Actors and the Art of Performance DOI: 10.1057/9781137596345.0001
Laura Cull Ó Maoilearca (University of Surrey, UK) Alice Lagaay (Zeppelin University, Friedrichshafen, Germany) Freddie Rokem (Tel Aviv University, Israel) Performance Philosophy is an emerging interdisciplinary field of thought, creative practice and scholarship. The Performance Philosophy book series comprises monographs and essay collections addressing the relationship between performance and philosophy within a broad range of philosophical traditions and performance practices, including drama, theatre, performance arts, dance, art and music. The series also includes studies of the performative aspects of life and, indeed, philosophy itself. As such, the series addresses the philosophy of performance as well as performance-as-philosophy and philosophy-as-performance.
Editorial Advisory Board:
Emmanuel Alloa (University of St. Gallen, Switzerland), Lydia Goehr (Columbia University, USA), James R. Hamilton (Kansas State University, USA), Bojana Kunst (Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany), Nikolaus Müller-Schöll (Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany), Martin Puchner (Harvard University, USA), Alan Read (King’s College London, UK)
Laura Cull & Alice Lagaay ( eds)
ENCOUNTERS IN PERFORMANCE PHILOSOPHY ( 2014) Broderick Chow & Alex Mangold ( eds)
ŽIŽEK AND PERFORMANCE ( 2014)
Will Daddario & Karoline Gritzner ( eds) ADORNO AND PERFORMANCE ( 2014)
Stuart Grant, Jodie McNeilly & Maeva Veerapen ( eds) PERFORMANCE AND TEMPORALISATION ( 2014)
Bojana Cvejic ( author)
Expressive Concepts in European Contemporary Dance and Performance ( 2015) Forthcoming titles:
Mischa Twitchin ( author)
THE THEATRE OF DEATH
The Uncanny in Mimesis ( 2016)
Published in association with the research network Performance Philosophy www.performancephilosophy.ning.com DOI: 10.1057/9781137596345.0001
Actors and the Art of
Professor, University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Austria
Translated from the German by
Laura Radosh with Alice Lagaay
Except where otherwise noted, this work is
licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution
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Published with the support of the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): PUB
357-Z24. Research results from Austrian Science Fund (FWF) [TRP12-G21].
actors and the art of performance: under exposure Copyright © Susanne Valerie, 2016
Translation © Laura Radosh and Alice Lagaay
Softcover reprint of the hardcover 1st edition 2016 978-1-137-59633-8
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First published 2016 by
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Schauspieler außer sich: Exponiertheit und performative Kunst. Eine feminine Recherche, Susanne Valerie Granzer, Originally published in German in 2011 Copyright of the first edition: transcript Verlag, Bielefield, Germany.
Why could the world
which is of any concern to us –
not be a fiction?1
We are simply fools of the theater!2
Beyond Good and Evil, trans. R.J. Hollingdale (London: Penguin, 1990), 66.
2 Susanne Granzer, “Being on Stage,” in Ereignis Denken, Arno Böhler and Susanne Granzer (eds) (Vienna: Passagen Verlag 2009), 78.
To my husband, Arno – my joy
About the Author
Why do you want to be an actor?
Part I Hits
Turning point, peripeteia
First time at the theater
Part II Experts in Being?
4 The Actor: A Creature of Fable
Why do you want to be an actor?
5 The Causa Corpora
The kiss of Olympia
Machine against man
The actor’s trump card
6 The Gift of Acting
Subject-based thinking versus stage experience 64
Master and servant
Bodies on stage
Innocence of becoming
Language and speaking
The Other, the others
Affect versus thought
Thinking and acting
7 The Gift of Death
Tu es mort
Theater as a symbolic death
Point of no return
Felicity – a salto mortale
Our friend Touchstone
8 Finale and Punctum
Why do you want to be an actor?
Special thanks are due to the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) for generously funding the translation of this book, which was originally written as part of the FWF research project “Generating Bodies. Corporeal Performance”
(TRP 12-G21/2010–2013). I am currently undertaking research within the framework of the follow-up PEEK
project, “Artist Philosophers – Philosophy as Arts-Based-Research” (AR 275-G21/2014–2017). I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the philosopher Arno Böhler, the instigator and director of both these FWF research projects.
