The Project: Overview

the beholder’s share is a theatrical response to the work of Nobel Prize winning neurobiologist Dr. Eric Kandel.  Kandel’s groundbreaking books In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of the Mind (2007) and The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present (2012) present stunning new portraits of how the human brain creates memories and also how the brain responds to art.  In Search of Memory presents Kandel’s mandate that these groundbreaking discoveries into the biology of the brain should be made accessible to non-scientists.  The Age of Insight extends this idea to artists by proposing “Knowing Ourselves: The New Dialogue Between Art and Science” as the concluding chapter.  Through these two books as well as a host of discussions and lectures available online Kandel has extended an invitation from the field of neurobiology and Generous Company will respond to this invitation with a response crafted by the collaboration of our diverse company members.

Theatre is an exercise in psychology: from the behavior of characters in a stage play to the representation of an artists’ unique perspectives in more unique forms of drama, theatre has been grounded in the human mind and many theories of the human mind have been grounded in theatre (Oedipus complex, etc).  Kandel takes as his starting point the work of Sigmund Freud, a central text in contemporary theatre theory, which gives a common starting point from which to start making connections.  Kandel also asserts that understanding the biology of the mind is a way to understand the limits of free will, so perhaps we see a fatalistic world not governed by gods looking down from on high, but biological functions from within.

A collaborative team melding Baltimore artists with artists from abroad will the assembled.  This team will create a new work inspired by texts and lectures by Eric Kandel, creating a dramatic form around these ideas and capitalize on these discoveries when making production choices (i.e. the brain responds differently to vertical and horizontal lines, a majority of vision is based on memory and not perception).  Combining visual, multimedia, and performing arts allows Generous Company to engage Kandel’s ideas in a way that can provoke the audience’s understanding of perception on an intellectual and biological level, as well as being a theatrically engaging evening of work.

Kandel asserts that the brain is to the 21st century what the genome was to the 20th century, he also provides the bridge by which artists can begin mining the same territory as scientists.  Through this gift Kandel has provided the opportunity for art once again to draw from science and perhaps as the dialogue grown, we can once again see these two forms and intertwined and not mutually exclusive.