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Rip. Mix. Burn. Exploring live and mediated bodies through physical theatre

Readman, K. (2004) Rip. Mix. Burn. Exploring live and mediated bodies through physical theatre. ADEM: Australian Drama Education Magazine, 9 . pp. 27-34.


In physical theatre 'the best performances tend to affect audiences viscerally and proceed from instinctive rather than intellectual motivation. The seminal force of this expressive art is dramatic action and so, at the heart of physical theatre, we find the actor.' The contemporary form of physical theatre has its roots in circus, dance, mask and Japanese forms such as butoh and contemporary experimental theatre, all of which rely on the centrality of the actor. This article presents a unit in which students discover physical theatre as a form that will assist them in exploring 'the body', contrasting their real actors' bodies with mediated, sometimes disguised bodies they experience through film, photography, advertising, online gaming and chatrooms. Students are encouraged to take a socially critical stance about the limitations and labels placed on both male and female bodies and ask the question: what is real? The unit explores how students act in their bodies in real life and in virtual spaces, challenging them to use their bodies to communicate more powerfully with others through physical theatre. Performance ideas include an examination of young peoples' use of decoration, distortion and disguise. This leads to mask work that will then allow students to move into non-naturalistic styles of performance that utilise physical theatre. Students can use this new knowledge to create a physical theatre performance that shows how ideals for body shape and size are constructed through the media and other sources of information that focus on young people and their disposable income.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: National Association for Drama in Education (Australia)
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