I may be developing a habit of only posting in months beginning with the letter “A.” For my sake, though probably not for yours, I’ll hope that isn’t so.
Here’s another rather old piece of business, related to Clayton Lord’s This is Your Brain on Art post at his blog New Beans on ArtsJournal.com. Which, contrary to memory, I actually haven’t posted about before (shoot!). Clay was kind enough to interview me last year about my interest in theatre-based social and affective neuroscience research and, along with his blog post, material from this interview was published in the Theatre Bay Area magazine article Theatre on the Brain in October 2011. In the spirit of “when you want to really learn it, teach it,” along with a dash of “when you don’t know what to say, say everything,” I’ve found that talking about big questions in the psychology and neurobiology of theatre – individual and group affect, neuroscience of social interaction, differences in the effect of live and technologically-mediated performance stimuli, “expertise” in cognition and communication among professional performers – helps me vet the validity and specificity of my own ideas. Two years on from the research mentioned in the article, and I have (I hope) a more nuanced sense of which questions about affect and live performance can be addressed at present. One thought that hasn’t changed is my respect for the complexity of the issues we face; scaling down from 100 people in a dark theater to EEG or fNIR data is inexorably complex. Drawing statistically correct meaning from these data is tricky even for professionals, and a skill I don’t yet possess, but I’m working on it. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, check out this paean to the other 90% of my life – Theatre Bay Area’s recent article on Dell’Arte.