Joseph Chaikin: The Presence of the Actor

Author: Hulton, Dorinda

Source: Studies in Theatre & Performance, Volume 30, Number 2, June 2010 , pp. 219-224(6)

Publisher: Intellect

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In his book The Presence of the Actor, Joseph Chaikin says that he has learnt more about acting and character from the time he spent with Julius Orlovsky than from any other single experience he has had. Julius was a schizophrenic and Chaikin met him when they were both working on Robert Frank's film Me and My Brother, made between 1965 and 1968.

In this article I would like to argue that Joseph Chaikin's understanding of the presence of the actor, as it is evidenced in his book published in 1972, as well as in traces of documentation of training and performance, was crucially influenced by a sense of ontological insecurity in relation to notions of a single self and that this idea of division within a human being, and, at the same time, a recognition of the need for interconnectivity between people, was being given voice to, significantly, by R. D. Laing in his book The Politics of Experience, published in 1967, as well as in his studies of interconnectivity, Self and Others (1961), and his seminal analysis of schizophrenia, The Divided Self (1959).

Keywords: Open Theater; R. D. Laing; Verfremdungseffekt; interconnectivity; presence; schizophrenia

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • Studies in Theatre and Performance is a peer-reviewed journal which fosters a progressive forum to explore the nuances of theatre practice. The journal provides a critical scope to include other related disciplines in its scrutiny of the stage, exploring the interplay between performance, audience and dramatic practice.
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