"No text, no direction, no set design can replace the physical presence of the actor without consequently annihilating the fundamentals of the theatrical art. Theater is not an appendix to literature, nor a collage or synthesis of the arts in the perspective of a total work but the unique instant of an encounter between an audience come to see and actors who offer themselves to the sight. To offer to the sight not the representation, the re-presented, but the living, the thinking through thinking. Offering to the sight what cannot be heard: the inner presence that vitalizes acting as speaking in the crucible of the body. The living of the body creates the truth of speech. The body is the essence of theater."
The farmhouse we are proposing has been home to the International Center for Training, Research and Theatrical Creation, conceived and directed by Yves Lebreton, who, since 1969, has always been dedicated to the creation of a body theater centered on the physical presence of the actor. In a total break with the tradition of literary theater, it claims a theater of action, movement and image where the actor is both the author and the performer.
"I bought this house because I had been planning for many years to make a training center, a place where I could organize workshops for actors, but also a place where I could create my own shows. In this sense, the former barn of this farmhouse became an excellent theater studio, and the house hosted classes, for limited periods of a week or a month.
The maximum capacity of the barn is 15 actors, who have alternated over the years: young actors in training, independent actors or actors who were preparing at various theater schools.
All the students I supervised had an interest in body expression."
"The teaching he pursued at this Center was therefore based on the body in the context of theatrical language and the need to promote the creative function of the actor as the indispensable tools for the mutation of contemporary theater."
"For me, the body is the reason for all language, beyond theater. Corporeal mime refers to my master, Etienne Decroux in the historical context of contemporary theatrical research; body theater, on the other hand, is a concept I have developed over fifty years of work and research on actor training and has nothing to do with mime, but rather with physical theater."
"Energy is a very broad concept that I have used to summarize a little bit of the inner life of the actor, the conscious life, the intuitive life, the sensory life, the whole inner nebula that motivates the artist in his expression and justifies the expression itself on stage.
Normally, in traditional theater, psychological motivation is investigated, which I personally find reductive: I do not entirely identify with Freud's work on the unconscious; energy is something more, which is connected to the vital flow of the human being and marks his capacity for expression."
Expression, as the word itself indicates, is an impression that comes from within and is projected outward. Whenever a human being expresses himself, through voice or body, through any artistic medium, such as painting, music, writing, dance, etc., he is merely projecting, through a form that he defines, an entity that is inner.
It is a collection of things, ranging from sensation, to sensibility, to thought.
The body is the raw material from which energy flows, and we complete bodily expression through the use of the voice: speech is at the end and is needed to achieve the actor's famous "acting."
In the beautiful Tuscan countryside, Yves Lebreton passed on his art to his pupils, who followed him in search of the essence of theater, through the body. Why did he choose this immersed farmhouse to follow his students?
"It was my intention to find a place away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a way to free ourselves from the stress that animates us when we are in the turbulence of professional activity.
In French, it would be called retraite: I sought a place away from the city in the middle of the countryside, to find, through contact with nature, urges that help us express ourselves.
We have these thrusts in us: through the search for energy, I have always focused on four sources, which I called, mineral, vegetable, animal and mental.
Nature is within us, we are a product of nature, like a tree, a stream or the wind: humans are a phenomenon of nature and it is a matter of finding within us these sources, these roots.
Science today confirms this: the human being is the result of evolution, which finds its starting point in the famous big bang. We are solely an element of this universe: man has appeared very recently with respect to evolution.
It started with the mineral, then the vegetable, the animal, and finally we came to the human being.
Aristotle called man "an animal that thinks," but we could also add "he is a vegetable that moves," or "a mineral that breathes," which has a biological cycle: everything is connected and every part of this evolution is a foothold for expressiveness.
The mineral, for example, is connected for me to presence, to the ability to inhabit one's body. Aiming essentially with contact with the earth and finding a foothold in the mineral element then leads to developing the concept of lifeblood running through the plant, a biological breath in some way.
The animal energy projects energy outward, toward a more dynamic attitude of giving and receiving, a constant interaction between the inner and inner worlds.
And in the end, the mental part allows us to become aware of this process, which starts from the mineral to the animal, and to control it with respect to the expressive goal we have set for ourselves."
Was the farmhouse he chose for his school in any case in a reachable place?
"Of course, we are not in the jungle, in Tuscany, isolated from stress, but three kilometers from the town of Montespertoli and 40 minutes from Florence."
What are his plans now?
"I have devoted 50 years of my life to producing shows and presenting them, through international touring.
The virtue of the body is that it is a universal language, without barriers, and this has allowed me to tour everywhere, mainly in Europe, but also in North America and Latin America.
Unfortunately, I have not toured in the East, which I regret because I feel very much akin to Eastern philosophy.
Today, with time passing, I have started to devote myself to writing, to finalize my methodology in this way and find support beyond time.
I would be happy if my writings can be useful to future generations; it is a bottle with a message, which you throw into the sea. I feel the need for it."
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