Stepping Stones is the book of a practitioner. It documents the work of a laboratory-based practice that investigated the principles of collective improvisation as a performance practice. Though the dynamics and mechanisms of collective work and improvisation have been amply researched in training and composition contexts, not so can be said in the context of performance. Ingemar Lindh’s research, which announces a resistance to choreography, fixed scores, and directorial montage, has significant implications for the practice and theory of performance in a post-dramatic age. Stepping Stones is, to quote Lindh himself, ‘a book not written but spoken’ in the sense that it is a collection of transcripts and writings by and about Lindh. The first two chapters are based on a transcript of a workshop held in Porsgrunn (Norway) in 1981. In these chapters Lindh’s unique work on performer process (including the adaptation of isometric training for actors) is expounded in the context of his views on theatre. Chapter 3 is made up of two letters to a friend, the first detailing Lindh’s artistic biography and the second commenting on the knowledge acquired in the process. Chapter 4 is an interview with Lindh by Paolo Martini with a focus on the ethics of his aesthetics. Chapter 5 is a chronology by Magdalena Pietruska of the Institute för Scenkonst’s twenty-five years of operation under the direction of Lindh.
Photographs by Maurizio Buscarino and Stefano Lanzardo provide visual documentation of the history and research of Lindh’s Institutet för Scenkonst. The book also contains an introductory chapter by Frank Camilleri which places Lindh’s work within a historical context as well as features a glossary of terms, names, and performances. Stepping Stones was first published in Italy in 1998. A Swedish edition appeared in 2003.
Ingemar Lindh (1945-97) studied with the founder of Corporeal Mime Étienne Decroux in Paris (1966-68). Together with Yves Lebreton and other former students of Decroux, he founded the mime troupe Studio 2 in 1969 based at Odin Teatret in Holstebro. In 1971 Lindh founded his own theatre laboratory in Sweden, the Institutet för Scenkonst (Institute for Scenic Art) which researched the principles of collective improvisation conceived as performance. In 1984 the Institutet moved to Pontremoli (Italy) where they operated until 1996. Lindh died suddenly in Malta in June 1997 during a break in a work session.