Brecht and the disembodied actor


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Abstract

This article examines Brecht's contribution to acting theory and the various claims and confusions that have surrounded this contribution when attempts have been made to impose unity upon his ideas or to re-inscribe his theory in light of his practice. Rather than get caught up in existing debates, our strategy is to examine the processes that Brecht describes as a problem of action or behaviour, to look for a practical method for the actor and to interrogate this method via reference to current ideas in the psychology of embodiment. In doing so, we contend that, although Brecht's ideas about acting are (and have been historically) employed to legitimise a range of practices, they are, in their essence, problematic, as they depend upon an over-conceptualisation of the human being and a privileging of symbolic communication.

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