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festtheatre For Eccleshare, there’s no such thing as pure Lecoq: “People mistake Lecoq for a style; that everyone comes, learns the same lessons and does the same thing with it… His pedagogy is so simple and pure. People take those basic principles and go a whole different bunch of ways.” You can see that by looking at the two schools’ various alumni. The founding members of Complicité—Simon McBurney, Annabel Arden and Marcello Magni—met at Gaulier and took their name from Lecoq’s teachings before winning the Perrier Award in 1985. Gaulier can also claim Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Dr Brown as alumni, while Lecoq’s students include The Lion King director Julie Taymor, Stephen Berkoff and Ariane Mnouchkine, whose Les Naufragés du Fol Espoir plays in this year’s Edinburgh International Festival. The Lecoq catchphrase is ‘Tout bouge’ – ‘Everything moves.’ Having started his career as a PE teacher, Jacques Lecoq came to theatre through the body. After spending several years studying various European techniques, Lecoq opened the school in December 1956, leading students from silence to speech. “There are things you get from Lecoq that you don’t get elsewhere,” says Eccleshare. “One is the discipline and rigour of the physical body. You feel great and by the end of the first year, you can notice a Lecoq-trained body.” In 1976, the school moved to its current location, a former gymnasium in North Paris. Gaulier taught there shortly afterwards, having studied under Lecoq in the mid-60s. In 1980, he set up his own school, scornful of Lecoq’s doctrinaire methods. He would later tell The Telegraph, “You can always tell a Lecoq student: too much emphasis on image.” Horton elaborates: “He [Gaulier] very much works with the individual as a performer. He talks about finding your own beauty onstage.” There is, she continues, an “anarchic vibe… He spent the first term and a half making me shout from the back of the stage, telling me I was too nice and really boring.” If that sounds harsh, Horton is far from alone. Baron Cohen has spoken of his former teacher’s “brutal honesty.” Across town, Lecoq students face similar dismissal at the weekly auto-cours, short compositions shown publically on Friday afternoons, many of which are stopped within 10 seconds. Ceschi thrived on that (“You learn what works and what doesn’t”) while Eccleshare found it tough: “If you’ve been stopped three weeks in a row, and you’re stopped again on the fourth, you start to think you’re worthless, that, no matter what, you can’t do it.” He was regularly told he thought too much. All three were Oxbridge graduates when they moved to France. Horton very

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Above Dancing Brick’s Captain Ko And The Planet Of Rice

intentionally “wanted to get out of my head” after several years in English academic institutions. She didn’t feel suited to the stereotypical route into acting. “I was chronic at the whole agent, proper casting and headshots thing, always trying to fit somebody else’s box.” For Eccleshare it was a matter of discovery. “I didn’t realise theatre could be anything except pretending to be someone else as accurately as possible until I went to Edinburgh and saw loads of stuff, in particular Andrew Dawson and All Wear Bowlers – that just blew me away.” For the moment, returning to Edinburgh remains important to both Horton and Dancing Brick as emerging artists. However, both are increasingly finding ways to fit into the UK’s wider theatrical ecology. Eccleshare and Ceschi have had support from a number of regional theatres, while Horton is now an associate artist at the Bush Theatre in London. “Some of the big institutions

that had a purer idea of what new writing was are changing,” she explains. “Still, when I heard Mess had been programmed by the Traverse, I thought they’d make a mistake.” What they do is, Ceschi stresses, a form of writing: “Whenever they criticise your work, they criticise the ‘écriture,’ the writing of it. We left Lecoq as writers, but here the translation doesn’t carry.” Horton echoes the sentiment: “If there’s something that frustrates me, it’s when someone says, ‘Oh, I hear you’re doing a clown show.’ I’m like, ‘No, I’m not.’ I don’t really know what that means.” f

Captain Ko And The Planet Of Rice @ Underbelly

8:00pm – 9:10pm, 2–26 Aug, not 13, £6 – £10.50

Mess @ Traverse Theatre

times vary, 2–26 Aug, not 6, 13, 20, £12 – £19

edinburgh festival preview guide 2012 fest 69

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