Losing the Plot: Inappropriate Fictions and the Art of the Theatre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Beginning with a description of two Moscow Art Theatre actors, M. Chekhov and E. Vakhtangov, playing a theatre training game that gets out of hand this article explores some risks of players losing themselves in the flow of the game if there isn't a simultaneous awareness that the game is a game. This potential paradox is avoided by noting the difference between a pragmatic focus on the game's action from any concern with the ontological status of the game. This is discussed with reference to Polanyi's distinction between focal and subsidiary awareness and Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow. Drawing on personal, embodied, experiences there is an attempt to re-imagine the situation in which Chekhov and Vakhtangov find themselves and ask questions about the relationship between actor and character and what it means to be 'possessed' by a character. Other types of possession, by ideas and stories, are then discussed before a conclusion which asserts the importance of playfulness in theatre and in life.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPresence of the Body
Subtitle of host publicationAwareness in and beyond Experience
EditorsGert Hofmann, Snježana Zorić
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9789004334748
ISBN (Print)9789004328754
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016

Publication series

NameConsciousness, Literature and the Arts
ISSN (Print)1573-2193


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