This page gives you access to the memory of the school and is an opportunity to go deeper into the knowledge of the pedagogical basis of Jacques Lecoq. At your disposal : texts by and about Jacques Lecoq, photographs and films.
First act : from physical education to theatre
Jacques Lecoq was born in Paris on December 15, 1921. In 1937 he began studying physical education and sport which he taught from 1941 to 1945, gaining teaching diplomas from the French athletics and swimming federations. His interest in physical education brought him into contact with Jean-Marie Conty, a master of physical education and friend of Antonin Artaud and Jean-Louis Barrault.
By 1945 Jacques Lecoq had started acting with Gabriel Cousin and the two founded a drama group. He was then taken on by Jean Dasté (http://www.ecole-jacqueslecoq.com/jacques_lecoq-daste-uk.htm) as part of a theatre company known as the "Comédiens de Grenoble", where he was put in charge of the physical training and body movements of his fellow actors. Here he discovered masks and was introduced to the ideas of Copeau (http://www.ecole-jacqueslecoq.com/jacques_lecoq-copeau-uk.htm), to the point of later identifying with him as his indirect heir.
Second act : Commedia dell’Arte
In 1948 Jacques Lecoq went to Italy where he settled for eight years. He staged his first pantomimes at the university theatre in Padua, while in the city markets he discovered Commedia dell'Arte. He met the sculptor Amleto Sartori (www.sartorimaskmuseum.it) and together they embarked on research into masks, ultimately leading to joint projects including, inter alia, the "neutral mask". Invited by Giorgio Strehler and Paolo Grassi, he joined them for the launching of the school at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan (http://www.theatre-odeon.fr/public/liens/europe.html). Later ventures included work as a director and choreographer, working together with figures such as Dario Fo (http://www.nobelprizes.com/ nobel/literature/1997a.html), Franco Parenti, Luciano Berio and Anna Magnani, pursuing the quest for new movements suited to contemporary music, reviews, opera, and devising movements for choruses in Greek tragedy in Syracuse.
In 1956 he came back to Paris and opened his School of Mime and Theatre. At the same time he set up his own theatre company, worked at the T.N.P. (National Popular Theatre) with Jean Vilar, and also on television, but before long the school had expanded and he devoted all his efforts to teaching.
Third act : The LEM (movement research laboratory)
From 1968 to 1988, Jacques Lecoq was a teacher at the French school of fine arts (Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts) where he developed a teaching programme on architecture based on the human body, movement and the "dynamics of mime". In 1977 he founded the stage design department of the school, known as LEM (Laboratoire d'étude du mouvement — movement research laboratory). Jacques Lecoq was a member of the Union of Theatres of Europe (http://www.ute-net.org), touring the world as guest teacher and speaker, giving master-classes and lectures, including the performance lecture entitled "Tout Bouge" (« Everything Moves »).
Permanent video records were made by Patrick Lecoq in 1983. In 1997 and 1998, Jacques Lecoq worked in close partnership with Jean-Gabriel Carasso, Jean-Claude Lallias and Jean-Noël Roy, ultimately producing the book "Le Corps Poétique" and producing two 45-minute documentaries for French television.
Only a few days before his death, on January 19, 1999, Jacques Lecoq was still teaching at the school.
The International theatre school Jacques Lecoq is now administrated by his wife, Fay Lecoq.
French actor and producer (Paris, 1904 – Saint-Etienne, 1994).
It was his mother who introduced Jean Dasté into the world of theatre. Later, he studied with Jacques Copeau at the “Vieux-Colombier” school in 1922. He followed his master to Bourgogne where the “groupe des Copiaux” played for the local viticulturists. This adventure developed his interest for the stage and he joined the “Compagnie des Quinze” directed by Michel Saint-Denis in1931, the “Compagnie des Quatre Saisons” in 1937 and the “Atelier de Barsacq from 1940 to 1944. He met Jean Vigo (Zéro de conduite, 1933 ; Le Crime de M. Lange, 1936 ; La Grande Illusion, 1937). They both had a great influence on his cinematographic career and his work with producers such as Truffaut (l’Enfant sauvage, 1970 ; l’Homme qui aimait les femmes, 1977) or Alain Resnais (Muriel, 1963 ; La guerre est finie, 1966) and Costa-Gavras (Z, 1968).
