Acting Technique, Jacques Lecoq and Embodied Meaning

Authored by: Rick Kemp

The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance, and Cognitive Science

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138048898
eBook ISBN: 9781315169927
Adobe ISBN:


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The idea that actors employ technique can be surprising to many outside the fields of theatre and performance. While the visibility of technique varies according to style and medium, in the naturalistic style of most Western drama, actors seem to appear to respond spontaneously to events, creating an apparent naturalness of behaviour in fictional circumstances. In fact, this naturalness is generally the result of many years of training, and long and painstaking preparation for individual roles. Actors preparing and playing a role engage in most, if not all, of the cognitive processes that humans conduct in daily life – with a crucial difference. Actors consciously elicit and regulate phenomena that generally arise spontaneously for most people. It is probably easy to recognise that an actor will seek to consciously regulate features such as vocalisation, facial expression, gesture and movement, because these are audible and visible. But actors also address many other phenomena that are not so readily apparent. Imagination is necessary to embody a fictional character in fictional circumstances. Empathy with the fictional character may be stirred by this process, and the actor certainly seeks to stimulate empathy in an audience. Actors also seek to stimulate and regulate emotion – the believability of emotion in fictional circumstances is highly valued by Western audiences.

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