Dick McCaw. Rethinking the Actor’s Body. Dialogues with Neuroscience. London and New York: Methuen Drama, 2020
Dick McCaw’s book is aimed at establishing a dialogue, or rather many opportunities for dialogue, between body practices related (or apt to be related) to the performing arts and neuroscience, in order to open new perspectives for reconsidering current and historical systems for actor training against the background of present neurophysiological knowledge. By resorting to plain but not oversimplified language, the common topics of both the disciplines (mindbody problem, memory, attention, consciousness, learning, emotion) are identified and tackled by constantly highlighting their mutual interconnection in a network of complex interactions. Both theatre practice and neuroscience, each following its own methods, are found to aim at dealing with such issues in ways that often challenge our deep-rooted dualist habit of contrasting mind and body. The essay suggests that, in spite of their divergences (or maybe because of them), every chance for a dialogue between the two disciplines deserves to be exploited as an opportunity of rethinking not only the actor’s body, but also ourselves.
Keywords: actor training; performing arts; neuroscience; motor expertise; mindbody problem; cross-disciplinarity
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