Professional Emotion Management as a Rehearsal Process
The work of stage actors has long been used as a simile for every day role playing, generating theoretical concepts to describe how people work to present themselves in general and how they manage their emotions in particular. Building on this tradition, this article analyses professional stage actors’ deliberate emotion management as an embodied professionalisation process, focusing the relation between emotional experience and expression through the concepts of decoupling, double agency and habituation. Observations and interviews with theatre actors rehearsing for a role revealed how they gradually develop a capacity for double agency, decoupling the experience from the expression of emotions, which are eventually habituated in a form adapted to the role character. This process of professionalising emotion management is beneficial to the presentation of role-appropriate emotions and furthers the ability to cope with the endeavour of managing emotions at work. Implications for professions outside the artistic domain are discussed.
Keywords: decoupling, deep acting, embodiment, emotion management, habituation, stage actors, surface acting
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