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Presentational acting and the related representational acting are critical terms used within theatre aesthetics and criticism.

Due to the same terms being applied to certain approaches to acting that contradict the broader theatrical definitions, however, the terms have come to acquire often overtly contradictory senses.<ref name="google">A simple web search can reveal just how contradictory and confusing the use of these terms has become. The confusion of the terms is explained further down in this article.</ref>

In the most common sense (that which relates the specific dynamics of theatre to the broader aesthetic category of ‘representational art’ or ‘mimesis’ in drama and literature), the terms describe two contrasting functional relationships between the actor and the audience that a performance can create.<ref name="semiotics">Elam , Keir. 1980. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. New Accents Ser. Methuen. ISBN 0-416-72060-9 Pbk. p.90-91.</ref>

In the other (more specialized) sense, the terms describe two contrasting methodological relationships between the actor and his or her character in performance.<ref name="stan&uta">Stanislavski (1936, 12-32) and Hagen (1973, 11-13).</ref>

The collision of these two senses can get quite confusing. The type of theatre that uses ‘presentational acting’ in the first sense (of the actor-audience relationship) is often associated with a performer using ‘representational acting’ in the second sense (of their methodology). Conversely, the type of theatre that uses ‘representational acting’ in the first sense is often associated with a performer using ‘presentational acting’ in the second sense. While usual, these chiastic correspondences do not match up in all cases of theatrical performance.


Presentational and representational acting sections
Intro  The actor\u2013audience relationship  The actor\u2013character relationship  Confusion of terms  See also  Notes  References  Works cited  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: The actor\u2013audience relationship
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Tragic comic masks - roman mosaic.jpg
Presentational acting and the related representational acting are critical terms used within theatre aesthetics and criticism.

Due to the same terms being applied to certain approaches to acting that contradict the broader theatrical definitions, however, the terms have come to acquire often overtly contradictory senses.<ref name="google">A simple web search can reveal just how contradictory and confusing the use of these terms has become. The confusion of the terms is explained further down in this article.</ref>

In the most common sense (that which relates the specific dynamics of theatre to the broader aesthetic category of ‘representational art’ or ‘mimesis’ in drama and literature), the terms describe two contrasting functional relationships between the actor and the audience that a performance can create.<ref name="semiotics">Elam , Keir. 1980. The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama. New Accents Ser. Methuen. ISBN 0-416-72060-9 Pbk. p.90-91.</ref>

In the other (more specialized) sense, the terms describe two contrasting methodological relationships between the actor and his or her character in performance.<ref name="stan&uta">Stanislavski (1936, 12-32) and Hagen (1973, 11-13).</ref>

The collision of these two senses can get quite confusing. The type of theatre that uses ‘presentational acting’ in the first sense (of the actor-audience relationship) is often associated with a performer using ‘representational acting’ in the second sense (of their methodology). Conversely, the type of theatre that uses ‘representational acting’ in the first sense is often associated with a performer using ‘presentational acting’ in the second sense. While usual, these chiastic correspondences do not match up in all cases of theatrical performance.


Presentational and representational acting sections
Intro  The actor\u2013audience relationship  The actor\u2013character relationship  Confusion of terms  See also  Notes  References  Works cited  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: The actor\u2013audience relationship
<<>>