How Has Physical Theatre Changed Over Time

1897 words 8 pages
How has physical theatre developed over time?
Physical theatre is a form of performance where movement and physicality of the body has the main part within a performance. There are several quite distinct traditions of performance which all describe themselves using the term "physical theatre", which has led to a lot of confusion as to what the definition of physical theatre actually is. The term physical theatre has been applied to performances consisting mainly of mime, contemporary dance, theatrical clowning and other physical comedy (such as slapstick), puppetry and mask work and theatrical acrobatics and lifts. One of the early practitioners of physical theatre was Artaud. His ideas included total theatre, wherein actors appeal to all
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The term “Theatre of the Absurd” was coined by the critic Martin Esslin, who made it the title of a book on the subject first published in 1961. The "Absurd" or "New Theater" movement was originally a Paris-based form of theatre, tied to extremely small theatres. There are many conventions of “absurd” theatre, such as words often appearring to have lost their denotative function, thus creating misunderstanding among the characters. Instead, language gains a certain rhythmical, almost musical quality; no plot, minimal staging, babbling; abstract setting, “It is sometimes said to express the ‘human condition’ in a basic or ‘existential’ way” (Worthen 1639). Pirandello, one of the first experimentalists, wanted to bring down the fourth wall that was created by Realism, thus creating more physicality and a deeper connection with the audience.
Modern physical theatre has grown from a variety of origins. Mime and theatrical clowning schools, such as L'Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, have had a big influence on many modern expressions of physical theatre. Practitioners such as Steven Berkoff and John Wright received their initial training at theatre schools just like this. Contemporary Dance has also had a strong influence on what is regarded as physical theatre, partly because most physical theatre requires the performers to have a level of physical control and flexibility. This is rarely found


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