Your reports Find reports ‘Physical theatre’ clichés: What are they and how/ whether to avoid them’ ‘Physical theatre’ clichés: What are they and how/ whether to avoid them’ Convener(s): Avye Leventis Participants: Laura, Fiona, Helen, Anne, Amy, Sarah Maguire, Mark, Sally Christopher, Jan Lynn Goh, Heather Taylor Summary of discussion, conclusions and/or recommendations: Began with two qualifications: first agreeing that ‘physical theatre’ is an unsatisfactory label, and that it encompasses a wide range of very different work. Secondly removing the pejorative aspect of the word ‘cliché’: that we’re interested in whether this work, as it has arguably begun to move more into the mainstream (sold out Complicite/ Punchdrunk etc shows) has developed a particular set of conventions, and where it can go next. Does something have to be innovative to be good? Cliché can be used productively for dramatic effect – referencing other shows Why does the genre exist? A need to separate? Belong? A sense of revolution/creating something new, and then find ourselves having to name it? For the people who create the work it often doesn’t matter… Do critics shape sense of clichés? Is a by-product of seeing a huge amount of theatre a sense of having ‘seen it all before’? Important to remember that new audiences often haven’t, and that can be magical. Is it to do with a separation in training methods? Eg ‘Traditional training’ vs Lecoq Creating a different vocabulary or a way of talking about what has been seen. Negative aspect is that can create expectations about new work. When making work is it better not to know the clichés? Fewer rules enable artists to come at work from an entirely new perspective. Is consciously working within a genre ever useful/effective? Danger of labeling a company ‘physical theatre’ – more effective to allow the audience to be surprised. In a very female-dominated discussion group is part of the perceived stigma attached to physical theatre that it is somehow feminine/effeminate? Frequently audiences have preconceptions which are then inverted/overcome by quality work. In the best physical theatre form and content are entirely integrated; techniques are not gratuitous/superimposed but emerge from the subject matter and specific group of performers. Where next? Physical theatre does eclecticism well. Inter-disciplinary work. More exploration of the borders between artforms/practices – circus, acrobatics, puppetry, dance .... Mimefest has evolved (but actually noted there is no mime in it this year) and is throwing its net wider to embrace different artforms. What is it that is attractive about this kind of theatre? ‘Worlds’. Different universes. Encourages flexibility of perspective in the audience – different ways of seeing. Repetition isn’t necessarily cliché. ‘Clever kleptomania’ – borrowing and re-combining material from other sources into new and exciting forms is entirely valid (and certainly not exclusively a feature of this kind of work) Repetitions are frequently the result of the development of a specific language within a theater company/ensemble. Can either feel stagnant – a company not evolving – or can simply become a positive hallmark of a group’s work. Frustration with sometimes not having enough time to allow the process of finding a common language to emerge in the current time-pressured theatre environment (comparison with some European companies – eg Polish work). Internationalization of ‘physical theatre’. Is part of the hallmark of the genre the fact that frequently creators have to begin physically for linguistic reasons. Exciting to see the cultural cross-pollenisation that it provokes. Processes of working. How to come at work – through the head or through the body.