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Physical theatre


Physical theatre is a well known genre of theatrical performance that pursues storytelling through primarily physical means. Several performance traditions all describe themselves as "physical theatre", but the unifying aspect is a reliance on physical motion of the performers rather than or combined with text to convey the story. In a basic sense, you talk through hand gestures, body language, thought tracking and many more physical features.


this genre includes using your body to show emotions.

Lymphoma Gallery suggests that all physical theatre shares some common characteristics although each individual performance need not exhibit all such characteristics to be defined as physical theatre. Her research into the training or "work" of physical theatre artists cites an amalgamation of numerous elements adopted as a means to further inform the theatrical research/production. These elements include:

Some practitioners, such as Lloyd Newson, despite being the first company to incorporate the term Physical Theater into his company's title (DVD Physical Theater), has expressed concern that the expression is now being used as a "miscellaneous" category, which includes anything that does not fall neatly into literary dramatic theater or contemporary dance. He is also frustrated that many companies and performers that describe what they do as physical theatre, lack physical skills, training and/or expertise in movement. As such Contemporary theater including post-modern performance, devised performance, visual performance, and post-dramatic performance, while having their own distinct definitions, are often simply labelled "physical theatre" without any reason other than because they are unusual in some way.

It is also problematic that dance is of a theatrical nature. A dance piece will be called "physical theatre" because it includes elements of spoken word, character, or narrative; it is theatrical and physical but does not necessarily share anything in common with a potential (and nascent) physical theatre tradition.

A modern physical theater has grown from a variety of origins. Mime and theatrical clowning schools, such as L'École Internationale de Théâtre 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 such institutions. Contemporary Dance has also had a strong influence on what we regard as physical theatre, partly because most physical theatre requires actors to have a level of physical control and flexibility. Those qualities are rarely found in those who do not have some sort of movement background. Modern physical theatre also has strong roots in more ancient traditions such as Commedia dell'arte and some suggest links to the ancient greek theatre, particularly the theatre of Aristophanes.



  • Devised origins, rather than originated from a pre-existing script
  • Inter-disciplinary origins - it crosses between music, dance, visual art as well as theatre
  • Challenging the traditional, proscenium arch, and the traditional performer/audience relationship (also known as "breaking the fourth wall").
  • Encouraging audience participation. It can mean anything that is done physically through a performance.
  • Artaud, Antonin; Theatre and Its Double
  • Barba, Eugenio; Beyond the Floating Islands
  • Bogart, Anne; The Viewpoints Book
  • Brook, Peter; The Empty Space
  • Clay, Alan; Angels Can Fly, a Modern Clown User Guide
  • Cross, Robert; Steven Berkoff and the Theatre of Self-Performance
  • Decroux, Etienne; Words on Mime
  • Felner, Myra; Apostles of Silence: The Modern French Mimes
  • Grotowski, Jerzy; Towards a Poor Theatre
  • Hodge, Alison (ed.); Twentieth Century Actor Training
  • Leabhart, Thomas; Modern and Post-Modern Mime
  • Lecoq, Jacques; The Moving Body (Le Corpes Poetique)
  • Marshall, Lorna; The Speaking Body
  • Meyerhold, Vsevolod and Braun, Edward ; Meyerhold on Theatre
  • Oida, Yoshi; The Invisible Actor
  • Stevenson, Darren ; A Case for Physical Theatre
  • Suzuki, Tadashi; The Way of Acting
  • Wright, John; Why Is That So Funny?: A Practical Exploration of Physical Comedy, Nick Hern Books, London, 2006
  • Allworth Press; Movement for Actors
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Wikipedia

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