For the last ten to fifteen years, many disciplines of scholarship have been involved in the study of consciousness, often on an interdisciplinary basis. They include philosophy, neurosciences, psychology, physics and biology, and approaches focusing on human experience. The Centre for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona in Tucson spearheaded this development with its bi-annual conferences since 1994, and a wide range of associations, journals and book publications bear witness to its importance. Over the same number of years, scholarly interest in the relationship of consciousness to theatre has equally grown.
The book discusses a range of questions relevant to understanding the phenomenon of theatre against a consciousness studies background. Those questions include:
• What inspires the dramatist to write a play? This question addresses the nature of the creative process.
• How do different plays reflect human consciousness?
• What kinds of new ideas did major directors or theatre makers, such as Artaud, Grotowski, Barba, and Brook introduce?
• Should actors be personally involved with the emotions they have to portray?
• Are puppets or marionettes superior to actors?
• How to account for the designer’s combination of creativity and practical skill? What part does mental imagination play in the design process? How do designers get their own spatial awareness across to their spectators?
• How does theatre affect the spectator? Why do spectators react as they do? How do distance and suspension of disbelief ‘work’?
An improved and expanded understanding of theatre, resulting from answering the questions above in the context of consciousness studies, should inspire new developments in theatre practice.