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Chasing Lecoq in Paris

Dec 6, 2017 1:30:00 PM / by Irene Kanthan

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Thaddeus is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2017, sharing his story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A BFA major at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, he is studying abroad in London this semester.

In this week's post, Thaddeus talks about the theater approaches formed by Jacques Lecoq and further explores its movement.

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I decided this week to expound a bit on my time exploring the old stomping grounds of Jacques Lecoq, the infamous teacher and movement philosopher in the world of theater. Lecoq's teachings are based on the idea of the poetic body, challenging you to let go of your analytical brain and follow the impulses of movement based on where your body takes you.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Fall2017_From Thaddeus Kaszuba - Notre Dame Cathederal in Paris.jpg

That in itself sounds very poetical, and Lecoq's method attempts to take lyrical quality and put those ideas and metaphors into something with physical architecture.

Architecture for Jacques Lecoq is an extremely important part of how he works. So during my time in Paris, I attempted to try and find some pieces of the city that Lecoq himself discussed in his book "The Moving Body" and his documentary film "The two voyages of Jacques Lecoq."

I specifically remember him discussing the Cathedral of Notre Dame in the city center. He often discussed that the building itself is one big massive structure, and yet both inside and outside has such microscopic details and smooth architecture. This is what draws our eye to the structure itself. In his work, he experiments with using these themes to build the movement based off of the architecture.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Fall2017_From Thaddeus Kaszuba - Old Street of Lecoq's Movement School in Paris - Cour des Petites Ecuries.jpg

After examining this building, I set off to find where the actual school stomping ground was. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, I could not find any point to access the building since it was blocked off by inaccessible buildings in front of it! Disappointed as I was, I got a picture of the street market where Lecoq has been known to wander down before and after his classes - closely examining people and how they interact with the architecture of the city.

Lecoq was also a teacher of "bouffon" (buffoon) clown, as well as Commedia Del'arte - an old form of archetypical comedy using half masks.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Fall2017_From Thaddeus Kaszuba - Graphic of Clown Culture on the Street.jpg

Parisian culture took both of these forms and used them to create the stereotypical French mime and clown work that can still be found in the city today.

I was surprised to find out that Pablo Picasso himself was very interested in these forms. I visited the Picasso Museum in Paris, and discovered that he often wrote small plays, built sets, and drafted costumes for these forms. I think there is a dichotomy between artists that appreciate these forms of theater, because they have to do with visuals and architecture, rather than intellectual comedy or cultural troupes.

CAPAStudyAbroad_London_Fall2017_From Thaddeus Kaszuba - Picasso-inspired drawing of Commedia's Character Arlechino.jpg

My quest to find the Parisian paths of Jacques Lecoq was short-lived but extremely fulfilling.

When I returned to London, my company got a chance to work with Ariel, a teacher from the London International School of Performing Arts who was a student of Lecoq himself! Ariel further worked with us on finding our poetic body and giving us ways to let go of our intellectual brains, and find ways to express emotion and physical connection with other actors that did not need to come from a place of creating a space for that emotion to happen. Rather, he suggested that the body already knows how it wants to feel in a given moment, and it takes the poetic body to access that emotion in a way that does not push or force you to expect something to happen.

This kind of work in theater is extremely interesting to me. It has been a humbling gift to be able to explore the architecture of inspiration from these methods in the city which they derived.

Thanks Thaddeus!

Thaddeus's journey continues every Wednesday so stay tuned.

Learn More about the CAPA London Program

Topics: London, England, Theater