The poetry of physical theatre

by Shane Anthony Jones | 1 January 2017

I find theatre exhilarating when experience and theatrical magic are given equal weight to logic.

Physical theatre is an elusive genre and can mean various things to different people. At its heart is a style of performance that focuses on the physical act of communication, with significant weight given to the language of the body signally in space. Emphasis is shifted to less traditional and less literal approaches to storytelling, importance is given to the visual and exploration of metaphor is often central to the form.

As a director I am passionate about creating theatre that integrates text with a heightened visual landscape. I’m inspired by the visual poetry of physical theatre where actors rely on the body as the first tool to carve meaning. I’m excited by the way physical theatre encourages the imagination of the viewer and shifts the focus away from words or text as the prime signifier. I find theatre exhilarating when experience and theatrical magic are given equal weight to logic.

“The best performances tend to affect their audiences viscerally and proceed from instinctive rather than intellectual motivation.”
Physical Theatre by Marc Bauman

Given that physical theatre can include so many different styles and forms a useful but sufficiently broad definition is handy to continue. The Oxford Dictionary suggests “a form of theatre which emphasizes the use of physical movement, as in dance and mime, for expression”. I would like to go into a little more detail in this exploration of physical theatre. In rehearsals and workshops I often reference the following three-part definition:

The body is primarily the means of communication.

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