Towards an ‘Embodied Poetics’: An Exploration of Devising Processes Based on the Work of Jacques Lecoq and Gaston Bachelard
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Reason for embargo
Taking as its focus the ‘actor-creator’s’ process in devising practices, this study explores the notion of the ‘poetic body’ developed by French theatre pedagogue Jacques Lecoq (1921 - 1999) and the writings of French philosopher Gaston Bachelard (1884 - 1962) on the ‘poetics of imagination.’ The overarching aim is to originate a new ‘embodied poetics’ whereby the sensate, feeling body actively explores correspondences with the ‘material elements’ of earth, air, fire and water. These are experienced as ‘poeticising substances’ – catalysts and conductors for an embodied imagination. More specifically, this thesis asks the following question: What new understandings can a relational encounter between Lecoq’s pedagogy and Bachelard’s ‘poetic imagining’ reveal about the ’poetic body’ and how might these new understandings originate a devising process? I combine three solo practical projects with accompanying written analysis, to first interrogate the working methods I have inherited as a practitioner and teacher since my time as a student at the Lecoq School, from 1987 to 1989. This is followed by an embodied exploration of Bachelard’s ‘poetic imagining’ process through my own practice. In the final project, I develop an ‘embodied poetics’ for devising, based on the ‘actor-creator’s’ active participation with the world and a recognition that the poeticising ‘I’ is intimately entwined with the material elemental substances that comprise it. In considering the material elements as originating substances for an imagining body, their dialectic qualities offer infinite possibilities for a permanent renewal, expansion and transformation of practice. This study also proposes a new reading of Lecoq’s notion of the ‘poetic body’ from an embodied perspective. Equally, in applying Bachelard’s ‘poetic imagining’ to the devising process, I seek to revivify and reposition his philosophical standpoint from a contemporary perspective within the field of interdisciplinary practices.
Arts University Bournemouth and Bath Spa University
PhD in Performance Practice