is internationally known for training actors in psychophysical process
through Asian martial/meditation arts, and as a director/performer
. He runs a private studio (Tyn-y-parc C.V.N. Kalari/Studio) in Wales, and conducts workshops throughout the world - including workshops or long-term residences at many institutions including the Grotowski Institute (Poland), as part of the BEYOND project with Emio Greco and Co (Amsterdam), Helsinki Academy of the Arts, Seoul International Theatre Festival, National Theatre of Greece, Tainan-Jen Theatre Company (Taiwan), TTRP (Singapore), Gardzienice Theatre Association, and many university actor training programmes such as Trinity College (Dublin) and Indiana University (USA).
As a director and actor, Zarrilli's most recent production with THE LLANARTH GROUP is Told by the Wind—co-created with Kaite O'Reilly and Jo Shapland. The production opened in 2010 for a two week run at Chapter Arts Centre (Cardiff), and continues on tour (Exeter Phoenix and the Grotowski Institute, Poland in 2010), and to Chicago for the Chicago Theatre Symposium in May, 2011. In 2008 he directed the critically acclaimed world premiere of Kaite O'Reilly's The Almond and the Seahorse for Sherman Cymru (Cardiff and on tour). His productions of Samuel Beckett's plays in Los Angeles (2000, 2006, 2008), Austria (2001), and Ireland (2004) have won critical acclaim and awards for 'best actress' and 'courageous production' in Los Angeles. In 2002 he collaborated with UK-based award-winning playwright, Kaite O'Reilly
and Theatre ASOU
(Austria) on a semi-devised performance, Speaking Stones, that opened in Austria in September, 2002, received its English premiere in Wroclaw, Poland on invitation of the Centre of Studies on
in 2003, and was again performed in Aflenz, Austria in 2004. In 2004 he also directed Ota Shogo's The Water Station for TTRP
at The Esplanade Theatres on the Bay in Singapore. During 2005-06 he directed Genet's Die Zofen (The Maids) in Austria, performances of The Beckett Project on tour in the U.S. in March and September. In 2007 he directed Martin Crimp's Attemps on her life with TTRP
at The Esplanade Theatre on the Bay.
Zarrilli is also noted for his work with Indian dancers/choreographers
In 2000 Walking Naked with bharatanatyam
dancer/choreographer, Gitanjali Kolanad, opened in Chennai and toured internationally until 2004 with performances in Mumbai, London, Seoul, New York, Toronto, etc. In 2003 he adapted and directed the seventh century Sanskrit farce for the UK-based bharatanatyam
dance/theatre company, Sankalpam
, with performances at the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall (Royal National Theatre, London), and throughout the UK. In 2006 he completed a new solo piece, The Flowering Tree
, with Gitanjali Kolanad (Toronto premiere). In 2010 he was commissioned by Sankalpam
to co-created with Artistic Director, Stella Subbiah, Corpo-realities 2: '...sweet...dry...bitter...plaintive...'
—a production exploring the inner acting (abhinaya
) dimensions of bharatanatyam
Zarrilli is the first Westerner to seriously study kalarippayattu
He began his training in 1976 under the guidance of Gurukkal Govindankutty Nayar of the CVN Kalari, Thiruvananthapuram.
Between 1976 and 1993 he lived in Kerala for a total of seven years - each trip devoted to undergoing intensive training
in kalarippayattu. In 1988 he was gifted the traditional pitham
(stool) representing mastery by Gurukkal Govindankutty
Nayar. When the new CVN Kalari Sangham was founded in 2004, the Tyn-y-parc CVN Kalari
in Llanarth, Ceredigion, Wales (UK) was
certified as an official kalari of the Sangham under Zarrilli's guidance as gurukkal
. Inaugurated in 2000, the Tyn-y-arc CVN
Kalari is the first traditional earthen-floor kalari operating outside of Kerala. In addition to his primary long-term training
under Gurukkal Govindankutty Nayar, Zarrilli also studied under C. Mohammed Sherif (Kerala Kalarippayattu Academy, Kannur) and
Raju Asan (adi-murai
). Zarrilli authored the first authoritative study of kalarippayatt,
When the Body Becomes All Eyes: paradigms and practices of power in kalarippayattu
published by Oxford University Press
(1998/2000). A new edition of the book is in planning stages to be published with a DVD-Video of kalarippayattu practice.
Zarrilli also received beginning training in kathakali dance-drama
1976-77 under the guidance of M.P. Sankaran Namboodiri at the Kerala Kalamandalam. It was his study of kathakali
preliminary training processes that led Zarrilli to kalarippayattu -
the source of kathakali
preliminary training exercises and massage.
The Llanarth Group
was founded in 2000 when Zarrilli moved to the UK. Projects are international in scope and bring together a variety of artists to collaborate on particular production projects. The work is always informed by the application of psychophysical process through Asian martial/meditation arts as the basis for developing a common language and process of performance. The Llanarth Group is based at the Tyn-y-parc Kalari/Studio in Wales under the direction of Phillip Zarrilli.
In addition to his professional artistic work, Zarrilli maintains a relationship with the Drama Department at Exeter University (UK) where he taught between 2000-2010. His numerous books include (editor) Acting (Re)Considered
(2nd ed 2002), When the Body Becomes All Eyes
(1998), Kathakali Dance-Drama: Where Gods and Demons Comes to Play
(2000), and (editor) Martial Arts in Actor Training
(1993). Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski
Zarrilli's long-awaited book on the process of training actors through a psychophysical approach based on Asian martial arts and yoga was published in 2009 by Routledge Press (London). The book includes a DVD-ROM by Peter Hulton. It was awarded the ATHE 2010 Outstanding Book of the Year Award at the ATHE convention in Los Angeles.
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