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The Subjective Ethics of Meisner’s Repetition Exercise: The incompatibility of objective morality and the performative moment

The Subjective Ethics of Meisner’s Repetition Exercise: The incompatibility of objective morality and the performative moment

McLaughlin, James ORCID: 0000-0002-2146-6884 (2014) The Subjective Ethics of Meisner’s Repetition Exercise: The incompatibility of objective morality and the performative moment. In: Obligations in Contemporary Theatre and Performance Practices, 30-31 January 2014, The University of Exeter, New North Rd, Thornlea, Exeter EX4 4LA.

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Abstract

The Meisner Technique prevents actors making objective moral judgements in the moment of performance, but imposes a set of subjective ethics built on the ‘face-to-face’ meeting with The Other. This means that the Meisner Technique is rigorously ethical according to Emmanuel Levinas’ theories, but in the moment of performance these ethics do not require the actor to make objective moral judgements. In fact, according to Levinas, to do so would be unethical in that it would force them to withdraw from a ‘face-to-face’ encounter with The Other and lead to them base their behaviour on totalising theories about the world that necessarily limit the transcendence of The Other.

This paper examines nature of the subjective ethics that underpin the Meisner Technique and the incompatibility of objective morality and the performative moment. The consequences my findings will extend beyond the Meisner Technique to suggest an alternative system of ethics and set of obligations that might be adopted by contemporary performance practitioners. These ethics and obligations arise from a serious consideration of Levinas’ claim that, ‘Preexisting the disclosure of being in general taken as basis of knowledge and as meaning of being is the relation with the existent that expresses himself; pre-existing the plane of ontology is the ethical plane’ (Levinas, 1969: 201). I will pose the questions, ‘Is it possible to know, represent, or even be anything without necessarily taking a stand on how we relate to one another?’ and, ‘Are our current frameworks of relating to one another in performance negligently excusing us of our fundamental obligations to one another?’

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: meisner technique, ethics, repetition, embodiment, levinas, phenomenology
Faculty / Department / Research Group: Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Department of Literature, Language & Theatre
Faculty of Architecture, Computing & Humanities > Literature & Drama Research Group
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2019 16:35
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
Selected for GREAT 2019: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/24078

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