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Moving Images
Experiential Learning and the Physical Theatre

by Ron East

The Project

This book with illustrations and photographs is the result of 25 years of professional teaching experience, and pedagogical research carried out in Canada and in Paris, France.


Experiential learning is a popular term. It means many things, from providing hands-on experience, to the use of high technology in learning. I employ this term to describe a carefully structured process of active, schematic learning techniques designed specifically to challenge the individual to engage his or her creative potential. By applying these physical training 'experiences' the participant develops creative responses to a variety of focussed opportunities. The process involves perceptual identification - a discovery. This perception is then transferred into applicable responses - play. The physical recognition of these responses over time creates a transformation into original patterns, and a personal style of presentation emerges. This learning, unlike most linear information processing, is like learning to swim or ride a bicycle, in that it is lodged in the physical memory as a useful active part in each participant's creative development. As the learning experience takes hold the student absorbs the process itself, continuing to employ it by transforming it independently for career and personal development.

The applications are far-reaching. As we move further into the computer age the demand for creative, original responses to schematic processes becomes increasingly essential. We are being superceded by the machine in processing information in all sectors of society. In our formal education we have developed linear `left-hemisphere' training processes to a powerful level of sophistication. How do we train our intuition? How do we develop our creative faculties? How can we develop our ability to be inspired? How can we train our schematic mind to equal our deductive reasoning; and how do we marry these two processes into whole-mind thinking? These are crucial questions for educators as we move into the next millennium. This book contributes to the development of a new vision for creative education.

The Author:

Ron East has been teaching, performing, directing and writing for the theatre for 30 years. He studied at the University of Alberta, apprenticed at the Stratford Festival, and trained at the famed Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris. He has acted with the Stratford Festival, Theatre Calgary, and Canada's National Arts Centre, as well as performing his own productions across Canada. He has created and directed seventeen original plays, taught in professional Schools and has operated the School of Physical Theatre for the past 25 years. He has taught at Brock and McMaster Universities, The Ecole Jacques LeCoq, at Stratford, The National Ballet, for Skate Canada and Theatre Ontario. He is also a consultant and Director for stage, film, and television.

Moving Images: An Outline

A structure for theatrical training and development. A model to develop both hemispheres of the brain in balance. Perception; in the creation, development and presentation of theatrical imagery. Acknowledging the equal importance of text and action inhabiting the theatrical space. Actively engaging the participant in the creative process, developing his or her own theatrical voice, discovering originality, and developing the means for its expression.

Part 1: The Body

Including the mechanics of physical perception, discovering from the inside out, the architecture of the skeleton, the play of the muscles in movement and stillness, breathing, and the body's physical relationship to the theatrical space.

Part 2: The Study

Focussing specifically on the logical and dynamic patterns of our physical relationship to the world around us. Removing circumstances, intent, and the inanimate world to uncover in simplicity our relationship to the physical. Educating the physical mind. A study of essential human movement - push and pull in locomotion and action, gesture and stillness. Applications in athletic and work imagery, and transferral into play.

Part 3: Acrobatics

The study of movement in action. The circle, economizing and directing energy, focus and support. Experiencing the body moving through space. Overcoming passive resistance, not to train actors who tumble and do cartwheels, but to train artists to have the courage and ability to stand ideas and our civilization's sacred cows on their heads, and have the freedom to let their imaginations and their bodies soar.

Part 4: The Physical Theatre

Structuring discovery to enable the artist to encounter the theatre as a medium, igniting the creative fire in his or her belly, and putting the two together in the theatrical space. The voyage with an experienced guide travelling with the participant into the known and the unknown, each bearing witness to the others. Gradually the landmarks of this voyage take on significance, the voyage becomes clear, structured, and specific, and a direction is chosen. Tactics in improvisation, the masks of suspension, evolution, and expression, an identification with the everyday and the natural world, characterization, passions, music, and text, all frame the voyage.

Part 5: Presentation

The exploration provided by the instructor is the offer, the participants' presentations are the response. The transferral of physical discovery into play. Telling a story, engaging in comedic play, discovering the passionate, the tragic, and the satirical; the witness and the clown. Through presentation the participants teach themselves. They take ownership of the experiential model. Acquiring the craft permits the participant to become a colleague.


Transformation and the development of a personal style - some case studies.

Odering Information


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