Actors and Audiences : Conversations in the Electric Air book cover
1st Edition

Actors and Audiences
Conversations in the Electric Air

ISBN 9781138210073
Published March 25, 2020 by Routledge
212 Pages

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Book Description

Actors and Audiences explores the exchanges between those on and off the stage that fill the atmosphere with energy and vitality. Caroline Heim utilises the concept of "electric air" to describe this phenomenon and discuss the charge of emotional electricity that heightens the audience’s senses in the theatre.

In order to understand this electric air, Heim draws from in-depth interviews with 79 professional audience members and 22 international stage and screen actors in the United Kingdom, United States, France and Germany. Tapping into the growing interest in empirical studies of the audience, this book documents experiences from three productions – The Encounter, Heisenberg and Hunger. Peer Gynt – to describe the nature of these conversations. The interviews disclose essential elements: transference, identification, projection, double consciousness, presence, stage fright and the suspension of disbelief. Ultimately Heim reveals that the heart of theatre is the relationship between those on- and off-stage, the way in which emotions and words create psychological conversations that pass through the fourth wall into an "in-between space," and the resulting electric air.

A fascinating introduction to a unique subject, this book provides a close examination of actor and audience perspectives, which is essential reading for students and academics of Theatre, Performance and Audience Studies.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; PART I: ELECTRIC AIR; CHAPTER ONE The Electric Air of Theatre; CHAPTER TWO The View from the Stage; CHAPTER THREE The View from the Audience; PART II: CONVERSATIONS; CHAPTER FOUR Heisenberg’s Psychological Conversations; CHAPTER FIVE Encounters with The Encounter; CHAPTER SIX Hunger. Peer Gynt: a Thirst for Conversations; Conclusion; Appendix: Actor Biographies; Index

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Caroline Heim is a senior lecturer in Theatre at Queensland University of Technology, Australia.


"This is rigorously planned research where author breaks new ground in studying the emotional electricity between actors and audiences in performance. The book genuinely respects and values the experiences of the actor, and gives theoretical insights gleaned from a valuable collection of focussed actor interviews that took some initiative to obtain. The emphasis on audience interviews and reactions is equally valuable. The study focuses on productions of conceptual significance and wide appeal, situating the interviews in a thematic framework of ideas on presence and energetics."

- Commendation for the Rob Jordan Prize for Best Book (Australasian Drama Association)