The movement director: Christina Fulcher

Christina Fulcher is a Californian based in London, and is an emerging movement director., working across theatre, new writing, dance, musical theatre, and opera.

You can find out more about her on Twitter and Instagram. She was the movement director on Don’t Talk To Strangers, Stages: a Video Game Musical, and When We Died at the Vault Festival earlier in the year.

She is leading a series of four workshops via Zoom in May under the title of Text in Motion: Movement and New Writing which can be booked for £8 each. These form part of theatre company Part of the Main‘s series of “affordable tech, producing and design workshops”; participants will learn how movement can be an integral part of the process and creation of new work.

I caught up with Christina to find out more about her work and views on what’s next after lockdown.

Flyer for Text in Motion workshops
Flyer for Text in Motion workshops

“Don’t stop now. Do not apologise for who you are.”

Christina Fulcher, telephone interview, 25 April 2010

How have you been coping during lockdown?

CF: Well, I look at it like waves, taking things each hour at a time. We are all experiencing this in the best way we can. I feel really creative, with lots of space to be calm and still. Although we’ve been having a lot of online chats with family abroad in the United States and Australia. Overcommunicating, really. It’s such a weird adventure. I’m going out supporting local businesses, too.

How did you become a movement director, and how would you describe the role to others?

CF: I originally trained as a ballerina, so have that background in dance and movement. I performed with the American Ballet Theatre and the Joffrey Ballet. I felt my calling was to be a teacher and movement director of dance and movement. I took a leap and dreamed big by coming to London; training at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in movement directing and teaching.

A movement director works in collaboration with the director, cast and creative team to help create a physical world and language; it is an umbrella term which can cover choreography or simple movements which bring a character to life for an actor and audience. I also work as an inclusive movement practitioner, especially with disabled and non-disabled performers, and in the non-profit sector. It’s important to reflect the diversity of the world around us.

What has been your favourite project to work on?

CF: The West End transfer of Emilia, on which I was assistant choreographer to Anna Morrissey. It was such an exciting piece of work, with an all-women cast and creative team. I hope it can come back in some form in the future. I also worked with South Hampstead High School on a version licensed for educational performance.

Each Emilia has its own life, and evolves with each version, with a history of movement built in collaboration with the teams involved. I’ve been writing a book chapter for Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia: a Companion Reader and a journal article for Theatre, Dance and Performance Training about working on it, which has been very compelling, fascinating and inspiring.

I was also associate movement director to Natasha Harrison on Wasted (the musical about the Brontës), at the Southwark Playhouse, which is now being streamed for free. It’s great to see it having a new life; the cast and creatives watched it together (virtually) the other day. It also linked with the NT Live broadcast of Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre: I really admire her. She’d be a dream person to work with.

What has been your greatest achievement?

CF: I think actually my non-profit work, working with Halo Dance 4 Autism, and as the founder of Shades of Pink Foundation California (which provides support to San Diego women with breast cancer experiencing financial distress). I feel very positive about being involved in such communities and collaborations, it’s very much who I am.

Working on Emilia. Photo credit Helen Murray.
Working on Emilia. Photo credit Helen Murray.

The theatre industry seems saturated with new companies, ideas, performance models, collaborations, and innovation. Is there enough time, space, talent and funding to support the direction of travel or do you think a complete rethink is due?

CF: Larger theatres and producers need to embrace collaboration with smaller companies and spaces to ensure the sector survives. The issue of fair funding and commercial concerns will always be a political one, but it needs to be addressed if smaller outlets are to survive this. Capitalism needs a real shake-up!

In lockdown, creators have found new ways to work together and make work happen, and that needs to continue. No one know what the “new normal” will be but it is a chance to do something different. It’s been great to see so many artists creating content in lockdown and reaching new audiences for “free” or “donation”, so the talent is definitely there.

Now we have experimented with creating work for online spaces, the next steps could be to look at Amazon Prime, Netflix, Disney Plus as possible outlets for production and collaboration.

Recently I’ve been working on the on hope: a digital song cycle [streaming on The Other Palace’s YouTube channel on consecutive Wednesdays from 29th April], bringing movement into music and song.

Movement is important, and I see scope for global warm-ups, yoga, ways to pull people together. It’s about educating people to move in a safe way. Art is what I want to do, and the technology needs to keep up.

What has been your favourite theatre show where you haven’t been directly involved?

CF: I really admired The Welkin at the National Theatre, on which Imogen Knight did the movement. Every character had their own monologue, but also their own specific movement language; so bold and courageous. In the opening tableau each seperate character embodied the idea of work and female power, and each character took that with them into the group scenes.

What’s the next project for you when all this is over?

CF: I’ve been doing some training as an intimacy coordinator with Intimacy on Set, which is very exciting! I’ve done some work on film and in virtual rehearsal rooms, and online content. I’ve got lots of post-its with ideas.

When the floodgates are open, I’m ready to run.

[Photo credit for header image of Christina Fulcher – Maksim Podorozkin]