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History of Theatre, Week 1 Notes

by: Anastasia Arvanites

History of Theatre, Week 1 Notes THEA 24100-01

Marketplace > Ithaca College > Theatre Arts (Tha) > THEA 24100-01 > History of Theatre Week 1 Notes
Anastasia Arvanites

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-Theatre in Performance Studies -Origins of Theatre -Abydos, Athens, and Egypt -Greece and Mesoamerica
History of Theatre 1
Dr. Chrystyna Dail
Class Notes
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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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