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The first philosophical study devoted solely to acting, offering a meditation on the spillover from acting to life

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Why do people act? Why are other people drawn to watch them? How is acting as a performing art related to role-playing outside the theater? As the first philosophical study devoted to acting, Acts: Theater, Philosophy, and the Performing Self sheds light on some of the more evasive aspects of the acting experience— such as the import of the actor's voice, the ethical unease sometimes felt while embodying particular sequences, and the meaning of inspiration. Tzachi Zamir explores acting’s relationship to everyday role-playing through a surprising range of examples of “lived acting,” including pornography, masochism, and eating disorders. By unearthing the deeper mobilizing structures that underlie dissimilar forms of staged and non-staged role-playing, Acts offers a multi-layered meditation on the percolation from acting to life.

The book engages questions of theatrical inspiration, the actor’s “energy,” the difference between acting and pretending, the special role of repetition as part of live acting, the audience and its attraction to acting, and the unique significance of the actor’s voice. It examines the embodied nature of the actor’s animation of a fiction, the breakdown of the distinction between what one acts and who one is, and the transition from what one performs into who one is, creating an interdisciplinary meditation on the relationship between life and acting.

Tzachi Zamir is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the Hebrew University.

"As an investigation into the philosophical foundations and ethical implications of what Zamir calls 'the most popular approach to actor instruction in the English-speaking world,' Acts is sure to assume a prominent place in the literature on performance and philosophy. Without ever overlooking the ethical quandaries of the actor’s craft, Zamir gives full-bodied testament to the power of acting in revealing our fullest selves."
--- Theatre Journal

- David Kornhaber, University of Texas at Austin

"The resulting book is subtle, careful, has a wealth of good examples, and is responsive and responsible to a wide range of philosophical and nonphilosophical literatures. One of the most remarkable things about the book is the breadth of concerns it addresses.That it does so carefully and responsibly—is a real achievement."
-- Philosophical Quarterly

- James R. Hamilton

"[Acts is] an agenda-setting study, and it is among the most rewarding and original works in contemporary philosophy of art."
--- The Jerusalem Philosophical Quarterly

- John Gibson, University of Louisville