Purcell-Gates, L (2017) 'Puppet bodies: reflections and revisions of marionette movement theories in Philippe Gaulier’s Neutral Mask pedagogy.' Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 8 (1). pp. 46-60. ISSN 1944-3927

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19443927.2016.1247746


This article examines two aspects of Philippe Gaulier’s pedagogy in relation to the development of Neutral Mask pedagogies in twentieth-century French mime training, specifically those responding to nineteenth and early twentieth-century marionette theories of movement. The first is his strategic use of disorientation through lack of instruction (via negativa) in order to make visible inculturated embodied habits; the second is his emphasis on the performer embodying genuine ‘pleasure’ as she pretends to have a different emotion. The paper examines these techniques in the context of Neutral Mask training, and its development during the twentieth century in France, in order to consider the ways in which they both reflect and revise nineteenth- and early twentieth-century marionette theories of performer movement as espoused in particular by Heinrich von Kleist and Edward Gordon Craig. It considers the ways in which constructions of the ‘natural’ body as pursued by Jacques Copeau and later Étienne Decroux and Jacques Lecoq respond to these marionette theories which seek to do away entirely with interior states such as consciousness and emotion, and in placing these responses alongside Gaulier’s deployments of disorientation and ‘pleasure’. It suggests that Gaulier’s techniques of disorientation serve a similar function to donning the neutral mask in stripping away learned habits of movement, and that his emphasis on experiencing and demonstrating ‘pleasure’ in the pretence of performance both reflects marionette theories by replicating the puppeteer/puppet dynamic, and revises them by foregrounding emotionality.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Lecoq, Copeau, Kleist, Craig, übermarionette
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2017 16:16
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2017 08:39
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