One-Year Intensive Training in Movement Based Theatre Creation

First Term

Neutral Mask by Sartori

The first year is the awakening of the poetic potential of the body. It’s a rediscovery of the world and nature through the study of their movements. Through the observation and imitation of everyday life, the actor/poet reaches the awareness that reality is based on a network of relations and interconnections of actions and reactions. This is the dynamic core of the stories that theatre will tell.

The journey begins with awareness of the body in space, working with two fundamental masks: the Neutral Mask and the Red Nose. With these two archetypal masks, the artist comes to an understanding of the difference between movement and action, and between neutral and dramatic, and recognizes the story/drama/action that every individual body is carrying. The Red Nose reveals each person’s theatrical comedy and gives the person the physical awareness to move beyond it, towards neutrality. The Neutral Mask allows the actor to work on presence and openness to space, and to reach the silence before the beginning of the storytelling.

Once the neutral space is integrated in the body, the mimo-dynamic journey can begin: an adventure of observation and imitation of nature, in which the actor will discover a variety of rhythms, forms, gestures and dynamics that will enrich her/his poetic language. Nature is the first source of inspiration, and the knowledge gained through imitation inspires a vision of theatre based on the movements of life. This process prepares the body for the various dynamics that the different theatre genres require.

The last step of the first year is the exploration of human nature through the study of characters.

The Program of the First Term

Awareness of the body in space.
Space and breath.
Observation and imitation of every day life.
Le Jeu:  the non-intentional action, play, states of playing.
The rules of theatre play: space, action/reaction, time, duration, rhythm, timing,      crescendo, and fun.
Mime of Action: the study of the movement of the human body.
The 20 Movements of Jacques Lecoq.
The duality of Neutral Mask and Red Nose and the play of the actor with forms.
Clown state and neutral state.
Neutral space and dramatic space.
The Neutral Mask: calm presence and the neutral body. The actor in the theatrical space.
The mimo-dynamic journey: dynamic study of nature (elements, animals,         materials...) towards theatre creation.
The actor as a Shapeshifter and a Storyteller
The dynamics of emotions,  human passions and psychological movements (polarities).
Creation of theatrical characters.
Voice as movement, voice as dynamic, voice as character.

Second Term


(Photo: Masks by Matteo Destro performed by Helikos Students)

The second term is dedicated to the Mask, the first archetype of all theatrical languages.

Theatre is storytelling. To tell a story, we need a language. The words of theatre language are forms in motion. Theatre as representation is rigorous play with the forms of life. The main skill of the actor is shapeshifting, the ability to change forms. The archetype of all forms is the mask, which essentializes and transposes movement dynamics, creates theatrical space, and allows play between the actor and the form itself.

After the expansion of the sensitivity of the body during the first term, the actor now encounters various families of masks: larval, naïve, expressive, and half masks. They all push the actor to amplify her/his level of playing, integrating movement and emotions. The actor with a mask goes beyond an intellectual way of playing and reaches a physical dimension of theatre in which ideas and feelings are integrated.
Mask playing requires contact with the fundamental drives of life and a rigorous technique of articulation.
Movement technique plays a key role in the second term, becoming a permanent practice of articulation, rhythm, timing and treatment of movements through the state of the various masks.

(Photo Helikos Student performing with a mask by Matteo Destro)

The Program of the Second Term

Treatments of space and time: theatre in limited spaces.
The play of masks: essentialization and transposition of movements, emotions, gestures and dynamics
Masks: forms moving in space
Design and making of a full mask
Full masks: larval masks, primary masks, expressive masks
The play of "sentimento" : masks and Melodrama.
From human passions to human comedy: the play of the half-mask.
The vocal work of masks: resonators and articulation of voice
The voice of emotions and passions
Commedia dell'Arte: traditional Italian comedy. Types, lazzi and canovacci.
Devising and performing of a Commedia canovaccio

(photo: Helikos 2012. Masks created by Helikos students.)

 Third Term


The third term focuses on the exploration of fundamental comic territories, following the question "why and how do we laugh?". Comedy is the search of the many ways in which characters, movement, space, tempo and writings can be unbalanced to provoke the fall of the audience into laughter.

The term starts with the dynamic of caricature and the creation of grotesque characters. Then bouffons will reverse the dramatic space and mock all the themes that are dear to humans and reveal the hidden (=grotesque) side of humanity.

The clown will reveal what is specifically funny about each actor and will lead to the comedy of naivité and stupidity. From red nose clown the journey leads to theatre clowns, to grotesque clowns and then into a variety of comic principles. The term and the training culminate with the devising and presentation of individual creation projects.

The Program of the Third Term

Grotesque characters.
Satiric drama and bouffons: the play of mocking.
The red nose: the individual clown.
Devising and performing of a clown variety show.
Clowns in life.
Grotesque clowns.
From clown to comic characters: exploration of comic theatre.
European burlesque, eccentric characters, absurd theare, slapstick, comic pantomime.
Presentation of individual projects.

(Photo: Helikos Students 2012)

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