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Books: Psychophysical Acting

Books: Psychophysical Acting

Psychophysical Acting is a direct 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 interactive DVD-ROM featuring exercises, production documentation, interviews, and reflection.


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

About The Authur:

Phillip Zarrilli is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical process through Asian martial arts and yoga, and as a director/actor. 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).


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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.
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