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Did you say training?Josette FralPublished online: 03 Nov 2009.
To cite this article: Josette Fral (2009) Did you say training?, Performance Research: A Journal of the Performing Arts, 14:2,16-25, DOI: 10.1080/13528160903319216
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13528160903319216
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This article first appeared in French (2000). To avoid confusing readers of English, the French word entranement (usually translated as training in English) has been translated here as preparation, except where using the French term is the point. When the new French word training is discussed, we render it into English in italics. All translations of quotations are ours. Text translated by Leslie Wickes.
For some time now, two words have shared the acting field between them: training and entranement. Present in the texts, coexisting in discourses, evoked by artists and researchers over the years, they seem to maintain a peaceful existence that gives the impression that they are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. In this manner, they comprise a single and sole reality: that of actors efforts to perfect their art before mounting the stage. This is not a false impression, and yet this
state of balance is in fact an illusion. In effect, for those who attentively observe the literature on the subject, as well as certain texts and speculations of current practitioners, it is apparent that this equilibrium is in the process of rupturing. The word training seems, at least in France, to inscribe the concept in particular contexts. Far from being a trend, a preference for an easy anglicism, this shift tends to bring to light some profound transformations that have been affecting the preparation of actors for the past thirty years. As it was first documented in 1440, the English
word training originally signified drawing,
trailing; drawing out, protracting (OED s.v. training). It is borrowed from the Old French word trainer and does not acquire the sense of instruction, discipline, education until 1548 (Barnhart 1988: 1157). At this point it refers to a systematic instruction and exercise in some art, profession or occupation, with a view to proficiency in it (OED). Indifferently used in the artistic, sports and military fields, and even in the training of animals, it evokes the process of developing the bodily vigour and endurance by systematic exercise, so as to fit for some athletic feat (OED). It is therefore intimately linked from its first appearance to the notions of exercise and perfecting.This English word, which was not found in
French dictionaries until the 1980s, soon made its appearance in the 1990s under the influence of sports and studies in psychology and psychoanalysis (training autogne, training group). At this point it designates a preparation through repeated exercises or a psychotherapeutic method of relaxation through autosuggestion (training autogne). The dictionaries do not document the use it is put to in the theatrical world. They insist on the notions of exercise and methodical repetition that are the foundation of sports as well as psychoanalysis. Researchers then began to refer back to its earlier connotations. Thus in his 1854 book, Guide du Sportsman ou
Trait de lEntranement et des Courses de Chevaux, E. Gayot defines the word training as a preparation for physical activity. In 1895, Paul
Did you say training?j o s e t t e f r a l
Pe rf o rm a n c e R e s e a r c h 1 4 ( 2 ) , p p . 1 6 - 2 5 Ta y l o r & F ra n c i s L td 2 0 0 9D O I : 1 0 . 1 0 8 0 / 1 3 5 2 8 1 6 0 9 0 3 3 1 9 2 1 6
Bourget notes in his book Outre-Mer: almost all devoted themselves to physical exercises done in the American style, that is to say, like a training, a mathematical and reasoned physical preparation. This reference to the American model is interesting because it links the word to a sport (gymnastics) which was moving across the Atlantic. In 1872, in his Notes sur lAngleterre, Taine evokes the training of the attention. The use of the word spread so widely and so thoroughly that, in 1976, an August 12th Arrt recommends the use of the term entranement instead of training to signify the action of perfecting and staying in shape in a given fi eld (Quemada 1994: 472). Despite these measures, the use of the word
training1 nevertheless becomes common practice and seems to become a valid synonym for the word entranement2, though the latter remains more common in texts.When it is applied to theatre in the Anglophone
world, the word training is used systematically to
designate all aspects of an actors preparation. Thus it indiscriminately refers to the instruction given at acting schools, in acting classes, on stages and in workshops, and also to the practical exercises that actors may undertake before a production, as well as to the work carried out by actors who wish to perfect their art without a specifi c production in view. This absence of distinction between three diff erent aspects of preparation (formation, production and the development of the actors art) makes training a quasi-generic term in the Anglophone world. It is a convenient, all-purpose word that encompasses all forms of exercises, techniques and methods employed by actors attempting to acquire the basics of their vocation. In France, the use of the word training as
applied to theatre is a recent arrival 3 At the earliest, it dates from the middle of the 1980s. Predominantly used in spoken language, it appears fairly late in written texts. For example, the works of Grotowski (1971, 1974), as well as the
1 Defi ned as a preparation through repeated exercises (Quemada 1994: 472).
2 Defi ned as preparation for a physical or intellectual activity; learning through methodical repetition (Imbs 1979: 1228).
3 France seems to be the only country in the French world to have thus generalized the use of the word training, at least in oral language, about fi fteen years ago.
Odin Teatret & CTLS archives - Work demonstration: Moon and darkness with Iben Nagel RasmussenPhoto: Torben Huss.
Did you say training?
first of Barbas books (1982), make no mention of it and favour entranement instead. The same is true of works by Brook (1991, 1992), Vitez (1991, 1994) and Yoshi Oida (1999), which all speak of entranement, not training.However, from 1982 to 1985 a change occurs
that can be traced through the various works of Barba. In effect, LArchipel du Thtre, published in 19824, uses the word entranement to designate the work of the actor. The text reads: preparation (lentranement) does not teach how to act, how to be clever, does not prepare one for creation (Barba 1979: 73). This usage is confirmed in the chapter that follows, entitled Questions sur lentranement. Nevertheless, by 1985, with the Anatomie de lActeur5, things have changed. The word entranement has given way to training even though it continues to designate the same work by the actor. The texts of Nicola Savarese (Training et point de dpart) and Eugenio Barba himself (Training: de apprendre apprendre apprendre) explicitly refer to the word to evoke the actors preparatory work. This usage becomes systematic in Barbas Thtre: solitude, mtier, rvolte6, which appeared in 1999. The book is proof that, from this point forward, the word training has definitively entered common