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Manuel Scheidegger



The Medium of Scenic Action – Towards a Theory of Theatricality (working title)

PhD Candidate



Manuel Scheidegger, born 1981 in Berne (Switzerland), studied Philosophy, Dramatic and Performance Arts, and Media Studies in Basel, Hildesheim and Berlin. In 2010, he earned his MA in Philosophy with a thesis on the notion of theatricality in Hegel´s philosophy. Alongside his studies, he has been active in artistic and creative practice: As an assistant director and director he has worked at different theatres such as Theater Basel or Stadttheater Hildesheim and in several independent productions. In 2011, he co-founded the startup enterprise Farfromhomepage which was rooted in his research on the theatricality of the internet and was awarded an EXIST grant by the German Government for spin-offs from academic research. As a copy-writer, Manuel Scheidegger worked for renowned creative-agencies such as Jung von Matt or Super an der Spree. He has won several awards for his work (i.e. DAAD Prize for Outstanding International Students; Recognition Award of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research for the theatre installation Ludus GlobiTM). He holds a PhD scholarship from the 'Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes' and is a doctoral fellow at the International Research Training Group 'Interart Studies'.

WS 2014/15

Theatralität und Handlung. Theorien der Performativität (Aufbauseminar), Institut für Philosophie, FU Berlin.

SS 2009

Selbstheit und personale Identität (Aufbauseminar), zusammen mit Georg W. Bertram, Institut für Philosophie, FU Berlin. 

The Medium of Scenic Action – Towards a Theory of Theatricality (working title)

In their unique closeness to everyday life, theatre practices are distinct from all other aesthetic media and procedures: while other media refer to actions only indirectly, theatre practices themselves consist in actions. Thus, the object of theatrical representation seems to coincide with the mode of its representation: theatrical practices refer to human action by performing it. Theatrical events are essentially defined by the fact that in their course, real lifetime of all people involved goes by.

This diagnosis has led to the influential thesis of theatrum mundi, the assumption of a fundamental resemblance between theatre and social life. To this day, theories of subjectivity as well as theories of theatre claim that theatre practice provides a basic model in order to reconstruct the constitution of subjectivity: they maintain that both theatrical action and agency in everyday life essentially consist in the performative realization of institutionalized roles and discursive rules.

This assumption of a totality of theatricality, however, has problematic consequences: it sets aside the specific difference of theatrical practice as an aesthetic phenomenon. Theatrical action in this view is a mere reduplication and seamless extension of everyday action. Such a reconstruction foils any attempt to account for the specific value people attribute to theatrical practice and makes it seem implausible why people should be engaging with theatrical practices at all.

Departing from this diagnosis, this project argues for a fundamental revision: theatricality should not be conceived as a feature inherent in action but as an effect of a specific process of mediating action. Theatricality is thus understood as a media setting that enables subjects to detach and distance themselves from other people´s (as well as their own) actions in that they are attributed to figures. It allows subjects to be fully involved in a situation, while at the same time reflecting upon their own social position in terms of its bodily, affective and discursive performativity. The project argues that the process of 'scenic figuration' (szenische Figuration) not only lies at the heart of theatre as an aesthetic medium, but provides a new model to account for many aspects of media practice in general: beyond the sphere of art theatre, the notion of scenic figuration can lead to a better understanding of non-aesthetic theatrical practices such as theatre of therapy or educational role-play as well as other interactive media such as games, 3D films or web-based formats. Ultimately, the project aims at contributing to the ongoing interdisciplinary discussion of the relation between the constitution of subjectivity and media. 

„Digitale Ästhetik. Eine Theorieperspektive aus der Praxis“, in: Recki, Birgit (Hg.): Kongressakten-Akten der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Ästhetik. Band 3: techne-poiesis-aisthesis. Technik und Techniken in Kunst und ästhetischer Praxis, i. Ersch.

„Virtuelle Subjekte, reale Konsequenzen – Die digitale Szene der Subjektivität“, in: Textpraxis. Digitales Journal für Philologie, Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität Münster, begutachtet von Prof. Dr. Erika Fischer-Lichte, i. Ersch. 

