The Pedagogy of the Ball Game


What transforms an improvisatory exercise into a precise technology of psychophysical training? What do we draw trainees’ attention to, when transforming the ‘open’ terrain of improvisation into the ‘focused’ domain of precise and detailed self-development?

This article suggests that an improvisation achieves ‘meaning’ or ‘justification’ through the intersection of three pedagogies, experienced simultaneously and mutually reinforcing. I name these pedagogical ‘domains’ as: ‘the mechanics of self’, ‘models and metaphors’ and ‘principles’.

Drawing on my own training processes and the reported experiences of those who have trained with me, contextualised by Barba’s and Zarrilli’s work, the article examines the process whereby, through the application of precise pedagogical structures, an improvisation-based exercise operates as a core training mechanism.

Developing from a focus on a single exercise, the article analyses the foundations of learning in any improvisatory structure, enabling improvisation to operate as a complex vehicle of performer training.

The full article can be downloaded (in PDF format) here:

Improvisation as Psychophysical Training- For EPT website


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