Body Haunting Theatre
Body Haunting Theatre is an acting method that I have been developing since 2016. Among other expericences, I experimented practical exercises on which I work, directing the research session of the Open Source Collectif which took place from 06 to 10 June 2017 at Anis Gras – Le lieu de l’autre (Arcueil, France). To help me in the animation of this research time, I invited Nadia Foisil. Then, I animated some worksops in Romania (at Teatru FIX in Iași, at Fabrica de Pensule in Cluj Napoca) in parallel with the show “C’est bon. E ok. Rendben. This is just a story” in 2019.
Next workshops: info to come. If you are interested in this type of approach, do not hesitate to contact me.
Before entering the stage, actors should walk on « their own corpses ». This is more or less the idea that comes up again and again in Valère Novarina’s book Le Théâtre des Paroles. I tried to interpret this metaphor in different ways, rationally, but after several years, there is something that I do not exhaust in its mystery and that is still haunting me. It is this sentence that put me on the path of a search around the symbolic corpse of the actor, the ego that he or she is supposed to get rid of there, etc., and which questioned me about the nature of the body that actors live in when on stage.
It has often been said that theatre is bound to a return of the dead, to a way of giving them the floor. It is a theatre that makes actors be the phantoms of others. I think that today, if actors have to make dead speak on stage, then these dead are not others: they are themsleves.
During an interview in the film Ghost Dance, when asked if he believed in ghosts, Jacques Derrida, playing his own role in the film, described cinema as a « the art of ghosts ». He also said: «Curiously, instead of playing myself, without knowing it, I let a ghost ventriloquize my words or play my role». Today, at the moment when the theatre feeds enormously on cinema (editing, shots, aesthetics, etc.) and when borders between actor, personage, figure… have been abolished, it seems important to me to work on this «phantomization» of actors in order to become aware of it and to make it our own, to make something out of it.
« Human beings forget they created the images in order to orientate themselves in the world. Since they are no longer able to decode them, their lives become a function of their own images : Imagination has turned into hallucination » writes Flüsser in his book Towards a Philosophy of Photography. People have created images to orientate themselves, certainly, but also to present themselves to the world. Today, our image takes so much room that it becomes, in the eyes of others, and in our own eyes, more representative and therefore more alive than ourselves. We sometimes seek to correspond, in real life, to this image that we have built, more or less voluntarily, notably on social networks but not only. These images are no longer doubles of ourselves because it is rather us who, paradoxically considering it a way to coincide with ourselves, end up becoming the double of our own images.
I therefore associate the image of the actor with the symbolic corpse on which the actor must walk before entering the stage. The body that enters the stage is the actor’s image. And from the inside, emerges a kind of ghost of the actor which will haunt their image in the never-ending attempt to regain possession of it, to revive the body/consciousness presence that constitutes the living actor on stage. It is the unsuccessful completion of this enterprise that gives the full meaning of the very presence of the actor. Therefore, the actor should not fully invest the body but only visit it, rediscovering it, sketching the partial possession of it, as fragile and ephemeral as it is, to haunt it. Finally, rather than being unconsciously haunted and possessed by the image, and since it is not possible to show separately neither the actor’s being nor their image, the actors’duties should consist in phantomizing themselves in order to make this border visible, this in-between, and thus break the illusion of the image as the illusion of any total grasp of the real being.