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‘Reading’ the Actor: Performance, Presence, and the Synesthetic

  • Ian Watson


Despite the recognized value of semiotics in opening-out our perceptions of what constitutes the text of a performance, its literary associations have meant that most theatre semioticians concerned with reception cling to analogies between the literary reading act and the spectator's reception of a theatrical performance. For them, there is a conceptual as well as a metaphorical relationship between a literary text and what they term the performance text — and so, by implication, a similar relationship between how both are ‘read’. Taking these semioticians at their word, in the following article Ian Watson isolates the actor in the performance text, examines how s/he is read, and questions the attempts of scholars to ignore quality as an important component of this reading.



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