The Neurology of Theater (the play's the thing)

Kids Allendale 2018.jpg

Over my years in ministry and education, I have found using theater is both attentive and retentive. And, whether you're Nathan the Prophet telling David off ("you are the man!") or Shakesphere's Hamlet ("the play's the thing whereby I'll catch the conscience of the king") or George Bernard Shaw ("If you're going to tell the truth, you'd better make them laugh or they'll kill you"), embedding a message in drama is rather brilliant neurology.

We are bombarded with billions of bits of info per second. Most of our senses have gate-keepers to keep information out. (except the sense of smell). There's just too much information! The brain uses these filters in order to focus on what's important.

But when you bombard the senses with theater - the eyes (the visual cortex processes 7 billion bits per second), the ears (they process up tp 10,000 bps), the tingling skin (when the empathetic nervous system gets involved in the story), and what story and music do to engage significantly more of the brain (the logical centers of the brain, the sense of humor or drama), you have a tool for attention and retention. Engagement and involvement.

And you get beyond the gate-keepers to encounter the audience (ie, listeners) an spectators (ie, viewers) in more than just a show.

You get to the heart of the matter... because great theater gets to the matter of the heart.

(Photo: RICH Learning 2018 Cast and Crew following our final show at the Carolina Theater in Allendale, SC)