'To Push the Actor-Training to its Extreme': Training Process in Ingemar Lindh's Practice of Collective Improvisation

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Camilleri, Frank (2008)

Swedish theatremaker Ingemar Lindh (1945-1997) is often associated with corporeal mime master Etienne Decroux, with whom he worked in the late 1960s, and with Eugenio Barba's International School of Theatre Anthropology in the early 1980s. In 1971, following exchanges with Jerzy Grotowski and the setting up of Studio II with Yves Lebreton, Lindh founded the first laboratory theatre in Sweden: the Institutet for Scenkonst (Institute for Scenic Art). Lindh's research on the fundamental principles of collective improvisation and performance conceived as process announces an important development in the twentieth-century tradition of the actor's work upon oneself. This article focuses on the training process that complemented Lindh's practice of collective improvisation. The adaptation of isometry to actor training marked a crucial point in the Institute's research on 'mental precision' and 'intention' as possible means whereby collective improvisation can be investigated. The Institute's training processes, which evolved over three decades of professional practice, combined codified work (including corporeal mime, Kung Fu, music, and calligraphy) and empirical training methods (e.g. isometric-based work). 'Isometry', an approach to sports training developed in the twentieth century, involves the static contraction of a muscle without any visible movement in the angle of the joint. Lindh's isometric-based processes can been viewed as a development on Decroux's active immobility. The article contextualizes the Institute's isometric-based training in terms of history, terminology, and practice.
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