Jacques Lecoq and the challenge of Modernist theatre, 1945–1968

Authored by: Bruce McConachie

The Routledge Companion to Jacques Lecoq

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  September  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138818422
eBook ISBN: 9781315745251
Adobe ISBN: 9781317594635

10.4324/9781315745251.ch4

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Abstract

The triumph of theatrical Modernism in France and the West after 1945 occurred in the wake of a decade of economic depression and a devastating war that had ended the first wave of avant-garde theatre in Europe. Before the 1930s, the experiments of the Expressionists in Germany, the Futurists in Italy, the Constructivists in the Soviet Union, and the Surrealists in France, plus the work of Dalcroze’s eurythmics and the mechanical ballets of the Bauhaus, recognized the centrality of the actor for theatrical communication. Any one of these movements might have generated and sustained a rebirth of acting theory and practice in Europe. Instead, to simplify the history, German Nazism, Russian Communism, and French and Italian Fascism attacked and destroyed the legitimacy of avant-garde experimentation. In contrast, Modernist theatre had begun to flourish early in the century, partly because it rejected the avant-garde quest for utopia to search for universal, apolitical, and disembodied forms and essences that might help artists and their audiences to transcend the fragmentation and chaos of modernity. For the Modernists, the dramatist’s script, not the artistry of the actor, was the potential source of this transcendence.

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