'The Shadow of One’s Own Head' or The Spectacle of Creativity


  • Susanne Valerie Granzer University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna




immanence, Agamben, creativity, philosophy, performance studies, theatre studies, performativity and theatricality, Actors, Performing Arts, Acting, Process of Creativity, Arts-based-Philosophy, Artistic Research, Philosophy on Stage,


When acting, the actor/actress experiences a complex regime of signs in his/her body, mind, mood and gender. These signs are both disturbing and promising. On the one hand, the act of creativity makes a wound obvious which has been incarnated within man. It tells him/her that he/she is not the sole actor of his/her actions. On the other hand, precisely this way acting on stage becomes an event. The act of this event reveals a way of be-coming in which one acts while at the same time being passive, in which the actor/actress is both agent and patient of his/her own performance. This complex artistic experience catapults actors/actresses into an open passage, into an in-between where they are liberated from the illusion of being the sole actors of their performances. One might even say that by this turn an actor/actress experiences a change, an “anthropological mutation” (Agamben). Or, to have it differently: the artist suffers a kind of “death of the subject”.

It is remarkable that this loss of the predominance of subjectivity is a crucial aspect of acting which may affect the audience in a particularly intensive way. Why? Perhaps because it updates an extremely intimate connection between audience and actors/actresses which vicariously reflects the in-between of life and death. A passage by which life presents itself as itself? Life – by its plane of immanence?

Author Biography

Susanne Valerie Granzer, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna

Since 1989 Susanne Valerie Granzer has been a Professor of the artistic discipline of the performing arts at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Max Reinhardt Seminar.

She was trained for being an actress at the MRS in Vienna. Then, for 18 years she had important parts at Theater in der Josefstadt, Volkstheater Wien, Theater Basel, Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus, Schauspielhaus Frankfurt am Main, Schillertheater Berlin and Burgtheater Wien. Parallel she studied philosophy at Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main and the University of Vienna. Doctorate in 1995.

In 1997, together with the philosopher Arno Böhler, she founded wiener kulturwerkstätte GRENZ_film. Many “Philosophy on Stage” lecture performances. Co-founder of BASE (research centre for artistic research und arts-based philosophy, India) and the head of the residence programme there.

FWF research projects (as a cooperation partner): 2005–2007 „Materialität und Zeitlichkeit performativer Sprechakte“ (P17600). 2010–2013 „Korporale Performanz/Generating Bodies“ (TRP12-G21), 2014–2017 „Artist-Philosophers. Philosophy AS Arts-based-research” (AR 275-G21). Publications (selection): Schauspieler außer sich. Exponiertheit und performative Kunst, Transcript Verlag, Bielefeld März 2011, second edition 2014. Actors and the Art of Performance. Under Exposure, Palgrave Macmillan 2016.


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How to Cite

Granzer, Susanne Valerie. 2017. “’The Shadow of One’s Own Head’ or The Spectacle of Creativity”. Performance Philosophy 3 (3):685-94. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2017.33151.



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