Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Performance and Cultural Industries


Dr Maria Kapsali

Lecturer in Physical Performance

0113 (34) 35147

PCI Building, Room 1.09

Lecturer in Physical Performance, Office Hours Wednesday 2-3

I am currently working on a contracted monograph on technology and performer training (Routledge. 2018), exploring both practices of performer training through a post-phenomenological lens as well as more recent applications of digital technologies as performer training tools. I also co-edit with Dr Rebecca Loukes, from the University of Exeter, the Routledge Book Series Perspectives on Performer Training.

I have recently published in the International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media an article on Sonolope, a mobile phone application on movement sonification:





I studied Theatre and Performance in Greece and continued my studies in the UK with an MA in Physical Theatre at  Royal Holloway, University of London. During and after the completion of my MA I trained in a number of psychophysical disciplines, such as Body Mind Centering with Linda Hartley, Feldenkrais with Richard Cave, and Iyengar Yoga with Silvia Prescott. In 2002 I completed a two year course in contemporary dance and in 2007 I qualified as an Iyengar Yoga teacher.

As I was interested to explore the relationship between my physical training and theatre studies further, in 2007 I embarked on a fully funded PhD in Performance Practice at the University of Exeter. My PhD thesis both examined the use of yoga by key theatre practitioners and practically experimented with ways in which yoga can be used towards pre-performative as well as performative purposes.

Shortly after the completion of my PhD, I joined the University of Leeds in January 2013 as a Lecturer in Physical Performance.  Alongside my teaching in under- and postgraduate modules, I have recently published a co-authored DVD-Booklet on Yoga and Actor Training (Routledge 2015) and I have guest edited a special issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training entitled Training, Politics and Ideology (July 2014). Links to the issue can be found in the links section.

I have an ongoing collaboration with technologist Simon East on the development of innovative technologies as resources for actor training and I have been recently appointed as a co-convenor of the TaPRA Performer Training WG.



Research Interests

  • philosophy of technology and the use of tools in performer training and somatic practice.
  • 20th and 21st c performer training regimes, processes and practitioners, in particular the use of psychophysical disciplines.
  • Yoga and somatics.
  • The historical, ideological and economic contexts of psychophysical practices, such as discourses of health, fitness and self-development .
  • Cultural Industries and performing as a form of labour.
  • Knowledge production in practice-based research and the use of digital technologies as a means of documentation and dissemination.


PECI 2101 Strategies for Research

PECI 3501 Processes of Performance

PECI 1703 Performance Project 1

PECI 2102 Collaborative Performance Project

PECI 1704 Exploring Performance

PECI 3700 Independent Research Project


Deputy Director of Student Education

Examinations Officer



  • Hulton D, Kapsali M (2015) Yoga and Actor Training. Routledge.

Journal articles

  • Kapsali M (2017) “Making the body all ears: Sonolope and a somatic practice of really listening”, International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media. 13.1: 39-54.
    DOI: 10.1080/14794713.2017.1300446, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/114242/

  • Hulton D, Kapsali M (2017) “Yoga and Stanislavski: reflections on the past and applications for the present and future”, STANISLAVSKI STUDIES. 5.1: 37-47.
    DOI: 10.1080/20567790.2017.1294382, Repository URL: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/111245/

  • Duke B, Sperling M, Kapsali M (2016) “'What are your/the tools of training?'”, THEATRE DANCE AND PERFORMANCE TRAINING. 7.1: 108-111.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2016.1149365

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Training in a cold climate: Edited transcript of roundtable discussion with Catherine Alexander, Alison Andrews, Tom Cornford, Matt Hargrave, Struan Leslie, Kylie Walsh”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 219-232.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.932960

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Psychophysical disciplines and the development of reflexivity”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 157-168.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.914968

  • Kapsali M (2014) “Editorial”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. 5.2: 103-106.
    DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2014.926660

  • Kapsali M (2013) “The ‘Ancient’ Body of Modern Yoga: The influence of Ramanuja on Iyengar Yoga and the use of Iyengar Yoga in Actor Training”, Studies in South Asian Film and Media. 4.2

  • Kapsali M (2013) “Rethinking Actor Training: Training Body, Mind and…Ideological Awareness.”, Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal Pitches J (eds.). 1. 4.1

  • Kapsali M (2012) “Towards a body-mind spirituality: the practice of yoga and the case of Air.”, Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices Williamson A (eds.). 1. 4.1: 109-124.

