Audience Impact on the physiology of the acting practice

Marta Calbi, Martina Ardizzi, Vittorio Gallese and Maria Alessandra Umiltà
in NODES 17-18 →
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the shift of social interactions onto the digital world. Intended as the place where relationships among human beings are established, the theatre is the performative art that has suffered the most from the forcing of mediated interactions via digital devices. Within the project “Habeas Corpus” – supported by Fondazione Prada – we investigated the impact of the presence/absence of an audience on the psycho-physiological involvement of a group of professional actors/actresses during a theatrical performance. Their facial skin temperature – measured using a thermal imaging camera – was modulated exclusively in the presence of an audience. Moreover, the most emotionally activating moment was found to be the waiting time before the beginning of the acting practice, as to say, during the establishment of the bodily connection between the performer and the audience. These findings showed that the actors/actresses-audience bond is the necessary and constitutive condition for live theatre.