Tanya Gerstle



Tanya Gerstle initiated OpticNerve Performance Group to create text-based works with a dynamic staging approach using Pulse, a physical approach to the staging of narrative text.


Tanya has worked in professional theatre in Europe and Australia for 30 years in a variety of roles: actor, director, performance maker, dramaturg, company manager, festival curator and teaching artist. While based in Amsterdam she made, performed in and toured her own work with multi-lingual, physical performers and began her evolving practice into improvisational performance structures and their application to the making of theatre. She has been using this approach in the training of actors, making performance and directing theatre for twenty five years.


Tanya has been training actors since 1999 in the Theatre School VCA, University of Melbourne. She was a Senior Lecturer in Theatre (Head of Acting 2007-11, Head of Theatre 2010-12) and is currently an Honorary Senior Fellow of the University. Tanya received an award for ‘Teaching Excellence’ in 2002 and has a Masters Degree in Dramatic Art - Direction (by Research) Most recently she has been teaching at the University of York, UK, University of Caen, France and Penn State University, USA. Tanya is co-authoring a book on her training and rehearsal process entitled “Physical Acting” to be published by Bloomsbury Press.

Her body of work includes directing texts by Barker, Barton, Churchill, Kushner, Wertenbaker and Shakespeare. Projects adapted for the stage include: Zivot, from Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle, Cassa d’Alba, from Lorca’s The House of Bernada Alba, Anna Karenina from Tolstoy. 


For OpticNerve Performance Group she has adapted and directed Five Kinds of Silence, a radio play by Shelagh Stephenson;  YES based on a film by Sally Potter; Manbeth, from Shakespeare's Macbeth; an original work Pale Blue Dot; George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss by Helen Edmundson; and Polygraph by Robert Lepage and Marie Brassard.

Director Tanya Gerstle has developed

a powerful theatrical vocabulary,

and the physicality of the performances on offer

are enough to transfix any audience

in tight-limbed terror for its duration....

a company with a stark and original creative vision.

John Bailey, Sunday Age