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date: 26 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines eventuality as a fundamental capacity of theatre to engage participants precisely on the basis of what they cannot already know or expect. More specifically, it considers how eventuality delivers one of the theatre’s most basic pleasures—the pleasure of sensing that one exists, and of doing so in the company of others. Using a number of examples from William Shakespeare’s plays, the chapter argues that the eventuality of a stage play thrusts spectators into the drama of ‘being there’, of seeing and hearing ‘what happens, as it happens’. To argue this point, the chapter builds on Daniel Heller-Roazen’s work on the ‘inner touch’ and shows that there exists in Shakespeare’s plays an activation of our capacity for sensation, and especially for shared, collective encounters. It also employs phenomenology to describe what happens when the event gets theatricalized; for example, when it is exposed to the contingencies of performance that might emanate from actor, from architecture, or from audience.

Keywords: eventuality, theatre, sensing, William Shakespeare, plays, spectators, Daniel Heller-Roazen, inner touch, sensation, phenomenology

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