What is the physical preparation of the Athletes Theater?

What is the physical preparation of the Athletes Theater?

Do actors have bodies? Obviously, the question seems silly. However, by questioning the actors about how they lived through the ordeal of the stage, the physical aspect of their profession and the extreme stress they experience on performances, one feels hesitant. Perhaps there is a superstition in evoking what touches the body. Before they get on stage, the British don’t say “good luck” (“broken a leg”), to ward off bad luck – our equivalent “shit” Well French?

An actor’s body is the instrument of his work, just like his mind. And if we consider the many creations presented this summer and at the beginning of the school year, the duration of which often exceeds eight hours, it is difficult to say that the body of the actors is not so vigorously questioned as in such epics.

Enthusiasm on stage

Comedian Nora Craif, who has performed in long shows several times, including an unforgettable version of Henry IV For Shakespeare, an eight-hour theatrical epic performed by Jan-Joel Colin in 1999 at the Festival de Avignon, he is remembered not so much for making a special effort at the time as for the fervor of being on stage for one whole night. She’s used to shows that last for several hours, and she’s going to perform this fall square root of the verb to be, A new creation by Wagdy Mouawad at the Théâtre de la Collin in Paris (XX), which is scheduled to last at least seven hours.

“There is an important difference between the shows where you stay all the time and where you are, as a result, in the bathroom, trapped in the story, and those where you find yourself in the dressing rooms when you’re not on stage. There, it takes a certain focus to be ready at a quarter turn, When we enter the scene again. In fact, it is very interesting to play in a long show. We are like athletes, we have to prepare.”

Preparedness: This can be the key word when it comes to dealing with a long-term offer. Bertrand de Rovignac, who plays Harlequin, the central character of my glorious youth, A 10-hour epic created at the 2022 Avignon Festival by Oliver Bay, you know something about it. “First of all, you have to be in mental and physical condition. In my case, that means no alcohol or cigarettes several weeks before and during the shows.”

But this is not all, because as soon as the performances begin, the actor adheres to a very strict diet, which some do not hesitate to call “monastic”. “When we have to do a lot of performances, I try to sleep a lot and above all talk as little as possible during the day to rest my voice.” From his years in the plays, Bertrand de Rovignac recognized the need to save himself so as not to endanger his own body. Caution is more important because his gameplay is very physical.

“I trained a lot, especially on a muscular level, for this show. It was essential if I didn’t want to hurt myself too much. When I was 20, I played in shows where the body was very involved. I was preparing, but at every show I hurt myself in Same place. Since I was young, I didn’t care. Today, I know we have to be careful because we pay for it after 5 or 10 years.”

• Christophe Renaud de Laage

huge pressure

Bertrand de Rovignac does not hesitate to compare the work of the actor with the work of the dancer. I recently spoke with dancing friends from the Paris Opera about sharing a body. With them, the physical participation is complete; It’s not intense for a comedian, but it’s still important. It is a health issue. We have physical capital and we use it: it’s no small feat, even if it doesn’t match the image we have of the actor! In France, everything related to physical preparation and possible medical care after performances and sessions with a physiotherapist is the responsibility of the actor. »

In fact, appearing on stage every night, no matter how long the show, requires perfect physical conditions, for the simple reason that acting is so stressful. Everyone must manage their physical, and therefore mental, form in their own way. It becomes clearer when one embarks day in and day out on performances lasting several hours.

“I remember, Nora Craif notes, That in the ’90s, when I started with Guy Alloucherie and Eric Lacascade’s Ballatum Théâtre, before every training we did very long physical training sessions to get ready for speed…it’s all over today we don’t have time. We attack repetition directly. » It is up to the actors to manage their physical condition themselves and as they like.

John Arnold, who plays Ash nest Created this summer at the Avignon Festival by Simone Valguyer, it has its own way. “I am a beautiful bodied actor. I am 60 years old, and when I am on stage I exert myself a lot. The rest of the time I live in Burgundy, in the country, and I can say that working in the country keeps you physically fit! I could not gladly do the job if I have not had the possibility to extract myself from this universe to find myself in nature. It is a completely different way of life, but I have adapted to both rhythms.” That doesn’t stop John Arnold, who took his first steps with Ariane Mnuchkin and Michel Bouquet, from noticing that putting on a thirteen-hour show is no small feat.

Strengths beyond you

In agreement with Nora Crieff or Bertrand de Rovignac, he insists on diet. “When you do this kind of show, you have to eat the light. When we were playing Richard II And the twelve nights Shakespeare with Ariane Mnuchkin, in the morning at 7 I forced myself to eat a steak. But it was my only meal. Playing requires strength because it involves a lot of tension. In the end we are exhausted. After filming Shakespeare for a year, I remember we had six weeks of vacation, and I spent the first three completely asleep. » John Arnold also explains that during breaks while performing ash nest, Sleeps. Which is impossible for Nora Craif.

For her part, Anouk Greenberg sometimes remembers waking up the next day to perform with that feeling To be 120 years old. Acting is not an ordinary profession, and his extremely beautiful article also evokes insight Inside the minds of actors (Odelle Jacob) The result of a survey of actors and scientists, in particular neurologists.

Playing, as Anouk Grinberg analyzed, also means exposing yourself to forces beyond your control, which requires great availability of body and mind. “On stage, we let ourselves go through things we weren’t even aware of at the time. Then, when you go to bed, there’s intensity that needs to be reduced. Effort needs to be reduced. So, it takes time. During the day the body regenerates. “The blanks are filled in. I do sports, yoga and meditation. I don’t like feeling my pen leaking, so I keep it.”

Bertrand de Rovignac with Celine Sheen (photo at left) and Emilian Diard Detuff (above).

• Christophe Renaud de Laage

Adaptation to playing spaces

In fact, playing is also about creating working conditions. It is, in one way or another, shaping a context, both physically and mentally, in which the representation will unfold. For the past few years, actress and director Clara Hadwin has been performing in landscapes, with its hollows, bumps, holes, slippery spots, and tree roots, as opposed to the slick theater scene: The three musketeers, According to Alexandre Dumas, and recently This remains my joy, According to Jean Giono.

These creations are carried out in different places, such as the Parc de Sceaux or the Château de Chambord, and require a strong investment from the actors, forced to adapt to the spaces that they sometimes discover at the last minute. “Physically requires a lot of energy: there are no lights or bleachers, everything depends on the bodies of the actors who have to appear and disappear in different places to surprise the audience and change costumes in fourth gear, because everyone has several roles.”

In fact, these are quotes from novels, where there are more characters than in the play. Plus, we double reps in the event of an accident. Recently, we had to rearrange the battle scene because the actor who played d’Artagnan had a bad fall. »

with This remains my joy, Clara Hadwin took the experience one step further with an outdoor workout. “This winter we worked on the upper Lenion plateau. Sometimes in the snow, in the middle of pastures, with heavy coats, and several layers of clothing. It was interesting to physically experience the conditions of nature in relation to the Juno script. Finally, we created it in the spring in Herault, In the garage, which is a completely different place, more complicated, drier, brutal, very hot.”

A unique way to put the actor’s body to the test, to create tension by confronting it each time with different geological conditions, but also meteorologically, as if it were an echo, an echo of a physiological system, for the novel by Juno.

square root of the verb to be, Written by Wajdi Moawad, from September 30 to December 30, 2022, at the Théâtre de la Collin, Paris.

to read
in the minds of the actors. meetings with actors and scientists, By Anouk Greenberg, Odile Jacob, €22.90.

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