Interplay: The Method and Potential of a Cognitive Scientific Approach to Theatre

This essay argues that cognitive linguistics—conceptual blending theory (CBT) in particular—links language, cognition, and the body in ways that impact practical and theoretical issues in performance. An unpacking of the first sentence of Richard III demonstrates the use of CBT as a tool in dramaturgical or textual analysis. Through an analysis of a casting choice in Michael Almereyda's Hamlet, the essay argues that CBT provides a way to understand what is meant when theatre scholars or practitioners say that one thing "works" and another does not. The embodied interplay between actor/character and spectator is illuminated by research on mirror neurons. The author argues that mimesis is better understood as occurring between actor and spectator, rather than actor and character. Finally, the essay re-imagines what constitutes character—and its relationship to actor—in light of research on phantom limbs.