Meyerhold and Boal

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Vsevlod Meyerhold and Augusto Boal are two examples of drama practitioners who were unhappy with the social conventions associated with theatre, and as a response developed new methods of actor training. The both of them wanted theatre to be accessible to all members of society, at all levels of socioeconomic status, rather than just be exclusive to the rich. They were against the ideology surrounding Stanislavski’s realism acting method and felt that audiences should be engaged with, rather than be passively entertained, and that actors should utilise mind-to-body connections. Their goal was to engage with their audiences on a greater, more complex level; however the two had differing techniques that allowed them to do so. Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed and Meyerhold’s biomechanics are both recognised as revolutionary developments within the theatrical community. Meyerhold’s work examined and experimented with the physicality behind performance forms (such as Commedia Dell ‘Arte and mime). He formulated a new approach to acting based on physical training and mechanical movements which is known as biomechanics. He used these techniques to create ‘truthful’ performances, without the need for vocality or evident emotions in the characters, rather utilising movement, space, rhythm and gestures as primary elements in order to portray situations. He believed that actors could learn to present their character without trying to ‘become’ their character, unlike Stanislavski, who believed that actors should be able to bring out their character on stage through emotional memory (tapping into past emotions felt). Not only did he want physically capable actors (as the physical demands of acting are significantly high – acting is a sport) but also well-rounded thinkers who were capable of using their bodies to communicate ideas and emotions. Meyerhold also experimented with
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