School of Creative

Gavin Low

Gavin Low

MA Arts Pedagogy and Practice
2021 — 2022

Gavin has amassed professional experience across a wide range of sectors, including human resources management, organising leadership training programmes, providing customer service, working in sales and marketing, and being a theatre practitioner and educator. His strong passion for theatre led him to wear many hats in the industry, acting as producer, director, performer, writer and dramaturg.

Since 2008, Gavin has been lecturing at Republic Polytechnic. He has taught arts management, critical thinking, the art of story and creativity, theatre history and theatre production. He also teaches organisational behaviour and human resource management at the arts management department at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.


Teaching philosophy and research interests

I strive to create a safe, creative space for my students, a space where they can be allowed to take risks and fail without judgement or consequences. I believe that the best way to learn is through experiential learning and facilitation, and I try to encourage experimentation and reflexivity in my classroom.

My research interests include finding an alternative pedagogy in actor training. I am particularly interested in incorporating tai chi movements and the Tao principles into helping a performer generate energy and presence on stage, and how this can translate to building connection and chemistry between actors in scene work.

I am also interested in the transformative power of autobiographical theatre and the role of performance and witnessing, by an audience, in the healing process.

Click here to add in Fav

Thesis abstract

The Tao of acting: A study into the use of tai chi principles in actor training

In contemporary approaches to acting, actors are often taught to use the psychological approach as popularised by Constantin Stanislavsky, often known as the method of acting. However, the focus on the psychological aspect of approaching a character may result in actors 'acting only from the neck up'.

A psychophysical approach to acting may help the actors bridge the gap between the body and the mind, by combining the physical with the psychic. In this study, I draw upon the psychophysical acting practice of Phillip Zarrilli who incorporated Asian martial arts like tai chi chuan in his training. Using Tao philosophy as an entry point, I explored incorporating tai chi-inspired movement into psychophysical exercises to transform actor performances in naturalistic plays which connect the body and the mind. The psychophysical exercises were designed to (i) activate the qi (breath) and the dan tian; (ii) to generate continuous circular energy flow; and (iii) to increase emotional connection using tai chi-inspired improvisation.

The research was conducted in two cycles. The first cycle was centred on pair work (scene work) while the second cycle focused on individual work (monologues). The results showed the potential of creating a tai chi-based psychophysical pedagogy that could be incorporated into actor training to increase emotional and physical connection between actors, creating emotionally-charged scenes and constructing vivid emotional memory.

Work experience

2019 – present
School of Arts Management, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts
Adjunct lecturer

2019 – present
School of Technology for the Arts, Republic Polytechnic
Associate lecturer, Diploma in Arts & Theatre Management

2015 – 2019
School of Technology for the Arts, Republic Polytechnic
Lecturer, Diploma in Arts & Theatre Management

2008 – present
Freelance theatre practitioner
Director, actor, producer, artistic director, dramaturg