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My body taught me how to act: towards an epistemology of actor learning and apprenticeship

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-03-23, 14:51 authored by Saumya Liyanage
The background to this paper is the researcher’s own apprenticeship training as an actor in Sri Lanka. The paper will examine a paradigm of actor learning through the performing – and apprenticed – body. Recent studies have focussed on the performer’s embodiment within dance and acting (Sheets-Johnston, M. 1966, Parviainan, 1998, 2003, Klemola, 1991, Zarrilli, 2004, 2008, Kissel and Block 2001, Barbour, 2006) This paper will build upon such work in conjunction with Merleau-Ponty’s understanding of the subject as a “being-to-the-world” (1962, p.xiii) to consider the actor’s “bodily being in the enactment” as a “knowing process.” Particularly within the context of apprenticeship training, and in contradistinction to traditional understandings of learning which are rooted in language and cognition, the paper will demonstrate how such training embeds actor learning within (iterative and incremental) corporal enactment.


Publication Date



Australasian Drama Studies.




9 p. [p. 185-193]


The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies.

Rights Statement

Open Access. The published version of this work 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 Author(s) and the editor of The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies. This article was first published in Australasian Drama Studies, 60: 185-193, 2012. More information about this publisher is available at Copyright (2012) Author(s).

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