Jean Dasté encouraged popular theatre and created his own company “Théâtre de la Saison-Nouvelle” during the second world war. In 1945 he moved to Grenoble to set up the “Compagnie des comédiens de Grenoble”. This starting up was the beginning of the decentralization of theatre. In 1947, in agreement with the local and national administration, he founded and directed the “Centre Dramatique de la Cité des mineurs” in Saint-Etienne. He travelled around on the country of Saint-Etienne, together with his actors and technicians, carrying dresses, accessories and stage settings : the group attracted the attention of a very popular public for about 10 years and made them familiar with the most important French and foreign classical authors such as Molière, Shakespeare, tchekhov.
In 1956, thanks to the success of the “Cercle de craie caucasien” of Brecht, most of his activities were based in Saint-Etienne. Jean Dasté adapted modern authors such as Yves Jamiaque, audiberti, Sartre or Michel Vinaver in collaboration with producers such as Gabriel Monnet, Roland Monod or armand Gatti. At the same time he studied Japanese nô theatre (arranged by his wife, Marie-Hélène Dasté) and Greek tragedy. In 1969 the “Comédie de Saint-Etienne” was granted a room, offices and workshops at the “Maison de la Culture ; in 1970, following his disagreement with the local political leaders, Dasté resigned as a director and went back to his first passion : travelling theatre.
© 2001 Hachette Multimédia / Hachette Livre
Author, theatre producer and French actor (Paris, 1879 – Beaune, 1949).
Jacques Copeau was a literature critic and co-founder of « La Nouvelle Revue française ». He had a passion for theatre and worked to renew the French scene. In 1913 he set up the « Théâtre du Vieux Colomber » and created a group of young actors (such as Ch. Dullin and L. Jouvet) to arrange his own stylized version of classics (Molière, Shakespeare) and modern authors (J. Romains, Ch. Vildrac, G. Duhamel, etc.) that had a great influence on the European and American experimental theatre. He worked in Bourgogne from 1924 to 1929, and tried to decentralize theatre with some of his followers, « Les Copiaux ».
Copeau adapted « Les Frères Karamazov (1911) and other plays such as « La Maison natale » (1921) as well as studies on theatre (Le Théâtre populaire, 1941).
© 2001 Hachette Multimédia / Hachette Livre
Fay Lees Lecoq
" In 1954 I dreamed of becoming a student at the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama). I had already gained my ALCM and LLCM, teaching qualifications, and had saved enough money to pay my first year fees. I had done this by giving elocution classes to children in the Eastwood area of Glasgow where I lived with my parents. These classes were very popular and I had over seventy students enrolled by the time I was able to give up my fulltime secretarial job and really concentrate on becoming a drama student.
After the audition in the Athenaeum Theatre in front of Colin Chandler and his staff, I waited anxiously for the results I couldn’t believe my ears when I learned that I had been accepted. Moreover, I had been given a scholarship!
That one year spent at the Academy totally changed my life. It was very hard work but the teaching staff was excellent and I remember that period as being one of the most stimulating and exciting of my life. Nothing outside the Drama School counted. So, it came as a terrible shock to me when, at the end of the third term, Colin Chandler advised me not to continue my studies. However, I had already enrolled in a five week course in mime in Paris, so off I went, refusing to accept Colin’s decision and determined to pursue my theatrical career either in Paris or Glasgow. The people I met on this course, given by Etienne Decroux in 1955 helped lead to stage management and a small part in The Rape of Lucrece by André Obey in the Théâtre du Tertre in Montmartre. This confirmed my decision to continue to study with Decroux and work in Paris. Several months later, I acted in The Lady’s Not For Burning by Christopher Fry and The Tempest by Shakespeare. It was not easy to find work in Paris as my French was not fluent, but I was lucky enough to get the chance of typing a scenario for Charlie Chaplin and a book for the American writer, Richard Wright.
Two years later I met Jacques Lecoq who had recently returned from Italy after an eight year absence during which he choreographed, directed and, with Giorgio Strehler, created the Piccolo Theatre School in Milan. His approach to mime was different from that of Etienne Decroux and to begin with I didn’t find him of any interest in this field. But little by little, after having seen one or two productions in Paris with his team of actors, I was convinced that his approach was much larger and more adapted to theatre and dance than was that of Decroux.
In 1960 Jacques and I married and I started to help him in the administrative side of the school. More and more students enrolled from all over the world.
My passion for the theatre has never diminished and I feel, in directing my husband’s school in Paris and helping our students to find work and keep in contact with other alumni throughout the world, that I have fulfilled the hopes of Colin Chandler. Not as an actress, but as a co-ordinator and enabler.
In 2000 The Academy awarded me the degree of “Doctor of Drama” (honoris causa) and since the death of my husband I have regularly been invited throughout the world to lecture about the school’s pedagogy and show the various films we have about his teaching."
Fay Lees Lecoq left us August 7, 2012