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Cohen Chapter 7

Theatre Traditions East and West
by

Terie Spencer

on 20 October 2017

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Transcript of Cohen Chapter 7

Theatre Traditions: East and West CHAPTER SEVEN The Origins of Theatre Theatre is always connected to its past and future

Yet the exact origins of drama are unknown
The first drama took place the same place the first people were-Africa

Two ancient foundations of theatre:
Ritual
a collective ceremony- cultural or religious
Storytelling
needs an audience- one step closer to acting Ancient Theatre in
Sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt Traditional drama began when spoken dialogue entered Shamanistic ritual in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Shaman mediates the real and spirit worlds- acts as a go-between- and performs in a magical trance

(Is that what actors do, too?)

Theatre then moved to Egypt
The Abydos Passion Play (2500 B.C.), a resurrection drama rooted in springtime ritual
Other Middle Eastern life/death/resurrection plays Theatre in the West:
Greek and Roman Drama Ancient Greek theatre
Origins in religion (worship of Dionysus)
Performances evolved from chanting ancient poems (dithyrambos) and drunken fertility rituals Theatre in the West:
Medieval and Renaissance In the dark ages (medieval) theatre was banned by the Christian and Islamic religions, but appeared again as part of religious storytelling Theatre in the West: Medieval and Renaissance Medieval theatre
Intensely religious
Theatre emerged from liturgical elaborations known as tropes
The Quem Quaeritis resembled dramatic structure
Renaissance theatre
Interest in classics and new expansion
Sense of exploration personified by Shakespeare
An age rich with dramatic flourishing in England, Italy, Spain, and France
Italy created commedia dell’arte, an influential form of improvised comedy Theatre in the West:
Royal and Romantic After the Renaissance, royalty became integral to dramatic process
They sponsored theatre (patrons), wrote and directed

(Theatres moved indoors around this time)

In France, Moliere created ingenious satirical comedies

In England, Restoration drama arose
Celebrated wit and social placement
Genteel and ordered, geared toward the aristocracy
Strict rules for everything Theatre in the West: Royal and Romantic After the Renaissance, royalty became integral to dramatic process
As patrons and artists
In France, Molière exemplified the spirit of the age
Created ingenious satirical comedies
Spain’s theatre celebrated honor and philosophy
In England, Restoration drama arose
Celebrated wit and social placement
Romantic theatre followed the Royal age by repudiating its ideas
Instead, a focus on emotion and individuality Theatre in the East:
India Indian drama is as old as Western traditions
Sanskrit dance-drama the oldest form (200 A. D.)
primary genres: nataka (heroic stories) and prakarana (love stories)
died out in the 10th century Theatre in the East:
China and Japan Chinese Opera (xiqu) originated as comedic dance-music-drama (peaked in the 1200s)
Later, it developed into stately and poetic form (kunqu)
Today, over 360 regional variations
Most popular: Beijing opera

Performers are proficient in singing, speech, acting, movement and martial arts! Theatre is a living art but also a living tradition Ancient Roman theatre
More famous for architecture than plays
Derivative of Greek models
Profound effect on Renaissance playwrights Renaissance theatre- late 1400s, 1500s
Rediscovered the Greek and Roman classics
One word- Shakespeare
Italy created commedia dell’arte, an influential form of improvised comedy
Spain and France did stuff too, but who cares? 1600s, 1700s Romantic theatre followed the Royal age by repudiating its ideas (1800s)
Instead, a focus on emotion and individuality, passion and compassion
Faust, Hunchback, Les Miz Theatre in the East Some fundamental principles
almost never just spoken- danced, sung, chanted
the sound value of words is important Kathakali (story play)
began in the 1600s, performed still today -a sung performance accompanied by music
Based on two ancient epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata Japanese nō is precisely performed and ceremonial
Oldest continuously performed drama in the world (perfected in the 1300s)
2 person play, ceremonial, tragic, cerebral
Japanese kabuki, by contrast, developed as mass entertainment (began in the 1600s)
Rather than supernatural, its events are rooted in the material world
'history' plays and 'domestic' plays
Started with all female performers- now all male

Both are performed in the same manner as they were centuries ago Quotes from the Restoration playwright Congreve
kiss and tell
Music has charms to soothe a savage breast
Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned Produced both dark, bloody tragedy
Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles
and bawdy, outrageous comedy
Aristophanes Laid groundwork for almost all Western drama
Musicals, operas, sitcoms, dramas, stock characters Medieval theatre (1200s, 1300s)
Intensely religious (Christian)
Dramatic re-enactments of portions of the liturgy and the resurrection story
Then moved outdoors with 'mystery' or 'miracle' plays, still religious, but with social commentary as well
Performed first by clergy, then by ordinary citizens Although some overlap exists, Asian theatre developed largely in isolation from the West more visual- less literary
not tightly plotted (not like Aristotle) stylized
traditional
actors trained as apprentices from a young age
Full transcript