Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Theatre & Dance

First Advisor

Beth Osnes

Second Advisor

Cecilia Pang

Third Advisor

Lynn Nichols


Phillip Zarrilli is a theatre teacher and polymath of subjects such as martial arts, yoga, philosophy, religion, and more. His teaching pedagogy incorporates the Asian disciplines of kalarippayattu, hatha yoga, and t’ai chi ch’uan. He is currently influenced by the Japanese dance performance style butoh. His studies of these disciplines have taken place in Kerala, India, the United States and the United Kingdom.

Zarrilli’s pedagogy would be best labeled as “psychophysical” based on his own assertions and when bearing in mind the traditions he considers most personally influential, all of which have intercultural elements, both Western and Asian. The teachers who exemplify this, who he names as important to the formation of his own teaching work, are Constantin Stanislavski, Jerzy Grotowski, Eugenio Barba, A.C. Scott, and Michael Chekhov. All have different and overlapping qualities that inform Zarrilli’s own work, which adopts and adapts intercultural psychophysical techniques (mind and body integration in pre-performative training and in performance) while being unique to Zarrilli himself.

This study seeks to answer the questions of Zarrilli’s personal origins, his pedagogy, how his teaching influences his students, and about his legacy based on his artistic progeny and how actively his students use Zarrilli’s core principles in their own instruction. In answering these questions, interviews, personal observation, and literature will be analyzed. The subjects of these analyses will be: the disciplines of Asian origin relevant to Zarrilli’s pedagogy; the teaching influences chosen based on Zarrilli’s frequent mention in both his writings and in interviews; Zarrilli’s personal development from university to his present international teaching, directing, writing, and other work; his past and current projects and achievements; and what his work means today. All the evidence gathered will provide answers to the legacy of psychophysical acting from an intercultural perspective as it resonates with Phillip Zarrilli past and present.