Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Phillip Zarrilli

In Memory

Performer, Author, Director, Teacher , Wales and the World , June 5, 2020
In Memory by Performer, Author, Director, Teacher The tribute that Kaite O'Reilly has written to Phillip Zarrilli is comprehensive and profound. To take excerpts from it would be to diminish its moving qualities. It should be read in full as an entity. It is published by Wales Arts Review. Kaite O'Reilly's own site also has tributes from friends, students and collaborators.

Jon Gower is also author of a tribute. The time in Wales, he recalls, began in 2000 with the the Llanarth Group, a former milking parlour turned into the Tyn y Parc Kalari Studio. Its location, a mile inland from Newquay, was destination for students from across the world for the intensive summer courses. Jon Gower's tribute contains testimonies from the beneficiaries of the unique Zarrilli practice and method. Llanarth was the stepping stone for the world and the intellectual, and spiritual, exploration of extra-European theatre culture.

Phillip Zarrilli has a distinct threefold position in my own theatre experience. I was present to see him as performer and director. But in addition he is on my bookshelves as contributor to the monumental “Theatre Histories.”

We last crossed paths in person in September last year at Cardigan's Small World Theatre. The conversation was not long. We talked about Edinburgh, the nomination for the 2019 James Tait Black Drama Prize. Then it was about plans for the future, which were always many.

Small World was also the location where I saw Phillip Zarrilli in performance. In October 2015 the Llanarth Group returned with “Told by the Wind.” Aesthetically it was cognate with the reaction Robert Hughes had when he saw the art of Giorgio Morandi. Hughes looked to the Japanese concept of wahi, “the clarity of ordinary substance seen for itself, in its own true quality.” At Small World I cited another writer on the aesthetics of Japan with its emphases: “simplicity, impermanence, and the unique “beauty” associated with natural processes of the passing of time.”

“The brushing of a fern on wood”, I wrote, “takes on a quality of audibility, and significance, unrealisable in the outer world.” My own smalll world was made a little bigger with “Told by the Wind.”

More cannot be asked of art or its artists.

Phillip Zarrilli, 8th April 1947- 28th April 2020.

Kaite O'Reilly's tribute at:

Jon Gower at:

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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