I became interested in philosophy of theatre partly through working on Nietzsche (who wrote his first book on Greek tragedy) and partly because I was interested in theatre anyway. As I looked into philosophy and theatre, it became clear that contemporary philosophers, even philosophers of art and literature, have had very little to say about theatre. On the other hand, many major figures in the history of philosophy thought theatre was extremely important.
Philosophy and Theatre
The main result of my investigations into philosophy and theatre is my book. It presents a series of philosophical topics, problems or questions which arise in relation to theatre and which, taken together, are meant to offer a comprehensive overview and introduction. My imagined readers are students of philosophy who are interested in theatre or theatre people (students or practitioners) who are interested in philosophy. The topics I consider include: politics, truth, illusion, emotions and mimesis (roughly: imitation). The philosophers I talk about include: Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Nietzsche and Lukács.
I gave a public lecture at UCL which was loosely based on parts of the book. You can find a video of the lecture here.
Schopenhauer's Shakespeare: The Genius on the World Stage
Chapter 3, in Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy, J. Bates & R. Wilson (eds), Edinburgh University Press (2014)
My contribution to this volume on Shakespeare and Continental Philosophy looks at Schopenhauer’s Shakespeare. Schopenhauer proclaimed Shakespeare a genius — in his own special sense of ‘genius’. He thought that tragedy was the most significant form of poetry, that Shakespeare was the greatest tragic poet and that Hamlet was his supreme masterpiece. My essay argues that the reason for this praise lies ultimately in Shakespeare’s use of character. The publisher’s site for the book is here.
History Plays as History
Philosophy and Literature vol. 36: 2 (2012), pp. 285-300
One of the chapters of my book came out of a separate article about whether history plays are history. Imagine you watch Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with a friend, who asks you whether it really happened like that. This paper is my attempt to give an answer.
Review Article: Theatre and Philosophy
European Journal of Philosophy, vol. 21:1 (March, 2013), pp. 158-167
If you are interested in what other contemporary writers have to say about the relationship between philosophy and theatre, here is my review article about four recent – and very different – philosophy and theatre books.