A part of the Invasioni series, this essay examines how theatre can enlighten the main metaphysical theme of our tradition: the nature of the subject in contemporary society.
After examining the philosophical notion of “I”, the author turns to the masters of drama – from Stanislavsky and Grotowsk to Brecht – to show how theatre actors promote and develop the richness of the subject through acting. Two ample chapters are dedicated to the role of spectators and moral judgement in theatre and the self.
For years, Bencivenga has argued that subjectivity has a theatrical character and that the self is made up of multiple, mutually dialoguing voices. Clearly, this is a metaphorical dialogue: the voices do not always speak to each other; sometimes, they take over the body and move it as they will. This study of acting, then, is ideal for investigating the metaphysics of the subject.
Plato had banished actors from his ideal republic to avoid the multiplicity they embodied and the distraction they caused, preventing citizens from concentrating solely on their social role. In a 180-degree turn, the author proposes a republic of actors, in which multiplicity is the rule and distraction is a valuable tool.