"...theory developed by [French mime and movement teacher] Jacques Lecoq that actors must recognize the dynamics of the stage. One of the Lecoq exercises asks the actors to imagine a platform. When one person steps on stage, the person opposite must compensate as if the platform might tip. The actors need to understand keeping the stage in balance."
Which came from this web page about a contemporary stage production of Sartre's No Exit.
Does it remind you (my regular readers in particular) of anything? That' right... it sounds like the Lauenstein's film Balance - one of my favorite animated films, and I know a favorite of a lot of people. I've long pondered what makes the film so universally loved, and while very simple in some respects, it's got a lot going for it. The symbolic nature of the balancing platform and the small society who live on it for one thing.... makes you think about group dynamics in both the micro and macro scales. Families, friends, war, politics, etc. But another factor making it compelling is simply the delight of watching the physics in action.
In my reading of Lecoq, I ran across his description of the above mentioned exercise for placing actors in a Greek style chorus. (I grabbed the rather sparse description from that website because it was the only decent reference I could find online, and I didn't feel like laboriously typing out the whole thing from the book myself). So.... a startling similarity between lecoq's concept and the Lauenstein's film.... could it be a coincidence, or is it possible the German brothers had encountered the Lecoq technique somewhere? I know the Lauensteins and Thomas Stellmach (famous for the stopmotion short Quest) were taught by Professor Paul Driessen - well-known and highly respected cartoon animator from.... somewhere in Eastern Europe (sorry, too lazy to look it up right now!). Could he have maybe recommended studying Lecoq's techniques of physical Theatre to his students?
I'm not suggesting they "ripped the idea off" or anything so crass.... the reason I was so struck by this is that it makes me feel like I'm on the right track. Balance being one of my favorites, and now seeing the Lecoq connection, it reinforces the feeling that I'm definitely embarked on the right course of study. But fear not... my animation exercises continue... I'll be posting more soon -- just wanted to break for a moment to post this real quick.
There may also be a connection between another Lecoq exercise and Thomas Stellmach's film Quest (which I've always felt was somehow connected to Balance). The exercise... it's the first of Lecoq's Neutral Mask exercises, designed to make actors express entirely though their bodies, no voice and no face --- the actor, wearing the mask, awakens and begins to explore the space around him (the studio). The idea is to explore and interact with every object there... climb onto the tables and ladders, etc.
This connection obviously isn't as clear cut as the above (Balance), but it's pretty darn close. Close enough, taken in conjunction with what I wrote above, to make me strongly suspect Professor Dreissen DID encourage his students to study Lecoq's methods, or even recommended these particular exercises as great ideas for stopmotion films (a thought I agree with).