The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance and Cognitive Science integrates key findings from the cognitive sciences (cognitive psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary studies and relevant social sciences) with insights from theatre and performance studies. This rapidly expanding interdisciplinary field dynamically advances critical and theoretical knowledge, as well as driving innovation in practice. The anthology includes 30 specially commissioned chapters, many written by authors who have been at the cutting-edge of research and practice in the field over the last 15 years. These authors offer many empirical answers to four significant questions:

  • How can performances in theatre, dance and other media achieve more emotional and social impact?
  • How can we become more adept teachers and learners of performance both within and outside of classrooms? 
  • What can the cognitive sciences reveal about the nature of drama and human nature in general? 
  • How can knowledge transfer, from a synthesis of science and performance, assist professionals such as nurses, care-givers, therapists and emergency workers in their jobs?

A wide-ranging and authoritative guide, The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance and Cognitive Science is an accessible tool for not only students, but practitioners and researchers in the arts and sciences as well.

chapter |9 pages

General introduction

part I|1 pages


chapter |4 pages


chapter 1|14 pages

Stanislavsky’s Prescience

The conscious self in the system and Active Analysis as a theory of mind

chapter 2|19 pages

The Improviser’s Lazy Brain

Improvisation and cognition

chapter 5|9 pages

The Remains of Ancient Action

Understanding affect and empathy in Greek drama

chapter 8|9 pages

4E Cognition for Directing

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Caryl Churchill’s Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

chapter 9|15 pages

Acting and Emotion

part II|1 pages


chapter |3 pages


chapter 12|9 pages

Communities of gesture

Empathy and embodiment in Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company’s 100 Migrations

chapter 14|13 pages

From Banana Phones to the Bard

The developmental psychology of acting

chapter 15|7 pages

‘I’m Giving Everybody Notes Using his Body’

Framing actors’ observation of performance

part III|1 pages


chapter |4 pages


chapter 18|13 pages

Watching Movement

Phenomenology, cognition, performance

chapter 20|10 pages

Emergence, Meaning and Presence

An interdisciplinary approach to a disciplinary question

chapter 21|4 pages

Relishing Performance

Rasa as participatory sense-making

chapter 23|9 pages

Aesthetics and the Sensible

chapter 24|9 pages

Talk this Dance

On the conceptualisation of dance as fictive conversation

chapter 25|12 pages

Distributed Cognition

Studying theatre in the wild

part IV|1 pages

Translational applications

chapter |14 pages


chapter 27|13 pages

The Performance of Caring

Theatre, empathetic communication and healthcare

chapter 28|12 pages

Awareness Performing

Practice to protocol

chapter 30|13 pages

Towards Consilience

Integrating performance history with the co-evolution of our species