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Embracing lightness: dispositions,corporealities and metaphors in contemporary theatre and performance

Murray, Simon (2013) Embracing lightness: dispositions,corporealities and metaphors in contemporary theatre and performance. Contemporary Theatre Review, 23 (2). pp. 206-219. ISSN 1048-6801 (doi:10.1080/10486801.2013.777051)

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Abstract

This essay reflects on how lightness is invoked and engaged not only within theatre and performance, but also - and significantly – in the wider landscape of contemporary arts’ practices (dance, literature and visual art). The account reviews how particular theatre practitioners and pedagogues extol or deprecate the conditions of lightness, and how these attributes are used both metaphorically and practically by performance makers to engender the qualities they are seeking in their practice.

The essay begins by framing and contextualizing selected performance practices and pedagogies through the lens’ of writing (W.G. Sebald and children’s literature) and of contemporary visual art (Wolfgang Tillmans and Tacita Dean). I contend that from other arts practices we may identify generative examples of how lightness is claimed or ascribed in similar circumstances to those examined later in the work of Jacques Lecoq, Philippe Gaulier, Monika Pagneux, Lone Twin and Complicite. The essay will particularly consider how lightness is sought as a dispositional and performative virtue in theatre making, training and rehearsal and what qualities the achievement of lightness might suggest and embody. Taking Italo Calvino’s essay on lightness in ‘Six Memos for the Next Millennium’ as a provocation, I explore how lightness as a metaphorical code slides across different aspects of performance from physicality and movement to the elusive qualities of complicité and interaction between actors and with their audiences. Whilst weight can suggest - not always helpfully - the potential ‘deadliness’ and bankruptcy of theatre, lightness seems to propose that theatre (and other arts’ practices) thrive when they possess an agility and nimbleness of touch, posing questions rather than imposing answers.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Contemporary Theatre Review on 27 June 2013, available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/10486801.2013.777051
Keywords:Lightness, Calvino, theatre, Lecoq, Lone Twin, Complicite, Gaulier, Pagneux
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murray, Dr Simon
Authors: Murray, Simon
College/School:College of Arts > School of Culture and Creative Arts > Theatre Film and TV Studies
Journal Name:Contemporary Theatre Review
Publisher:Taylor and Francis
ISSN:1048-6801
ISSN (Online):1477-2264
Published Online:27 June 2013
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 Taylor & Francis
First Published:First published in Contemporary Theatre Review 23(2):206-219
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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