On 5th December 1956, Jacques Lecoq founded the school in Paris. In 1976 the school definitively moved into The Central, previously a gymnasium, which became a well-known boxing center in the beginning of the 20th century. The working space, built in 1876, is located 57 rue du faubourg Saint-Denis in the 10th district of Paris. The aim of the school is to produce a young theatre of new work, generating performance languages which emphasise the physical playing of the actor. Creative work is constantly stimulated, largely through improvisation, which is also the first approach to playwriting. The school’s sights are set on art theatre, but theatre education is broader than the theatre itself. It is not just a matter of training actors, but of educating theatre artists of all kinds : authors, diretors, scenographers as well as actors. One of the school’s unique features is to provide as broad and as durable a foundation as possible, since we know that each student will go on to make his own journey.
The education offered by the school is spread over two years, during which students move along two parallel paths: on the one hand the study of improvisation and its rules and on the other movement technique and its analysis. These dual journeys are supplemented by auto-cours through which the students’ own theatre work takes shape.
The teaching at the school brings meaning to an artistic path and has an impact on every field of knowledge. It is not just a method which is being handed down, but also proposes permanent references and values.
Every year, young actors from some thirty countries enroll at the school, which is a focus of exchange and cross-fertilisation, where the spontaneous blend of cultures contributes its own resonance to the teaching, extending the quest for a shared poetic wealth.
Teaching is based on the dynamics of movement, involving the body as the primary element of recognition of the living being, through the re-enactment of everything which moves, whether in life or on stage.
The universal laws of movement are applied to creative dramatic interpretation and to the art of acting, exploring different areas of drama recognised in the history of the theatre, reinterpreting them in the context of present ideas and values.
The first year is devoted to observation, of the world and of the movements in it. The process moves from silent psychological exercises to a point where the student builds a character, going through stages of identifying with nature, animals, colours, sounds and words; and discovering the art of acting with masks.
All classes are inter-related and follow the same gradual progress in the work. Together they form a coherent whole, based mainly on the analysis of movements and improvisation.
First year programme :
- Physical and vocal preparation
- Acrobatics, juggling, stage fighting
- Movement analysis
- Mime of action
- Play and re-play of daily life
- The neutral mask ( calm, silence, balance )
- Dynamic study of nature as an approach to acting characters through :
- elements and materials
- colours and lights
- plants and animals
- Creation of masks
- Expressive, larval, utilitarian masks
- Portable structures
- Creation of characters (situations, behaviours, passions)
- Dynamic approach to poetry, painting and music
- Theatre of objects
- Stylistic constraints (changing of space and time...)
Each week, working themes are given to the students in such a way as to stimulate their imagination and benefit collective creation. The results of these works are presented in front of the teaching staff and the other students at the end of the week.
At the end of the first year, the students carry out observations and researchs into various places and social “milieux“ and present them in a public performance.
The second year is devoted to creative work, exploring the main areas in drama: melodrama, human drama, tragedy, bouffons and the art of the clown.
"No reference can take the place of true creative work as expressed with original inventiveness at the School every day. Going beyond styles or genres, we seek to discover the driving forces involved in the acting and operating in each domain, so that they in turn provide creative inspiration. It must always remain the work of our own time."
Second year programme :
- Physical and vocal preparation
- Dramatic acrobatics
- Applied techniques to different dramatic styles
- Gestural languages
- Mimed comic strips,
- Story telling through word and image
- Melodrama and great emotions
- Human comedy (Commedia dell’arte and half masks)
- Crowds and Orators
- The study of tragic texts, the chorus and the hero
- Bouffons from society and mystery
- The world of the fantastic and the grotesque
- Circus and theatre clowns
- The Comics (burlesque, absurd, eccentric)
- Study of classic and modern texts
- Approach to writing for the stage
Each week a theme is given to the students in such a way as to stimulate their imagination and benefit collective creation. The results are presented at the end of the week to the staff of teachers and the other students.
A performance of the works of the students is presented at the end of each term.
At the end of the second year the students are given a personal theme, starting point for a creation, this concludes the two years of study and affirms their personal style.
3rd pedagogic year
The third year, so called pedagogic year, is restricted to a limited number of students. They must have completed the two year professional course, have had some stage experience since the end of their studies in the school and have an interest in teaching drama. The year focuses on movement analysis, observation of improvisations and the evolution of students throughout the season.