„Antigone“, „Die Frauen von Stepford – Der Mensch als sozialer Roboter?“ (with Georg W. Bertram), „No Country for Old Men“, in: Georg W. Bertram (ed.): Philosophische Gedankenexperimente, Stuttgart: Reclam 2012, 79-85, 102-107, 93-199.

„Wenn der Browser laufen lernte“, in: Rentsch, Anna E.; Schütz, Dirk; Henner-Fehr, Christian (ed.): Transmediales Erzählen, ebook 2011, 32-34.

„Der Ball ist nicht rund - Das Globusspiel des Nicolaus Cusanus (1401-1464). Eine kleine Philosophie des Fussballs“ (with Janosch Asen, Inigo Bocken), in: Kult um den Ball: Auf den Spuren des Fußballs, Nürnberg: Olympia Verlag 2006, 23-30.

„The man who wasn’t there – Quantenmechanik und Kafka. Intertextualität als narratives Programm“, in: cinetext. Onlinemagazin für Film und Philosophie, Universität Wien 2004:[http://cinetext.philo.at/magazine/scheidegger/themanwhowasntthere.html]

"Regeln als Ausnahmen. Ein Gespräch zwischen dem Philosophen Manuel Scheidegger und der Theaterautorin Tina Müller", Theater Freiburg 2014/15, Spielzeitheft, Freiburg, 2014.

„Causa zu Guttenberg: Mehr als nur ein Titel“ (with Johannes Schneider), Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin 2011.

„WikiLeaks: Jetzt wissen wir's. Und weiter?“ (with Johannes Schneider), Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin 2010.

„Sind Sie Kantianer oder Hegelianer?“, in: Rote Revue, 3/09, Zeitschrift der Sozialdemokratischen Partei Schweiz 2009. 

„Reification or Liberation? A technical interstitial with Bourriaud´s Relational Aesthetics”, zus. mit Christian Krüger, Vortrag/Performance, The European Doctoral Seminar in Culture, Criticism and Creativity: Social Aesthetics 1/Radical Ecologies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 6.3.2015.


„Digital Storytelling am Bsp. von Farfromhomepage – Eine Case Study aus dem Philosophie Startup“, IX. Kongress Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ästhetik: techne-poiesis-aisthesis. Technik und Techniken in Kunst und ästhetischer Praxis, 20.02.2015.


“Speculating on Speculative Realism - Reading & Discussing Meillassoux”, The Art of Speculation, Joint Symposium InterArt, FU Berlin, 15.11.2014.

„Virtuelle Subjekte. Reale Konsequenzen. Die digitale Szene der Subjektivität“, DAS DIGITALISIERTE SUBJEKT: NEUE MEDIEN ALS 'TECHNIQUES DE SOI'. Grenzbereiche zwischen Fiktion und Alltagsreferentialität, 13. Sektion des Frankoromanistentags in Münster, 25.9. 2014.

“In Between Spaces, In Between Art Forms. Katie Mitchell´s ´Die gelbe Tapete´”, The European Doctoral Seminar in Culture, Criticism & Creativity: Mapping the Modern: Spatial Aesthetics, Transnational Currents, Goldsmiths College, University of London, 7.3.2014.

„Kunst als Lebenszeit – Ein Versuch, Theater zu denken“, Vortrag, Soirée Prof. Dr. Constance Scharff, Stipendiatengruppe Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes, 3.2.2014.

“´How to make an Art´- Introducing the philosophical ´thoughts´of Hennessy Youngman”, The Impossibility of Novelty, Joint Symposium InterArt, FU Berlin, 7.11.2013. 

„Curation Nation: Digitale Kunst- und Lebensform“, lecture at WELL CONNECTED – Beiträge zum Kuratorischen: VOICING RESPONSIBILITY, KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin, 20. Juli 2012.

„Breaking the Wall of the Internet“, Lecture at the lab of Falling Walls. International Conference for Future Breakthroughs in Science and Society, Berlin, 8. November 2011.

„Transmedia Storytelling“, lecture at stART Conference, Duisburg, 18. November 2011.

“Theater und Philosophie – Ein Gespräch mit dem Schauspieler Bruno Cathomas”, Thalia Theater, Hamburg, 27.3.2010. 

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft