Authenticity, copying and the critical gaze: The crisis of representation

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    In contemporary Western theatre and actor’s training, there is a tension between different traditions in the actor’s work, concerning the bodily practices that are related to representation, construction of identities, authenticity and self-expression. One aspect of the actor’s methodical tradition – the openness to suffering and sacrificing oneself in the name of the arts – will be displayed and scrutinized through examples from ancient theatre, European avant-garde, and the Method acting tradition. I will argue that this aspect is aimed at exposing the artist as a unique original, and in this way also serves the commodification of the artist’s self-presentation. In contrast to the abovementioned moods of representation, 20th century artists and philosophers like Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin practi- cally and theoretically challenge concepts such as originality, authenticity and artists’ self-representation. They instead investigate the creative and political potential in phenomena like quoting and copying, and above all a playful and critical role-taking process, not based on self-expression. I will finally argue that Brecht’s stance is in accordance with a non-essen- tialist view of humans and that his views are in line with certain tendencies in the post-dramatic tradition.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)7–26
    Number of pages20
    JournalArte Acta
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2021 Mar 25
    EventBertolt Brecht – Contradictions as Method - DAMU, Prague, Czech Republic
    Duration: 2019 Nov 82019 Nov 10

    Subject classification (UKÄ)

    • Performing Art Studies

    Artistic work

    • Text


    • Bertolt Brecht
    • Walter Benjamin
    • Acting
    • Actor's training
    • Representation
    • Identity politics
    • Acting Methods
    • Original
    • Copying


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