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Empathy and the Ethics of Entitlement

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 January 2009

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


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.

Copyright © International Federation for Theatre Research 1991

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