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Prehistoric Theatre
Imitation, Role Playing, and Storytelling
• Imitation is universal among small children
• Mimic and imitate mother and father as they play house
• Role Playing
• Adopt the behaviors required of certain roles in their society
• Key in theatre
• Small children role play as future professions
• Aristotle
• Suggested that theatre may have originated in human instinct to imitate
Imitation, Role Playing, and Storytelling cont.
• Storytelling
• An everyday activity with a theatrical element
• Experienced Storytellers
• Create suspense
• Evoke laughter and tears
• Keep alive traditions in their culture
• Often take on voices of their characters
• Take on the personalities of:
• Old men
• Warriors
• Maidens
• Ghosts
• The storyteller of societies without developed written language.
• Kept alive the history of the people.
Ceremonies & Rituals
• A formal religious or social occasion, usually led by a designated authority
figure, such as a priest or chief.
• Examples:
• Graduation
• Inauguration
• Marriage
• The acting out of an established or prescribed procedure
• Example
• Mass
• Jewish Yon Kippur
African Rituals
• Western & Central African
• Performed by the Guru tribe
• A dancer depicting an animal
• Wears a large mask
• Combines antelope horns, an abstracted human face, and a large toothed beak
• Participants enact someone or something
• Bird
• Animal
• Spirit
• Participants are believed to be inhabited by the animal or spirit
• Rituals follow a set sequence of events
• Same words and actions repeated each time
• Similar to today’s “script”
Ancient Egypt
• Abydos
• The sacred place of the ritual celebrating Osiris, god of the afterlife.
• Enacted for nearly 2000 years
• Around 2500 to 550 B.C.E
• No actual text of Abydos
• Only partial account by someone named Ikhernofert
• Participated between 1887 and 1849 B.C.E
The Story of Osiris
• Became king of Egypt and married his sister Isis, the goddess of
health, marriage, and love
• Osiris’s brother became jealous and killed him.
• Scattered body throughout Egypt.
• Isis recovered body and brought Osiris back to life
• Osiris could not stay on earth and was buried in Abydos
• Went to dwell in the underworld
• Became the most human of the gods
• Judges people souls
Latin America
• Staged rituals that celebrated
• Seasons
• Deities
• Honoring war gods to seek favor.
• The Flowery Wars
• The staged in full war garb
• Theatrical combats
• Ended in sacrifices to favor gods
Latin America cont.
• Rabinal
• Takes place in modern day Guatemala
• Unsure when started
• Flourished during early 1400s
• Ceremony actually called: Rabinal Achi
• Meaning: Man of Rabinal
• Involved elaborate costumes, masks, sophisticated dance, poetry and music
• Spanish later conquered area
• …..and liked the ceremony
• Introduced some Catholic elements and allowed it to continue each year
• Still performed to this day.
•Based off of Indian performance
•Created by Richard Sheckner
Where is Western Theatricality located?
Western Theatricality is located in:
Indian Theatricality is located in the entire body.
• External acting
• Body influences emotions
• Not mind
The Rasas
•Rasa = flavor
• Bibhasta
• Disgust, distain, distaste, contempt, loathing, revulsion, repentance, repulsed
• Adbhuta
• Awe, curiousity, wonder, revere, discovery, surprise, the thinker
• Sringara
• Love, pleasure, passion, desire, happy, sweetness
• Raudra
• Rage, anger, violence, hostility, aggression, annoyance, wrath
• Bhayanaka
• Fear, shame, embarrassment, remorse, regret, guilt, nervousness, anxiety, apprehension, worry, terror
• Vira
• Brave, courage, the warrior, vigor, daring, heroic, energy, intensity
• Hasya
• Happiness, laughter, the clown, jovial, jolly, trickery, mockery, comedic, shameless, amusement
• Karuna
• Grief, sorrow, lament, compassion, empathy, sadness, heart broken, pity, despair, mourning, pain, loss,
crying, the mourner
• Shanta
• Peace, contentment, tranquility