Physical Theatre Workshop: Transformation Tools for Actors and Dancers
Sun Jan 9 1pm-3pm

$10 suggested donation
Register for the class here
Walk-ins welcome

This reoccurring 2-hour workshop led by Joan Gavaler is for actors and dancers of all backgrounds and levels of experience. Participants will explore physicality and movement as it relates to storytelling, character development, and ensemble building. The workshop will start with your strengths and add new skills in a supportive and playful environment.

Topics to be explored

  • Movement approaches drawn from theatre, dance, and acrobatics training (including  Viewpoints)

  • Movement improvisation in response to internal and external impulses

  • Creative collaboration

  • Partnered movement (such as Contact Improvisation, partner acrobatics)

  • Compositional and narrative tools for performer-created projects


***We're requiring all participants to be fully vaccinated and to wear face masks in Firehouse at all times***

Workshop Guides:

Joan Gavaler

Keaton Hillman and Marjie Southerland


We're requiring all workshop particpants to be fully vaccinated and to wear face masks, when possible, during the workshop.


Joan Gavaler


Joan Gavaler (She/They) is a Virginia choreographer, director, movement director, and performer. She has created over 65 original works and been a driving force behind four professional companies. She relishes collaborative discovery and has worked with poets, visual artists, composers, musicians, dancers, actors, directors, acrobats, and physicists on dance and theatre projects.  Over 70 organizations in the U.S., Europe, and Asia have invited her to present and teach.  Joan has been using her performance, choreography, direction, and dramaturgy skills as the Co-Artistic Director of Aura CuriAtlas Physical Theatre since 2013. She is a Professor of Dance and a Fellow in the Studio for Teaching and Learning Innovation at the College of William & Mary. She has served as a movement director for Virginia Shakespeare Festival, Virginia Theatre Machine, and William & Mary Theatre. She most recently directed The Zombie Life at Firehouse Theatre and is pleased to be reunited with ensemble members Keaton Hillman and Marjie Southerland to share in presenting this workshop.


Keaton Hillman


Keaton Hillman (he/him/his) is so excited to be able to help his fellow theatre artists in the Richmond area explore the art of physical theatre through this upcoming workshop. His exposure to physical theatre started when he was a student at William & Mary in a class co-taught by Professors Joan Gavaler and Liz Wiley. The class, heavily based in improvisational movement and bodily awareness, helped to enrich his work as a student actor, dancer, and choreographer as well as his work as a professional performer post-grad. Specific roles that he feels were deeply influenced by his studies in physical theatre include Scales the Snake in “The Dreamseller and the Forest Dwellers” (The Heritage Ensemble Theatre Company), ensemble roles in “The Wiz” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” (Virginia Rep), Youth in “Passing Strange”, Servant in “Oedipus: a gospel myth”, and of course embodying a member of the Zombie ensemble in this year’s production of “The Zombie Life” (Firehouse Theatre). He hopes that this workshop will provide a transformative experience for those able to attend.


Marjie Southerland


Marjie Southerland (She/Her) is thrilled to be assisting in bringing physical theatre to the Richmond community alongside Joan Gavaler and Keaton Hillman! Her first introduction to physical theatre was learning Viewpoints while attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (NYC). However her deep study of the craft took place while apprenticing for Florida Studio Theater in Sarasota, FL, while working their yearly children’s theater productions. Her study included not only Viewpoints, but improvisation and mask work. This training, as well as her experience in dance, compliments the many other skills she possesses as a professional performance artist. She hopes to provide a dynamic experience for all who attend the workshop.