Shakespeare and the Lecoq Tradition

Tunstall, Darren (2012) Shakespeare and the Lecoq Tradition. Shakespeare Bulletin, 30 (4). pp. 469-484. ISSN 0748-2558

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This essay will try to show how an actor who has been trained in what I will call “the Lecoq tradition” may approach the rehearsal of Shakespeare’s text. I propose that the “Lecoq actor,” as I will call her, learns during her training how to use her body, in a playful and rhythmically precise manner, as the primary means of constructing and performing meanings in the theatre. I will indicate the ways in which a conception of theatre as game can be “transposed,”, to use Lecoq’s own word (The Moving Body 45); that is to say, I want to show how the game can be “reinserted into the dramatic dimension” (ibid). No one can legitimately claim to make statements that are true in all contexts for all actors who have come into contact with Lecoq’s work. Furthermore, there is little point in arguing for a systematic procedure of work: such a procedure does not exist in the Lecoq tradition. It is possible, however, to argue for patterns of agenda, vocabulary and approach, and in trying to do so I will draw largely upon Ariane Mnouchkine’s production of Richard II (1981) for her company Théȃtre du Soleil. In addition, I will refer to two productions of Shakespeare I directed for which my approach was influenced by Lecoq’s ideas: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009) and Macbeth (2011), both at St Peter’s Arts Centre, Preston in the UK. I will also mention in passing three productions of Shakespeare plays by Theatre de Complicite for elements of supporting evidence.

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