Scope for professional acting and digital transformations

ABSTRACT by Anja Klöck

The affirmative educational re-evaluation of theatre performance in the Enlightenment discourses of eighteenth-century Europe was accompanied by a reinterpretation of acting as a pedagogically relevant and independent artistic practice. This reinterpretation not only formed the basis for the establishment of the first acting classes at academies and conservatories, but also gave rise to one of the central requirements for professional actors ever since: universal representation. This refers to the ability to slip into different roles and play them all equally convincingly. 

The exclusions and inclusions of this understanding of theatre and acting, the spatial arrangements and images of people associated with it, have since been questioned and criticised in many ways. In particular, artistic work and debates over the last twenty years – from ‘everyday experts’ and theatre with mentally or physically disabled people to participatory formats and issues of diversity, cultural appropriation and self-representation – have vehemently challenged the concept of universal representation and transformed what appears to be acting. 

In this talk, I would like to historicise current developments in computer and film technology and the ethical issues involved in these historical processes of reinterpretation and differentiation of acting and performance. Drawing on various constellations of show, play and technology, I will consider actors not only as performers or role-players, but also as mediators within concrete orders of knowledge and power.

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