Theatre Faculty Present at International Conferences This Month

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Professor of Theatre Mark Pizzato and Department of Theatre Chair Lynne Conner will give scholarly presentations at international conferences in Hamburg, Germany; Paris, France; and Basel, Switzerland, in June.

At the Performance Studies international conference, to be held in Hamburg June 8-11, Dr. Pizzato will present “Inner Theatre Spillover: Neuro-Performances in Temples and Churches.” Drawing from his three most recent books (Ghosts of Theatre and Cinema in the Brain, Inner Theatres of Good and Evil: The Mind's Staging of Gods, Angels and Devils, and Beast-People Onscreen and in Your Brain: The Evolution of Animal-Humans from Prehistoric Cave Art to Modern Movies), in this presentation Dr. Pizzato builds upon research in psychology and neuroscience to explore how architecture and imagery in Chinese temples and European churches stimulate the “inner theatre” of the human brain and its outer performative ideals, triggering emotions/responses of catharsis and transcendence.

Dr. Conner will present at the 12th Annual Conference on the Arts in Society, to be held at The American University of Paris, France, June 14-16. Her paper, “Audience Profiling: Cities, Audiences and the Politics of Cultural Identity in the US Arts Ecology,” takes the city of Pittsburgh, PA, as its case study and explores the impact of the city's longstanding reputation as a "working-class town" on historians', critics', and audiences' perceptions and evaluations of Pittsburgh's artistic/cultural products. 

At the European Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts conference, to be held in Basel June 21-24, Dr. Pizzato will present "To Feel or Not to Feel: Rasa-Cathartic Empathy with Hamlet." Presenting survey data from a pedagogical experiment in his theatre history course at UNC Charlotte, Dr. Pizzato will consider how students' experience of the "To be or not to be" speech relates to his model of the brain's inner theatre and potential rasa-cathartic effects while reading Hamlet or watching eight different video interpretations.  "Rasa" is an ancient Indian theory of emotional flavors in works of art; "catharsis" is an ancient Greek notion of purifying emotions through shifting identifications with the tragic hero. Through the brain's evolutionary heritage of theatrical networks, rasa-catharsis might be evoked as a greater mindfulness of the character's and one's own feelings, images, and ideas.