Physiological performing exercises by Jan Fabre : an additional training method for contemporary performers
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Theatre, Dance and Performance Training
, p. 273-290
University of Antwerp
Jan Fabre (Antwerp, 1958) is one of the creative minds of the so-called Flemish Wave in the performing arts of the 1980s, a generation of directors, choreographers, actors and dancers who have developed a highly individual language on stage, breaking through the purist boundaries of theatre, opera, dance and performance art. Fabre, who started his career as a performance artist (19761981), was especially interested in working with and from the harsh reality of his own body, thereby exploring what he has termed physiological performing. From his desire to create a performative language that takes the body and its physical sensory apparatus as the main instrument, he has developed a practice-based method through which to train his company of performers. This articles underscores how his physiological training method can be a relevant and enriching addendum to the training of contemporary actors, dancers and performers of various educational backgrounds. This claim is supported by going in depth into the specificity of Fabres training method and analysing how it reformulates the classic paradox of acting (as described amongst others by Aristotle and Diderot) via the introduction of a performance art quality, or what Fabre calls the transition between act and acting. A selection of exercises is also illustrated by means of the underlying performative principles, such as spacing, anatomical awareness, transformation and duration. The article concludes by formulating some arguments in order to pinpoint the relevance of Fabres training method within the broad field of contemporary performance training.