Psychophysical Acting : An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski book cover
1st Edition

Psychophysical Acting
An Intercultural Approach after Stanislavski

ISBN 9780415334587
Published November 26, 2008 by Routledge
270 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Psychophysical Acting is a direct and vital address to the demands of contemporary theatre on today’s actor. Drawing on over thirty years of intercultural experience, Phillip Zarrilli aims to equip actors with practical and conceptual tools with which to approach their work. Areas of focus include:

  • an historical overview of a psychophysical approach to acting from Stanislavski to the present
  • acting as an ‘energetics’ of performance, applied to a wide range of playwrights: Samuel Beckett, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane, Kaite O’Reilly and Ota Shogo
  • a system of training though yoga and Asian martial arts that heightens sensory awareness, dynamic energy, and in which body and mind become one
  • practical application of training principles to improvisation exercises.

Psychophysical Acting is accompanied by Peter Hulton’s downloadable resources featuring exercises, production documentation, interviews, and reflection.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Eugenio Barba.  A preface in three voices.  Introduction: a psychophysical approach to acting  Part 1: What is the actor’s work?  1. Historical context  2. Beginning with the breath  3. An enactive approach to acting and embodiment  Part 2: Work on oneself  4. The source traditions: yoga, kalarippayattu, and taiqiquan  5. The psychophysical actor’s "I can"  6. Exercises for "playing" in-between: structured improvisations  Part 3: Production case studies  7. The Beckett Project  8. The Water Station by Ota Shogo  9. Speaking Stones: Images, voices, fragments … from that which comes after, with Text by Kaite O’Reilly and German translation by Frank Heibert 10. 4:48 Psychosis by Sarah Kane  11. Attempts on Her Life by Martin Crimp 

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Phillip Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical process through Asian martial arts and yoga, and as a director/actor. He is the founding Artistic Director of The Llanarth Group based in West Wales, UK. He is also Professor of Performance Practice at Exeter University. His many publications include Acting Reconsidered (2002), Kathakali Dance-Drama (2000), and co-author of Theatre Histories: An Introduction (2006).


'Being taken step-by-step through these highly evocative and fascinating exercises and concepts of actor training by a master such as Zarrilli certainly qualifies as essential reading.' – David Zinder, Tel Aviv University, Israel

'The book proposes a radical paradigm shift within undergraduate and graduate acting and directing training and should be required reading for performers, directors, and theatre educators. It has the potential to transform the field in significant ways by offering a new understanding of what constitutes engaging performance and actor training in the 21st century' – Rachel Bowditch, The Drama Review