The Vital and Energetic Interplay of the Somatic, the Affective and the Cognitive in an Audience’s Experience of Theater.
In our current digitally dominated environment, the theater has become a sacred place wherein dramatic and vitally energetic encounters can occur within the delineated time and space of a production. The audience enters into the dark chamber of a theater, lamp in hand, searching for something, ready for a journey. The actor meets them there and the expedition begins. What is happening? What is the actor doing? What is the audience doing in relation to what the actor is doing? What is the audience’s job and what role do they play? How are they physically and neurologically engaged? How is the audience’s experience shaped by other audience members? An audience in the theater experiences the unfolding events on many different frequencies, which resonate in separate regions of human perception. Borrowing from notions in psychology, I will examine three localities – the somatic, the affective and the cognitive systems – in order to analyze the phenomenon of a dramatic encounter. These three streams are, of course, profoundly entangled, but the separation may be useful in order to consider what it means to be an audience in the theater.
Anne Bogart is an American theatre and opera director. She is currently one of the Artistic Directors of SITI Company, which she founded with Japanese director Tadashi Suzuki in 1992. She is a Professor at Columbia University where she runs the Graduate Directing Concentration and is the author of three books of essays on theater making: A Director Prepares; And Then, You Act; and What’s the Story. She is a co-author, with Tina Landau of The Viewpoints Book, a “practical guide” to Viewpoints training and devising techniques. Conversations with Anne, a collection of interviews she has conducted with various notable artists was published in March 2012. Bogart’s influence is felt throughout the contemporary theatre: through the widespread adoption of SITI’s training methods of Viewpoints and Suzuki, her oeuvre of groundbreaking productions, and her guidance at SITI and including at Columbia University of such diverse talents as Pavol Liska, Diane Paulus, James Dacre, Kim Weild, Jay Scheib, Sophie Hunter, Shura Baryshnikov, Darko Tresnjak, Robert O’Hara, Rachel Chavkin and many others.
This event is part of The Examined Life Conference, but is open to the public.
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