The functioning of human consciousness in interpreting and staging a theatrical performance is, as Gordon Armstrong argues in this article, among the most highly selective and adaptive operations known to physical science. According to this view, the theatre, as a substrate of consciousness, was part of the package that defined modern man as a reflective species: whereas for the first four million years of human existence man was silent about a probable inner life, the dawn of empathy some 200,000 years ago saw a neural explosion – the enlargement of the angular gyrus in the left hemisphere of the brain, unlocking a new kind of reflective consciousness. In isolation, this aberrant neurological connection proved so advantageous for hunting and for communication that members of a tribe who possessed this aberration prospered: and adaptation to the ice ages that began 200,000 years ago was a motivating factor in stimulating the emergence of what we can recognize as art. Gordon Armstrong is immediate past Secretary of the American Society for Theatre Research, and Review Editor for Theatre Research International. He has taught at UCLA, SUNY Stony Brook, and the University of Rhode Island, and has designed and directed productions in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York. His full-length works include the revised Golden Ages of the Theatre and Samuel Beckett, W.B. Yeats, and Jack Yeats: Images and Words.