Book

The Necessity of Theater

Paul Woodruff

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780195332001
Published online May 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780199868186 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332001.001.0001
The Necessity of Theater

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The Necessity of Theater examines the whole art of theater, which teaches us how best to watch and be watched, and is as necessary to human life as language. We practice the art of theater on the formal stage, but also in sports events, weddings, and ceremonies of all kinds. The book begins by defining the art in a broad way, so as to include as many kinds of theater as possible across world cultures. After defining theater, The Necessity of Theater examines in turn each of the main elements of its two main components: the art of watching and that of being watched. Performers practice the art of making their actions worth watching. This means that they should pay attention to such elements as action, choice, plot, character, mimesis, and the sacredness of performance space. All of these are covered in the book. Audiences practice the art of paying attention to the actions before them. To do that they need to know how to find events worth watching. A good audience is emotionally engaged through one of the many forms of empathy that are distinguished in this book, one of which leads to human wisdom. Plato's ancient attack on theater is right in that theater cannot teach us transcendent truths, but theater does each us about ourselves.

Keywords: theater; art; audience; ceremonies; performance; plot; character; mimesis; empathy; wisdom

Book.  272 pages. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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Table of Contents

Prologue in The Necessity of Theater

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Introduction in The Necessity of Theater

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Defining the Art in The Necessity of Theater

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What Theater Makes in The Necessity of Theater

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Action Worth Watching: Plot in The Necessity of Theater

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Staging Choices in The Necessity of Theater

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People Worth Watching: Characters in The Necessity of Theater

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Sacred Space in The Necessity of Theater

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Mimesis in The Necessity of Theater

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Emotion in The Necessity of Theater

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