WHAT IS CORPOREAL MIME?
A physical theatre technique, a new way to look at theatre, a contemporary artform.
Etienne Decroux’s dramatic corporeal mime is taking the body as a main means of expression and the actor as a starting point for creation with the aim of “making the invisible visible” (Etienne Decroux), of allowing the actor to show thought through movement.
Art of movement rather than art of silence, dramatic corporeal mime is first of all the art of the actor/actress. An actor, whatever his artistic ambition might be, must, before all, be present, “be” on stage and this presence is shown through the body. The body is what sustains the costume, what the spectator sees, what carries the voice. It is the skeleton, the hand in the glove.
Placing the body at the centre of his work, the corporeal mime actor seeks to recreate the essence of drama, to integrate in the body all principles of an action or a dramatic situation – disequilibrium, instability, causalities, rhythms – and to attain the control of the latter through learning a corporeal technique. The actor becomes sculptor and sculpture.
The dramatic corporeal mime of Etienne Decroux, as a teaching process, aims to give to the actor this control of presence on stage, of placement, displacements, actions through learning the technique, articulation, mobile statuary, improvisation and repertory.
To study a technique, as in music, multiplies the possibilities of the actor, allows him to do what he wants, not only what he can. In this way, it is a door open towards more freedom and imagination, and more clarity in in the execution.
ETIENNE DECROUX (1898 – 1991)
Having studied at Jacques Copeau’s Theatre School in France, Decroux became a cinema and theatre actor and collaborated with, among others, Antonin Artaud, Charles Dullin, Louis Jouvet and Marcel Carné in the movie ‘Les Enfants Du Paradis’. He dedicated the second part of his life to the creation of a theatre which takes the actor as the centre of the creation processand considers the actor’s body as the principal instrument. He created numerous pieces, investigated into the body’s expression for many years and gave classes at the school L’Atelier in Paris, Teatro Piccolo in Milan and the Actors’ Studio in New York. Moreover, he directed his own company and toured Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Great Britain and Israel.
In 1962, Decroux founded his school in Paris, where he taught and continued developing his technique. Many actors studied with him, among others: Jean Louis Barrault, Marcel Marceau, Jessica Lange and Michel Serrault. His work as well as his contribution to theatrical knowledge earned him worldwide recognition. His name figures among the great masters, such as Meyerhold, Stanislavsky, Grotowski, or Lecoq.
There are numerous schools (ESAD of Valencia, RESAD of Madrid, Instituto del Teatro of Barcelona, as well as schools in Paris, London, etc.) at which Etienne Decroux’ technique is taught as a complement to other physical or corporeal techniques. In Spain, however, the International School of Dramatic Corporeal Mime in Barcelona is the only one that offers a specialized and intensive training in this technique.