International Workshops

The Actor Space

What is the meaning of Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold?

➢ Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold is the theatrical educational system.

➢ Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold gives the technical basis to the actor.

➢ Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold consists of 44 pedagogical principles.

➢ Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold is not a stile.

DESCRIPTION

Course "The Actor Space" of LaZanzaraLab is based on the education system of the Theatrical Biomechanics of Meyerhold and is held in collaboration with Centro Internazionale Studi di Biomeccanica Teatrale di Mejerchol'd (CISBiT).

The program follows the same educational path devised by Meyerhold in the early 1900s and which is the basis of the Soviet and now Russian theatrical academic system. It starts from the first technical instruments up to the composition and dramaturgy.

The methodology of the system is based on an extreme awareness of the actor of his own expressive tools and on an organization of rational and scientific work that gradually accompanies the student in every aspect of his training path.

The course follows a program with different study subjects that will help the student to improve and get to know his expressive tools (body and voice), to expand his artistic knowledge, to take possession of the tools necessary to deal with composition and dramaturgy.

 

EDUCATIONAL GOALS

  • Create a physical, vocal, spatial, emotional consciousness

  • Provide universal basic technical tools

  • Expand technical knowledge

  • Develop an artistic consciousness

  • Indicate work paths capable of translating the idea into an artistic act

HISTORY OF THEATRICAL BIOMECHANICS OF MEYERHOLD

The Theatrical Biomechanics is the traditional system of theatrical education. It is based on the research work on the art of the actor done at '20 of the '900 by Vsevolod Emil'evic Meyerhold.


Like for all the other arts, also for theatrical art very precise, tangible, and specific rules are needed. On this rules the actor is art creator and at the same time the actor is artwork.


The Theatrical Biomechanics consists of 44 pedagogical principles that are the basis on which every actor should began to develop the his own technique.


The centre of the system is the actor’s body, considered like a first expressive and creative mean, principal instrument of the communication.
"Only when the body becomes malleable like a wax actor can express him".

Vsevolod Emilyevich Meyerhold

 

The educational system that Meyerhold structured for his students was born from the necessity to create a new actor, able to exceed the limits, the actor that shouldn't be a slave of the proper instincts and emotionalism but enter into the creative process consciously.

The basis of the system consists of 7 principles of the construction of the action. Admirable summary of the research work of Meyerhold, these 7 principles are focused on a specific moment of the "bios" of an actor and give to him the right coordinates for the conscious management of acting.


The research work of Meyerhold made with the actors, musicians, painters and architects began with the practical study of the different traditional performances, from Kabuki Theatre to Traditional Chinese Theatre, from the Commedia dell'Arte to Classic Ballet, from the Circus and the Theatre of the Fair to The Baroque Spanish theatre.

By depriving the respective aesthetic peculiarity, Meyerhold put the „Principles of the Movement“ in the relation with the disciplines like Chinese martial arts and boxing, supported by the Pavlov studies, by the ideas of productivity and taylorism. He studied the single technical basis and found the pedagogical and technical principles in common that than were synthesized in the program of the Theatrical biomechanics system.

This system not only gives to the actor the technical basis but also teach him to consider the form like a basis for the theatrical art.

Research - Study - Inspiration

Understood like a way to pass the ideas of the artist to the public, the body should necessarily have always the proper form. That is why the student, which studied the 7 principles of the construction of the action (the techniques), should exercise to develop the his own body expressiveness (the practice of the techniques).

Meyerhold during the years had structured for his students about 150 stable physical exercises called like in music, Etudes.
The movements are codified forms, and are more difficult training for the actor because at the same time help to maintain alive techniques and the proper form in the space.


In everyday live, when the theatrical system takes into account also the study of the form, this also gives the unambiguous interpretation. There are examples in all traditional Asian theatres and also in Commedia dell'Arte and in Classic ballet. Those pedagogies have a precise aim: to arrive to control the precise form, which is already known.

The theatrical biomechanics doesn't give any style.

Historically the performance stile of Meyerhold, firstly near to ideas of symbolism, then following the futurism and constructivism, gets away from naturalism and realism of Stanislavski. Meyerhold uses the expressive possibilities and peculiarity of Grotesque to express his artistic idea and to criticize the habits of Russia before and during the Soviet Union.

The power of the method, like for the scientific theory, is in its universality and applicability for every type of stile and performance situation.

The research work of Meyerhold and the Theatrical Biomechanics was the starting point for the artistic research of the biggest artists of the theatre of '900, from Jerzy Grotowski to Eugenio Barba, from Julian Beck to Thaddeus Cantor, from Peter Brook to Carmello Bene.

 

In the beginning Meyerhold didn't write the results of his research work, like Stanislavski did, in order to prevent the possible wrong interpretations by the persons that had never taken part of his work.

 

He admired the pedagogical traditions of the oriental theatres where the experience was orally transmitted from generation to generation, maintaining it alive and renewing the way of teaching but always protected from the multiplicity of interpretations and forcing.

At the end of his live Meyerhold leaved his huge pedagogical inheritance to the unique person that was near him for 20 years, his collaborator and teacher Nikolai Kustov. In this way the Theatrical Biomechanics was saved from the destruction of Stalinism.

 

For more than 30 years the Biomechanics was kept and hidden from the world, developed inside closed theatrical laboratories in the provinces of the Soviet Union, and came back in a right moment. At 1972, always thanks to Nikolai Kustov, it appears like a not obligatory subject for young actors at the company of Theatre of Satire in Moscow.

The heir of Master Kustov, Master Bogdanov, understood the fragility of this new theatrical pedagogical discipline. He did his best to make it revive and to protect it from the influence of other more important institutes.


At the first of '80 the Theatrical Biomechanics entered in the subjects of study in GITIS
(State Academy of Moscow} and becomes famous in '90 in westem countries thanks to a huge work of popularization and teaching of Master Bogdanov. In this new century the Theatrical Biomechanics of
Meyerhold is a new tradition.

Although still a fragile pedagogical system and not well-known young tradition, it is no longer in danger of disappearing, owing to the glamour of its history and to the small number of serious public and private structures from different parts of the world who seek to protect it in a coordinated way.

However, some gross misunderstandings have made Meyerhold Biomechanics a simple body training with theatrical acrobatics, a style, something between the Grotesque and the Puppet movement.

“Contrary to the psychology of the plot and to an empathetic audience, the core components of biomechanics are the rhythm of language and the rhythm of physical movement, postures and gestures arising from these rhythms, coordinating the movement of the body and bodies with one another. 
The development of the plot is not to come from “within”, from the psyche or mind, but rather “from outside”, through the movement of the body in space. These components are created through an economy of means of expression, control of bodies and gestures, precision and tempo of movement, speed of reaction and improvisation. 
Meyerhold’s acting school is not merely a school for gymnastics and acrobatics, but rather brings the actors to calculate and coordinate their movements before that and beyond it, to organize their material, to organize the body.” 


Theatrical Biomechanics helps the actor in all the phases of the performance life, from everyday training in order to comprehend and make alive the techniques of drama and composition.


It doesn't say "what" the actor should do but make the actor ask himself a question "how" to do it.

 

The continuous work process gives to the actors instruments and helps to give the form to the own ideas.

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