What is the relationship between theater and ritual

what is the relationship between theater and ritual

The Sogo bò, primarily an animal masquerade, can be distinguished from Western theatre through its use of a fluid space with shifting. At the beginning of a recent introduction to theatre course, one of my general education and "making actual"—and celebrating the relationship of human beings with use various objects to perform the rituals—vessels, symbolic weapons. In the West, the origins of theatre are usually located in the rituals and . a link between the theatre and ancient Greek mystical religious rituals.

In one of these festivities, the leading man of the chorus —the korifeos- got out of the circle of the chorus and started a spontaneous dialogue with the satyrs. They replied by singing and that was the birth of the theatre; little by little, adding up plot, stage set, costumes, characters, it evolved into its classical form. Although the classical plays had very little in common with the original rituals, they were still performed during religious festivities; even today, the word tragedy literally, in Greek: This narration is largely a myth; even so, it reflects the idea that the non-textual elements, that constitute theatricality and performativity, preceded the evolution of theatrical text.

According to him, the Dionysian stands for the primal force of creation, still formless and chaotic, until the Apollonian measure and harmony give shape to it, transforming it into a work of art. On the other hand, the quest for primitivism and ritualism lies at the roots of performance art. Performance art started in the early 20th century, in pre-war Italy and Russia.

The Italian Futurists sought new ways to propagate their ideas and their aesthetic, which praised the machines and provokingly supported war as a generative force, whereas they condemned ancient culture and the love of the past. During their futurist evenings they searched for new ways of interacting with the public, often turning to scandalous acts that outraged the spectators. Thus, the audience never remained neutral; it got involved in an event organized and controlled by the artist.

Their poems consisted of babbling syllables with a meaningless succession; their music was improvised noise; their shows combined elements from cabaret shows, the burlesque and primitive rituals. These artists experimented with their own bodies and the interaction with the audience. In their actions, the limits between the private and the public, the personal and the collective, art and life, were often blurred. These performances helped the public shape a new way of perceiving art, through personal action and personal experience.

This personal experience influences the way the performer and the public feel their bodies. Surpassing theatrical tradition and word, postmodern performance has broken the bonds with reality and representation; performance artists use their bodies as a vehicle to explore consciousness and to have a direct impact on the public with very little or no reference to text or action. In performance art the artwork is not some text or image, but the happening or event and the way it is perceived by the audience.

What is interesting to see here is how visual arts had been fomented by rituals, not as a nostalgic tendency towards the origins of theatre, but in a much more substantial manner, with a different perception of reality and representation. Many secular performances include a sacral dimension, and almost all sacred activities involve performing.

Performance and Ritual | meer-bezoekers.info

On special annual occasions, gods are carried through the streets where ordinary people admire and worship them. In Native American cultures, performance and religion are also completely in harmony with each other.

Many of these traditions also fuse indigenous and Christian practices. The Yaqui of the Sonoran Desert enact a yearly six-week passion play combining Native American and European ritual performance traditions. Examples such as these can be drawn from all parts of the world, from every inhabited place. Obviously, ritual masking, dancing, music making, and storytelling by means of theater is a universal phenomenon.

Throughout the world, rituals are made from all the varieties of aesthetic performance. Both practically and theoretically, it is not possible to think about ritual except as a category of performance. Theater flourishes even among traditions that officially reject it. The popular theater of the Middle East Turkey and Iran, in particular is rich in a variety of both human and puppet forms. Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic nation, abounds with masked, live, and puppet theater and dance—many of which are both rituals and entertainments.

The intentions and mood of Mevlevi dancing is something like that of the Shakers, a Christian religious sect of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, by no means are all performances in the Islamic world sacred.

The dalang, the puppeteer, is both an entertainer and a shaman, who is sometimes called on to perform for sheer pleasure and sometimes to accompany life-cycle rituals and important public events. If anything, Hinduism is biased in favor of performance. The whole creation is in fact theorized as performance. In this theory, human performing arts are models of the reality of the cosmos—plays within the larger play of existence.

