History of Theatre, Week 1 Notes
History of Theatre, Week 1 Notes THEA 24100-01
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Anastasia Arvanites on Monday September 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THEA 24100-01 at Ithaca College taught by Dr. Chrystyna Dail in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see History of Theatre 1 in Theatre Arts (Tha) at Ithaca College.
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Date Created: 09/19/16
Theatre History 8/25 Locating Theatre in Performance Studies Theatre is the long continuum of performance Performance Continuum o Play-Games-Sports-Popular Entertainment-Performing Arts>Theatre-Daily Life-Ritual Popular Entertainment: end goal=make money Performance studies-broad spectrum approach Treats performative behavior, not just the performing arts as subject for serious scholarly study Blending of cultural anthro and performing arts Entertainment, Education, Ritual, and Healing If you aren’t learning, it isn’t theatre Beyond the script: extend your idea of text beyond what is written on a page/screen Everything can be thought of as a text…everything can be “read” History is interpretation that someone will buy The same can be said of performance There are a bunch of ways to analyze any text Expand your vision of performance to understand its greater cultural implications Defining performance: o Display of skills o Displaying recognized and culturally coded patterns of behavior o Success of an activity is judged by a standard of achievement o Involves a “consciousness of doubleness” We are always judging ourselves, comparing ourselves to other people Always performing and judging (as an audience) ourselves o Elements of performance: time, place, participants, scenarios, clothing, sound, movement, purpose 8/29 Origins of Theatre – It’s Mostly Theoretical Rituals: a type of performance providing structure and continuity in our lives o Changes a person’s social status, has real, significant consequences o Repetitive, fixed, reinforce values o Efficacy over entertainment o Tradition over technical virtuosity o Real consequences o Liminality Basic Concerns of Ritual (according to Joseph Campbell) o Pleasure, power/conquest, duty (to God, society) Three Distinct Phases of Ritual o Separation: detachment of performers from an earlier fixed point (graduates sitting separately from audience) o Liminality: threshold/ambiguous moment where you are between (changing of tassel) o Aggregation: join community as newly realized member, social status has changed (college student to graduate) Cambridge Anthropologists (Discovered to be wrong): o Theorized that theatre was born out of ritual Ritual precedes myth Myth is the verbalization of ritual Theatre is the dramatic interpretation of myth o Grounded in “Cultural Darwinism” Assumes progressivism, everything moves in a forward motion and creates new forms Ritual birthed contemporary theatre o Placed Europe as the cultural model toward which all societies would/should evolve—if they didn’t develop theatre, they were primitive Other Theories: o Why is theatre not ritual? o Storytelling o Dance Conditions Needed for Creation of Theatre o Detached view of human problems Detached understanding when looking at other people’s problems “Comic Vision” o Development of aesthetic sense For artistic/stylistic qualities, not only usefulness o Ability to organize performative elements into theatrical experiences Need a viewer for separation, separation of labor o Acknowledge the value of theatre o Dynamic In the beginning: o Homo sapiens: 120,000 years ago o Bands: nomadic, intimate, kinship and language bases, 5-80 people o Tribes: agriculture, permanent dwellings, shared language, hundreds of people Single Authoritarian emerges o Chiefdom: single hereditary authority figure, thousands of people, uni-lingual o State: 3700 B.C.E., multilingual, multi-ethnic, single hereditary leader, strict class system, writing system and literacy 8/31 Sumerian Cuneiform (CA. 3000 B.C.E.) Primary vs Secondary Orality Never encounter writing; statements/actions require no authority outside themselves; learning is through doing Dependent on the existence of writing and print; all statements/actions can and must be validated; abstract study Primary Orality Culture: no contracts, just words/expression/acted out Drumming, hunting, dancing, ritual—learn through listening and repeating Abydos, Athens & Egypt: o Pyramid texts: more than 50 scenes, 2800-2400 B.C.E, Enacted by priests (?) o Coronation Hieroglyphics: Memphite drama: event on first day of spring when new pharaoh, to commemorate Osiris’ son, Horace--to validate power of pharaoh 2500 B.C.E., Death and resurrection of Osiris o A group of some of the first humans in Rift Valley o Commemorate, not necessarily entertain (*theatre must have education & entertainment) o “Abydos Passion Play”: (2500-550 B.C.E.) concerns the death and resurrection of Osiris account left by Ikhernofret (1847-1839 B.C.E): people who participate, length, “lines” Not sure if to be considered: Festival, religious ceremony or first theatre? Regardless, the Egyptians highly influenced Greek rituals and culture Greece: o Birth of Western theatre focuses on 8 -6 centuries Major city states: Corinth, Athens, Sparta, Crete o Peisistratus: ruled Athens from 560-510 B.C.E Redistributed land, promoted farming, foreign trade, and the arts Established and enlarged City Dionysia o Dithyramb: hymn sung and danced in honor of Dionysus; originally improvised Aristotle’s Poetics: theatre comes from dithyramb—we need storytelling Choral odes to Dionysus (God of wine) Cult of Dionysus—non-civilized behavior Festival to worship him later on Competition among tribes/municipalities Arion: recorded/titled dithyrambs Thespis: step out of chorus—inspired dialogue o City Dionysia: 501 BCE: satyr plays, 508 BCE: Democracy is born Originated with dithyrambic competition between the 10 tribes of Attica Soon after, 3 tragedies & satyr play by each playwright No work exists from the 6 century Mesoamerica: o Aztec, Maya, and Inca kingdoms Men and women performed in commemorative events Aztec human sacrifice: honoring the god Huitzilopochtli— “hummingbird” Reflected belief that there was no division between life and death—sacrifice was an act of creation o Celebration included elaborate costumes, masks, body make-up, puppets and stilts o Synchronized with movement of the stars and planets o Rabinal Achi (Man of Rabinal) Mayan culture Uses dialogue, song, and dance About misuse of power Attempted suppression of Spanish missionaries Crystallization: group starts owning the material in their own way—regularize it to become more fully formed text No one right way to perform a script—do what’s right for cultural moment
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