The article examines some of Eugenio Barba’s study material now preserved in the Fonds Barba at Odin Teatret Archives (ISTA Series, b. 1). Barba’s readings preceding the first edition of the ISTA in Bonn in 1980 trace the development of interests cultivated by the director, from humanities to science (biology, neuropsychology, studies of perception, posturology). Even before developing the theory of theatre anthropology as an autonomous discipline, Barba evolved many fertile perspectives of study on energy, within which he expanded the understanding of presence as a fundamental component of theatre. Barba’s reading notes reveal an intellectual approach similar to his artistic work: the accumulation of an overabundance of material, which in the theoretical sphere, too, invert the principle of maximum results with minimum effort.