After Vienna, San Francisco, Bangalore and last week Shanghai, Prof. Thomas Grunwald, a neurologist from the Swiss Epilepsy Centre in Zurich, and Prof. Anton Rey, a dramaturge from the Zurich University of Arts conducted their lecture-performance ‘Act like you mean it’ on Oct. 17th and 18th at Penghao Theatre in Beijing.
‘Act like you mean it’ originates from the Prof. Grunwald and Prof. Rey’s joint research program Authenticity of Emotion, in which they examine with the help of a scanner and magnetic resonance imaging research, if professional actors create true emotions while performing or if they are just faking their feelings. In ‘Act like you mean it’ in Beijing, hosted by Swissnex China, they presented their findings in a five-act part lecture, part performance with the help of two local actors and the Balcony Scene of Romeo and Juliet. Prof. Rey and Prof. Grunwald spoke consecutively during the lecture performance and analyzed the emotion of love between Romeo and Juliet on stage from both performance art and a neuro-scientific perspective.
The Beijing premiere was very successful. The theatre (120 seats) was full and the audience enjoyed the entertaining, but also very informative lecture-performance. Prof. Grunwald and Prof. Rey concluded from their research that professional actors are actually able to activate the emotional brain center and deliver “true emotions” that are convincing to the audience, but that it is a matter of training and their personality. After the performance the audience had the chance to ask questions and later to engage in conversation with the actors and scientists at a little reception in the theatre.
Apart from the lecture-performance, Prof. Rey conducted a workshop about contemporary theatre and Prof. Grunwald held a lecture about memories and emotions in the human limbic system, hosted by the China Association Against Epilepsy a day before.