Watching actors

Tzachi Zamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Dramatic acting is often loosely associated with the freedom to be someone else. This essay presents a philosophical exploration of this idea. It suggests that dramatic acting is a form of what it calls "existential amplification," a fictional actualization of usually unavailable possibilities that partly constitute the self (under one of the self's renderings). Acting is able to fascinate its practitioners and its audiences because it involves such self-expansion. The essay then distinguishs the uniqueness of this kind of amplification from other forms of living more through art or literature. It presents an elaborate comparison between acting (or responding to acting) and reading literary works (or engaging with literary characters); it also defends a version of the distinction between acting and pretending. Finally, the essay asks whether some forms of acting are morally objectionable, given its analysis of acting's metaphysical structure.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)227-243
Number of pages17
JournalTheatre Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2010


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