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"A Lamp in a Windless Place that Flickers not": some reflections on self-cultivation in Sri Lankan theatre acting

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conference contribution
posted on 2023-03-23, 17:28 authored by Saumya Liyanage
This paper was presented at the 2012 ADSA conference "Compass points: locations, landscapes and coordinates of identities" held on the 3-6 July 2012, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.

Paradigms of actor training and the embodiment of acting are invariably defined and understood according to the somaesthetic practices indigenous to the particular culture in which they are developed (Zarrilli 2002). As this title indicates, “a lamp that flickers not” (Bhagawat Gita, vi, 19) refers to the likeness of the seated Yogi and the “presence” of the body sculpture that the ascetic meditator cultivates through an assiduous practice of seated meditation. This metaphor of stillness of the body reflects the fundamental somatic quality that an actor achieves through the process of cultivating bodymind in acting. Habituating “self-cultivation” (Yuasa 1987) in meditational, medicinal, martial arts and artistry in Asia is one such modality via which practitioners cultivate inner and outer–inter involvement as a unified experience of the body. This ontology is thus identified in different disciplines by various terms such as “mindfulness/awareness” (Varela et el 2008), “body consciousness” (Shusterman 2008), “presence” (Barba 2005), “stillness/motionlessness” (Zarrilli 2009, Zusuki 2002) or the “attunement” (Nagatomo, 1992). Informed by Buddhist philosophy, this paper attempts to apply this theory of self-cultivation to contemporary Sri Lankan actor learning by looking at actor’s “attunement” with the physical score and the process of “habit formation” as a way of attaining “Samādhi” (bodymind) awareness of acting. In doing so this paper suggests an alternative paradigm of actional and epistemic pathway of actor learning.

['Australasian Association for Theatre. Drama and Performance Studies (2012 : Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane.)']


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Open Access. This paper has been reproduced here with the author's permission. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Permission to reproduce this article must be sought from the Author. More information about ADSA may be found at Copyright (2012) Author.

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