December 12, 1921|
|Died||January 19, 1999
|Cause of death||cerebral hemorrhage|
|Occupation||Mime, theater director, and teacher|
|Organization||L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq|
|Spouse(s)||Fay (Lees) Lecoq|
He is most famous for his methods on physical theatre, movement, and mime that he taught at the school he founded in Paris, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq from 1956 until his death in 1999.
Jacques Lecoq came to study theatre and mime through an interest in sports. He began learning gymnastics at the age of seventeen, and through work on the parallel and horizontal bars, he came to see and to understand the geometry of movement. Lecoq described the movement of the body through space as required by gymnastics to be purely abstract. He came to understand the rhythms of athletics as a kind of physical poetry that affected him strongly. In 1941, Lecoq attended a physical theatre college where he met Jean Marie Conty, a basketball player of international caliber, who was in charge of physical education in all of France. Conty's interest in the link between sport and theatre had come out of a friendship with Antonin Artaud and Jean-Louis Barrault, both well-known actors and directors and founders of L'Education par le Jeu Dramatique. Although Lecoq taught general physical education for several years, he soon found himself acting as a member of the Comediens de Grenoble. This company and his work with Commedia dell'arte in Italy (where he lived for eight years) introduced him to ideas surrounding mime, masks and the physicality of performance. During this time he also performed with the actor, playwright, and clown, Dario Fo.
In 1956, he returned to Paris to open his school, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, where he spent most of his time until his death, filling in as international speaker and master class giver for the Union of Theatres of Europe.
Lecoq aimed at training his actors in ways that encouraged them to investigate ways of performance that suited them best. His training was aimed at nurturing the creativity of the performer, as opposed to giving them a codified set of skills. As students stayed with Lecoq's school longer, he accomplished this through teaching in the style of "via negativa," never telling the students how to do what was "right." The goal was to encourage the student to keep trying new avenues of creative expression. His training involved an emphasis on masks, starting with the neutral mask. The aim was that the neutral mask can aid an awareness of physical mannerisms as they get greatly emphasized to an audience whilst wearing the mask. Once a state of neutral was achieved, he would move on to work with larval masks and then half masks, gradually working towards the smallest mask in his repertoire: the clown's red nose. Three of the principal skills that he encouraged in his students were le jeu (playfulness), complicité (togetherness) and disponibilité (openness). Selection for the second year was based mainly on the ability to play.
He also set up le Laboratoire d'Étude du Mouvement (Laboratory for the study of movement; L.E.M. for short) in 1977. This was a separate department within the school which looked at architecture, scenography and stage design and its links to movement.
In 1999, filmmakers Jean-Noël Roy and Jean-Gabriel Carasso released Les Deux Voyages de Jacques Lecoq, a film documenting two years of training at L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq. The documentary includes footage of Lecoq working with students at his Paris theatre school in addition to numerous interviews with some of his most well-known, former pupils.
Among his many notable students were:
- Annabel Arden, actress
- René Bazinet, actor, mime, and clown act creator of Cirque du Soleil
- Steven Berkoff, theatre director, actor and writer
- Malachi Bogdanov, theater director and writer
- Luc Bondy, theatre and opera director
- Joëlle Bouvier, dancer and choreographer
- Peter Bramley, actor, teacher, theatre director, founder of Pants on Fire
- Andres Bossard and Bernie Schürch, co-founders of the mime troupe Mummenschanz
- Chris Channing, performer, designer, and theatre maker
- Avner Eisenberg - performer ("Avner the Eccentric"), teacher
- Isla Fisher, actress
- Oliver Foot and Andrew Simon, co-founders of the Footsbarn Theatre
- Philippe Gaulier, teacher, actor, pedagogue
- Toby Jones, actor
- Beejan Land, actor
- Christophe Marthaler, German theatre director and composer
- Simon McBurney, actor, director, and founding artistic director of Théâtre de Complicité
- Gates McFadden, actress, choreographer
- Glenys McQueen-Fuentes, clown, performer, professor, director
- Ariane Mnouchkine, theater director and founder of Théâtre du Soleil
- Yasmina Reza, playwright and director
- Geoffrey Rush, actor
- Julie Taymor, director, designer, and choreographer
- l'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq - Paris
- LISPA - London International School of Performing Arts
- École LASSAAD: École internationale de théâtre - Bruxelles
- Ecole Philippe Gaulier - Paris
- Centre for training and creation in physical theatre MOVEO
- Dell'Arte International School of Physical Theatre - Blue Lake (USA)
- Atelier Teatro Fisico Philip Radice - Turin (Italy)
- HELIKOS Scoula Internazionale de Creazione Teatrale - Florence (Italy)
- Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training - Philadelphia (USA)
- International Laboratory of YINdeYAN: "Physical Theatre, Masks & Clown"
- Escuela Internacional de Creación Teatral y Movimiento Cabuia
- The School for Theatre Creators - Chicago (USA)
- Le Theatre du Geste (1987)
- Le Corps Poetique (1998)
- Dunning, Jennifer (28 January 1999). "Jacques Lecoq, Director, 77; A Master Mime". New York Times. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- Callery, Dympha (2001). Through the Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre. London: Nick Hern Books. ISBN 1-85459-630-6.
- "Moreover: Eloquent Bodies". The Economist: 89. 9 September 1999. Retrieved 26 July 2015.
- Gehman, Geoff (1 July 1994). "Moving with the Master". American Theatre 11 (6): 56–58.
- Murray, Simon (2003). Jacques Lecoq. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-25881-2.
- "What is LEM?". Retrieved 2008-12-30.