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The Necessity of TheaterThe Art of Watching and Being Watched$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332001.001.0001

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(p.123) SEVEN Mimesis
The Necessity of Theater

Paul Woodruff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Mimesis is an activity by which one thing produces at least part of the effect that another thing would naturally produce. In art theater, mimesis is what makes a performance have an effect on its audience similar to the one that real events would have. Music may be mimetic, but in a limited way. Mimesis in all cases involves duplicity—producing the double of something—and in theater and fiction it also requires the complicity of an audience. In some cases, mimesis involves modeling, as when a child models the behavior of a parent. Plato rejected mimesis in theater because he thought that modeling would corrupt actors who present weak or bad characters, and also because he held that mimesis of virtue threatens to lead an audience astray through duplicity. Plato is wrong on the first point, but partly right on the second, which will be addressed in Chapter 12.

Keywords:   mimesis, Plato, duplicity, complicity, music, modeling

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