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Jacques Lecoq born (December 15, 1921 – January 19, 1999) in Paris, was a French actor, mime and acting instructor.

He is most famous for his methods on physical theatre, movement and mime that he taught at the school he founded in Paris, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq from 1956 until his death in 1999.


Jacques Lecoq came to theatre through an interest in sports. He began gymnastics at seventeen and through work on the parallel bars and the horizontalbar he came to see and to understand the geometry of movement. Movement of the body through space as is required by gymnastics was described by Lecoq as being purely abstract. He came to understand the rhythms of athletics as a kind of physical poetry that affected him strongly.

He attended a physical education college in 1941 where he met Jean Marie Conty, a basketball player of international caliber, and in charge of physical education in all of France. Conty's interest in the link between sport and theater had come out of a friendship with Antonin Artaud and Jean-Louis Barrault, both well-known actors and directors. Conty's interests in theater would impact Lecoq, and eventually lead Lecoq to an interest in theatre.

Lecoq taught physical education for several years. He later found himself acting and a member of the Comediens de Grenoble. This company and his work with Commedia dell'arte in Italymarker (where he lived for eight years) introduced him to ideas surrounding mime, masks and the physicality of performance.

He was first introduced to theatre and acting by Jacques Copeau's daughter Marie-Therese, and her husband Jean Daste.

In 1956, he returned to Paris to open his school, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, where he spent most of his time until his death, filling in as international speaker and master class giver for the Union of Theatres of Europe.

Teaching Style

Lecoq aimed at training his actors in ways that encouraged them to investigate ways of performance that suited them best. His training was aimed at nurturing the creativity of the performer, as opposed to giving them a codified set of skills.

His training involved an emphasis on masks, starting with the neutral mask. The aim was that the neutral mask can aid an awareness of physical mannerisms as they get greatly emphasised to an audience whilst wearing the mask. Once a state of neutral was achieved, he would move on to work with laval masks and then half masks, gradually working towards the smallest mask in his repertoire: the clown's red nose. Three of the principal skills that he encouraged in his students were le jeu (playfulness), complicité (togetherness) and disponsibilité (openness). Selection for the second year was based mainly on the ability to play.

He also set up le Laboratoire d'Etude du Mouvement (Laboratory for the study of movement; L.E.M. for short) in 1977. This was a separate department within the school which looked at architecture, scenography and stage design and its links to movement.

"The Laboratory of Movement Study (L.E.M.) is a separate department of the School.
It is particularly intended for the dynamic study of space and rhythm through plastic representation.
The aim is to discover the movement of colours, forms and structures and to apply this knowledge to scenography."


Among his many students were:


Educational Programs

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