Jacques Lecoq:portraits &other considerations (a draft)


There are three masks:

the one we think we are;

the one we actually are

and the one we share in common. Jacques Lecoq




The difference between an actor and a hero is a hero has something to lose.”  Albert Camus



Lecoq’s movement theater is derived from a love of considering life. A learning experience like a walk in the sun.

It can be an error to consider art as life.

And certainly a mistake to consider a life without art.

And the resulting mess is rarely pleasant.


In the end actors are professionals at pretending to be someone else. Parables or Frauds.

A society that mistakes theatre for life, conditions itself to a faux reality.

If our stories are inspired by real lives and events; actors create a philosophic laboratory to study our world.

Only once Jacques suggested a photograph not be used. He remarked that a students, movements an exceedingly handsome dancer, were ‚primarily decorative.” 

I understood. Not built upon life so much as the dust that settles on its surface. From the begining, most untruth is “primarily decorative.”

Repetition is not realization. Anymore then memory is reality. Those moments require vitality to live and breathe. 


Good Theatre is not built upon clich? like a parrot repeating second hand lines. Making bad cabaret.

Theatre is good when it has seen something that may have gone unnoticed.

So, I always liked people who considered what was really taking place: physically.

Not simply repeating what they were told. (often missing the point entirely).


please click: "continue" to move into this short story thread 


For years, I covered ‚real and interesting people‚ Provocateurs, who left one with an up-turned eyebrow. And an echo. 

That returns to be considered again. 

Like the very best of a journalistic reportage photograph. Each time one glances it ‚one learns something new.

Shortly after meeting Jacques & Fay Lecoq, I explained the experience to my oldest friend. He replied that I’d spent a life looking from the outside – in …. perhaps I had finally found an appropriate door.  And perhaps it was my year for salient observations. To communicate visual Life, it’s not possible to entirely rely upon words. When actions and words do not agree, as a visual journlaist, a citzen, and a person, question the words. Of this I’m certain. 


Jacques Lecoq was the world’s finest philosopher, and teacher , of movement.  Because he merged both  disaplines into one.

We are still opening the doors of the worlds he found.

These portraits were made at both Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris,

the Lecoq country home,

and at teaching locations in the United States.


I was given carte blanche to photograph  at any appropriate time.

A very existential exercise, as I was never told

 what to door how to do it.

My communication with Jacques was primarily via gesture.

 A tilt of the head asked: “OK?”.

 A nod in return or no response at all … go ahead.

 When in doubt, I did my work.

 It was friendship and trust.

A special trust. From both Fay & Jacques

 My purpose was an exhibition and an authorized book.

"It is your work, do it as you wish."

 Also the Theatre of Creation, and the public demonstrations of TOUT BOUGE.


this was a time of intense discovery &


a simple visual joy in the excersize of space.


How it can joins or divides us.


I returned to Paris every chance I got on magazine and commercial work. 

Working on the Lecoq book, as well as one  one on Paris itself.


The concept of space in it's streets and buildings. And their effect upon Humanity.

The Lecoq teaching was best in Paris. An organic relationship.



The portrait on the balcony between antique screens from La Comedie Francais presented a quantum shift. Epitomizing "Tout BOUGE."


Jacques regarding what would be his last class. Poignant as he knew, as we did, that he was ill.


I tell you this because life is not easy.. Nor is it the faux of celebrity portraits with great depth of field and little depth of truth.

As Jacques himself said:
"For those who know something ...¬
 it is difficult journey.
For those who don't ...
it is relatively easy."

It was true of his teaching and surley true of this time in life. 

I want you to know this.
I believe Jacques would also.

It is the nature of both truth
and philosphy to prove itself.

Often in most shattering ways

I kept my discipline and made my reportage.


 Jacques continued to teach. That is what he did well. Better than any other. Fay continued to manage everything.


The Lecoq family continued to function and the teachers and students continued to teach annd learn.


So, I made my visual reportage as that is, also, what I do well. With complete respect. Not as triviality;


but in good faith and in the knowledge that there are pleasures and pains in everything. 


And the belief that something so special should not be lost.



Upon seeing my photographs for the first time he said: "This is what we teach." There was nothing I ever saw him teach that I did not understand.


Simpatico. Nor was it explained to me. My relationship remained that of the professional observer.




I photographed Jacques hands the first day.   The original essay carried the title of “the Hand of the Master”.

Something  Simmon McBurney of Theatre Complicite said: “Lecoq is a manual worker.” That is where it came from … and would be attributed. Not some tired headling.

I would continue for 6 or 7 more years.


in progress

Three years later I would wait for a train until some idiot would hit me from the rear. Standing and carrying for 14 to 18 hours at a time become impossible for several years. Things change.
Even the best wine only lasts so long. In that is its treasure. There will be no summer repeats. No rewind. Again Jacques: "Tout Bouge." Everything moves.Everything changes. In Jacques 1997 poem: "Tout bouge." he says: "Tout bouge ...moi assui" "every thing moves... Me too". And I also Jacques.
If a portrait is any good , like a performance it needs no explaination. Clarification on particulars, sure. Justification: never. We are or we are not.
After my injury I am just returning to these. After I could look my face in the mirror once again see the mask that I am with my own movements. Rather than the face of physical pain simply to get from one place to the other.
The waters we swim are not without reference. Jacques began his study of movement as a physical therapist. The manner in which I worked required absolute fitness. Constant travel, carrying, standing and walking often for 10 12 hours at a time.
I'm certain the maner in which I work reprtage made sense to the Lecoqs. I waited for the decisive movement. When all the forces came to balalnce. Usually quietly. Hopefully with a polite expression. This is very different from portraits in which I need to create a truthful responce
These portraits have been published and exhibited all over the world and have been acquired in Museum Collections. Among which cover on the Sunday New York Times A&L section, American Theater New York, Maison Jean Vilar Avignon, Total Theatre London Cover. James A.Michener, Museum, Lehigh University, and many others.
Additional stories will be posted shortly. "The Masks", "The last Class." One way or the other a book will be produced based upon the last class. Which should be relevant to every person studying theater at the unversity level or studing life through theater as part of their journey.
M.Jacques Lecoq, I would like you to know I am moving again. And Jacques, as usual,you have been correct. It was not easy. Knowing you has been a priveledge. And the friendship of you and your family a treasure.
Your friend, S.
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