Article by Roanna Mitchell made free to access

Physical Acting performance

An essay by Dr Roanna Mitchell, Lecturer in Drama and Theatre in the School of Arts, has recently been made free to access by publisher Taylor & Francis.

Roanna’s essay, entitled ‘Seen But Not Heard: An Embodied Account of the (Student) Actor’s Aesthetic Labour’, was one of ten articles which were made free to access to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the journal Theatre, Dance and Performance Training. The article was chosen on the basis of its representation of international diversity and range of thinking.

Within the commercial performance industry, the actor’s body often acts as a product with a certain exchange value. The lived experience of this is an aspect of the acting profession that is undeniable, perhaps inevitable, and yet remains relatively unexplored in discussions of actor training. Through case study research in five UK drama schools this article examines the dynamics of physical capital and self-exploitation which can play a part in student actors’ relationship with their body and their strategies of appearance-management. The article argues that the actor’s submission to aesthetic labour processes, and what has been described as their ‘acceptance and expectation of discrimination’ on the basis of their physicality, are predicated on a deeply embedded and embodied conceptualisation of the Body as Servant which can be found in training as well as the profession. The discussion draws upon findings in the field of cognitive science, thus aiming to give an account of the actor’s aesthetic labour which avoids the problematic mind–body split that can be seen to limit existing aesthetic labour literature.

The full article is available now on the publisher’s website: