Professor Phillip Zarrilli

Emeritus Professor of Performance Practice


Phillip Zarrilli was appointed Professor of Drama in 2000. As the faculty expanded, and other professors were appointed, Zarrilli's title was altered to Professor of Performance Practice to better reflect his extensive experience and research in intercultural performance and contemporary acting practice. In 2013 Zarrilli became Emeritus Professor of Performance Practice. Although he will no longer be teaching Undergraduate or Masters Level modules, he will contribute to the student experience through occasional strategic events, special lectures or workshops in which he shares his current professional work within the Department.

Prior to joining the faculty at Exeter, he was Professor of Theatre, Folklore, and South Asian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for many years. He has also taught at U.C.L.A., Northwestern, N.Y.U, and the University of Surrey.

Zarrilli is internationally known as a director, actor, and actor trainer. At this stage in his life, he is devoting his time to his work as Artistic Director of The Llanarth Group (founded in 2000), as a professional free-lance director, to intensive teaching either at his private studio in Wales or at several well known professional actor/performer training programmes in the world, and to continuing to reflect on and write about acting and performance. 

Zarrilli has developed a unique, intensive pre-performative process for training actors which combines form training selected from the practices of yoga and Asian martial arts—kalarippayattu from Kerala, India, and taiqiauan Wu style from China.  He teaches this pre-performative process of training actors at his private studio in Wales, and throughout the world. He regularly teaches and directs at the Intercultural Theatre Institute (Singapore). Other recent residencies include the Norwegian Theatre Academy, the Taipei Arts Festival, the BEYOND Intercultural dance festival/programme (ICK Amsterdam), IMALIS project (Epidavros, Greece), Malta Arts Festival, Pas de Dieux Physical Theatre (Paris), Escrita na Paisagam Festival (Evora, Portugal), BITE Festival (USA), KNUA (Seoul, Korea). His book about this process of training, Psychophysical Acting: an intercultural approach after Stanislavski (Routledge Press, 2009) received the 2010 ATHE Outstanding Book of the Year Award at the ATHE convention in Los Angeles, August, 2010. The book was published in Mandarin translation as part of Zarrilli’s residency as a guest director at the 2014 Taipei Arts Festival. His training is also featured in the Practitioner series as part of the Routledge Digital Archive.


When he moved to the UK in 2000, he established THE LLANARTHGROUP and the Tyn y parc CVN Kalari/Studio in West Wales. The Llanarth Group is an association of theatre/performance artists dedicated to producing international theatre of the highest quality through in-depth psychophysical training of actors from all cultures. Each production brings together a specific group of collaborators relevant to the aesthetic of a specific project. Small scale collaborations and new work are developed, rehearsed, and shared with local audiences (in preview free of charge) at the Ty’n y parc studio in West Wales. The work is created for audiences in Wales, the UK and beyond, and invites intercultural sharing of techniques, approaches to, and aesthetics of performance. Kaite O'Reilly is resident dramaturg for new work/collaborations.

The work of The Llanarth Group includes productions across a wide variety of aesthetics and dramaturgies.

2015 (and touring) playing ‘the maids’: a creative response to Jean Genet’s the Maids, this entirely new co-created work is co-created with Gaitkrash (Ireland), Theatre P’yut (Korea) and independent artists Jing Hong Okorn-Kuo and Adrian Curtin. Premiered at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. Funded by Arts Council of Wales. 

2012 The Echo Chamber: co-created by Kaite O’Reilly, Ian Morgan, Peader Kirk, and Phillip Zarrilli with Arts Council of Wales funding. Premiered at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff. (

2010-2013 (continuing to tour on invitation) Told by the Wind: East Asian inspired work co-created by Kaite O’Reilly, Jo Shapland, and Phillip Zarrilli with funding from Arts Council of Wales and AHRC. Previewed at Evora Festival Portugal (2009) and has toured to Berlin, Chicago, Wroclaw, and most recently in 2013 to Tokyo Theatre Babylon. (

2010 The Evora Books: a library of hands: commissioned by Escrita na Paisagem Festival de Performance e Artes da Terra, Evora, Portugal (curated by Jose Alberto Ferreira). Co-created by Phillip Zarrilli and Kaite O’Reilly. A site-specific performance at the Evora Library Reading Room.

2000-2012 (continuing to tour on invitation): The Beckett Project: productions of eight of Beckett’s 20 plays from 2000. Most recently: Play+ at Cork Opera House; Happy Days and 4shorts: on invitation of the Malta Arts Festival, 2012).


2017: Scheduled to direct Beckett’s Footfalls and Play in association with The National Theatre, Costa Rica.

2016: to Direct world premiere of Kaite O’Reilly’s Cosy. An Unlimited production in association with Wales Millennium Centre. Premiere: 08 March, with a tour of Wales. During September, 2016: touring to Unlimited Festivals in association with South Bank Centre in London and Tramway in Glasgow.

2015: Directed a major new production of Ota Shogo’s The Water Station with an international cast. Nordland Teater and on tour in Norway. Premiered 24 September.

2014 (and 2016) Invited Guest Director to the Taipei Arts Festival. Directed the world premiere of Kaite O’Reilly’s the 9 fridas with Mobius Strip Theatre in association with Hong Kong Rep. In October, 2016 the production will be re-rehearsed and performed at the Hong Kong Rep as part of a festival.

2010-2011: ...sweet...dry...bitter...plaintive' (Corpo-realities commission, 2010, also performed at the Manchester DECIBEL Festival, 2011). A Sankalpam production performanced at Laban Theatre, London, and on national tour throughout the UK.

2006: directed 4:48 Psychosis at KNUA (Seoul, Korea).

2004: The Dance of The Drunken Monk. A Sankalpam performed at the Percell Room, South Bank Centre, and on UK national tour.

1999-2008: Collaborations with bharatanatyam choreographers/dancer, Gitanjali Kolanad: Walking Naked and The Flowering Tree with Gitanjali Kolanad, 1999-2008 [premieres in Chennai, performances inToronto, UK, and world-wide]. 

2004 & 2008: Directed The Water Station and Attempts on her life in Singapore at Esplanade Theatres on the Bay for TTRP/ITI.


In 2010 Zarrilli was invited to join The International Research Institute, ‘Interweaving Performance Cultures’ at Freie Universitat, Berlin, as a Fellow. Since 2010 he has been resident in Berlin annually or bi-annually between one and three months. In 2012 he worked with the IRC on co-planning two international symposia on ‘Actor Training: Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Perspectives’—the first at ITI in Singapore in 2012, and the 2nd in Berlin later in 2013. Zarrillis is currently co-editing a special issue of TDPT on intercultural acting.

Zarrilli has a contract for a new sole authored book with Routledge Press, tentatively entitled, '[Toward] a Phenomenology of acting'. This new book will further his considerations of acting/performance from phenomenological perspectives, also informed by dynamic systems theory of cognitive science. 

He is often invited to give keynote addresses. Forthcoming is a keynote for the interdisciplinary July 2016  Martial Arts Symposium at Cardiff University.