  • Kapsali M (2010) “‘“I don't attack it but it’s not for actors”: the use of yoga by Jerzy Grotowski’.”, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training Journal Pitches J; Murray S (eds.). 1. Vol 1.2: 185-198.


  • Brazzale, Chow, Taylor CT, Evans, Burt, Rajendran, Fuller, McFadden, Syron, Kapsali MK (2014) “Training, Politics and Ideology, Special Issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal”, Theatre Dance and Performance Training Kapsali M (eds.). 5.2

Research Projects & Grants

From September 2017 I will embark on a year long LITE fellowship with colleague Dr Scott Palmer exploring mobile phones and digital creativity.

I am also involved in an ongoing collaboration with technologist, Simon East, on the development of mobile applications for performer training purposes. This a link to  Sonolope, the mobile application that Simon and I developed together :http://www.sonolope.com/

Research Centres & Groups

Member of the Performance Training Preparation and Pedagogy Research Group

External Appointments

External Examiner for the MA in Acting and MA in Directing at the University of East London.

Co-convenor of TaPRA Performer Training Working Group

Co-Editor of the Theatre Dance and Performance Training Blog.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Sami Henrik Haapala, Tutke, University of the Arts Helsinki, on the development of a form of performer training for immersive theatre performance.

Kate Fox, University of Leeds, ‘Stand Up and Be Encountered’, the practice of stand up comedy and poetry and its relationships to geographical, class and gender identity.

Carole Kirk, University of Leeds, painting as a means of co-creating meaning.

PhD Thesis

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the practice of yoga in Western actor training and theatre practice. The starting point of this PhD research is my observation that yoga is a popular discipline that has often attracted the interest of actors, directors, and actor trainers. The aim of this thesis is to explore through practical research additional possibilities for the use/application of the discipline in training and performance. More specifically, this thesis asks the following questions:


  • How yoga has been used by key theatre practitioners, such as Stanislavsky, Grotowski, Richard Schechner, and Dorinda Hulton, in their work with actors and how yoga has influenced their artistic vision?
  • How can I use the practice of yoga in order to facilitate the actor’s training and rehearsal process in relation to specific dramaturgical and performative demands?
  • How do the social assumptions and historical contingencies that underlie the way yoga is practiced in the West today affect the actor’s training, his/her relationship to one’s body, and the way s/he embodies a role?


The practical investigation employed the use of Iyengar Yoga in a series of three projects, which focused on performative and pre-performative aspects of the actor’s craft. The practice of yoga postures was thus explored in relation to the actor’s movement, imagination and performative relationship to other actors. It has also been used in order to facilitate the actor in working with different theatrical scripts and dramaturgies as well as generate original material for performance. In this manner, this thesis has developed a set of exercises and frameworks, which combine the practice of the discipline with its application in training and rehearsal contexts.

Professional Practice

A series of public events showcasing Sonolope will take place at the National Media Museum between the 11th and the 20th of March as part of the Make Some Noise Festival and the Late Nights: ttp://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/educators/EducatorEvents/MakeSomeNoiseKS3


In 2014 I guest edited a special issue of Theatre Dance and Performance Training Journal, entitled ‘Training, Politics and Ideology’.

Articles in the Special Issue can be accessed online for free by clicking on the following tab:

Editorial: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19443927.2014.926660.

Main Article: http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/aiJen4tfwA466CstQFCv/full

Training in a Cold Climate: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19443927.2014.932960.

More information on my work with mobile phones can be found here: http://www.sonolope.com/

PdF files of my other publications are available on academia edu: https://leeds.academia.edu/MariaKapsali

My PhD thesis is available on the British Library website: http://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?did=2&uin=uk.bl.ethos.535885

This is the link to the http://Theatre Dance and Performance Training Blog.

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