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|Title:||Active Metaphysics: Acting as Manual Philosophy or Phenomenological Interpretations of Acting Theory|
|Authors:||Johnston, Daniel Waycott|
|Keywords:||Theories of Acting|
|Publisher:||University of Sydney.|
Department of Performance Studies
|Abstract:||This thesis considers actors as ‘manual philosophers’; it engages the proposition that acting can reveal aspects of existence and Being. In this sense, forms of acting that analyse and engage with lived experience of the world offer a phenomenological approach to the problem of Being. But rather than arrive at abstract, general conclusions about the human subject’s relationship to the world, at least some approaches to acting investigate the structures of experience through those experiences themselves in a lived, physical way. I begin with the troubled relationship between philosophy and theatre and briefly consider the history of attacks on actors. I suggest that at the heart of antitheatricality is what Jonas Barish (1981: 3) calls ‘ontological queasiness’: theatre poses a problem in the distinction between ‘what is’ and ‘what is not’. Turning to phenomenology as a particular way of doing philosophy that challenges any dualistic understanding of subjectivity, I reflect on Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time as a lens for viewing the process of performing and preparing for a role. Heidegger emphasises the intermeshed relationship between the human subject, Dasein (Being-there), and the world to the point that it is impossible to consider one without the other. I have chosen three of the most influential theatre and acting theorists of the twentieth century and examine how each uncovers aspects of existence that are presented in Heidegger’s phenomenology. Firstly, I consider Constantin Stanislavski’s ‘system’ which emphasises action for a purpose within an environment, the individual’s relationship to objects in the world and its involvement with other people who share the same type of Being in the world. Secondly, I examine Antonin Artaud’s conception of theatre that seeks to resist the structures of Being, the way the world is interpreted by others (the ‘They’) and the way that the world gets handed over to consciousness for the most part. In many respects, Artaud’s theatre is the embodiment of Anxiety, a world-revealing state where Being becomes apparent. Thirdly, I discuss Bertolt Brecht’s theatre practice as an attestation to authenticity (a truthful engagement with human existence as possibility) through the medium of performance. Brecht seeks to engage audiences in philosophical debate and change the world. Like Heidegger, Brecht also stresses the historical and temporal constitution of the human subject, whilst emphasising practicality in theatre making. By examining these approaches to performance as case studies, this thesis rethinks the notional intersection of philosophy and theatre, concentrating on process rather than literary analysis. This application of phenomenology is new in that it does not merely consider theatre analysis from an ‘ideal’ audience point of view (i.e. provide a phenomenology of theatre). By focusing on acting, I emphasise the development of artistic creation and becoming, and show how certain types of acting are phenomenological. The bold upshot here is a conception of philosophy that acknowledges various theatre practices as embodied forms of philosophical practice. Furthermore, theatre might well be thought of as phenomenological because it can be an investigation of Being firmly entrenched in practical action and performance. Conversely, philosophy is more than just words on a page; it is a performed activity. Actors can be considered manual philosophers in so far as they engage with the problem of Being not in mere abstraction but in the practical challenges of performance.|
|Rights and Permissions:||The author retains copyright of this thesis.|
|Type of Work:||PhD Doctorate|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|
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