ACTING & BEING: Explorations in Embodied Performance

London: Palgrave Macmillan 2017
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In Acting & Being: Explorations in Embodied Performance, educator-actor-playwright -director Elizabeth Hess offers systematic and original explorations in performance technique. This hybrid approach is a fusion of physical theater modalities culled from Western practices (Psycho-physical actions, Viewpoints) Eastern practices (Butoh, Kundalini yoga) and related performance disciplines (Mask, Puppetry). Behavioral, physiological and psychological ‘states of being’ are engaged to unlock impulses, access experience and enlarge the imagination. Through individual, partnered and collective explorations, actors uncover a character’s essence and level of consciousness, their energy center and body language, and their archetype and relationship to universal themes. Magic (to pretend, as if), Metaphor (to compare, as like) and Myth (to pattern after, as in) provide the foundation for generating transformative, empathetic and expansive artistic expression. Explorations can be adapted to character work, scene study and production, including original/devised work and established text, to illuminate singular and surprising work through collaborative creativity that is inventive, inclusive and alive.


Helen Cook, Director Emerita, New York University (NYU), Tisch School of the Arts, Playwrights Horizons Theater School

Elizabeth’s process as both artist and teacher has evolved into a unique practice that reflects her physical aliveness, emotional openness and inquiring mind. She integrates existing physical theater modalities into a hybrid approach that also lends itself to multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural collaboration.

Jeff Janisheski, Head of Acting, National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA)

Elizabeth Hess’ book, ‘Acting & Being’, is what every actor needs to navigate the unknown and “play dangerously”. It offers a clear and comprehensive guide for unlocking barriers and unleashing creative potential. Her genius lies in helping actors connect to the power of language and their physical instruments. This book will also help emerging actors find that power and tap into other ‘states of being’ that they didn’t think were possible.

Rachel Jett, Artistic Director, National Theater Institute (NTI), Eugene O’Neill Theater Center

Elizabeth Hess’ approach invites the actor through real play to awaken and invigorate the physical life of characters. I have seen her work provide the platform for fearless performances full of grace and discovery.

Embodied Playwriting

Improv and Acting Exercises for Writing and Devising
Edited By Hillary Haft Bucs, Charissa Menefee

New York: Routledge 2023

Part 5: Curated Exercises

Uncovering Character through Mask Exploration
By Elizabeth Hess


Gender Embodiment On Stage: An Interview With Elizabeth Hess
from English Studies in Latin America (ESLA), by Felipe Acevedo Riquelme
click here for the article

Dust to Dust, Women In Theater Magazine
click here for the article | click here for the full magazine

Internally Displaced: Breaking Boundaries Of Silence, TCG Circle
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Art in Response to Repression, Lark blog
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