Practitioners and theorists of theatre acting, at least in Western culture, have always been curious about the logos of the psyche. In contrast, the interest of the psychological and cognitive researchers in the actor art remained limited and focused mainly on the possible contribution to therapeutic techniques. Nevertheless, recently, there seems to be a change in this attitude. In the current essay we follow this study line, from historical perspective. Our contention is that despite significant differences in the perception of the mind and its relationship with the body, concepts of cognitive processes that were first conceptualized and empirically investigated during the twentieth century, especially in the study of social cognition, underpin acting theories as far back as the eighteenth century, if not before. This phenomenon has not been limited to a single theater artist or specific theater tradition. If this is true, then the theater arts can be used by cognitive science as a fount of knowledge about social behavior in general, and mindreading and mental manipulation processes in particular. To illustrate this, we cite examples from the vast existing corpus of the French, British, German and Italian theoretical, critical and didactic literature on acting.
Milshtein, Dalit and Henik, Avishai
"Actor Mindreading: Cognitive Processes Underpinning Theories and Practices of European Stage Acting in the Eighteenth Century,"
Comparative Drama: Vol. 53:
3, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/compdr/vol53/iss3/1