The art of theater engages an audience through emotion by bringing them to care about the characters. Caring is not the same as sympathy. The absence of caring is boredom, which is fatal to theater. Good theater has an audience that cares, and is therefore subject to emotions on behalf of its characters. A complete emotion is felt by a subject, makes the subject feel like taking a certain action, and is at something or someone. A complete emotion therefore requires subjectivity, motivation to action, and intentionality. Emotion in theater presents two problems. The knowledge problem arises because intentionality does not seem to be able to take fictional objects. The action problem is due to the impossibility of taking action across the line between audience and performance. Some thinkers have been moved by these problems to deny that complete emotions arise in theater, but these problems are easily resolved, even for mimetic theater.
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