The phrase "physical theatre" refers to a wide range of performances that include aspects of dance, mime, acrobatics, clowning, stylized moves and gestures, circus, masks, and more. Physical theatre can incorporate elements of other recognised forms, like Commedia dell'Arte, performance poetry, cabaret, musical theatre, and more, while still being recognised as a distinct genre in and of itself. The human body being at the centre of the action and the ability to convey meaning and a tale to an audience are essential to the genre. Movement is prioritised over spoken text.
To tell a tale, physical theatre uses stylized bodily movement. Learn more about the most typical elements of the art form.
How Does Physical Theater Work?
A theatrical performance called "physical theatre" presents a story primarily through stylized physical movement as opposed to spoken word or musical accompaniment. Physical theatre draws inspiration from a variety of performing arts genres, including mime, commedia dell'arte, and contemporary dance. All forms of physical theatre place a strong emphasis on using the body to communicate stories. Various people have different ideas of what constitutes physical theatre and how it varies from other types of theatre or performance, such as dance or puppetry.
Three traits of physical theatre.
The following three components are used by physical theatre companies in their productions:
1. Audience involvement: By expanding the stage beyond the conventional proscenium restrictions, many physical theatre organizations dismantle the barrier between audience and actors (the arch that frames the performers on stage). Others use Bertolt Brecht's "breaking the fourth wall" strategy by encouraging audience participation or speaking directly to them through movement.
2. Devised performance: Even though physical theatre stresses movement over speech, some practitioners draw inspiration from components of plays or spoken word performances. Devised performances have a strong emphasis on improvisation and teamwork, and they may start with a text. For instance, Shakespeare, Abi Morgan, and other plays, for instance, are referenced in the shows of the UK physical theatre company Frantic Assembly.
3. Interdisciplinary components Although physical movement is at the core of physical theatre, it also incorporates elements from other modern theatrical disciplines. The UK theatre company Complicité combines visual art in the form of film projections into their award-winning plays, while actor and director Steven Berkoff's "whole theatre" style incorporates dance pieces, improvisation, and the performers' physical skills to create inventive productions.
Three Categories of Physical Theatre
There are several types of contemporary physical theater. The following are three examples of physical theater:
1. Theatrical clowning and mime place a strong emphasis on actor training and physical movement. Many of the greatest exponents of physical theatre studied these fields, such as actor Étienne Decroux and physical theatre pioneer Steven Berkoff, who both got instruction at the L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, France.
2. Modern dance: The principle of expressing a story through movement is shared by both dance theatre and physical theatre. Lloyd Newson's choreographer and director's DV8 Physical Theatre explores dance as a type of physical theatre.
3. Noh: Noh is a classic type of Japanese theatre that tells stories using dance, stylized physical movement, and song. The open stage of Japanese Noh encourages interaction between the performers and the audience. Physical theatre actor Jacques Lecoq used a neutral mask to instruct trainees to emphasize their physical performances as a result of this movement's utilization of visual components like masks.
What Is The Goal Of Physical Theatre?
Multiple dance genres have impacted physical theater, which employs the body and movement to tell a story. Its distinctive qualities from other styles of theatre include the following:
1. Improvisation: Physical theatre promotes collaboration and improvisation among performers rather than employing conventional choreography. Many compositions are created by the performers by utilizing movements that, at the time, feel natural and fit within their range of abilities. They could also use found literature as a starting point for devising new works. For instance, DV8 draws on real-life interviews and London's Frantic Assembly uses Shakespeare.
2. Draws from Multiple Disciplines: The distinctive feature of physical theatre is that it draws from a variety of disciplines. It is influenced by international theatrical styles and movement traditions. Visual art, puppetry, film, and music are frequently used by businesses in their productions.
3. Little dialogue: According to some professionals, there is no dialogue in physical theatre. However, organizations like Frantic Assembly produce television programmes that combine talking and motion. The crucial difference between physical theatre and traditional plays is their reliance on text and dialogue. Physical acting, on the other hand, focuses on the performers' movements.
4. Audience Engagement: The fourth wall is often broken in physical theatre, pushing actors to communicate with the audience or, at the very least, to acknowledge their presence.
What Abilities Do I Require to Perform Physical Theatre?
Physical theatre might be for you if you're an actor who enjoys movement, wants to produce your own work, loves teamwork and breaking the fourth wall (or fourth wall), and loves collaboration.
The abilities required include:
1. Experience with dance, or at the very least familiarity with many styles of movement, such as mime and clowning,
2. Being able to use your physicality, posture, spatial awareness, and facial emotions to convey a tale
4. Understanding of how to communicate with an audience
There are numerous theatre groups and colleges that operate their own training courses in physical theatre. Additionally, you'll discover the various movement styles that are frequently blended into physical acting techniques like clowning.
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