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Today, I want to talk a little bit about how you can make the most of the emotional transfer that’s an inherent part of the theater experience.

When you’re watching a play, there’s a transfer of emotions that takes place between the actors and the audience.

This happens because everyone is there in the same room, breathing the same air. It’s especially true in smaller, more intimate theaters and for audience members who may be sitting close enough to, for instance, see the tears running down an actor’s face.

It takes place because of something called mirror neurons. In a nutshell, these are brain cells that react when one person is observing a behavior or reaction in another person.

In other words, if you see someone else laughing and acting happy and amused, your mirror neurons will cause you to feel that way, too.

(You can probably think of many times when this has happened.)

And this speaks to the real power of theater, which is to create the opportunity for an emotional catharsis.

Most audience members will never know what it’s like to rob a bank, or commit murder, or have an affair with a celebrity, or do any of the remarkable things that can happen in your play.

But thanks to the power of mirror neurons, the people in the audience can FEEL as if they’re living out these experiences along with the actors.

So as you’re writing your play, keep this in mind. And pay special attention not just to the emotions your characters are going through, but the emotions you want the AUDIENCE to feel as well.

By putting your characters through an emotional arc, you can put your audience through that same range of emotions.

If you’ve ever walked out of a play feeling as if you’ve just gone though a transformative experience, you know what I’m talking about.

If you want more playwriting advice, tips, and hacks, make sure to check out the comprehensive PSH Playwriting Course.