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Saturday March 16 | Session 10:30 - 12:15 (20 min) University Theatre Building | University Theatre
This paper will discuss spectatorship in immersive theatres. With an effort to banish the fourth wall, an immersive performance is often presented in a space where both spectators and performers equally share their physical presence. It is, therefore, believed to have achieved to set the spectators free from their passive role – this theatrical objective is proposed by Jacques Rancière the French Philosopher in his essay, The Emancipated Spectator. Marvin Carlson, in his essay Immersive Theatre and the Reception Process, however, questions a claim that the immersive practices grant the spectators to control the performance and have accomplished the emancipation of the spectator on which Rancière insists; namely, there is no boundary between the spectator and the performance in the immersive performance. On the other hand, Hans-Georg Gadamer, the German philosopher asserts that the absolute distance is essential for the spectator in terms of an audience experience in a conventional theatre. In other words, the audience is intoxicated with the spectacle and at the same time mentally detached from it – a mind of “being self-forgetful” and “being mediated with himself” combined – in order to comprehend the spectacle being presented before him. So, in my presentation, while comparing the immersion and the absolute distance in theatre, I shall try to analyze what the physical freedom of the audience would bring to the theatrical experience in the immersive performance.

Takehito Mitsui is currently a graduate student at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, University of Tsukuba, Japan. He studied Classics in Britain and worked as an assistant for the theatre company chelfitsch in Tokyo. His research interests include performance philosophy, immersive theatres, audience participation, and spectatorship in theatre. 

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