Theory for Theatre Studies: Emotion

Emotion explores how emotion is communicated in drama, theatre and contemporary performance and therefore in society. From Aristotle and Shakespeare to Stanislavski, from Brecht to Caryl Churchill, drama and theatre are revealed to inform but also to warn about the emotions. The term ‘emotion’ encompasses the emotions, emotional feelings, affect and mood, and the book explores how these concepts are explained in theory as well as embodied and experienced within theatrical practice. Since emotion is artistically staged, its composition and impact can be described and analysed and with interdisciplinary approaches. Students and other readers are encouraged to consider how emotion is dramatically, aurally and visually developed to create innovative performance. Case studies include productions of Medea, Twelfth Night, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Doll’s House, and performances by Mabou Mines, Robert Lepage, Rimini Protokoll, Anna Deavere Smith, Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, Marina Abramovic and The Wooster Group. By way of these detailed case studies, readers will appreciate new methodologies and approaches for their own exploration of ‘emotion’ as a performance component.

The theatrical examples and case studies of emotion encompass significant experiences such as motherhood and parenting, romantic love, marriage and its breakdown, friendship, transgressive love, political oppression, trauma, death and war. Section One explores the emotions as social ideas that change over time; Section Two discusses short-lived affect and bodily sensations in contrast with empathy in the twenty-first century; and Section Three describes longer-lasting aesthetic moods that reflect socio-political and economic worlds. This book considers some of the ways in which directors wrestle with the expression of emotion in performance and discourage histrionic display in acting. Emotion confirms theatre’s unique perspective that the emotions are socially performed.


Welcome to the online home for Theory for Theatre Studies: Emotion. TfTS volumes are designed to offer students at senior undergraduate and graduate levels innovative pathways through some of theatre and performance studies’ most pressing contemporary issues. Each book focuses on a key word that constellates a range of theoretical approaches, is written in accessible prose, and features a broad mix of case studies.

These companion websites include summaries of each book’s several sections, questions for discussion to help students dig deeply into the core concerns explored in those sections, and links to a host of resources readers can use to access further information about the case studies.

Use the navigation above to access section materials, and the navigation at left, within each section page, to explore further. We hope you enjoy the resource!

Susan Bennett

Kim Solga

Series General Editors