Even though Etienne Decroux is today considered by art historians as one of the greatest theatre reformers of the 20th century, he is nonetheless little known for the precise nature of his technical and pedagogical work. Reform implies a level of official agreement, yet the work of Etienne Decroux and his successors is still not officially recognized. Proof lies in the fact that the state schools and conservatoires do not to this day include Corporeal Mime as part of their training. At least such is the case in France, cradle of this art form.
What would have become of all this knowledge, if those who had the chance to work and to learn with him had not continued his work, at the margin of a so-called tradition? Surely nothing but a theory, yet another theory, a treasure map to a forgotten method.
Decroux' great work, fortunately, is very much alive, and, through the theoretical and practical teaching of a handful of pedagogues, not only persists but evolves. It is the idea of an autonomous artist, freed from the yoke of the playwright and of the machinery of the theatre, without nevertheless denying it: the artist as a creator, not just a passer-by, yet one who retains the humility and the need to transmit a memory as well as a collective vision, through the Art of Corporeal Mime.
Etienne Decroux has left behind not only a technique infinitely rich in possibilities `the most oriental of western techniques` - but also a varied repertoire, thanks to the corporeal memory of a few assistants, and in particular, the work carried out by the Theatre de l`Ange Fou of reconstructing the original works of the Master, as a means of preserving this heritage and ensuring its transmission.
I was one of their students, and I am passionately committed to the same poetic enterprise.