Biophysical Acting | The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama

Biophysical Acting

Biophysical Acting

Researcher: Dr Kiki Selioni

This is a research enquiry into biophysical acting based on an analysis of Olivier’s acting incorporating Laban analysis and the Aristotelian concept of mimesis.

The research will examine the issue of acting method and how existed acting methods can address the demands of the actor’s profession in 21st century. What this research will argue is that although there are well established acting methods (Stanislavsky, Adler, Lee Strasberg Method, Brecht), actually there was no acting method that addressed the issue of acting as an embodied process. What is meant with this statement is that acting, as well as, dancing, requires a specific training for the body (including voice). The acting methods mentioned above provide no specific training for the actor because they do not conceive acting as (embodied) execution – instead, they mainly focus on the art of characterisation.

The focus of the research is an investigation of Laurence Olivier’s way of acting employing as a methodological filter, Laban movement analysis interpreted via Aristotle’s Poetics. This is thus an extension of the argument and method I first developed in my PhD thesis, in which I argue that Laban and Aristotle see human praxis (in acting) and crucially understand that the somatic energy is essential for theatre. In this way they avoid any kind of psychological implication – something of great significance for the method of acting that I propose to develop here. This research will be based on the reading of the Poetics by contemporary Greek philosopher Stelios Ramfos in his two – volume book ΜΊΜΗΣΙΣ ΕΝΑΝΤΊΟΝ ΜΟΡΦΗΣ Ἐξήγησις είς το Περί Ποιητικής τοῦ Ἀριστοτέλους (MIMESIS VERSUS FORM Exegesis about Aristotle’s Poetics) (1991-1992). What is significant about Stelios Ramfos’s exegesis is that he attempts an analysis and interpretation of the concepts of the Poetics in terms of theatre performance and especially in the notion of Ζώον (zoon=living thing).

In addition one of the most important aims of the research will be the idea that Laurence Olivier’s way of acting as technique is the materialization of the Poetics and is key Principles. Olivier understood theatre praxis - I will suggest - in a way that is consistent with the Poetics and specifically in so far as Laurence realized that Rhetoric is not the basis for acting.

This investigation of Olivier’s acting, through Laban’s analysis in Aristotelian terms, might provide at least general principles of the structure of a new curriculum in acting method that based on science, introducing a biophysical acting.

In practice, a group of actors will be working on acting presentations from a wide range of the theatrical spectrum: from classical acting, devised theatre, musical, chorus, fight scenes. The presentations will be hosted by the ‘Michalis Cacoyannis Foundation’ theatre. Classes will apply Laban’s principles on acting examining the ways in which his movement analysis for actors and in acting grasped as embodied praxis ‘mirrors’ the way in which Laurence Olivier developed his own techniques and way of acting.

Outputs: The research is expected to provide a Book+ DVD, a series of DVD’s with detailed classes of acting practice.

Project funded by:

  • Michael Cacoyannis Foundation
  • Drama School ‘Mary Vogiatzi-Traga'
  • Publishing House Ellinoekdotiki

Duration: 2015-2017

Project Cost: €100.000

Curriculum Vitae

CV of Dr Kiki Selioni