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Posted: Well, ummm....physical theater actually is a very vague and broad category encompassing several forms of expressive movement. Physical Theater is the art of storytelling through use of bodily and facial expression, almost exclusively.
In Japan I am thinking that you witnessed Butoh theater, which is very physical and expressive.
There is also Contact Dance, which is a form of dance but is also highly involved in physical theater.
Mime is one of the oldest.
You can also look into the traditional Comedia Del Arte, which is largely physical and also involved masks. This is a very lovely form of theater.
Then there is of course, Clowning. An entire clown scene is concidered Physical Theater because it tells a story through motion and is largely reliant on physical movement.
For an example of a phenominal Clown, check out John Quigly. He is primarily known for his work pioneering routines for Cirque Du Soliel. His characters are vibrant, his stories lovely and funny and complete, his presentations astounding and his physical abilities beyond imagination. I am consistently impressed with him.
Another very famous Physical Theater group are the Mummenschanz. They have been around since the 70's, have worked extensively with Jim Henson and are really perplexing and mindblowing.
For a more danc-ish style is PUSH! Physical Theater. Their two primary movement points are actually contact dance and mime. They are minimalistic for "costumes" and generally perform in jeans and white shirts so that a person can focus on their movements and story more than anything outlandish.
There are alot of Comedia groups and training facilities. Butoh is a bit harder to track down but is amazing in true performance.
So...yeah...hope that helps narrow it down.
Pele Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir "Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall "And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK