Originally trained with the Royal Ballet, winning choreographic prizes from Sir Frederick Ashton and Leonid Massine as a teenager. It was some many years before she developed a career as a director, writer, dramaturg and performance maker. After leaving ballet in 1971, she apprenticed as an assistant with Peter Brook’s ICTR, Paris, and participated in Grotowski’s Teatr Laboratorium paratheatre (Poland and France), both of which set her on a path in experimental laboratory practice. Following degrees from the University of Bristol and Goldsmiths, she worked as a dance writer, performance maker, writer and activist in the emerging New Dance movement in London in the 1980’s, co-founding Chisenhale Dance Space, before specialising in theatre. Her 20-year career in the industry as an award-winning director and writer includes productions with many companies and producing houses, and as Artistic Director of Paines Plough (1990 – 1995) with whom she pioneered innovations in new writing dramaturgies. After the birth of her child in 1995, Anna moved into University teaching and researching full-time. A creative and critical writer, her research and creative writing since her academic career have delved into eating disorders, hysterias, (sub)fertility and reproduction, anatomy, and the woman’s presence in the medical gaze. She has developed her own movement methodology ‘Graphic Body‘, and taught and led performance projects internationally for over three decades. Her current project “The Theatre of Our Bodies” reflects on European Anatomy Theatres, exploring the cultural history and meaning of the opened, parsed cadaver, and public ignorance of the facticity of visceral interiority. This includes a production “Anna Furse performs an Anatomy Act: a show and tell“, and a digital publication I’m Not a Piece of Meat (2018), both commissioned by CREATE (the national development agency for collaborative arts in Ireland and CAPP (Collaborative Art Partnership Programme). CAPP is a transnational programme co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union); and a Wellcome Trust-funded interdisciplinary talks series “Interiorities”, co-curated with Dawn Kemp, Director of Museums and Archives, Royal College of Surgeons (Old Operating Theatre Museum and Freud Museum 2017).
At Goldsmiths she directs the MA in Performance Making, curates The Performance Research Forum, co-directs the Centre of the Body, and is on the Editorial Board of Goldsmiths Press. She is a frequent international conference and keynote speaker and is a member of the Advisory Board for Digital Theatre+ who published a conversation she had with centenarian critic and playwright Eric Bentley in New York in 2015. Her publications include chapters and articles, several plays, and an anthology she edited Theatre in Pieces: Poetics, Politics and Interdisciplinary Collaboration (Methuen 2011) that includes the text of her co-production with Mladinsko Gledalisce, Ljubljana, Don Juan.Who?/Don Juan.Kdo? (FeEAST Festival, Riverside Studios, 2009). This innovated geographically dispersed (anonymous) writing by her European company in a specially designed online studio that she converted into an ensemble production. She is currently developing writing and production projects including a new work (Shocks (to the system) or The Soldier’s Heart) on shellshock, war trauma and PTSD to commemorate WWI in 2018 (Craiglockhart, University of Napier).