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'only if the absent is constantly present (‘at-hand’) to the performer might ‘presence’ emerge as a performative disposition—a place of possibility and readiness' (Phillip Zarrilli, Presence Workshop outline)

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Courtesy Phillip Zarrilli

Phillip Zarrilli is a performer, director and theorist, internationally known for training actors using a psychophysical process combining yoga (especially Hatha Yoga) and the Asian martial arts (Kalarippayattu and Tai Chi Ch’uan). He is the first westerner to have undergone full-time, long-term training in Kalarippayattu. He also studied Yoga and t’ai chi. Phillip is Professor of Performance Practice, University of Exeter.

Following his training in 1976 at the C.V.N. Kalari, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, South India under Gurukkal Govindankutty Nayar, Phillip lived in Kerala for seven years, and continues to return regularly.

In 1988 he received the traditional pitham (stool representing past masters) from Govindankutty Nayar

Phillip also trained at the Kerala Kalarippayattu Academy, Kannur, with C. Mohammed Sherif Gurukkal, and under Sreejayan Gurukkal and Raju Asan. He studied Yoga with Chandran Gurukkal in Kannur and Dhayaniddhi in Thiruvananthapuram. He specializes in northern style kalarippayattu, full-body massage (uliccil), and complimentary yoga. He trained in t'ai chi ch'uan (Wu-style) with noted theatre director and East Asian scholar, A.C.Scott.

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He has conducted workshops, "Making the body all eyes..." throughout the world, including Esalen Institute, Utrecht School of the Arts, Passe Partout, National School of Drama (New Delhi), Centre for Performance Research (Wales), (London) International Workshop Festival, Gardzienice Theatre (Poland), among others. For over twenty years he was Director of the Asian-Experimental Theatre Program in the U.S.A. where he taught classes daily.

His numerous books include (editor) Acting (Re)Considered (2nd edition, forthcoming), When the Body Becomes All Eyes (1998), Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where Gods and Demons Comes to Play (2000), and (editor) Martial Arts in Actor Training (1993). He is currently writing a new book with accompanying interactive DVD-Rom (by Peter Hulton) on his approach to training actors and performance, The Psychophysical Actor at Work: acting ‘at the nerve ends’ (London: Routledge Press, forthcoming).

Phillip is Professor of Performance Practice at the University of Exeter. For more information on Phillip's research and practice, please follow this link to Gabriella Giannachi introduces Phillip Zarrilli

Phillip's extensive website is at web-site: [link]

Phillip presented a workshop for the Presence Project on 2006. From this page you can access the evolving documentation of this workshop and our discussion with Phillip about his work and concepts and practices of presence. Please go to:

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'if there is something like ‘presence’ it’s emergent, and that has to do again with the relationship between the performer and what emerges in the moment of performance. It is that relationship that I am trying to mark by a ‘dispositional state of readiness’. In other words, a disposition to be ready with no intentionality--not getting ahead of oneself as a performer.' (Phillip Zarrilli, Presence Project Interview)

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