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Empathy and the Ethics of Entitlement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2009

Ronald J. Pelias
Affiliation:
Associate Professor in the Department of Speech Communication, Southern Illinois University.

Extract

With the increasing familiarity of reception theory, deconstruction, collective creation and performance art, it seems as if performers have assumed they should pursue their craft unencumbered by textual dictates. Actors appear to be privileging their own interests over the interests of characters or literary personae. Even when actors turn from fictive characters to real life personalities in their presentations of one-person shows, oral histories and performance ethnographies, it seems less fashionable to discuss the people that serve as a basis for such performances than to focus upon the actors' personal preferences and individual visions. The question is no longer how performers might put flesh on the textual and human ‘skeletons’ they encounter but how they might pull a bone from here and another one from there in order to create their own figures. In short, ‘the other’ serves performers.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © International Federation for Theatre Research 1991

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References

Notes

1. This is a fairly common definition of empathy. For example, see Chandler, Michael J., ‘Social Cognition: A Selective Review of Current Research’, in Knowledge and Development: Advances in Theory and Research, eds. Overton, Willis F. and Gallagher, Jeanette McCarthy (New York: Plenum, 1977), 93142CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Smither, Suzanne, ‘A Reconsideration of the Developmental Study of Empathy’, Human Development, 20 (1977): 253–76CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed; or Pelias, Ronald J., ‘Empathy: Some Implications of Social Cognition Research For Interpretation Study’, Central States Speech Journal 33 (1982): 519–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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3. This explanation originates from Constantin Stanislavski, An Actor Prepares, trans. Hapgood, Elizabeth Reynolds (New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1952), 3967.Google Scholar

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15. For a discussion of these positions, see Duerr, Edwin, The Length and Depth of Acting (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1962)Google Scholar or Cole, Toby and Chinoy, Helen Krich, eds. Actors on Acting, 3rd ed. (New York: Crown, 1957).Google Scholar

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