The Aesthetics of Acting

ActingResearch Project Overview

Aesthetic knowledge represents an embodied or personal knowing important to performing arts. This project examines the aesthetics of acting in a theatre production. The goals of this project are to understand the following questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of aesthetic knowledge?
  2. How does aesthetic knowledge (a personal knowing) relate to universal themes of a play?
  3. What approaches and techniques are used for effective use of aesthetic knowledge in acting?

Aesthetic Knowledge Background

Aesthetic knowledge is associated with actors realizing and making connections through their senses. The following are six aspects of aesthetic knowledge (Glibkowski et al., 2012).

  • Sensory: all human responses on the stage are mediated by the five senses.
  • Unique: the aesthetic experience is unique to each actor.
  • Determinable: connections are made between a personal experience to universal themes emphasized in a theatrical production.
  • Concentrated: sensory experiences are not just “real life.” In acting a premium is placed upon the immediacy of the performance and a premium is placed on getting the actions just right.
  • Connected: it is important to make a connection to an actors’ personal experiences so the performance is truthful.
  • Meaning: The culmination of aesthetic knowledge is felt meaning.

Glibkowski, B. C., McGinnis, L., Gillespie, J., & Schommer, A. 2012. “How” Narratology Narrows the Organizational Theory-Practice Gap, Paper Submitted to Southern Management Association Annual Meeting. Ft. Lauderdale, FL.


  • Summer 2012
  • We seek the participation of three theatre organizations
  • Your requirements: 1 hour individual interviews (e.g., with actors, director); permit our research team to observe rehearsals and performances
  • No cost


Participating theatre organizations will receive a detailed analysis of the role of aesthetic knowledge in acting. Additionally, comparative analysis within an organization and to peer organizations is provided. Feedback includes:

  • Executive Report
  • Executive Feedback Presentation

Researchers & Contact Information

  • Dr. Brian Glibkowski (linkedIn)
  • Dr. Lee McGinnis (linkedIn)
  • Katie Dempsey, Stonehill College (class of 2013)

To inquire about participation, please contact Dr. Brian Glibkowski (e:; p:508.565.1415).