Acting Emotions: Shaping Emotions on Stage

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Amsterdam University Press, 2000 - Performing Arts - 209 pages
Actors and actresses play characters such as the embittered Medea, or the lovelorn Romeo, or the grieving and tearful Hecabe. The theatre audience holds its breath, and then sparks begin to fly. But what about the actor? Has he been affected by the emotions of the character he is playing? What'sgoing on inside his mind?

The styling of emotions in the theatre has been the subject of heated debate for centuries. In fact, Diderot in his Paradoxe sur le comedien, insisted that most brilliant actors do not feel anything onstage. This greatly resembles the detached acting style associated with Bertolt Brecht, which, in turn, stands in direct opposition to the notion of the empathy-oriented "emotional reality" of the actor which is most famously associated with the American actingstyle known as method acting.

The book's survey of the various dominant acting styles is followed by an analysis of the current state of affairs regarding the psychology of emotions. By uniting the psychology of emotions with contemporary acting theories, the author is able to come to the conclusion that traditional acting theories are no longer valid for today's actor.

Acting Emotions throws new light on the age-old issue of double consciousness, the paradox of the actor who must nightly express emotions while creating the illusion of spontaneity. In addition, the book bridges the gap between theory and practice by virtue of the author's large-scale field study of the emotions of professional actors. In Acting Emotions, the responses of Dutch and Flemish actors is further supplemented by the responses of a good number of American actors. The book offers a unique view of how actors act out emotions and how this acting out is intimately linked to the development of contemporary theatre.

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Great book! Really helped me with my paper. I love acting and this helps. Kudos to Elly Konjin


Acting Emotions An American Context
The Paradox Considered
Acting Styles
Emotions and Acting
Imagination and Impersonation
Actors in Practice
Professional Actors Emotions and Performing Styles
Actors Have Emotions and Act Emotions
About the Author

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Page 180 - Hess, U., Kappas, A., McHugo, GJ, Kleck, RE, & Lanzetta, JT (1989). An analysis of the encoding and decoding of spontaneous and posed smiles: The use of facial electromyography. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior, 13, 121-137.

About the author (2000)

Elly Konijn (1959) did her doctoral research at the Department of Theatre, Film, and Television Studies at the University of Utrecht, in cooperation with the Psychology Department at the University of Amsterdam. She is currently a university teacher at the University of Utrecht.

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