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Josephine Gray (UK/SWE)

The Monstrosity of Acting


The perplexity of the actor–her simultaneous being and not-being who she appears to be–still confounds us. The very paradox of the art of acting is one that we take for granted yet it remains far from obvious exactly how that paradox seems to operate. In this presentation it is my intention to place the idea of an otherworldly “spectre”, within a grotesque genealogy of acting that reveals a (perhaps) surprising assimilation of that which is play-acting with that which is monstrous. The spectral operation that reveals itself is thus the odd hybrid creature made up of the corporeality of the actor’s body fused with her imagination and observations of “real” life.


Josephine Gray is artistic director of Iraqi Bodies together with Anmar Taha. She is a graduate of L'École Internationale de Théâtre de Jacques Lecoq and has a Masters Degree in Philosophy from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, for which she wrote a thesis on the philosophy of comic performance in the work of Henri Bergson and Jacques Lecoq. She has a Masters Degree in English from the University of Sheffield for which she wrote a thesis on the grotesque figure in the re-writings of Shakespeare’s plays by Eugéne Ionesco and Carmelo Bene. Forthcoming publication is the book Second Nature: Comic Performance and Philosophy co-edited together with Lisa Trahair in December 2022 with Rowman and Littlefield International, London, UK.

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