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University of Leeds

Physical Theatre: Exploring the Slap

University of Leeds via FutureLearn


This course introduces you to world-renowned Russian director Meyerhold’s technique of biomechanics. It invites you to study and experience first-hand his revolutionary biomechanical étude, ‘The Slap’.

Through a mixture of video, animation, discussion forums and practical exercises you will begin to understand Meyerhold’s Russian actor training technique – a two-minute repeatable exercise used to develop balance, awareness and expression. You will be invited to explore your own response to this unique approach to training and will share these responses with your fellow learners.

This course is part of the Going to University collection which has been specifically designed for students at schools and colleges. They provide a taster of undergraduate study at the University of Leeds and help students to decide which subject to study at university.

Completion of the courses will also enhance students’ university applications.

The courses can also be used as a teachers’ classroom enrichment resource.

Courses in this collection are also great for people that want an introduction in the specific subjects discussed in each course.


  • Meyerhold in context
    • Welcome
    • Meyerhold and Biomechanics
    • Introduction to The Slap
    • Summary
  • Meyerhold in action
    • About week 2
    • Preparation for practical activities
    • The Slap in action
    • Your turn
    • Summary

Taught by

Jonathan Pitches


4.4 rating, based on 26 Class Central reviews

4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 40 ratings

Start your review of Physical Theatre: Exploring the Slap

  • Anonymous
    While Meyerhold's work is certainly interesting, the scope of this course seemed to me too limited. There is no discernible reason why this is a two week course. It felt like an extended advert for the university of Leeds' BA in theatre, which is no…
  • Anonymous
    I enjoyed the course, although short, very much. It is something which I can hold onto while writing. The course was very clear and easy to follow. I do enjoy the courses I have done through the University of Leeds. Thank you.
  • Anonymous
    This course provides a wonderful and useful introduction to Meyerhold and biomechanics. It is useful and will allow students to discover new things about the usefulness of movement in their theatrical work-

    It is important to note that you don't have to be a dancer or gymnast to fully participate in this work and the instructor provides input along the way to make this a living experience for each member of the class.
  • Anonymous
    Our teacher recommended this course as we are currently studying Commedia dell’Arte. I'd never heard of Meyerhold but this course made it easy to understand, breaking everything down into small, manageable sections. It wss nice to be able to read other people's comments and discuss with other learners your thoughts on it. I would definitely recommend trying this course.
  • Anonymous
    I really enjoyed this course and found it very interesting. I really liked how it combined history and theatre and also asked thought provoking question and got me thinking. It was very enjoyable and i learnt a lot with the help of loads of resources and informative videos.
  • Anonymous
    It's a small, quick but very good introduction to the Physical Theatre. It requires practice, but the steps are very well explained.
  • Anonymous
    Clear and informative. A well-structured course with very clever animations that illustrate the physical exercises to be followed.
  • Anonymous
    This course gave a unique insight into Meyerhold and biomenchnics, encouraging you to explore the history and the meaning behind the etudes and also perform them before uploading your progress if you wish. It was informative and easy enough to complete in under a day, but detailed here it should be and also fun. Questions at the end of each "day" are thought provoking and encourage you to participate in the comments. This would be a great thing to put on a personal statement for drama/theatre studies :) Highly recommend!!
  • Carlos Rui Pires Borges
    This course is a good introduction to the work and times of В. Э. Мейерхольд, his findings and his use of writing, photography, and a new media, the film, as documentation of performance in theatre. The principles of biomechanics that Мейерхольд developed related to physicality of the performer, the actor, and an approach to the theatre as non-naturalistic. There are videos with exercises to practice as well as creative and critical challenges to the learners.
  • Anonymous
    Makes you think theatre,
    and helps you think - action
    makes you think me
    are you agressive or passive do both then
    you can act, express and communicate

    try the slap on a friend and see what the reaction is - scary, funny, strange what rection do you get because you will

    Gives you a feeling of what acting is all about

    Its helps to get into acting
    I think thats pretty excellent

    Thank you and the staff at Leeds University

    A happy and mindful New Year to you all
  • Anonymous
    I was motivated to join the course due to the term Biomechanics (I am an academic professor in Sport Biomechanics), my appreciation for movement as a means for expression (contemporary dance experience) as well as for the overall communicative properties of body movement.

    I just finished Week 1 and started Week 2. So far, it is a nice course for someone who wants to get insight into the issue. My background does allow a quality level estimation.
  • Anonymous
    I am only 16 and I did this course before going to sixth form and this course really helped me understand theatre more and its background/history. this course was really interested and I was looking forward to doing the work everyday! I strongly recommend this course to anyone who still deciding what they want to do and its appropriate for any age. thank you to the educators who made this course.
  • Anonymous
    Really interesting! I learned a lot. The course had a great balance of information about the context and methods as well as practising and physically embodying the information- the animation was a really useful learning tool as well . Thank you! I would really recommend this course!
  • Anonymous
    Very organized, well focused well structured and crystal clear. The theory and practice interconnection was thorough and helpful. Very good material for work forward. It remind us how things have started . A history of physicality for theatre practice from the master of the technique.
  • Anonymous
    This course was really motivating, because it gives you an introduction to biomechanics and the fundament to it, to learn at your own pace, and tickles you a little to find out more and experience it for yourself.
  • Anonymous
    Very good. Learnt so much which I can use later on in life. It was detailed and imformative. With I was able to have a completion certificate without paying. Recommend to anyone. Very well done
    Thank you
  • Guidopaoluzicusani
    The subject is appealing but this MOOC suffers, IMPO, from FutureLearn philosophy: "Not really deep or challenging... keep it short and simple!". It doesn't work for me, but maybe for others does.
  • Michael Thomas
    A really stimulating and enjoyable course about a practitioner I had little knowledge of . There is a pleasing balance of the practical and theoretical. Thoroughly recommended.
  • Anonymous
    It was a nice experience, short but with usefull information. I think is a good way to stay active and keep learning theater from home during this time around the world.
  • Anonymous
    This course is great as an introduction to biomechanics. It certainly gives you enough to allow you to work on your own, but just a taste to keep you wanting for more!

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