The starting point of the training at CISPA is the being of each individual as a part of the collective. The actor is trained to expose and hone the correlation between the physical, psychological and metaphysical elements of human nature. The performing artist must be able to utilise and coordinate their entire sensory apparatus, intellectual capacity, intuitive and instinctive impulses and emotional depth in order that the correlation between body, mind and soul manifest itself in an original artistic expression.
This approach stands in line with the post-critical tradition of the mindbody, coined, amongst others, by William H. Poteat. In contrast to the dominant Cartesian divide of mind and body into two separate entities, and the filtering of one’s encounter with reality through a lens of extreme suspicion, Poteat argues that mind and body cannot possibly be separated and thus any reflection under the assumption of such a separation must be seriously distorted. Instead he suggests that persons possess neither minds nor bodies, but mindbodies, and that all our perceptive senses are first fundamentally combined in a prelingual level of understanding, from which all higher thought, feeling and action are educed.
Thus, the acting student must learn to tap into and develop their sensorial connectness with, and prelingual perception of the world, in order to employ them creatively, and deliberately harness them within a specific artistic form.
At CISPA this embrace of mind and body as undividable unfolds itself in three major ways:
- Firstly, it is an important step towards a unified training that facilitates both practice (physical doing), and subsequent embodied reflection which in turn informs and advances further practice.
- Secondly, building on the concepts of embodiment and the mindbody, CISPA pursues a holistic approach to learning, teaching and research.
- Thirdly, in the methodology: Contemporary Method Acting, drawing on both physical, psychological, and psychophysical actor training traditions, is firmly rooted in the premise that we as human beings exist and express ourselves as mindbodies with all of our physical and mental properties inextricably merged in every aspect of our lives. Building on this premise, the training enables the performer to embody not only their given character and performance, but engage with the theatrical experience from a reciprocal mindbody perspective, where inner phenomena are manifested in outer expression, and vice versa.