référence : http://listes.cru.fr/arc/mascarene/1995-02/msg00022.html

Phedre Barry Russell

(Copy of reply to original posting)

I did some work on this one with skilled, francophone
actors as respite from a Beckett season, just to see
how it worked on the floor. Nobody would pay us to do
it properly :-) But I remember being thrilled when we
discovered how well it worked with a very high degree
of physical formalization. This fits what one knows about
late 17thC tragic acting in Paris. We had the feeling
Racine virtually had a balletic score as sub-text, and
that what we had to do was find it. What was *really*
exciting, when it started to emerge, was the feeling
that the best moves paralleled the rhetorical devices,
though not always in the most obvious ways. As an example,
consider the Hippolyte/Phedre confrontation in which he
says (if I can remember!), "Loin de vous .... Pres de vous...".
That antithesis cried out for a movement correlative - but
the best one turned out to be the inversion: close to her,
facing her, quiet for "Loin de vous..."; tension played as
a beat between them, to push him away, then distance, back
to back, for "Pres de vous...". That is, lots of use of a
seemingly conventional gestural language, but made interesting
and fresh through transformations. The actors found it hard
to sustain, but loved it; I found it illuminating. But I
reckon it only works when the audience is up close and the
arena is small and capable of intensity.

In general, I think Racine needs his performers to find the
richness of situation, the psychological tensions that bind
the text to its physical presentation; and not (as is often
the case with (yuk!) classics, think it's all in the words.
This means constant attention to the overall picture, to where
everyone is and what everyone is doing. With so few actors
on stage at any one time, it becomes vital that the performance
visibly, tangibly, involve them whether they are actually
speaking or not. That dimension is in the producer's keeping...

Does this help?

Barry Russell      :      br@inwave.demon.co.uk