Physical theatre

From Academic Kids

Physical theatre is a genre of performance which makes use of the body (as opposed to the spoken word) as the primary means of performance and communication with an audience. In using the body, the performer or actor will concentrate on:

  • The use of body shape and position
  • Facial expressions
  • Rhythmical movement, pace and the energy of the body
  • Gesture
  • Posture
  • Gait

Physical theatre can be distinquished from dance in that it tends to focus more on narrative, character and action. However, the boundaries between the two are rather blurred.

There are various styles and genre of physical theatre. These include:

  • Physical comedy — where the body is the primary means of comic creation
  • Mime
  • Stomp— where the body, with external objects, is used for its percussive potential
  • Some forms of puppetry
  • Circus

The most famous institution devoted to physical theatre is the Lecoq school in Paris. Students here follow the method of Jacques Lecoq, which developed out of his experience of mask work, commedia dell'Arte and his interest in the physicality of performance.

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