The written word revolutionised the dissemination of ideas and the documentation of practice within early twentieth century theatre. This was the age of the manifesto, the polemical essay, the teaching manual and the call to action. The cultural struggles of the early part of the century, as modernist art sought to overcome the dominance of tradition and the academy, demanded that innovation prepared its own defence; this meant setting out clearly the principles on which new cultural practices were founded. Initially there were few models on which to base such writings – the professional secrets of the actor were jealously guarded, and their social status was such that few writers would consider acting and actors worthy of anything but occasional interest. The nineteenth century interest in scientific analysis spawned several attempts at cataloguing approaches to voice production, posture, gesture and oratory as the profession attempted to claw its way up the ladder of social respectability. For the most part, however, it was a question of drawing on existing models for inspiration. Stanislavsky structured his first book, My Life in Art (1924), as an autobiography, a well-established conventional style which his later texts continued to exploit, albeit in a fictionalised format. In contrast, Copeau, before he became an actor and director, was an accomplished writer, critic and essayist who published a large number of articles, reviews, pamphlets and letters on the subject of theatre. It was therefore understandable that the writing style which 42came naturally to him was neither that of the autobiography nor that of the training manual, but instead that of the essay, the call to action, and the manifesto for change. As a result, his writing is distinctively succinct and purposeful; it is personal without being autobiographical, passionate without being didactic. What it lacks in detail it makes up for in eloquence, erudition and persuasiveness. Copeau never claimed to have a ‘system’ in the formal sense claimed by Stanislavsky; indeed, Michel Saint-Denis was clear that Copeau, ‘never worked from or towards a system’ (Saint-Denis 1960: 92). Copeau, late in his life, described himself as ‘a friendly adviser who cannot pretend to give advice except from his personal experience’ (Copeau 1974: 108–9, author’s translation). What his notes and writings convey instead is an overall pedagogical design and a set of principles for the rejuvenation of the theatre rather than a detailed training schedule, and our expectations must be tailored accordingly. Copeau saw no need to record his working methods in detail. On the one hand they were subject to frequent change, experiment and revision; on the other hand, to do so smacked a little too much of a fixed ‘system’, something that Copeau was determined to avoid. He wrote lists of exercises in note form, recorded the sequence of his work, outlined tasks that needed addressing, reminded himself of key themes to his work, but nowhere does he describe a sustained sequence of exercises or rehearsal methods in any detail. In our contemporary information-hungry culture such reticence may well seem a little perverse or secretive, but for Copeau and his students there was simply no purpose to such a record – their work would speak for them, and for the quality of their processes and practices, and others would learn through the same process of personal transmission.