The Social Actor: An Acting Workshop Linking Sociology to Characterisation

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Linking the actors practice to the philosophies of sociology, particularly those of Pierre Bourdieu, this workshop will practically and theoretically relate ideas of 'conatus' to the actor’s drive, 'illusio' to belief (or lack of belief) in the world and 'habitus' to the imperatives that history instils within a character.

Having worked as an actor in Australia, Asia, in America and across Europe, and now teaching actors in Ireland, I have been struck by the parallels that can be drawn between the actors practice and sociological theory. From Stanislauski onward trained actors have learnt various techniques in order to embody character – asking who, what, where and why actors seek in to find in the past the imperatives that drive a character in the present and so determine his or her objectives throughout a play. The actor seeks to embody the characters history and so to sign this, psychologically and physically, in a manner that is neither conspicuous nor self conscious.

Participants will carry out a simple and non demanding warm up and equally simple exercises in order to gain an experiential understanding of the social actor.


Keywords: Acting, Sociology, Embodiment, Performance, Pierre Bourdieu, Stanislavski, Characterisation, Theatre
Stream: Performing Arts Practices: Theatre, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Workshop Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Prof Paul Moore

Lecturer, School of Creative Arts
Drama, The University of Ulster

Derry, Northern Ireland, Ireland

I trained as an Actor in Australia and have worked throughout Asia, America and in Europe as both a performer and creator of theatre. I completed my PhD through the University of Sydney in 2005 - 'Longing to Belong: Trained Actors Attempts to Enter the Profession'. This focussed on the experiences of actors moving from training institutions into the broader profession within a sociological frame. I now teach acting, production and performance studies through the School of Creative Arts at the Magee Campus of the University of Ulster in Derry, Northern Ireland. I emigrated from Belfast as a child to Australia and so welcome this chance to work where I spent my childhood. I co-direct the interdisciplinary performance group Deme creating visual and audio performance pieces and gathering material from urban and rural environments. I write plays, fiction and academic articles. I have become increasingly interested in the links between the actors practice and philosophies of the social.

Ref: A09P0118