ERIC Number: ED248563
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1984-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Cognitive Psychology and Audience-Oriented Dramatic Theory.
Cognitive psychology's most useful contribution to dramatic theory is the concept of schemata, or the mental structures that make up part of the perceptual cycle. In regard to an audience-oriented dramatic theory, this suggests that analysis of a script ought to identify the sorts of schemata that are to be aroused in the audience's minds and the stimuli likely to affect their arousal. Communication and cognition require that expectations be subverted in some way and at some time. One of the aims of analysis, then, is to discover where and how this happens. Among the schemata most useful to playwrights are those that use prior experience with other plays to encourage the prediction of future occurrences in the play being watched. In addition, cognitive theory emphasizes that the order in which a production presents information determines the order in which the viewer will receive it. Two other findings of cognitive psychology lending themselves to theatrical theory and practice are (1) that people perceive across sensory channels rather than in discrete compartments, allowing visual and aural stimuli to reinforce one another; and (2) the ease with which viewers perceive and retain sentences depends less on sentence length than on structure. Finally, cognitive theory permits freedom from the obligation to examine every incoming stimulus before decidng how to respond, enabling viewers to distinguish between superior scripts and productions and less worthy ones. (These points are illustrated throughout the paper with scenes from "Julius Caesar" and "Wait Until Dark.") (HOD)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Audience Awareness; Audience Response; Cognitive Psychology
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Theatre Association (San Francisco, CA, August 12-15, 1984).