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Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
Alan Ackerman

th Oct 29 Everyman Historic Leap between Greek plays and now. This gap is because the Church banned it, and only brought it back to show religious pieces meant to demonstrate correct morality to the lower class, who were not able to read. We are learning methods of study to apply to multiple texts. In theatre, seeing is important, including the aspect of invisibility. What does it mean to see? Seeing vs knowing- ghosts (Hamlet- is he really seeing a ghost, or simply insane?). Material vs spiritual. Tragedy is a ritual word- goat song (sacrifice). What is ritual? The relationship between theatre and ritual? Are they alike or different? Class examples; ritual has structure that is repeatable. It is pre-ordained and organized. There is more than one person who practices the ritual, it happens outside the body (outward), involves spoken words and gestures. Wearing certain clothing and practicing certain movements. Symbolism is important, par eg. the wine is the blood of Christ. Leader in general- director, priest, a certain hierarchy. Questions of authority happen. Takes place at a particular time of year. Gives structure to different dimensions ( time and space). What compels us to practice ritual? Teacher definition; a ritual is a set of actions performed for symbolic value by a prescribed religion or community. Practiced for specific occasions, religious obligations, and to satisfy personal/ spiritual needs. It was a mode of stating your affiliation and loyalty to certain groups. Includes cults. They were often used as rites of passage, atonement, and purification rites. Some examples of rituals are ones for new seasons, presidents, graduations, jury trials. They include symbolic actions, ritualistic in nature. Require a limited time frame. A set of performers, audience, and occasion for performance. “Art and ritual share potentially one fundamental quality- the Particular and Universal are brought together and are transformed in the process. Particular is Universal beyond immediacy…”- Bruce Kapferer. So for example, in a marriage, a bachelor is transformed into a husband, but for a liminal time, he is a Groom. Theatre has the power to unify a religious collective. Medieval plays were not designed as reading matter. The ‘morality play’, to which Everyman constitutes, was actually a campaign of the church. The common-folk couldn’t read Latin (church) or French (nobility), so they had to be told the feature of their faith. The plays mostly centered on a perpetual struggle between good vs evil, over the soul, and the immediacy of Hell. th In the 15 century is when texts and plays first appear as manuscripts. What survives is religious and secular dramatics. The church disproved of theatre and demonstrated admonitions and prohibitions towards theatre. They only let plays be performed to compete with the profane performances. After this large gap without drama, we experience a second birth of western dramatic art. Morality plays were written by clergy and acted by trade guilds. Actors are every-day people who must triumph over the lures of Hell. Rough humour for the vice humour. It was overtly didactic in nature and extremely allegorical (personification of animals to demonstrate a point (George Orwell
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