Lecture: "The Actor’s Mind in the Russian Modernist Theater" with Dr. Alisa B. Lin


Location: Rare Books Department (View on map )

This talk presents material from Lin's forthcoming book, Theatrical Consciousness: The Actor’s Mind in Russian Modernism. I discuss efforts in the Russian and Soviet theater from around 1900 through the mid-1930s to stimulate, train, imagine, and ultimately understand the actor’s mind—in fact, the human mind and self more broadly. By presenting select case studies (of works by Nikolai Evreinov, Konstantin Stanislavsky, and Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky) from the book, my aim is to elucidate the philosophical implications of the Russian and Soviet theater’s inquiries into the mind: how and to what ends the theater understood the human actor against the backdrop of an increasingly technologized, industrialized, and politicized modernity that challenged the place of the human within it. I argue that we find in this theater opposition to the predominant psychological model of reflexology and physiological psychology. In its place is a more holistic, humanistic, and introspective exploration of the human organism, one that follows the lead of thinkers such as psychologist Georgii Chelpanov, who spearheaded the resistance to materialism in late imperial and early Soviet psychology. The talk will engage scholarship on theater’s relationship to neuroscience and cognitive science, phenomenology of theater, and philosophy of acting.