My heartfelt thanks go to Laura Radosh, who, with careful attentiveness to the polyphonic layers of my book, has provided an English translation with a skill and sensitivity that do justice to the various philosophic and artistic references at play. This was surely no small feat. The translation was commissioned and supervised throughout by Alice Lagaay, without whom this book would not be available to English readers now. Alice’s philosophic and multilingual competence, her dedication, and the infectious enthusiasm of her spirit made working on this project a real pleasure, for which I am immensely grateful to her.
About the Author
Susanne Valerie Granzer. Professor and actress. Starring roles at National State Theatres in Europe (Vienna, Basel, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, and Berlin). Parallel to her professional work as an actress, she studied Philosophy at the Goethe-University Frankfurt and the University of Vienna and received her PhD in 1995. In 1988, she received a call for a full professorship in the central artistic subject “Acting”
at the University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna, Max Reinhardt Seminar. Together with the Austrian philosopher Arno Boehler, she founded in 1997 the Viennese art factory GRENZ-film and in 2005 the philosophy festi-val “Philosophy on Stage” based on their artistic research.
Abstract: Actors and the Art of Performance opens with a cascade of contradictory motives for becoming an actor.
These motives converge in the particular fascination of theater, in which ethics are realized in the aesthetic.
Valerie, Susanne. Actors and the Art of Performance: Under Exposure. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016.
Actors and the Art of Performance
Why do you want to be an actor?
This is a played-out, bland question, overused and much abused, a color-less, powerless, boring question of no worth. It is heard too often, posed too often, answered too often. Full of inescapable, preprogrammed clichés, not even productive stuttering provides a way out. It is a question best left unasked. Such is the crux of the matter.
Or is it not an indispensable, essential, exciting question? Is it not a question that begs to be asked again and again, a disturbing, disquieting question, one that turns up the heat, knows no answer and has many answers, none of which suffice, and yet which despite it all, naive or not, embarrassing or not, promising or not, sprout up like polyphonous weeds.
Why? For the love of playing the play. Because it is fun. Because it is thrilling, or for the love of the spectacle, for the love of mimicry, out of obsession. Because it just took hold of me. Out of curiosity. To play great roles, leading roles: Hamlet, Don Carlos, Antigone, Lady Bracknell. Not Emilia, but evil Iago, and then perhaps demented King Lear. Or Joan of Arc? Oh, definitely, and then wild Medea. To play the entire canon of the classics and, of course, what is in vogue now too. To be famous, to become a star. To change the world, not just interpret it. To give people something out of a passion for fantasy, for the imaginary, for imagination. For the love of abundance. For the love of lies, not those that make your nose grow longer, but the ones that play with truth. Out of a fascination for masquerade, a fascination for transformation, both of which are irresistible. To be someone else, to create another being, to be many. For it all never to end. To be free. To fly. Openness immemorial.
Openness without ideologies or theologies, openness as possibility – as the vacant space within us, kept open not out of destructiveness, but as a form of affirmation.
“To make believe,” was the answer given by Kate Falk from the New York Wooster Group, when asked why she acts in the theater.1
1 “Theater morgen, Gespräche über die Kunst im Global Village.” Treffpunkt Kultur ORF.
Production: GRENZ-film (production team Arno Böhler and Susanne Granzer), ORF, 1998. All translations by Laura Radosh unless stated otherwise.
Why? To remain true to that which disconcerts, to not become jaded.
To not grovel, not conform. To keep your eye on the prize, even if it is blinding. No boorish posing whatever the form – neither the dramatic, nor the postdramatic kind. No getting all worked up about what you always knew. No matter how old or how young you are, not to adhere to any rules that cannot be thrown overboard. To hold disdain for con-ventionalists and conformists, whether their comfort zone is on the right or on the left, and to hold disdain for the poison of resentment and for every self-appointed lord, no matter what his kingdom. To maintain a deep-seated aversion to standardized utilitarianism. To resist ogling the acceptable. To oppose the dictatorship of the highest possible number.
To be different and live differently. To maximize, not minimize, risk.
To stand against the times, to be untimely, whatever that might mean.
And above all to be neither a hamster in a wheel nor an administrator of being, nor a careerist, nor a singer of the swan song of a late culture.
Maybe to become a fabled creature of truth?
Calm down. Get a grip on yourself.
As G.W.F. Hegel says in the famous preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit, “The True is ... the Bacchanalian revel in which no member is not drunk.”2
Phenomenology of Spirit, trans. A.V. Miller (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), 27.
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