ABSTRACT

In this chapter, I shall theorize ways in which the discovery of mirror neurons might enrich our understanding of screen acting. It is not that cognitive neuroscience shall be made to wade into the study of acting and declare it redundant or bankrupt. In various respects, mirror neurons only reinforce what certain theorists and practitioners of acting have long since believed: namely, that “realism” in acting is achieved through minimizing the amount of visible acting that is going on. But, in the name of interdisciplinarity, mirror neurons and other cerebral processes discovered by cognitive scientists certainly do have input to give into the study of acting and performance, not least in helping us to understand how acting works. Indeed, the applicability of a number of these neuroscientifi c fi ndings were discussed at the April 25, 2007, roundtable at New York’s Philoctetes Center, featuring contributions from neuroscientist Vittorio Gallese, actors Blair Brown, Joe Grifasi and Adam Ludwig, Alexander Technique pioneer Tom Vasiliades and performance therapist Robert Landy.1