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Brief Biography of

The Founders and Directors Of The Physical TV Company -

Richard James Allen and Karen Pearlman

The Physical TV Company is a multi-award-winning and critically lauded leader in the international dance on screen landscape.  Unbound by conventions, The Physical TV Company develops and produces works within and across the media of film, dance and literature.  Physical TV productions explore original ideas and tell fantastical stories with boundless creativity.  Thought-provoking, engaging and rich in rhythms and images, Physical TV productions are a feast for the senses, intellect and spirit.

Richard James Allen and Karen Pearlman, Founders and Co-Artistic Directors of The Physical TV Company, make “stories told by the body” - unique integrations of screen and dance arts built on Karen and Richard’s wealth of professional experience in cinema and dance and a sustained and visionary commitment to integrating the two arts.  The result has been an acclaimed and award-winning body of work and the promise of exciting things to come.

Richard and Karen have worked internationally as film and video producers and artistic directors of dance companies over the last twenty years.  They have created a body of dance on screen work which has been shown at around 200 Dancefilm and Film Festivals and other screenings around the world, and been produced in collaboration with and/or broadcast on ABC TV, SBS TV, Southern Cross Television, TV Slovenia and KMTV China.  These productions have won many awards, nominations and commendations for themselves and their collaborators.  (Please see Physical TV Screenings and Awards.) 

Richard and Karen have received accolades for the text and dance driven performance and film/video works they have been collaboratively creating and presenting across the United States, the UK, Europe and Australia since 1985 in publications such as The New York Times, The Village Voice, The Washington Post, The Glasgow Herald, and The Sydney Morning Herald.  They were Artistic Directors of Tasdance, the state dance company of Tasmania, for two years, producing television shows, stage shows, tours throughout Tasmania and to The Kitchen in New York City, schools tours, festivals and outdoor events. 

Before that they co-directed the New York and Sydney-based That Was Fast, a dance, poetry, film and video company which toured to over one hundred venues on three continents, including many of the cutting edge venues for new dance in Great Britain, Holland, Germany, the USA, and Australia, and was funded by state and federal funding bodies. 

In addition to creating their own work, Karen and Richard have been performers in a multitude of contexts with companies such as Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Timothy Buckley and the Twisters, Victoria Marks Performance Group, and the Kiss International Theatre Research Group.  They have also studied classical, contemporary and postmodern dance, yoga, acting, improvisation and composition with some of the world’s leading practitioners such as Twyla Tharp, Sara Rudner, Stephen Petronio, Bebe Miller, Maggie Black, Zvi Gotheiner, The Talking Band, Merce Cunningham, Sharon Gannon and David Life, and Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Karen is an Honours Graduate from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Dance Program and more recently an MA Graduate in Editing at AFTRS.  She also holds an MA in Media Production at UTS, where she has recently been awarded a Doctorate of Creative Arts for her thesis, Cutting Rhythms: Shaping the Film Edit, an in-depth study of rhythm in film editing has just been published by Focal Press in the USA and can be ordered here.  Karen has written as an arts essayist and journalist for publications including RealTime, Performance Research, Independent Filmmaker, Metro, and Body Show/S, a collection of essays on Australian viewings of live performance edited by Peta Tait.  She has also published a volume of essays on dance, New Life on the 2nd FloorKaren has taught editing history and theory and creative filmmaking techniques at numerous universities including the University of Technology, Sydney, the Sydney College of the Arts at Sydney University, and at the University of New South Wales.  She is currently Head of Screen Studies at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

Richard is a First Class Honours Graduate of Sydney University and won The Chancellor’s Award for the most outstanding PhD thesis from across all departments of the University of Technology, Sydney, for his Doctorate of Creative Arts thesis, Out Of The Labyrinth Of The Mind: Manifesting A Spiritual Art Beyond DualismThe former Artistic Director of the Poets Union Inc. and Festival Director and conceiver of the first Australian Poetry Festival in 1999, Richard has published seven books as a poet and performance writer and his writing has appeared in a wide variety of magazines and journals and in major Australian poetry anthologies, including The New Oxford Anthology of Australian Verse edited by Les A. Murray and The Oxford Book of Modern Australian Verse edited by Peter Porter.  A much acclaimed work of literary fiction, The Kamikaze Mind, was published by Brandl & Schlesinger in 2006.  The Happiness Test, a feature film script currently in development, was shortlisted for the 2004 Rodney Seaborn Playwrights Award.  His performance text More Lies was shortlisted for the 2001 Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting and is also in development as a feature film.  Richard's poetry books have recently become available online at the Australian Poetry Library.

Together Richard and Karen are editors of the landmark collection, Performing the Unnameable: An Anthology of Australian Performance Texts, published in 1999 by Currency Press/RealTime.  Described by Edward Scheer in HEAT, as “a first in Australian publishing history and a priceless resource,” Performing the Unnameable has since become a textbook for numerous performance, theatre, media, electronic arts and scriptwriting courses around Australia. 

Always engaged by new spaces in which meaning can be explored and communicated, Karen and Richard are currently developing pioneering literary, dance and screen content for the new delivery platform of mobile phones.  With the launch of The Kamikaze Mind cross platform project, available as an illustrated book and as a series of short animations for mobile phones from The Point of Life Gold Award of Excellence-winning website www.thekamikazemind.com, Physical TV has become Australia’s first Dance-Film-Phone Company, creating telephone Haiku from the book and images.  The Kamikaze Mind’s fragments of witty aphorisms float from the book onto mobile phones as multimedia messages that can be downloaded and forwarded.   

Continuing to expand the boundaries of the artforms in which they engage, Karen and Richard's large scale film adaptation of Richard’s 2000 NSW Premier’s Literary Award Shortlisted book Thursday’s Fictions won the ATOM Award for Best Experimental Film, the Gold Medal for Excellence - Director's Choice for Artistic Excellence in a Feature Film at the Park City Film Music Festival in Utah, the Special flEXiff Award for "film as artwork", and Best Original Song Composed for the Screen, for “Aria”, at the APRA-AGSC Screen Music Awards.  It has been lauded in the media as "no less than a work of genius".  Thursday’s Fictions was first broadcast on ABC TV in Australia on July 29, 2007.  In a world-first tie-in, Thursday’s Fictions in Second Life, an immersive 3D online world modeled on and expanding out from the film and the book, was launched to coincide with the broadcast premiere. 

Following on from this groundbreaking work, which was funded by the Literature Board of the Australia Council’s The Story of the Future Project and featured in their The writers guide to making a digital living, and acclaimed by many as the best thing in Second Life, Richard and Karen have been exploring the potentials for a mix of real life and Second Life dance.  The most recent phase of this creative research, which has been supported by organisations such as Critical Path, Ausdance NSW and Short Sweet + Dance, is the dance and virtual world Mixed Reality live and projected dance work Do Avatars Dream of Human Sleep? and the Mixed Reality dance film Entanglement Theory, which has been selected for screening at over twenty international film festivals including New York’s Dance on Camera Festival, where it was acclaimed in The New York Times as "absorbing" and for its "new vitality".  Entanglement Theory's Australian premiere was at the Dungog Film Festival.  It was subsequently broadcast on ABC TV and described in RealTime as a "seductive reverie".

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