4 Unique Styles Of Theatre Every Aspiring Actor Should Learn

Theatre, one of the oldest art forms in the world, is depreciating due to the lack of both performers and consumers.

Aside from those who actively practice it, the public has got little to no appreciation for the dwindling art.

But all hope is not lost!

Schools like HCAC are keeping the dream alive with our own classes to keep the traditions going and evolving.

Students of these classes will not only play a part in a cultural movement, but also expand their skill sets and gain a deeper toolbox to pull from when on stage or on screen.

With that in mind, here are 5 unique styles of theatre that every aspiring actor should learn.



1) Commedia Dell'arte (Italy)

Commedia Dell’arte, loosely translates to “Comedy of Art”, or “Comedy of the Profession”.

It means unwritten or improvised drama, and has lived a long life in Italy – the place of its origin.

What’s so interesting about Commedia is that it doesn’t rely on dialogue to tell the story.

Instead, bodily movements are carefully studied and broken down into 6 simple steps, namely Otkaz, Posyl, Tochka, Stoika, Tormoz and Pauza.

The six steps are designed to facilitate telling a story through precise body motions.

None of the steps are more important than the other and none should be omitted to perform the exercises that were created.

It begins from Otkaz, the preparation of the body.

The actor then moves directly to the designated point, and this motion is termed Posyl.

It’s then followed by Tochka or Stoika, where the movement comes to a precise end.

Tormoz is then the natural slowing down of the body before it comes to a halt.

Before the next action can take place, there will be Pauza, and as the name suggests, it’s a pause between movements.

The interesting use of masks also highlights the uniqueness in Italian Theatre.

When the performer puts on the mask, he or she takes over all of the character’s traits, fully being one with their role.

The roles that are portrayed usually represents fixed social types, like a form of exaggerated role play.

For interested parties, you can sign up for a Commedia Dell’arte workshop at https://methodactingasia.com/programme/commedia-dellarte-playing-mask

2. Zen Zen Zo (Japan)

Anyone familiar with Japanese theatre would have heard of Noh and Kabuki.

While Noh remains a popular form of theatre, the best known form of Japanese theatre remains to be Kabuki.

But with the advancement of modern theatre and the stagnant nature of traditional Japanese theatre, a new form of performance had to emerge to take traditional acting methods to a new and exciting stage.

The Japanese theatre director Tadashi Suzuki, was the man to bridge the gap between Noh and Kabuki and modern theatre with “Suzuki Method of Actor Training”.

Suzuki Method of Actor Training is a method working to build an actor’s awareness of his body, especially his center.

The more balanced we are able to maintain balance with our center of gravity, the more variety of movements become available to us.

Ultimately, the goal would be to achieve almost total control of the body.

From then on, the spirit of Japanese theatre lived on as an inspiration for other forms of theatre production.

One of the example would be Zen Zen Zo:

Zen Zen Zo has developed all of its material from the founders of the “Suzuki Method of Actor Training”.

On top of traditional eastern methodologies, Zen Zen Zo also incorporates the European avant-garde theatre movement, as well as contemporary pop culture.

This playful fusion in turn gives Zen Zen Zo its unique appeal by drawing contrast from the traditional forms of theatre.  

They have physical theatres workshop which aims to teach participants the core principles of the company to create dynamic performances on the stage.

You can find out more about their upcoming workshops set to take place in May at https://methodactingasia.com/programme/zen-zen-zo-physical-theatre-intensive

3. Chinese Opera (China)
“The show must go on, even if no one’s watching.”

Lost but not forgotten, one would expect to see Chinese Theatre on this list.

Better known as Chinese Opera, thespians rely on colorful costumes, makeup and elaborate set pieces to tell a story.

Other elements include drama and music played from traditional instruments like the Er Hu and the bamboo flute.

What really separates Chinese theatre from the others is the fact that martial arts and acrobatics are commonly included in the performance.

However, what used to be a staple of Chinese entertainment has since then dwindled.

As of 2017, only less than 10 professional street opera troupes are left in Singapore, appealing to a very limited audience.

Most of the performances are based on special occasions like the “Hungry Ghost Festival”, adding flavours to their culturally rich performances.

To find out more about Chinese Opera, you can visit http://www.ctcopera.com/

4. Sanskrit Theatre (Indian)

Despite its name, Sanskrit theatre was not exclusively in the Sanskrit language.

Originating from a period of relative peace in the history of India, the Sanskrit theatre addresses acting, dance, music, dramatic construction, make up, costuming, and even architecture.

Aiming to both entertain and educate, the performances used to be carried out on sacred grounds by priests who had been trained in the necessary skills.

While the Indians remain to be a minority group in Singapore, this performance type still lives on.

The Singaporean Indian Theatre & Film Explorers is a social enterprise created to address the needs of individuals by providing a platform to produce, act in, or direct films and theatre productions.

To find out more about them, you can visit them at http://sitfe.sg/

Be Part Of These Amazing Niche Theatre Styles!

As you can see, these niche styles can provide a wide variety of skill sets you may be keen to explore and add to your repertoire!

In fact, here at HCAC we provide classes for:

Commedia Dell’arte

Zen Zen Zo

Click on the links to learn more about our classes or email us at hello@hcac.sg for more information.

See you in class!