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Seminar: Empathie

Elettra de Salvo

Born in Rom.

Doctorate in german and theatre studies.

Lives and works since 1980 in Frankfurt/M and Berlin as freelance actress.

Founded E.d.S. Productions in 1999.

Independent projects for the past 16 years.


Seminar:  EMPATHIE

Actions (Movement/Meeting/Gestus in the sense of gesto, which is gift/gesture) between Empathy and Aesthetics

Empathy and Form
An Installation by Elettra de Salvo

“…The ability and readiness to understand the other’s way of experiencing, to feel what he or she feels”

Partition walls will split the space into approximately 10 sections, in which each participant will work one-on-one alternately with other participants in specific combinations, tasks and roles. An Installation arises out of the initiative, creativity and experience—in short the synergy of those who are present.

When approaching one another at the beginning one should consciously avoid sexual tension. Then there will be no limits to fantasy. Yet it is possible to reach a level beyond the limits of the corporeal. Beyond the sexual-corporeal, a soul-spiritual level can be reached.

On the basis of my many years of experience, observation and work in interactive theatre projects, I have learned that we performers are most successful in role play and interactive exchange, when we approach our partners empathically. At first it is important that we forget ourselves, pick the partner up cautiously, respecting where he is, then symbolically, but also concretely “take him by the hand”, to be available for him, in order later—if the space we have together created allows for it—to lead him in a provocative and radical direction: to challenge him as much as he allows. What do his body and his face tell us? How does he stand? How open is he? What do the lines on his face say? How does he react? Tiny movements and stirrings are also important. How does he feel to us? His breath? His heartbeat? Skin? Flesh? Odor? Is it right what I feel? Am I mistaken?

How can I work with the other using this intuitive empathic information? How far can I go without overpowering my partner, because I simply and blindly want to try out my favourite technique or otherwise follow my personal wishes? And can I—with a posture that is passive and still, yet clear and sincere—communicate through my body how open or closed I am at the moment? Or what curiosity, pleasure, fear or doubt I have?

For me as a performer the aesthetic process and form remains important, even if, as is the case in this installation, I do not receive the confirmation of an audience or a voyeuristic gaze. The action should nonetheless preserve aesthetic awareness and a performative character.