Explanations and Implications of ‘psychophysical’ acting

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The term ‘psychophysical’ in relation to acting and performer training is widely used by theatre scholars and practitioners. Konstantin Stanislavsky is considered to have been an innovator in developing an approach to Western acting focused on both psychology and physicality. The discourse encompasses questions of practice, of creativity and emotion, the philosophical problem of mind–body from western and eastern perspectives and ideas of spirituality. In this article, Rose Whyman attempts to uncover what Stanislavsky meant by his limited use of the term ‘psychophysical’ and suggests that much of the discourse remains prone to a dualist mind–body approach. Clarification of this is needed in order to further understanding of the practice of training performers.

Rose Whyman is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Drama and Theatre Arts at the University of Birmingham. She researches the science of actor training and is the author of The Stanislavsky System of Acting (Cambridge, 2008) and Stanislavsky: the Basics (Routledge, 2013).
Key terms: performer training, Stanislavsky, mind–body, cognitive science.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-168
Number of pages12
JournalNew Theatre Quarterly
Issue number2
Early online date13 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


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