By Lindsay B. Cummings
Empathy has provoked equivalent measures of pleasure and controversy lately. For a few, empathy is essential to figuring out others, aiding us bridge social and cultural adjustments. For others, empathy is not anything yet a faulty assumption of entry to the minds of others. during this publication, Cummings argues that empathy is available in many kinds, a few beneficial to knowing others and a few dangerous. Tracing empathy’s family tree via aesthetic concept, philosophy, psychology, and function thought, Cummings illustrates how theatre artists and students have usually missed the dynamic strength of empathy by means of targeting its extra “monologic” varieties, within which spectators both undertaking their perspective onto characters or passively establish with them. This publication accordingly explores how empathy is most well known whilst it capabilities as a discussion, besides how theatre and function can utilise the reside, emergent alternate among our bodies in house to motivate extra dynamic, dialogic encounters among performers and viewers.
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Extra resources for Empathy as Dialogue in Theatre and Performance
81 He associated empathy not with an emotional projection or even “inner imitation” that allows us to understand the other, but rather with a passive, even hypnotizing, adoption of the character’s emotions and point of view. 82 79 Bertolt Brecht, Brecht on Theatre: The Development of an Aesthetic, ed. and trans. John Willet (New York: Hill and Wang, 1992), 25. 80 Willet, footnote in Brecht, Brecht on Theatre, 16. 81 Brecht, Brecht on Theatre, 37. 82 Vischer, 109. Augusto Boal adopts this aspect of Brecht’s critique of empathy, focusing in particular on how identification with the character deprives the spectator of the will to INTRODUCTION 29 It is hardly surprising that Brecht, a champion of rational thought and dialectical analysis, should reject any connotation of spiritual mysticism such as those associated with Vischer’s notion of empathy.
The chapters that follow consider how, as both spectators and artists of the theatre, we might promote the conditions for dialogic empathy: a greater sense of give and take; increased parity between stage and audience; a heightened awareness of socio-historical conditions that influence each encounter; and a shared investment in the labor of building new relationships and new pathways of understanding. In Chap. 2, “Interruptions: Estranging Empathy,” I argue that, rather than curtailing empathy as Brecht would have it, interruptions might encourage a more critically aware, dialogic empathy.
These rehearsals reveal that social change is not simply a matter of devising new actions or choices, but also of emotionally preparing oneself for the uncertainty that comes with remaking one’s world. Empathy, like acting, involves imaginative, embodied, and affective labor. This chapter expands on feminist Brechtian theory, suggesting that a revised understanding of Brecht offers us not only a means of critically viewing the world, but also a means of exploring the affective labor associated with social change.
Empathy as Dialogue in Theatre and Performance by Lindsay B. Cummings