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    STUDIA DRAMATICA - Issue no. 2 / 2015  

Authors:  ANA PAIS.

This article considers how dominant cultural and scientific notions of the body and emotions pervade narratives of a passive spectator in the western theatrical tradition. Two main conceptions of passivity model the idea of spectator in the West: one in Antiquity (passivity as receptivity) and the other in Modernity (passivity as inactivity). Theatre history demonstrates that these conceptions are intertwined with the development of theatre architecture and acting practices and theories set out to produce emotional effects on the spectator. Drawing upon Teresa Brennan’s theory of affect transmission, I will be looking at how the gradual enclosure of the stage – culminating in Zola’s fourth wall and Wagner’s darkened auditorium - and the emphasis on the spectator as the target of theatrical effects is in line with the validity decay of cultural notions of the transmission of affect that lead to a self-contained modern subject, that is, confined to the limits of the body. I will be suggesting that the avant-garde movements in the 20th century and post-dramatic practices reactivate affective a fluid connection between performers and spectators that value affect transmission as vital to live events, both as social process and aesthetic material.

Keywords: Affect, Spectator, Passivity, Participation, Theatre Architecture, Transmission, Emotion, Effect.


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Published Online: 2015-10
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