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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 thirty years.


Tanya was a Senior Lecturer in Theatre, Head of Acting (2007-2012) and Head of Theatre (2010-2012) at the VCA, University of Melbourne and is currently an Honorary Senior Fellow. She received an award for Teaching Excellence in 2002, has a master’s degree in Directing (by Research) and has recently completed a doctorate on her training and rehearsal process entitled, Physical Acting – Words Made Flesh. Tanya has been a Visiting Teaching Artist at Penn State University, USA, the University of York, UK, the University of Caen, France as well as the international consultant on a Knowledge Exchange Project (UK) 2011-13 investigating global training practices in the conservatoire and university sectors.

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 de 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: Macbeth Amplified, after Shakespeare; 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

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