Thus Hinduism enjoys a profusion of dance, music, and theater. The anti-theatrical prejudice The situation in the West and in Islam is full of irony. The reasons for this anti-theatrical prejudice are many, varying according to social circumstances and historical period. The codifiers and interpreters of Judaic, Christian, and Islamic traditions and laws often bitterly opposed—and in some instances, still oppose—the visual arts and theater. The theater is especially distrusted because it is mimetic whereas music and dance may not be.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam share a common root in the Old Testament in which it is written that no one should make a graven image of god.

In the West, this injunction has been reinforced by a philosophical antipathy to the visual arts and theater that goes back to Plato's Republic, composed in Athens in the fifth century bce at the close of the first great age of Western theater. The Greek philosopher wanted to chase all visual, poetic, and theatrical artists from his ideal republic.


Plato's arguments were later elaborated and ingrained into church doctrine by Tertullian North Africa writer, c. Their ideas, in turn, have operated, sometimes strongly and sometimes more mildly, throughout Western history and, by means of colonialism and globalization, in all areas of the world.

Despite their condemnation of the theater, both Plato and Augustine were passionately involved in it. Plato's dialogues are philosophical dramas, and Augustine the saint repented Augustine the avid theatergoer.


Plato argued that the arts are doubly removed from ultimate truth and are mere shadows cast on the wall of the cave of human ignorance. But underneath his philosophical argument, an authoritarian political and ideological program is operating.

Plato felt that the arts of representation in general, and theater in particular, are dangerous because they enact alternative realities that may be in conflict with those of the established political and philosophical authorities.

Thus, it is not only that the performing arts are dangerous, but also that and perhaps more important they are extremely powerful persuaders of opinion and arousers of feelings. The established authorities wish to control these powerful media and employ them for their own uses. What in tribal settings is the preservation of the secrecy of rites becomes in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—religions with historical and ideological similarities—a dedicated program of maintaining a monopoly of performance techniques.

what is the relationship between theater and ritual

Western and Islamic religious leaders have not treated the performing arts equally. They have been most uneasy about theater, ambivalent about dance, but friendly to music. Theater is censored because it can be subversive; dance, when not closely managed as among the Shakers, can be sexually immoral. Music, being abstract, can most easily suit the ceremony at hand and is generally accepted by Western and Islamic religious authorities.

Still, despite all suspicions and condemnations, Western churches and branches of Islam have used theater and dance.

what is the relationship between theater and ritual

Beginning at dawn and going until dusk, the performances took place in the streets, while richly detailed scenes mounted on wagons proceeded along fixed routes. The enactments were replete with angels, devils, hellmouth, and Eden. Various cycles consisted of a number of individual plays. For example, at York, England, infifty-seven plays were put on at twelve to sixteen locations.

These extraordinary cycles arose out of a confluence of the Mass, the Quem quaeritis trope a tenth-century Easter dramaand popular entertainments that never died out from Roman times and whose shamanistic origins date back to prehistory. The cycles peaked in the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries. Although most were extinguished by the Renaissance, some remnants persisted, not only in the famed performances that take place every ten years in Oberammergau, Germany, but also among Native American and Hispanic peoples who have fused European traditions with indigenous performance practices.

Waehma retells the story of Christ's passion in Yaqui terms. It incorporates indigenous performance techniques into the religious theater brought from Europe by the Jesuits in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Much of what the Yaqui of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States perform took shape during the century afterwhen the Jesuits were withdrawn from the New World.

Waehma consists of many episodes and observances enacted over the six-week span from Lent to Easter. The story focuses on the actions of masked figures called Chapayekam who join the Soldiers of Rome—a group of up to fifty men dressed in black—in the pursuit and crucifixion of Jesus.

The Chapayekam wear helmet masks similar to those of the Zuni and other tribal peoples of the Sonoran Desert and adjoining areas.

Their ritual practices, which includes farce and parody, are similar to those of other Native American tribal nations. On Good Fridaya large group of wailing women, including the Marys, follow Jesus—represented by an eighteen-inch figure—around the stations of the cross, which the Yaqui call the Konti Vo'o. At the eleventh cross, the symbolic Christ is tied to a cross as nails are driven into the figure's "flesh. Later that night, Jesus is resurrected and the church is liberated.

The Chapayekam and the Soldiers of Rome are infuriated.