Intercultural Essay

Submitted By gkerrexeter
Words: 2515
Pages: 11

“ Don’t choke the learning with constant questioning just do it and some deep learning can occur. Sometimes young Western actors are too sensitive to being asked what they are told, and too quick to cut off learning opportunities with premature questioning or intellectualizing. ” (Allain and Barbe, 2009: 153)

When the initial training began 12 weeks ago, I was that ‘young western actor’, I was affronted by a training form, which I knew nothing about and therefore I questioned it immediately. How was this training going to help me apply myself in the theatre and stage? And it wasn’t until after the term finished that it finally clicked and I now understand how it can be applied to the stage and even more so then that how beneficial it is for an actor. For the last 12 weeks alongside my peers we have been engaged in learning Phillip Zarilli’s approach to psychophysical acting, and then applying this into a collaborative process of devising, rehearsing and finally a performance of A Memory of Water, based on 1 Beach Road a devised piece of physical theatre created in 2011 by Redcape Theatre. It is through the intercultural training forms of the Hatha-yoga, taiqiquan and Kalarippayattu that I was allowed to immerse not just my body but also my mind into developing an understanding to a different approach of training. However that’s all it would be just an understanding of the potential this training can have on someone who trains most days for a significant period of time. When Phillip Zarrilli first went to India in 1976 he was “totally unprepared for the psychophysiological experience he was to undergo” (Zarrilli, 2002: 183) and it wasn’t until several years that he felt he was able to actualise what Benedetti described as a “stillness at my centre” (Zarrilli, 2002: 182). Therefore I did not expect to fully grasp and understand everything about this form in the space of 12 weeks. However there were specific attributes from the training which I concentrated on and felt I could apply to the rehearsal process and most importantly to the final performance, these were the use of breath and my focus and awareness.

Here I would like to establish a wider sense of Zarrilli’s training and purpose of it, before I discuss my reflection upon it. Psychophysical acting takes a “post stanislavskian” approach to acting, Stanislavski sought to overcome the divisions between “mind from body, knowledge from feeling, analysis from action”(Zarrilli, 2009: 8). Zarillis objective is to engage the individual to the possibility to a totally different relationship to their body and mind, in the vocabularies that are used to constitute a performance itself. Zarrilli discusses a series of metaphors which suggest the type of space that is explored in a constant long term engagement in psychophysical training, that one is able to ‘stand still when not standing still’ and that ‘the body might become all eyes’. Zarrilli states that “ what these metaphors encapsulate, is not something fixed or definite but something that can not be pinned down, but can be available to an individual as a series of points of departure.” (Psychophysical Acting, 2009). One of the reasons why I felt that I was able to eventually understand this was because the training is specific to the individual and it is different for everyone it is the “process of self definition, a process of self discipline which manifest itself indissolubly through physical reactions” (Zarrilli, 1993: 11).

The Japanese Noh actor Zeamie compared the energy of a young actor to that of tree squirrel “exciting but unfocused and uncontrolled” (Zarrilli, 2009: 25). It wasn’t until I started learning more and more about Zarrilli’s technique that I found this statement to be true. Zarrilli states that the atmosphere in the studio space should be one of ‘quiet and focus’ (Zarrilli, 2009: 29) in addition participants are expected to “keep focused, not to space out, zone out, or attempt to…