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Photo: Manon Bourgeois

Hi! I'm Alan Powell

From my nearly 20 year career as a film director in educational drama working with trauma-based themes to my six years training in various therapeutic modalities, I remain passionate about empowering artists. My unique blend of skills sensitizes me to the needs of actors as they journey on the courageous path of character exploration - especially when it relates to emotionally challenging portrayals. I am well equipped to guide actors through the potential blocks and boundary challenges that may arise when using themselves as a vessel for dramatic art communication.

“[Actor Care®built me up as a person to begin with so that I could handle whatever was going to be thrown at me as the character”.
Terema Wainwright, London

(The Pembrokeshire Murders, Not Going Out) 

My Actor Care  journey so far...

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For over 30 years I've been working in the arts. Since 2005 I have directed hundreds of actors in trauma-based educational dramas under contract with Western University and the Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women & Children in London, Canada. In 2016, I was looking to expand my capacity for directing actors. Specifically those actors who struggled to be emotionally authentic when performing scenes of a traumatic nature. From 2016-2022 I trained in various therapeutic modalities at accredited institutes which included three years as a placement therapist under clinical supervision working one-to-one with clients with complex PTSD, anxiety and depression. After learning a great deal about trauma I turned my thoughts back to the actors I had encountered in the past. I realised that they may have been stuck in a trauma behaviour pattern and didn't feel safe enough to venture any further than their current comfort zone. After six years of educating myself on therapeutic approaches (which was richly rewarding from a professional and personal development perspective) I returned to working in the creative realm with actors. Adapting therapeutic modalities to inform my process, I developed and piloted Actor Care® (formerly known as ACES - Actualizing Characters by Expanding Self-awareness), a trauma-informed model inspired by TSM (Therapeutic Spiral Model) Psychodrama for actors developing emotionally challenging characters. It assumes that every character has experienced some form of trauma that has impacted their behaviour and uses it as a building block for an actors characterization. It encourages authentic expression by prioritizing resilience before accessing vulnerabilities. I work cognitively and somatically having actors actively stepping into “roles” and taking the perspectives of emotional states, defense mechanisms, resilient qualities and anything that will help support a deeper exploration of their work. Ultimately the work makes explicit what is implicit or makes conscious what is unconscious and concretises it for the actor thus managing the emotional experience of their character while maintaining safeguards for their own well being. Although the process is not therapy, in the interest of my own continued learning and for ethical standards, I have chosen to have supervision with a qualified clinical supervisor. My academic work is also peer reviewed. 

My passion to create community led to a collaboration with Dr. Mark Seton. Together we produced/curated & moderated the Actor Wellbeing Webinar series hosted by the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA). The series was a five-part panel discussion that brought together practitioners, educators, researchers, & therapists from across the globe to discuss the various aspects of actor wellbeing, i.e. in lifestyle, work, education, actor's craft & research. The connections we made from this project formed an Actor Wellbeing Community that has enabled the panelists and others involved in actor wellbeing work to stay in touch for further collaborations and information sharing. 

On other international fronts, Actor Care® has been presented at the International Association of Group Psychotherapy and Group Processes (Italy), Musicians’ and Performing Artists’ Health and Performance (Norway), the Australian Society for Performing Arts Health, Association for Theatre in Higher Education (USA), Stanislavsky Research Centre (England), Performing Arts Medicine Association (USA) and, Association of Acting Coaches & Educators (Canada). I work with educational institutions as well as with industry communities like Spotlight, FilmLocal and the Association of Acting Coaches and Educators. I also work with entire casts as well as 1-1 with actors in rehearsal/production and independently to develop a healthier/self-care approach that also allows for a deeper/layered emotional experience of their character. Recent productions include the feature film Broken Bird (Catalyst Studios, Serbia/USA), Recollections (Adders Entertainment, UK), A Vampire Story, Taxidermist Daughter (Greenwich Theatre, UK), Within These Four Walls (Judi Dench Playhouse, UK).

Actor Care® was one of the processes used during the Mind the Gap resilience research at Rose Bruford College of Theatre & Performance in collaboration with London South Bank University in England. The research will be featured in a chapter in Stanislavski and Mindfulness (Routledge, Taylor & Francis) along with an introduction to Actor Care® and my experience of working with student actors. The book is slated for publication late 2024. 

I am a member of Actors Equity UK, ATHE, and the Association of Acting Coaches & Educators (AACE) and abide by their code of ethics.

Certificates Awarded*: Humanistic Integrative Counselling, Psychodynamic Integrative Counselling, Psychodrama Theory & Practice, Therapeutic Spiral Model Experiential Trauma Therapy (level 2).

*I am not a therapist. 


"I highly recommend anyone who is intending on playing challenging characters that can trigger past trauma to consider using Actor Care®  as a method. [It] had an empowering impact on my performance".

Vanessa Cruickshank/London

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