Enacting Cognition: Actor Education and the Performance of Everyday Life
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This qualitative study explores inner and outer experience in the context of dramatic arts, and specifically in actor education. The author defines experience as the richness of now. It is everything that we bring to each moment, and everything that each moment brings to us. The dynamic space between inner and outer experience is found to be the place where thinking and feeling create our sense of be-ing. Movement between inner and outer helps determine the success of a dramatic experience. Literature from the disciplines of cognitive studies, dramatic arts, education, philosophy, psychology, and neurophysiology is examined alongside interviews with dramatic arts teacher-practitioners. These findings are considered in light of the author’s own experiences as a dramatic arts student, teacher, and participant. A conceptual model of cognition as an active and embodied phenomenon emerges. Building on models of “embodied cognition” (Lakoff and Johnson) and “enactive cognition” (Varela, Thompson, and Rosch), the author conceives of human thinking and being as “enacting cognition”. Enacting cognition is the dynamic synthesis of objective knowledge and personal understanding. It is the experience of be-ing.