Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department or Program

Graduate Humanities

Department or Program Chair

Laura Stivers, PhD

First Reader

Christian Dean, PhD

Second Reader

Judith Halebsky, PhD


This thesis examines theories provided by cognitive neuroscience and applies them to an actor’s process. In particular, this research addresses the subjectivity and intentionality of our consciousness and special as-if states of consciousness, supported by the work of John Searle and Antonio Damasio. The phenomenal feeling of character-model control is discussed and supported by the work of Thomas Metzinger. The paper also considers our relative understanding of mirror neurons and specifically their function in relation to intersubjectivity and their use for an actor’s creation and conveyance of character in rehearsal and performance. It examines Stanislavsky’s notion of emotional memory and imagination. Finally, a personal case study is included which reflects my involvement in theater. The case study serves as a functional correlation between the concepts derived from cognitive neuroscience and recognized theatrical practices. It endeavors to discern areas where an understanding of the afore mentioned theories would have been advantageous to my overall performance, and to other actors as well.