We, both of us, Marian and I have been aspiring to create what Lecoq was calling for, many years ago, which was to go out and create the theatre of the future.
Well, now here we are in the future, and here at The Actors Space, whenever we do any work on a daily basis, session by session basis, incredible work comes out every time. It feels like we’ve been gathering different exotic fruits in different places, with different participants, and also our own different perspectives, rooted in Lecoq’s work, the person who brought us together. When the audience experience THAT it can be a very rich and very powerful human experience. And that for me is the joy of theatre.
THE AUDIENCE AND THE STORIES
Listen to the audience, listen to that whisper inside that is guiding you to take another step. It’s not overreaching, it’s like just another little step.
And then trust, as well, the inner voice that goes “ooh, ooh”. When there’s that egomania that’s around sometimes with us, you need to be protected. Masks are a great example because they form a front in one way, as to who we seem to be and also as a protection.
But again what’s more important is the thing that’s behind the mask because in the end the work that happens through acting, or creating characters or stories, or even the mask work, or the clown work is about what’s beneath the superficial.
The depth of existence is huge. It’s obvious, it doesn’t even need to be said. But when we share the work, drama or comedy, it can be discovered. In the work in relation to the others… Life itself is a miracle, so when you’re on stage having a blast you’re reflecting part of that miracle for the audience member who’s there. And remember they may be going through terrible times, they may be going through the loss of a loved one, they may be passing away themselves. So your work has to be as, without falling into perfectionism, as rigorous as possible, as disciplined as possible and as respectful as possible to yourself and to them, and it’s a simple contract:
Tell stories and have a wonderful time together. As soon as fire was discovered, around the campfire there became the need to tell stories. It’s as old as that. Because in that human wisdom is passed on.
And what we’re about, definitely, is about underneath the mask and you don’t have to be brilliant, you don’t have to be talented, you don’t have to be any of those things, or any of those concepts one would have about themselves, either in a positive way or in a negative way. Just somebody coming along and having fun and wanting to explore human nature. And the nice thing is that it’s not about “Oh my God, my nature”. It’s not reflecting back on me, it’s human nature. It’s much more about the audience, one in the audience than about the actor and their complexes and hang-ups.
And that’s a terrain that I reckon (and Lecoq was pointing at it rather a lot) that was the misunderstood Stanislavski work. Stanislavski’s work is very interesting. But a lot of the time people are looking into traumas and problems, and things that are locked up in their body, and they’re trying to regurgitate them into the dramatic scene. And it’s like “for goodness sakes, just be present in the scene”. And things will come out naturally. The character will have that journey and that experience. You don’t have to put yourself there, self-sacrificing to show how good an actor you are and how emotive you can be. That always gets in the way.
And, in fact, in life, often the most emotional and powerful stuff is when people stop their emotions, stunt their emotions, for whatever reason. And then what happens, as long as the audience gets the feeling that’s beneath that mask, that’s what’s important. It’s not about an emotional display of fireworks and tears, or how great an actor or emotive a person can be. It’s about the audience having a poetic journey.
These are extracts from an interview made by Natacha Elmir. You can listen to Simon on this page.