ABSTRACT

This chapter continues the exploration of characterization with a more targeted study of modes of personal representation – how characters are conveyed, fleshed out and given life. Whether pro-war or anti-war, performances invariably make choices regarding the degree of individuality and specificity endowed in their central actors. Performance Theory offers a wealth of interpretive theories of these modes of characterization, detailing the various ways in which degrees of character detail impact audience interpretations. Throughout the twentieth century, theatre practitioners have critically engaged with divergent approaches to character, with the aim of exploring the influential aspects of both stereotypes and detailed individual personalities. This can be seen in the widespread adaptation of methods from commedia dell’arte and Japanese theatre, as well as the rise of Method acting and Stanislavskian approaches to character. This exploration did not stop at the edge of the commercial stage, but extended to the productions of non-mainstream theatre and alternative political actions. “Actors” were experimenting with characterization even in the streets and on the National Mall.1