Invitation for participants for Workshop Series on Chorus Techniques from Ancient to Modern


Poster: Urban Myths for the Third Millennium




The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and The Department of Theatre & Film at UBC will be holding a series of workshops and rehearsals looking  at chorus techniques from the ancient to the modern, via Greek tragedy, Le Coq and Complicite… and asking how we might apply them to contemporary performance of verse texts. How can we, as a group, share a poem, or bring it to life chorally? Led by British director/playwright/scholar Helen Eastman (biography below), this workshop series will bring together two threads of her work: directing ancient tragedy, and working with contemporary poetry. She will be joined by actor Helena Johnson (biography below) with whom she has frequently worked with as part of the Live Canon Ensemble, who perform poetry (from memory) at theatres, festivals and galleries, and record poetry for the radio and sound installations.

There will be two workshops open to the UBC community and interested members of general public. Space is limited, however, to twenty participants.

The workshop dates are Tuesday, October 20 1-4pm & Thursday, October 22 1-4pm. Participants are asked to commit to participating in both workshops.

These workshops require no previous experience as a performer and all are welcome. You will be asked to learn a short piece of text in advance, for us to use in the workshop, and to wear clothes you can move in. If you play a musical instrument, bring it. If you don’t, don’t worry. 


These workshops will lay the groundwork for a unique Live Canon-style poetry performance the first such event in North America as part of a Peter Wall Associates Dinner. The performance will draw on chorus work, from Greek tragedy to Lecoq, to explore contemporary texts including poetry and journalism. The resulting performance will be a riot of language and a probing exploration of what chorus can mean in the third millennium. For those who wish to participate in the performance, there will be two additional rehearsals following the workshops on Saturday, October 24 from 10-2 (lunch provided) and Tuesday, October 27 from 1-4. The performance will be held the evening of Wednesday, October 28 and will be followed by dinner.

Potential participants are asked to send an a expression of interest to Hallie Marshall <> no later than Thursday, October 15. Please provide the following information:

  1. Are you interested in participating in just the workshops or the workshops and performance?
  2. Why are you interested in participating (does it relate to research, pedagogy, creative practices or just general interest)?

Participants will receive confirmation of registration on Friday, October 16.

Helen Eastman trained as a theatre director at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, after graduating from Oxford in Classics and English. She works as a director and playwright at theatres throughout the UK and internationally. Highlights include Seamus Heaney’s Cure at Troy at the Delphi International Festival, Fair at Trafalgar Studios, Dido and Aeneas for ETO and the European tour of Cloudcuckooland. She has written the libretto for a number of opera commissions, and is currently writing an opera about the suffragettes for W11. She is Associate Artist of the APGRD at Oxford University and director of the Cambridge Greek Play. She founded the Live Canon Ensemble seven years ago. Her doctorate is from King’s College London, where she studied dialect verse translations of ancient plays.

Helena Johnson trained at Drama Centre London after graduating from Oxford University. She has worked extensively with the Live Canon ensemble, performing poetry from memory at theatres and events around the UK. Theatre credits include Our Main Story Tonight (Wolverhampton Arena / Coventry Belgrade), Three Sisters, Return to the Forbidden Planet, Swallow Song, Dear Father Christmas (all Oxford Playhouse), Dusa, Fish, Stas & Vi (Finborough), The Museum of Us (UK tour), Pericles (Shakespeare’s Globe) and Hanging Around (Kneehigh). Short film includes EXIT.