Is there any common ground between theatre and sports activities? Here is what a number of important dramaturgists have said:
Martin Esslin: "Theatre can be seen as a spectator sport. And if you watch a very great actor like Laurence Olivier you will notice that his evident enjhouyment of the physical aspects of acting (as when be balances on the edge of a chair, fixing a light bulb in O?Neill’s LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT or tumbles down a long flight of steps as the dying Coriolanus, not to mention the vast voice range in his Othello) forms a decisive element in his impact as weel as in his approach to the art of acting."
Eugene Ionesco: "We should go to the theatre as we go to watch football, boxing or tennis. Indeed, a sporting match gives us the most exact idea of what the theatre is in its purest state: live antagonism, dynamic conflict, the motiveless class of opposing wills."
Paul Bellugue: "Because sport has as a consequence, if not a goal, the perfecting of bodily gestures, it teaches essential laws of the art of living, in teaching those of art."
Etienne Decroux: "One does not modernize a monument in order to conserve it. One must therefore conserve the body which was strong, siillful, ascetic. What will conserve it? Sport is not one of the beaux arts. One gives oneself to it only to vanquish others. Dance is not a portrait of struggle. Old-fashioned pantomime is not an art of the body. Corporeal mime is more than a diversion. If it survives, the world will survive."
Eugenio Barba: "When Occidental performers want to be energetic...they often begin to move in space with tremendous vitality...(using) huge movements, with great speed and muscular strength. And this effort is associated with fatigue, hard work. Oriental actors (or great Occidental actors) can become even more tired almost without moving. Their tiredness is not caused by an excess of vitality, by the use of huge movements, but by the play of oppositions. The body becomes charged with energy because within it is established a series of differences of potential which render the body alive, strongly present, even with slow movements or in apparent immobility."
(The quotations are from "Theatre and Sport" a mime journal edited by Thomas Leabhart, copyright 1996)
Here are some thoughts by Vsevold Meyerhold, the Soviet advocate of biomechanics: "A skilled worker at work invariably reminds one of a dancer; thus work borders on art. The spectacle of a man working efficiently affords positive pleasure. This applies equally to the work of the actor of the future." And: "When we admire a child's movements we are admiring his biomechanical skill." And: "Any manifestation of a force (including the living organism) is subject to constant laws of mechanics (and obviously the creation by the actor of plastic forms in the space of the stage is a manifestation of the force of the human organism."
Constant Benoit Coquelin, French actor: "Every art has its different instruments;but the instrument of the actor is himself. The matter of his art, that which he has to work upon and mould for the creation of his idea, is his own face, his own body, his own life. Hence it follows that the actor must have a double personality. He has his first self, which is the player, and his second self, which is the instrument. The first self conceives the person to be created...and the being that he sees is represented by his second self. This dual personality is the characteristic of the actor."
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