In my last post, I talked about why I study Decroux and extolled the brilliance of his technique. So the natural question is, if it’s so great why haven’t I dedicated myself fully to Corporeal Mime? The answer to that lies in the distinction between technique and style, and whether the two can ever truly be separated. Decroux’s focus was on creating a technique apart from stylistic considerations. And to some degree, he succeeded. However, I have never seen anyone who had studied the technique in depth who was not also affected by Decroux’s style. And stylistically, I am more of a Marceau/Red Skelton/Animaniacs kind of girl.
Decroux’s style was abstract, which in any medium is difficult to do in a way that reaches a broad audience. I have seen “pure” Decroux performances that were profoundly touching and powerful. I have also seen performances that just left me scratching my head. Often, which experience an audience member walks away with depends as much on their own condition and history as it does on the performance. I admire the courage to take that risk, and the payoff can be amazing when it connects. I have even been known to delve into that world myself, but it is not my default setting. It is important to me that my audience be able to follow some thread, be it narrative or character-driven. (Even so, it’s amazing the variance in interpretations I sometimes hear.)
I liken Decroux’s Corporeal Mime to the role of ballet in the dance world. If you want to be a dancer of any kind, you can only benefit from ballet training. I don’t know any serious modern dancer who didn’t start with ballet – and if they did not, it’s usually obvious. Likewise, if you want to be a movement actor, you can only benefit from studying Decroux. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also delve into the methodology of Jaques Lecoq, or look to the Marx Bros. for inspiration.