The Pleasure of Performing Grief: A Study on the Connections between Erotic Pleasure and Sadness in Performance

Evangelatou, Aphrodite. 2014. 'The Pleasure of Performing Grief: A Study on the Connections between Erotic Pleasure and Sadness in Performance'. In: Performing Grief International Conference. Paris-Sorbonne, France 17-18 October 2014. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

This paper argues there is a link between grief and pleasure and explores it with the tools of theatre. In Constant Prince, Ryszard Cieslak, the famous Laboratory Theatre actor, was reliving the memory of love making, when performing what was perceived to be suffering. This is not as paradoxical as it may sound, since scientific research has proved that erotic pleasure and unpleasant emotions can have similar physiological arousals.1 The paper suggests a different way of approaching grief in performance, shedding light to a third alternative to the polarity ‘emotional hang-over’2 as opposed to catharsis: the experience of performing an unpleasant emotion itself can be pleasurable.

A practical theatrical experiment, conducted by the researcher will also be presented and discussed: the exploration of a combination of the Alba Emoting breathing patterns of Erotic Pleasure and Sadness to help an actor perform the second messenger speech from Euripides’ Bacchae.

1. Daniel Gerard Dillon ‘‘Voluntary Emotion Regulation: Physiological Correlates and Mnemonic Consequences’’ (Ph.D. thesis, Duke University, 2006), p. 27.
2. Term used by Suzana Bloch, creator of the Alba Emoting technique.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Theatre and Performance (TAP)


17 October 2014Completed
15 July 2014Accepted

Event Location:

Paris-Sorbonne, France

Date range:

17-18 October 2014

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

09 Aug 2019 15:47

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 17:16


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