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Marco de Marinis

Etienne Decroux and His Theatre Laboratory




Marco de MarinisEtienne Decroux and His Theatre Laboratory, translated by John Dean and Bianca Mastrominico, edited by Frank Camilleri, Icarus Publishing Enterprise and Routledge, 2014, pp. 258.

Etienne Decroux and His Theatre Laboratoryis based on the long-awaited translation of Marco De Marinis's monumental work on mime in the twentieth century: Mimo e teatro nel Novecento (1993). Revised and updated to bring it up-to-date with recent publications and other materials, the volume focuses specifically on the seminal role played by French mime artist and pedagogue Etienne Decroux, especially on the laboratorial dimension of his work. 

Mime is a theatrical form of ancient tradition. In the nineteenth century, it saw both apogee and crisis in the west with the realistic and gesticulating 'white pantomime'. In the twentieth century, it underwent a radical overhaul, transforming into an 'abstract' corporeal art that shunned imitation and narrative, and which instead tended towards the plastic, elliptic, allusive, and symbolic transposition of actions and situations (including especially internal ones). 

This book by Marco De Marinis is the result of detailed investigations, based significantly on materials which are unpublished or difficult to find, and on the contribution of the protagonists and witnesses of the events in question. Through the examination of the creative, pedagogical, and theoretical work of the 'inventor' of the new mime art, Etienne Decroux, De Marinis focuses on the different assumptions underlying the various modes of the problematic presence of mime in the theatre of the twentieth century: from the utopia of a 'pure' theatre, attributed to the sole essence of the actor, to its decline into a closed poetic genre (often nostalgically stuck in the past), from mime as an pedagogical tool for the actor, to mime as an expressive and virtuosic means in the hands of the director. 

Marco De Marinis is Professor of Theatre at the Arts Department in the University of Bologna. His main field of research involves the theory of the theatre; the methodological and epistemic notions implied in the study of the theatre; twentieth-century theatrical experiences, in particular with regard to leading directors, corporal mime, and the post-WWII so-called 'New Theatre'; staging and theatrical iconography. Select books in English include The Semiotics of Performance (Indiana University Press, 1993) andUnderstanding Theatre (forthcoming). He edits and directs the journal Culture Teatrali (Theatre Cultures), which he set up in 1999.




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