Skip to main content

Seen But Not Heard: An embodied account of the (student) actor’s aesthetic labour

Mitchell, Roanna (2014) Seen But Not Heard: An embodied account of the (student) actor’s aesthetic labour. Theatre Dance and Performance Training, 5 (1). pp. 59-73. ISSN 1944-3927. E-ISSN 1944-3919. (doi:10.1080/19443927.2013.868367) (KAR id:61048)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (538kB) Preview
Official URL


Within the commercial performance industry, the actor’s body often acts as a product with a certain exchange value. The lived experience of this is an aspect of the acting profession that is undeniable, perhaps inevitable, and yet remains relatively unexplored in discussions of actor training. Through case study research in five UK Drama schools this article examines the dynamics of physical capital and self-exploitation which can play a part in student actors’ relationship with their body and their strategies of appearance-management. I argue that the actor’s submission to aesthetic labour processes, and what has been described as their ‘acceptance and expectation of discrimination’ on the basis of their physicality, are predicated on a deeply embedded and embodied conceptualization of the Body as Servant which can be found in training as well as the profession. In my discussion I draw upon findings in the field of cognitive science, thus aiming to give an account of the actor’s aesthetic labour which avoids the problematic mind-body split that can be seen to limit existing aesthetic labour literature.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/19443927.2013.868367
Uncontrolled keywords: Acting, body image, aesthetic labour, body politics, performance
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of Arts > Drama and Theatre
Depositing User: Roanna Mitchell
Date Deposited: 27 Mar 2017 15:29 UTC
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2020 03:08 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Mitchell, Roanna:
  • Depositors only (login required):


Downloads per month over past year