acting . sacrificing the body

The actor is a man who works in public with his body, offering it publicly. If this body restricts itself to demonstrating what it is—something that any average person can do—then it is not an obedient instrument capable of performing a spiritual act. If it is exploited for money and to win the favour of the audience, then the art of acting borders on prostitution… Just as only a great sinner can become a great saint according to the theologians…in the same way the actor’s wretchedness can be transformed into a kind of holiness… If the actor, by setting himself a challenge publicly challenges others, and through excess, profanation and outrageous sacrilege reveals himself by casting off his everyday mask, he makes it possible for the spectator to undertake a similar process of self-penetration. If he does not exhibit his body but annihilates it, burns it, frees it from every resistance to any psychic impulse, then he does not sell his body but sacrifices it. He repeats the atonement; he is close to holiness.

jerzy grotowski, towards a poor theatre

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