Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Theatre and Philosophy Post 1- Morgan Farmer 14-1

As a performer and student of theatre, I have noticed that ,often times,  philosophers and theatre people overlap and intersect. Many things about theatre demand a philosophical approach, and many philosophers have given their opinion on what exactly that is or should be. Plenty of actors, directors, designers, and especially playwrights also delve into the philosophical with their work. In my blog series, I would like to explore some of the areas in which these two studies of life and existence collide.

Acting is also a very philosophical activity in itself. To accurately and convincingly become a character, you must know in entirety what that character believes about everything, and the challenge that comes with this is that their perspective on any number of things could be completely different than your own. Actors are similar to philosophers in doing this because they have to let all of their own beliefs fall by the wayside so that they can be a receptive vessel for creating a character. This unbiased attitude is similar to the way philosophers typically behave when taking in the ideas of others. By putting their own beliefs in a place where they can be useful, but not concrete, actors and philosophers create space in which they can openly form new ideas and in the case of actors, a new person.  Actors and philosophers work to be actively engaged in a dialogue about the human experience, a dialogue that must in its own way be alive and constantly changing.

When working on a play, a director interprets the script similarly to a philosopher interprets an event that happens in the world. A director searches in the text for it's particular message and develop a concept that they want the audience to experience. They take this concept and direct the actors in a manner  that will get the concept across to the audience. The concept can be almost anything, the way a philosopher can take almost any stance on a problem. A good example of a directorial concept would be using King Lear to state that there is no innocence in the world, that humanity is corrupt. In creating that concept, directors become philosophers themselves and from the perspective of the director, a play is a tool to perpetuate that concept or personal philosophy.

In my next post I will discuss how theatre design and play writing are influenced by philosophy!


  1. Teaching is definitely a performance art, and like acting it rewards setting one's own beliefs aside (or at least sliding them to one side) to make room for engagement with others' ideas.

  2. I absolutely agree. I am also studying education and am a preschool teacher, so I can see the philosophical approach to that as well. Really anything people do is better when we are open and objective, but that's just my opinion.