Main menu


Theatre audiences constantly engage in make-believe: they know that what they see or read is fictional (the characters, the plot) but they respond to it emotionally as if it were real. This concept is psychologically puzzling: what mechanisms make these seemingly contradictory mental states (knowing while pretending) possible? What benefit do audiences derive from this investment and engagement? At the same time the concept gives rise to questions for literary scholars and theatre practitioners: how do dramatists manipulate the the audience’s commitment to the transaction?

Interdisciplinary Seminar Series

In Trinity Term 2015 the Calleva Centre (Magdalen College) and TORCH will be hosting an interdisciplinary seminar series on Make-Believe, combining perspectives from psychology, theatre and classics. Interested scholars from any discipline are welcome and encouraged to attend any or all of the seminars. For more details please check the 'Upcoming Events' tab.

The Calleva Centre and the Adults at Play(s) Project

The Adults at Play(s) project is an interdisciplinary, three-year exploration of adults’ cognitive experience of make-believe, investigating the psychological conditions and mechanisms which permit adults to be transported by a theatrical experience.

Its members are Felix Budelmann (Classics), Robin Dunbar (Psychology), Sophie Duncan (English), Evert van Emde Boas (Classics), Laurie Maguire (English), Ben Teasdale (Psychology/English) and Jackie Thompson (Psychology). More information may be found here.