what we have!", affirmed the artist, making sure participants were fully aware to connect with an ever-available resource and art material — the body.

With a very energetic and charismatic teaching style, Susan introduced the central elements of the "available light theory" and invited participants to engage in theatrical forms, getting people to "use what you've got!" The "available light theory" the artist introduced is a fascinating concept that involves becoming alert to the images and resources that exist, including time, space, light, people, objects, etc. It involves methods and strategies to create theatre in any possible space.

Concepts such as "success" and "failure" were also introduced as part of a community agreement that implies "trusting and surrendering" to the leader and the performative work that is produced collectively. As participants became more familiar with these concepts, the artist also unpacked the big ideas behind the title of the workshop: Fun, Focus and No Apologies. "Just say it and don’t apologize!", Susan energetically expressed, stressing the importance of working with what already exists and is true to the moment, even a very spontaneous or unintentional expression.

Moving and discovering the "open space", participants also embodied and experienced melting like an ice cube, being chased by a bear, jumping on a rumbling floor that turned into lava and inhabiting a space that transformed into a forest, a lake, the South pole and more.

Workshop participants were introduced to Augusto Boal's "Theatre of the Oppressed" and engaged in some drama exercises that involved strong collaboration and human connection. "It's not about tricking, it's about connecting. When you gain the trust of your partner you can do more interesting things", emphasized Susan while participants guided their corresponding partners with their hands in front of their faces.

During the last segment, the group split to prepare two different pieces that were then performed to the rest of the group. Participants had the opportunity to implement the concepts learned during the session and enjoy the showcase of their gained creative confidence.

Here's what some workshop participants had to say about the day:

"I forgot about my physical limitations!"

"It was fantastic… couldn't have hoped for anything more! It was an absolutely brilliant experience. Susan's energy, knowledge and generosity are amazing. I am so grateful for this experience. What an incredible workshop!"

"This workshop was inspiring and impactful! It allowed freedom and risk taking in a safe environment while implementing useful drama techniques that can be done with students."

"Susan was fantastic. I enjoyed the exercises she offered, and how at the end we were able to create and perform a piece of theatre. She was very inspirational, creative and encouraging — and I liked the 'no apologies' part of it."

"Susan Bertoia delivered a fast paced, flowing workshop that suited both drama and non-drama educators well. Bravo!"

Thanks to Susan for sharing an incredible wealth of knowledge that addressed the theory and the practice behind the fascinating and empowering art of theatre.

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Join us for upcoming Art Fundamentals workshops! Each three-hour session is just $15 to attend. Learn more and register online at

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