Yesterday was my last day at L’Ecole Jacques Lecoq and the last two weeks of term were taken up by ‘The Commandes’.
Each student was given a phrase and two weeks to create a piece inspired by it. The teachers had no involvement and saw the pieces for the first time along with the audience.
For us, the Commandes were unique for two reasons. We had never worked with someone ‘in charge’ before: all our other work had been collaborative and, whilst the teachers give feedback, they don’t direct our work. It was also our first opportunity to invent new styles or pick and mix from the styles we’ve studied over the two years.
I thought my classmates’ work was dazzlingly inventive and imaginative. Often the most exciting were pieces which, whilst not fully realised, represented a rough sketch for what, given more rehearsal time, could be an incredible full-length production.
Not a naturalistic scene in sight! An often deranged display of imagination and folie. A lot of humour and humanity. And fascinating mixtures of styles. A caveman king, somewhere between bouffon-grotesque and clown. A half-mask scene with none of the frenetic energy of commedia dell’arte, but silence and tiny gestures which worked brilliantly. And my flatmate Chris, who played a monkey stranded in a spaceship fighting with a petulant robotic arm and an unhelpful telephone helpline. (That one really was as good as it sounds!)
I’ll write an article about my own commande in a few days. Suffice to say, I had fun listening to the shipping forecast, reading the King James Bible and scribbling my own words about a cataclysmic flood one night while a real storm raged over Paris!
Full steam ahead into Hamster Town rehearsals next week….