The experience of acting: A synthesis of concepts and a clinical vignette

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This article illuminates the experience of acting through a synthesis of concepts from therapy, arts, and philosophy. Through the lens of performance theory, the author first addresses the difference between acting in the context of formal theatrical acting and acting in the context of drama-based psychotherapy. By applying Sartrean concepts the author characterizes the experience of witnessing in the case of tangible and permanent works of art versus witnessing in the case of embodied and ephemeral performing arts. A distinction between two contrasting modes of dramatic presence, being-in-drama and being-for-drama, is provided. Drawing on Moreno (1953), Landy (1983), Boal (1995), and Bolton (1984), the author argues that these two opposing modes of dramatic presence coexist simultaneously in the experience of aesthetic-dramatic distance, conceptualized here as being-via-drama. Finally, a clinical vignette is provided to illustrate the experience of acting in drama-based psychotherapy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-203
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Arts Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


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