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12 - Staging Cognition

How Performance Shows Us How We Think

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 January 2021

Kirsten E. Shepherd-Barr
Affiliation:
University of Oxford
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Summary

Chapter 12: This chapter shows how theatre operates as a kind of cognitive prosthetic, helping us stage and imagine what we are not yet able to see around us or within us. Committed to embodied and extended theories of cognition, the chapter examines the relationship between the stories told onstage across the centuries and the shifting conceptions of the self and the other. Through a kind of wormhole between King Lear, the pageant wagon of the medieval period, and the off-off-Broadway theatre of today, the chapter connects the theatrical innovations around personation, or the taking-on of a character, in these different periods to argue that the theatrical conventions that set up the relationship between character and actor display a changing notion of the self. This shifting of theatrical conventions generates discomfort at first, as spectators learn to consume stories in a new way; and the discomfort unveils what we need to learn next.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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