Beyond Exercise: The Pedagogy of Actor Training

Evangelatou, Aphrodite. 2019. 'Beyond Exercise: The Pedagogy of Actor Training'. In: Theatre & Performance Research Association (TaPRA) Annual Conference. University of Exeter, United Kingdom 4 – 6 September 2019. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

The Japanese theatre practitioner and director Tadashi Suzuki uses the word discipline instead of exercise when referring to the training he developed; this is because he associates exercise with the physical aspect of the work, whereas discipline is understood as a broader term that involves the physical engagement with the exercise, as well as the emotional response to it. The exploration of acting exercises, or disciplines as Suzuki calls them is undoubtedly a vital part of actor training. This is partly because—as Suzuki’s need to use a different word perhaps indicates—an exercise has the power to help the actor access the intangible (i.e. experiencing) through committing to a tangible—and often ‘humble’ as Eugenio Barba points out—task.
In addition to highlighting the importance of the exercise as a tangible point of entry to the intangible experiencing, this paper argues that there is a factor that is as—if not more—crucial than the exercises deployed to assist an actor achieve a certain desired outcome i.e. to awaken their inner life or help them approach a character: the way in which these exercises are introduced and student-actors are encouraged to engage with them. The role of the actor trainer as a pedagogue, or even a whisperer/enabler that actively helps the student achieve a certain goal will be examined in this paper, which aims to discuss what lies beyond exercise. How do we introduce exercises and why? How do we amend the exercises when borrowing from others and what might be the reasons behind such amendments? Specific examples from the presenter’s teaching practice and practice-based research on actor training will also be discussed.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


24 May 2019Accepted
5 September 2019Completed

Event Location:

University of Exeter, United Kingdom

Date range:

4 – 6 September 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

25 Jun 2020 10:43

Last Modified:

25 Jun 2020 10:43


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