Is Broadway What Sets Us Apart From the Apes?

Tony-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul perform a song from their new musical at TEDxBroadway. (© Glen DiCrocco)

Tony-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul perform a song from their new musical at TEDxBroadway. (Photo Credit: Glen DiCrocco)

TheaterMania’s Hayley Levitt posted a TEDxBroadway Roundup last week highlighting her takeaways. Her biggest: Our evolutionary roots may be the thing that keeps the theater from going extinct.

She writes that playwright Ayad Akhtar’s (Broadway’s Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Disgraced) eloquent speech “soothed our collective concern about the theater’s place on the endangered-species list,” and how Yale Psychology Professor Dr. Laurie Santos reinforced this sentiment from an evolutionary angle: “She cited the principle of “mental contagion’ — the uniquely human ability to adopt the thoughts of another — as one of the few things that separates us from our furry primate cousins. While it’s a trait that may, in fact, drag our capacity for logical action below that of an ape, it may also be the key to our enjoyment of the theatrical experience.”

Levitt shares more highlights from TEDxBroadway 2015, from the mouths of Broadway producer Elliot Masie, Tony-nominated songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul and Twitter celebrity @BroadwayGirlNYC. She also points out that diversity “was another hot topic of the day’s proceedings.”

Read Levitt’s full TheaterMania article here.

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