Corpsework is the act of laying oneself on the floor of a dance studio or theatre space, usually with other people doing the same, and using a specific technique to achieve a sense of the character.

Before one may start corpsework, she must sign a contract to herself, indicating the duration of the activity and that she will make note of actions taken and not taken.

Firstly, one must lie down, eyes closed, and have her hands crossed over her chest, and her feet straight up. The effect of this image is... well... corpse-like, particularly when there is a room full of actors just lying there.

Then, whenever an impulse comes into the actor, it should be taken; or avoided by returning to the initial state of the corpse. If there is something that interferes with the consensual reality (violence, issues of sexuality, emotional distress), then an actor is expected to return to the corpse state or to find a different impulse to follow. All of the actors are asked to stop by a witness when the time to finish the exercise arrives.

At the end of a session, the actors are given the chance to write up reflections, and character notes about themselves and each other, and share these with the group.

Not to be confused with corpsing.

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