Jacques Lecoq and the Theatre of Gesture


Working in order to make the body act within the limits of its possibilities in the emergency and the imagination (LECOQ : p 53)


Creator of the " Jacques Lecoq International School of Theatre " in Paris, the latter was an artist, a creator, a researcher; a man who, for more than a mid-century, has worked out of any fashion and any compromise. Nowadays he is an undisputed master concerning the stage teaching. He proposes the look of a precise man, but also the look of a poet for whom every certainty keeps a part of instability and doubt. He transmits an artist’s living experience who has tried to discover in the universal laws of movement, of space, of game and of the form, the creator’s necessary means to transpose the reality in a personal language. Numerous artists and companies are claiming today to make part of his " school " and are leaning on his teaching. However, we can notice that some pieces of his work are frequently used out of their context becoming as well another method of " actor training ". It would be as forgetting that the deep meaning of this creation teaching is directly linked to the route it proposes in the length and to the commitment it wants of the artist as well as the human being. It is a teaching which has its source in life and gives an opportunity to the theatre to stay alive away from the models or sclerosed techniques.


Taking the movement and the gesture as a basis of work and essential settling in the actor teaching , it still proposes a learning of being an actor (and of human being) in his own right and the redefinition of a dramatic mime which concerns the rythm of the living and which precedes the words :to understand the laws organizing life, from which the stage play laws come from, from an observation of everyday life and nature. It is thanks to our body that we are aware of the world that surrounds us, miming it. From reproposing the play to the mimodynamic and to the geodramatic, the originality of this procedure lies in that discovery by the body " which mimes " deep settling of the gesture and human actions. Drawing from the great dramatic registers (Ancient tragedy, Commedia dell’arte, pantomime, melodrama…), Lecoq goes in search of what should be fondamentally played in the human being. Each pupil and artist, who takes up the bet of this promise, goes at his " own risk and surprise " and forms his own personnality of creator.

Masks : Games and Stakes

Work-group of stagecraft produced by theIUFM of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, in may 27 and 28 2002


To paraphrase Jacques Lecoq, we will say that " the theatre and the creation are matters of real experience, of oral transmission and of length. It’s not easy to express with some words what the experience makes us get in touch with in a living way ".

Or :

" Teaching, it is like helping the game to develop, from the playing again of life as close to its expression, until other games tend to the creation, towards a transposition, a transcendence, which make live the invisible of the things and beings, and make enter the theatre in poetry. …

Teaching, it is like helping the other to develop being sufficiently free physically and mentally in order to let him open his own living space . "

The aim of these two days, has been to start on the notions of " Poetical Body " as Jacques Lecoq thought of it, through the body in movement and the techniques of the masked game. It was a matter to understand the basic principles of actor playing : the presence on the stage, the significant body, the game with a partner, the mask (neutral and expressive, Commedia dell’arte). Then giving to all the participants the means to animate and make a group work.


Neutral mask :

The neutral mask leads us in the balance and silence world preceding the movement and the words. From the impression to the expression, it is the support of a mimodynamic exploration of the corporal space and of the human passions through the rythms and forms of nature and of the living (elements, materials, colours, lights, animals...). It is a matter of work about the process which leads to the game from the action of being on the stage until the characters’starting up and their position. The level of the game reached with the neutral mask, goes beyond the trivial detail and tends towards the universal.


Commedia dell’arte :

Masks of characters, they propose an irreverent and extreme game persuading the actor and the character to go far in their limits, beyond the trivial detail and naturalism : passions and contradictions meet up in the mask and the countermask. We directly enter into the human comedy. Each mask of Commedia has let a character that tradition has shaped with some physical, corporal features and traits of character, which makes of it an archetype, defined in a particular part (Zanni, Harlequin, Brighella, Pantalon, Dottore, Capitan). Discovering these characters, in their traditional and contemporary form.


Traduit du français par                                                                       Fransoise Simon

                    Caroline di Milla