Acting Without ‘Meaning’ or ‘Motivation’: A Phenomenological Account of Acting in the Pre-Articulate Present

Based on a chapter from Phillip Zarrilli’s forthcoming book, (toward) a phenomenology of acting, this lecture will focus on a specific dimension of embodied consciousness in the lived experience of acting: the pre-articulate present, before words or thought. The discussion will include first-person accounts of acting without ‘meaning’ or ‘motivation’ in performances of Beckett’s Act Without Words I, and Ota Shogo’s The Water Station. His analysis of acting in the pre-articulate present will elaborate Heidegger’s key concept of Befindlichkeit, and on Mark Rowlands’s notion of ‘Rilkean memory’.

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In (toward) a phenomenology of acting, Phillip Zarrilli considers acting as a ‘question’ to be explored in the studio, and then reflected upon. Phenomenology invites us to listen to “the things themselves”, to be attentive to how we sensorially, affectively, and kinaesthetically engage with acting as a phenomenon and process. Using detailed first-person accounts of acting across a variety of dramaturgies and performances from Beckett to newly co-created performances to realism, this book provides an account of how we ‘do’ or practice phenomonology when training, performing, directing or teaching.

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Co-edited with ITI Director T. Sasitharan and Anuradha Kapur, Intercultural Acting and Performer Training is the first collection of essays from a diverse, international group of authors and practitioners focusing on intercultural acting and voice practices worldwide. This
book invites performers and teachers of acting and performance to explore, describe, and interrogate the complexities of intercultural acting and actor/performer
training taking place in our twenty-first century, globalised world. 

About Phillip Zarrilli

Phillip Zarrilli is the founding Artistic Director of the Llanarth Group. Recent Llanarth Group productions include richard III redux (2018) with performances on the invitation of the Simiotica Festival (Catalan National Theatre, Barcelona, 30 November/1 December 2019), playing ‘the maids’, and Told by the Wind with performances on invitation at the ITFoK Festival, Thrissur, Kerala (January 2020). Co-authored by Kaite O’Reilly & Phillip Zarrilli, richard III redux was one of three finalist scripts for the 2019 James Tait Black Prize in Drama (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Festival).

Zarrilli regularly works internationally as a director, actor, teacher, and author, and has a long-term relationship with ITI, and maintains a private studio in West Wales. He directed O’Reilly’s Cosy with Gaitkrash Theatre for the Cork Midsummer Festival (June 2019). His sole-authored books include his award-winning Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski, Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where gods and demons come to play, and When the body becomes all eyes. He has also edited or co-edited Acting Re-Considered, and with T. Sasitharan and Anuradha Kapur, Intercultural Acting and Performer Training. He is Emeritus Professor of Performance Practice at Exeter University.

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15 Oct 2019


6.30PM - 8PM


Intercultural Theatre Institute


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