Embodied Cognition and Shakespearean Performance

Authored by: Darren Tunstall

The Routledge Companion to Theatre, Performance, and Cognitive Science

Print publication date:  September  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138048898
eBook ISBN: 9781315169927
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



The theory of embodied cognition has underpinned a broad and expanding field of inquiry within cognitive studies since the mid-1970s (see Lakoff 2012: 773–5). It has also received attention from those theatre scholars who, since the early 1990s, have been exploring the topics of embodiment and cognition in relation to Shakespearean production, actor training and methods of rehearsal. A by no means exhaustive list of such pioneering scholars would include Mary Thomas Crane (2001), Bruce McConachie (with F. Elizabeth Hart 2006; see also 2008, 2013, 2015), Rhonda Blair (2008), Amy Cook (2010), Rick Kemp (2012, 2017), Evelyn Tribble (2011), John Lutterbie (2011) and the contributors to Embodied Cognition and Shakespeare’s Theatre (Johnson, Sutton and Tribble 2014). In this chapter, I mean to outline what embodied cognition is, single out some aspects of it that pertain to performance theory and practice and relate these aspects to different strategies for the Shakespearean text that I have modelled upon some influential theatre practitioners. In doing so, I’m not suggesting that all of these practitioners were precursors or proponents of embodied cognition; rather, the intention is to see what light an understanding of embodied cognition might shed upon rehearsal methods. Thus, I aim to move from the general to the particular, from the theoretical to the practical.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.