Marco de Marinis
Etienne Decroux and His Theatre Laboratory
Marinis, Etienne 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unpublished or difficult to find, and on the contribution of the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.