October 9, 2013

Fabulous session. A lovely and conducive environment and format to explore, discuss and debate pertinent issues. My neurons are certainly firing all over the place now!! Audience member

On the evening of Friday 27 September we transformed the cool, light, slightly corporate café in the Canterbury Innovation Centre into People United’s living room in order to explore the art of living together with neuroscientist Professor Christian Keysers, and campaigner and playwright, Sarah Woods. Standard lamps, sofas, throws, coffee tables and rugs delineated four separate living rooms gathered around the two fireside chairs for our guest speakers.

Snapping a peanut in front of a monkey, and hearing the sound of its mirror neurons firing began Christian’s journey of exploration into empathy. Whilst Sarah’s initial curiosity was sparked by the strength of emotion provoked by theatre. Together with the audience they discussed empathy’s role in helping us make connections with people, the benefits of being able to switch it off, and how art can help us develop greater empathy and strengthen our connections with others.

As evening fell the light from the standard lamps cast a cosy glow, and the conversation deepened with reflections on the role of spirituality and religion, the ‘exquisite insight’ of deep empathic connections that can exist in close relationships, and the similarities between preparing to take part in an arts experience and practising empathy.

Such a wonderful two hours focused thinking, wide ranging concepts referencing the centrality of arts to the human condition. Such a sparkling combination of neuro scientist with playwright offering a template for future collaboration. Bravo! Grenville

Coming soon are clips of Christian and Sarah’s presentations and more responses from audience members.

Sarah will be performing her People United commission The Empathy Roadshow at Artsadmin, Toynbee Studios, London on 17 October for tickets go to Artsadmin and at The Purcell Room, Southbank Centre on 24 October as part of the Empathy and Compassion Conference. For tickets go to https://empathyplayandfilmevening.eventbrite.com/

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