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The Origins of Theatre
Transcript of The Origins of Theatre
"Theatre, along with human civilization
almost certainly began in Africa."
1- Ritual - a collective ceremony perfomed by members of society normally for religious or cultural reasons.
2 - Storytelling - Ever since humans developed coherent speech they sought to recount their own (and others') adventures and histories.
3- Shamanism, Trance, & Magic - A combination of ritual and storytelling.
"Theatre emerged from myth, ritual, ceremony. Early societies perceived connections between certain actions performed by the group or leaders in the group and the desired results of the whole society. These actions moved from habit, to tradition, and then to ceremony and ritual. The formulation of these actions, and the consequent repetition and rehearsal, broke the ground for theatre."
Formalized Speech Props
Over time theatrical elements were added:
Rituals may attract an audience.
Storytelling requires an
Trance, and Magic
The root of the most ancient form of theatre, the dance-drama.
The Nigerian Masquerade
A ceremony held to honor the dead and pray to the gods for a successful planting season.
This masquerade incorporates mask, costumes, chants, and dances.
''These masqueraders vary in shapes and sizes as each one represents each dead kindred and ancestor. On the day of the festival all the masqueraders gather in the town or village square to entertain the people. Only the initiated and members of the masquerade cult are allowed to wear the masks (the spirit of the dead is usually embedded in the mask). Therefore, not just anybody can adorn this sacred mask. Sons and daughters who hail from the town line the streets to watch the colorful and utterly aggressive masqueraders, believed to have been overtaken by a spirit. Thus the use of charms to suppress the adverse affect of the spirit is a key feature of the festival. Based on this, actions of some these masqueraders may be erratic and visitors have to be cautious of this fact. Som of them even carry whips."
The Mmanwu Festival by The Igbo People of Nigeria
Ancient Egyptian Theatre
3100 BC - Egyptian Coronation Festival Plays
2750 BC - Egyptian Ritual Dramas
2000 BC - Abydos Passion Play
The knowledge of the Passion Play comes from a papyrus account written by Ikhernofret, a performer of the 19th century BC, that was found at Luxor. Professional actors apparently played the leading roles and pilgrims the minor parts.
Abydos Passion Play
This play was about the king-god Osiris. Though he was a good king, Osiris brutally murdered and pieces of his body were scattered throughout Egypt. His wife Isis and his son Horus gathered up the pieces created sites where pilgrims worshiped Osiris. Osiris was later resurrected. Passion plays were preformed annually in his memory at sites throughout Egypt.
Early Ritualistic dramas performed at a pharoh's death to help send him to the underground.
These included morality plays and creation dramas. These usully took place inside temples.
Osirian Mysteries (Passion Plays)
The festivities were divided into three parts:
The defense of Osiris by his son, Horus
The fight and death of Osiris
The triumph of Osiris when his enemies were defeated
The famous Abydos Passion Play falls into this category, as does the Memphite Drama, which chronicles the life and resurrection of Osiris and the coronation of his son.
During the later portion of the Egyptian perios, performances bacsed on humorous local myths started to appear.
Records indicate these performances included plot, props, costumes and scripts.
Details of these performances have been found carved on temple walls, such as the temple of Edfu.