Friday, 27 July 2012

Respect Lecoq

A couple of years ago, I saw a Lecoq trained man do a storytelling version of The Odyssey. I'm pretty grumpy about storytelling when it gets into telling a big story - I really dislike those one man Lord of the Rings and Star Wars specials - as it ends up recounting a big load of plot and ignores the underlying themes and nuances which made it interesting in the first place.

So, for many years, I did not respect Lecoq. Then I saw the Red Bastard. He is a bouffon, and now I understand. Lecoq is one of the great strands of physical theatre, where every muscle is trained to perform. The Red Bastard managed to look like the devil and a strained chicken at the same time, and his brutal philosophy inspired me both to be more aggressive in my life (that lasted a week before it blew up in my face) and pay attention to the French school.

And my time has come. There is Lecoq all over the Fringe.

Tom Corradini is potentially in any real top five I come up with for Fringe 2012. Superheroes is about the link between childhood trauma and comic books. I am just worried that he has been reading my diary and has stolen my autobiography as the plot.

It's no accident that the press release mentions Marvel heroes: when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby invented the Marvel Universe (616, fact fans), they spent more time working on the character's backstories than the costumes. Not only does this explain why both the Hulk and The Thing run around in their skidders, it accounts for their popularity. A six year has a choice: a bright green raging monster, trapped by forces beyond their understanding, or a firm chinned alien in red, white and blue who barely breaks a sweat when saving the world. Which one reflects the experience of childhood the best?

Back to the act: 
Comedian, actor, writer and clown, Tom Corradini studied at the Atelier Teatro Fisico di Philip Radice (Lecoq method) in Turin, Italy. His likes include experimenting with every comical genre, being pushed by a troubled inner soul and being a funambolist suspended over the abyss.

For our delight, he will be connecting childhood pain and adult romantic problems, using the lives of the superheroes as object lessons. I hope he gets into Batman's philandering and Iron Man's alcoholism.

theSpace on North Bridge (V54), August 13 to 25 (not 19) - 16:35

Theatre Ad Infinitum have become Fringe regulars: Translunar Paradise has wowed Edinburgh for the past few years, and it is back again. Although the company get up to all sorts, including puppetry and masks, both director George Mann and performer Deborah Pugh did their time at Lecoq.

"The play’s about love, shared memory, loss and a relationship spanning 60 years told through the memories of an old widower, William," says Mann. "He has recently lost his wife and instead of moving on he gets lost in past memories.  The story follows William and Rose as they share wonderful memories together - from their courting days through to their last days together."

The originality of Translunar is in the way Ad Infinitum have used the language of movement and object manipulation. Mann adds. "
We break the traditional ‘mould’ of using mask - by combining it with puppetry: our masks are handheld.  It’s also one of a very few plays that attempts to communicate a story of complex themes and emotional content without text. For the first time we’re attempting a kind of ‘time travel’ through the use of masks, posture and movement.  One minute we’re young, the next we’re much older and we have to portray that in a split second using the masks and the way we stand and move.  There’s so much the body can and does say, but we seldom realise this."

In those last words, Mann gets to the nub of physical theatre: opening up the body as a tool of expression.

The Pleasance King Dome between 1 – 27 August at 5.25pm

Superbolt actually formed at Lecoq's school, and if their mix of dance, puppetry and text is not enough, they are rotating two plays at the Fringe. Centralia turns out to be about the 1960s, so I am saving that for another top five: but Piatto Finale concerns a piece of music that has never been heard, an opera house in Moscow and a crime comedy.

I guess that is something that made me worry about Lecoq - my original doubts were that it was too heavily based on clowning, and involved waving hands about the place like a French silent comedian. There is more to it than that, but it does hark back to old films and exaggerated performances. I think that is what has made it more accessible than other forms of physical theatre.

Zoo Venues, 4- 26 August, 10.20pm

 Having already done articles on Rhum and Clay and Clout, I feel that I can cheat. Here's Rhum and Clay talking about what makes Lecoq special.

"Lecoq inspires creativity. Its theatre is engaging and accessible; when done well it is absolutely captivating. Lecoq generates a community of artists with a shared language.  A testament to this is the amount of companies that have come out of the school.  From Complicite to last year’s hit company Theatre Ad Infinitum, success from Lecoq companies is carried by the quality of the work. It’s always our aim to create original theatre that meets those standards and creative values."

Bedlam, 9pm, 3-25 August (not 13th, 20th)

And the lad from Clout on the same question..

"A lot of people go to Lecoq, or LISPA or any of the other Lecoq based schools, because they crave a living theatre and are dis-engaged with a neck-up psychological acting style. Also for a lot of people we trained with the best show they have ever seen has been by a Lecoq trained company. For the Brits Complicit√© have had a great deal of influence. There are in fact 4 companies from our year alone at the Fringe this year: Rhum and Clay, Let Slip, Superbolt and us. As for the success of Lecoq trained companies, I think this comes from the fact that at the school you are always collaborating and creating together so when you leave, rather than waiting to get handed a job you simply say ‘let’s just keep going’. The highly critical nature of the teaching also plays a part. After that it is very difficult to kid yourself that what you’re doing is good if it isn’t. This being said success is never assured, especially in theatre, which is part of what makes it so exciting."
Summer Hall, 3.30pm, 3-26 August (not 17th, 18th)

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