An introduction to physical actor training

Explore the history and practice of physical theatre training using internationally recognised approach to acting: biomechanics.

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About the course

How does an actor prepare for demanding physical roles? What can be learnt from 20th century approaches to training including those from the famous Russian theatre of the 1920s? How can we get closer to these historical ideas using audio-visual materials?

This three-week introduction to physical actor training focuses on world-renowned Russian director Meyerhold’s technique of biomechanics, inviting you to practice one of his revolutionary approaches to acting – the biomechanical étude.

In the opening week (Meyerhold in Context) we will look at the range of key players in Russian actor training from a historical point of view. Meyerhold’s work will be placed in context – as an early collaborator with Stanislavsky and a contemporary of Michael Chekhov. In the second week (Meyerhold in Action) you will be introduced to one of his études – a two minute repeatable exercise used to develop balance, awareness and expression. Responding to video guidance you will be invited to explore your own response to this unique approach to training and will share these with your fellow students on the course. In week three (Meyerhold Today), we will reflect on these responses, gathering a panel of experts together to evaluate the importance of Meyerhold’s work today.


The course is for learners interested in theatre history and theatre practice and, specifically, in the relationship between the two. It may be of interest to students at school or college thinking of going on to tertiary education or for those already at university wanting to widen their areas of interest and experience. It may also be helpful for actors, theatre professionals and life long learners in the performing arts who have an active curiosity in history and theatre training. There will be some movement work, so students need to be of sound physical health, but the physical actions to be explored in the course are manageable for anyone with an average capacity for movement – lifting the arms, rotating the hips, shifting weight from one leg to the next. No previous experience of physical theatre is necessary.