About Lishi in Acting

Peter Lichtenfels (theatre director), Alex Boyd (Lishi movement practitioner) and Lynette Hunter (Professor of rhetoric and performance) have collaborated through workshops to think through what the concept of energy can add to existing Western theatre training practices. Both character-based and task-based euro-american actor training for stage and film has been informed through the 20th century by insights into alignment and breathing from systems in various parts of the world (in particular: Africa, Latin America, Asia, Asian subcontinent). Lishi in Acting follows the work with alignment and breath to its logical next step with 'qi', or energy-work.

what is lishi?

Daojiao Lishi Quanfa is a whole-body practice that trains in movement meditation and 'qi' work. It dates back over 3000 years, and has elements in common with a number of Daoist practices, including yin, yang, health and harmony arts and use of various instruments. One of the few complete family traditions, it unexpectedly came to public knowledge in Europe in the early twentieth century, and is unique in its breadth of practice. It's primary focus is on 'qi' energy.

Energy rather than power opens many different pathways to thinking about participation in our social and personal lives by moving energy and giving presence to elements we value in our everyday lives.

To lead and/or follow energy differently in every moment is an embodied theatre practice of finding form that presences, and is central to both rehearsal and performance.

In theatre training, energy work enables finding the form that activates the rehearsal and performance space (giving presence to all their elements), with carefully trained and practised techniques. These techniques are familiar to theatre training traditions and focus on alignment and breath – what energy work adds is the skill of ensuring that they are used to activate form, knowing when this is needed, and when the form has to be re-formed.

The process of energy work in theatre is tied to articulating new modes of being and living into cultural value and therefore into political recognition.


Lishi in Acting focuses on many different kinds of energy work, with some training in breathing and alignment techniques with the specific methods used by Lishi (these will be familiar to most people who have some experience with sacral-cranial, Alexander, and Feldenkrais approaches), and additional training in proprioceptive expansion. All workshops also include experiments with applications of 'qi' in acting, including voice, sound, silence, spoken word, gesture, posture, movement, stillness, and engaging with people, things, space and time. After consultation, there can be some traditional and task-based scene work, as well as improvisation skills for stage and for film.