Italian actor, director, film maker and Zen monk Pasquale Esposito is a leading exponent in the art of bringing mindfulness to performance.  Huddersfield Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Middleton invited him to work with students at the University on a three-day event, entitled Something for Nothing.

Pasquale Esposito working with drama students Pasquale Esposito works with Huddersfield drama students

A LEADING Italian actor who is also a Zen monk came to the University of Huddersfield for a three-day workshop that provided drama students and other participants with unique insights into their craft and how they could use meditative techniques to aid creativity.

The event was titled Something from Nothing and its tutor was Pasquale Esposito, whose high-profile recent roles have included the part of a Mafioso in the Italian series Gomorrah.  He is also a noted theatre actor and film maker whose work is heavily influenced by his Zen Buddhism.

His links with the University of Huddersfield have been forged by Senior Lecturer Dr Deborah Middleton.  One of her key areas of research is mindfulness and performance and in 2015 she attended a workshop in London at which Pasquale Esposito was exploring Zen and acting.

“I was completely blown away by how he could bring together theatre and acting and meditation through these very active, experiental, movement-based sensory activities,” said Dr Middleton.  She invited Pasquale to come to Huddersfield to contribute to events linking mindfulness and performance.  His latest visit to the University was his third, and it included three sessions that included the use of sitting and walking meditation as part of the creative process.

“He presents acting, from a Zen perspective, in a very interesting way, by looking at creativity in general.  He uses the phrase ‘something from nothing’.  It’s a way of being responsive to what’s already happening and learning how to be open and receptive enough to respond to impulses rather than planning and thinking up something to do,” said Dr Middleton.

She said that the Italian visitor – whose training and influences also include the Lee Strasberg school of method acting – gave drama students “wonderful tools” that would help them as actors and as people.

“He will say that you can’t find out about yourself as an actor if you can’t find out about yourself as a person.”

In addition to the workshop sessions, the latest University of Huddersfield visit by Pasquale Esposito also included a special showing of Something from Nothing, a documentary by Nick Rizzini on the work of the Zen actor.  This was followed by a Q&A session with Pasquale, facilitated by Deborah Middleton.