Scientific method acting

There is a recipe for sorrow: Draw a long breath, followed by two quick, choppy ones. Let your head hang to your chest. Furrow your brow, let the corners of your mouth droop and – by thinking of something tragic, real or fabricated – allow the tears to well up and flow.

There are formulas for feigning joy, fury and confusion too, says David Ihrig, UCI drama lecturer and emotion expert, who is teaching a cross-disciplinary course this quarter on the science of acting. His technique is all about using cognitive and behavioral science to infuse onstage characters with genuine memories, feelings and personalities, bringing a new level of realism to the performing arts.

“It’s not acting; it’s being. It’s learning from scientists how to manipulate the mind so that, as actors, we are actually experiencing things onstage, not just pretending, which used to be the standard,” Ihrig says. “This could become

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