Promoting Psychophysiological Play Applying Principles of Polyvagal Theory in the Rehearsal Room

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Sheridan Schreyer


Actors are often asked by directors to "play" with the material they are given in an attempt to create new artistic choices free of inhibitions. While proposed with no ill-intent, this request has the potential to create unwanted activations of an actor's sympathetic nervous system due to the removal of familiar rehearsal practices. Removing this ask from a director's vocabulary lessens the chance of negative interactions with an actor’s boundaries, but may leave other members of the creative team and actors may be left wanting more. By creating theatrical play grounded in the principles of Dr. Stephen W. Porges' Polyvagal Theory, potential trauma responses can be accounted for while allowing for an artistically fulfilling and consensual rehearsal process.

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