Wedderburn, Eve (2008) Writing ‘the Body’: reconsidering physicality through ‘French’ theatre discourse. Masters thesis, University of Exeter.

Against the backdrop of a “uniquely literary” (Harvie, 2006: 113 heritage of theatre in Britain, in the last quarter century, “physical theatre has become embedded in the language of educationalists, actor trainers and their students” (Murray and Keefe, 2007b: 2) However, in the context of the Western analytic tradition ‘the body’ has been positioned in binary opposition to thought, text, rationale and language (Leder, 1990: 1-5). This study considers the entrenchment of a dualist structure of the body and the reification of this by embodiment itself, in order to formulate the question: in what way can the/my/a body enter discourses? In order to explore this question, I consider in detail the work of Jacques Copeau, Jacques Lecoq and Ariane Mnouchkine; practitioners whose work is consistently associated with and cited by contemporary British practitioners of ‘physical theatre’. Arguing for a specific lineage of theatrical practice, I trace the ways in which their work foregrounds and manages notions of the embodiment of theatre practice and suggest that the shared practices of those three practitioners resist the dualistic conceptual structuring that would place ‘the body’ in opposition to text, rationale and thought and by extension the ‘literary’ theatre of Britain. In a context in which the body has been “relegated to a mere supporting role to the word, […] regarded as vulgar or simply a means to an end” (Murray and Keefe, 2007a: 3), I consider the implications and contingencies of the attempt to bring ‘the body’ into the discourse of UK theatre practice

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