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Martin Welton

Martin Welton


Feeling Theatre
Palgrave Macmillan
2011

In idiomatic English 'feel', as both verb ('to feel...') and noun ('the feel of...'), describes an affective continuum whose terms range from the particularity of various emotional states to an indistinct movement on the threshold of language. Feeling Theatre explores the range of this continuum from a variety of positions both inside and outside of the theatre itself. Read more...


About

In idiomatic English 'feel', as both verb ('to feel...') and noun ('the feel of...'), describes an affective continuum whose terms range from the particularity of various emotional states to an indistinct movement on the threshold of language. Feeling Theatre explores the range of this continuum from a variety of positions both inside and outside of the theatre itself. It proposes that theatre is as much concerned with the condition and conditioning of feeling as it is with buildings, texts, sign-systems and representation. It considers theatre as a particularly affective kind of event, neither limited by nor restricted to that which can be seen or heard. It argues for the expansion of the sensorium of theatrical criticism beyond the strictly audiovisual, and in doing so, consideration of how theatre 'makes sense' to or for its participants on either side of the footlights. It places performers and their audiences in a shared realm of feelings, in which the play is not always the thing.

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Reviews

'Welton's Feeling Theatre: Staging Sensation provides a thought-provoking overview of how the senses are fundamental to theatre experiences – both in practice and appreciation - in a diversity of ways. The questioning approach and accessible tone is highly relevant to contemporary performance practice and analysis. In addition to its place within educational contexts Feeling Theatre will also be of interest to those currently engaged in professional performance practice. The author's own concern with practice, alongside the consideration of example work from a variety of performances, lends itself to the practitioner perspective in this regard. The foregrounding of 'practice-based research' with a focus on the interdisciplinary is apposite to both academic and artistic perspectives.

The overriding strength of Feeling Theatre is that it deliberates on the particularly affective nature of live performance and provides a clear argument for the need to expand the sensorium of theatrical criticism beyond the audio-visual to consider the full and interactive sentience of the human body and the varied ways in which it 'makes sense' during and following a variety of theatrical events. The elision of 'feeling' (in its various modes), looking and listening foregrounds how the focus shifts within and beyond seeing and hearing and adds a sensual touch to the analysis; a writerly 'feel' that migrates between emotion, cognition and touch. In considering 'theatre's full-fleshed perceptivity' Welton breaks down each chapter to focus on specific affects ascribed to certain senses and, in so doing, explores the complex nature of perceptual experience in performance practice to examine what it is to experience 'feelingly'. The 'getting a feel for how it goes' mantra is a fundamental precept of the book and shows a sensitivity to the exchange that occurs in performance between performer and spectators; a factor that places Feeling Theatre firmly within the vital and ongoing movement in embodied thinking. 'Jo Machon, Lecturer in Theatre, Brunel University, UK

 

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