Physical Theatre: The Characteristics And Development Of Physical Theatre

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The term ‘physical theatre’ is tough to define briefly, but is most commonly explained as a performance wherein the narrative is portrayed through physical means and verbal narration, if at all present, is relegated to a minimal position. ‘Physical theatre’ is not to be confused with dance, though it may have similar characteristics. It can almost be seen as a midway between dance and theatre. ‘Physical theatre’ encompasses features from both art forms. I will be discussing how ‘physical theatre’ originated from these two art forms, as well as its development over the last three decades, by referring to the philosophies, training, rehearsal and staging methods of contemporary physical theatre companies from different parts of the world. In The Paper Canoe, Barba makes a distinction between ones daily behavioral patterns and those of one on stage. Barba explains that in an everyday setting, ones movements are influenced by “culture, social status [and] profession” (Barba, 1995: 15) and that a different ‘body technique’ is used on stage. He distinguishes these two techniques as ‘daily’ and ‘extra-daily’ techniques (Barba, 1995: 15). Barba continues by explaining that ‘extra-daily’ techniques should not be confused with ‘techniques of virtuosity’, which is used to dazzle the audience. ‘Extra daily technique’ can be understood as a reshaping of the body – completely different from the original form, yet believable (Barba, 1995: 16). This is only a limited elucidation of how

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