1st Edition

Acting, Spectating, and the Unconscious A psychoanalytic perspective on unconscious processes of identification in the theatre

By Maria Turri Copyright 2017
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

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    From Aristotle’s theory of tragic katharsis onwards, theorists of the theatre have long engaged with the question of what spectatorship entails. This question has, directly or indirectly, often been extended to the investigation of acting.

    Acting, Spectating, and the Unconscious approaches the unconscious aspects of spectatorship and acting afresh. Interweaving psychoanalytic descriptions of processes such as transference, unconscious phantasy, and alpha-function with an in-depth survey of theories of spectating and acting from thinkers such as Brecht, Diderot, Rousseau and Plato, Maria Grazia Turri offers a significant insight into the emotions inherent in both the art of the actor, and the spectator’s experience.

    A compelling investigation of the unconscious communication between spectators and actors, this volume is a must-read for students and scholars fascinated by theatre spectatorship.

    Chapter 1. Theorizing Theatre Spectatorship Starting with Brecht The epic theatre Spectatorship, emotions and the unconscious Spectatorship and psychoanalysis The significance of the unconscious to psychic life Psychoanalysis in context A psychoanalytic perspective of theatre spectatorship Chapter 2. Transference and Katharsis, Freud to Aristotle Introduction Aristotle’s theory of mim?sis and tragic katharsis Pity and fear Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis from the cathartic method to the transference Transference re-enactment and transference analysis Repetition-compulsion – beyond the pleasure principle An interpretation of tragic katharsis as transference dynamic Tragic katharsis as transference dynamic Chapter 3 – The Paradoxe inside out Introduction The Paradoxe of the actor The Paradoxe analysed About David Garrick Dual consciousness and the psychology of acting Diderot’s ideas on acting preceding the Paradoxe Chapter 4 – The emotionalist theory of acting Introduction Genetic and trans-European links The Emotionalist Texts on Acting Le Comédien The Actor Garrick ou les acteurs anglois A New Theory of Acting Chapter 5 – Unconscious emotional processing in alpha-function Freud’s theory of ego functioning From the psychology of impulse to the psychology of the ego The relationship between the ego, the id, and reality Identification through introjection and projection Kleinian theory of object-relations Projection and introjection Ego-splitting and integration The birth of the self Bion’s theory of alpha-function Projective identification Alpha-function The double nature of alpha-function Chapter 6 – Acting and spectating in alpha-function The art of the actor as alpha-function The relationship between sensibility and understanding in the art of the actor The spectator and the transpersonal dimension of acting The severing of transpersonal alpha-function Diderot’s unfeeling actor and the manic position The envious spectator Brecht’s ‘Verfremdungseffekt’ and autonomous alpha-function Semiotics and the double game of the actor Unconscious emotional processes of theatre spectatorship Theatre for pleasure or theatre for instruction Theatre spectatorship, emotions and pleasure Theatre, empathy and sympathy Semiotics and theatre’s feedback loop


    Maria Grazia Turri is an independent theatre scholar, and a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford. She completed her PhD in Drama at the University of Exeter in 2015. In her research, she applies psychoanalysis to the analysis of theatre processes.??