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Lecture 1

THAR 201 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: San Francisco Mime Troupe, Maya Maize God, Tutsi

Theatre Arts
Course Code
THAR 201
Greenwald Michael

of 20
THAR 201, Unit 3
Sacrada Semana means HOLY WEEK, often denotes Palm Sunday/Easter
o Via CrucisThe Way of the Cross, took care of the sick and wore costumes with pointy hats so
that they wouldn’t be recognizedunfortunately these costumes starting becoming used by the
KKK and they besmirched the entire holy sanctity of this process
o Ritual of flagellation, Philippines is famous for these
o Passion playsstory of how Christ got hung on the cross, happen every 10 years
o EASTER: The Resurrection of Christ, origin of contemporary theater
o has an extraordinary theatrical element to it
Yaqui EasterTucson
o part indigenous ritual and part Christianity
o Yaqui Easter ceremonies act out a battle between good and evil in the person of Fariseo and
Chapayekas who attack the church defended by Matachinas armed with flowers. In the end,
good triumphs and an effigy of Judas along with the evil-soaked masks of the Chapayekas are
burned, as shown here.
Middle East: MENA
o most of North Africa
o Arab entertainers and stand-up comedy into Arab-American standup comedy is very much a
product of post-9/11MAZ JOBRANI is NOTABLE FOR THIS
o In a sense , the rise of the new art form it was the natural reaction of these artists to the terrorist
attacks. The comedians saw the surge in anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiments after the attack
and they felt an obligation to respond. They wanted to break down stereotypes and show the
mainstream audience in the US a different side of Arabs and Muslims through the comedy
Traditional Arab Clothing
o Women wear abayas with hijab
Qatar, founded in 1973, modernized in 1995, and population is 1.75 million
ASPIRE dome: athletic complex in Qatar
Al Fanar: The Lighthouse
Islamic Cultural Center in Doha, Muslim teachers teach at Islamic cultural center
Sunni vs. Shi’a
o SUNNIS (the majority of Muslims):
§ Follow the teachings of the first four caliphs, whom they believe followed the practices of the
prophet Muhammad.
o SHI’A/SHIITES (c. 20% of Muslims):
§ Follow the biological descendents (imams) of the Prophet Muhammad. They reject the first 3
caliphs and follow the fourth, Ali, Muhammad’s son-in-law, because they believe he was
closer to the Prophet.
5 Pillars of Islam
o 1. Absolute faith in Allah (shahada)
o 2. Daily prayer: 5 times (salah)
o 3. Fasting at Ramadan (siyam)
o 4. Charity tax [2%] (zakat or zakah)
o 5. Pilgrimage to Mecca (hajj)
§ Ramy-al-Jamarat: throwing stones to signify their defiance of the Devil.
§ Eid-al-Adha: animal sacrifices, to symbolize God having mercy on Abraham and replacing
his son Ishmael with a ram, which Abraham then sacrificed.
Ramadan: 30 Day Fast, Feast of Eid
Sheikh Ali al Thani and the Emir of Qatar are leaders of Qatar
Qatar is big in educationTAMU campus, Cornell Medical School, Carnegie-Mellon School of Business,
Qatar Academy (K-12, 5-12 have international experience every year), Qatar University has Syrian and
Yemeni students
Al Jazeera Headquarters, Dohathis is their news channel
Muslim of Islamic Arts is in Doha
Theater in the Arab World
o Although Arab theatre - in the sense of stage plays - did not develop until the 19th century, the
region has other dramatic traditions dating back hundreds of years. These include puppetry,
storytelling and Ta'ziyah - a type of religious passion play performed in Shi'a communities.
o For a variety of reasons, including censorship, theatre has never become an especially popular art
form in the Arab countries and the limited number of theatres has led to the development of
theatrical troupes who travel in search of audiences.
Abydos Passion Play: among oldest “plays” in the world.
o Khayal al-zill ( "shadows of the imagination" or "shadows of fancy") was a popular form of puppetry
in medieval Cairo. This is a shadow play with live music ..”the accompaniment of drums,
tambourines and flutes...also...“special effects” smoke, fire, thunder, rattles, squeaks, thumps,
and whatever else might elicit a laugh or a shudder from his audience”
o One of the key figures in shadow puppetry was the Iraqi-born poet/playwright Ibn Daniyal (died
o Widespread illiteracy led to the development of oral folk literature (hakawati) throughout the Middle
East in which professional storytellers recounted popular tales - often adding individual touches in
the hope of collecting more money from their audience. Some story-tellers would accompany
themselves on musical instruments or make dramatic gestures at appropriate points in the tal
o Ta'ziyah (or Ta'ziyeh) is usually described as a passion play. to commemorate the death of the
Prophet Muhammad's grandson, Hussain, at the battle of Karbala (Iran) in AD 680.
o "During the first nine days, religious notables recite, with great emotion, details from Hussain's
life, while groups of men dance wildly in the streets inflicting wounds upon themselves with
chains. On the tenth day, a symbolic coffin is carried in procession, followed by horses,
bloodied men, and a steed representing Hussain's war-horse. The long performance, consisting
of some forty to fifty scenes, is introduced by lamentations chanted by a male choir, answered
by the mourning wail of a female choir."
BELLY DANCING: 6000 yr tradition
o The early pagan communities often worshipped a matriarchal deity and extolled the magic and
fascination of the ability of women to create life.
o There is historical evidence which links the ritual of fertility dances at that time, with symbolic re-
creations of giving birth, to modern belly dancing. The sharp hip movements, deliberate
muscular contractions and spasms, as well as sinewy undulations, demonstrate strong
connections to the body's responses during labor and delivery
Al Ardha, Saudi Arabia’s national dance, a sword dance is based on ancient Bedouin traditions
Tawfiq-al-Hakim: the Father of Modern Arabic Drama
o The son of a wealthy Egyptian judge, Hakim was born in Alexandria in 1898. He studied law in
Cairo and continued his studies in Paris. Following his return from France, he worked as a
deputy prosecutor in Alexandria, and he also worked as a journalist, and as a manager of the
Egyptian National Library.
o Although he wrote novels, poems and essays, he is best remembered as a prolific playwright
who played a key role in the development of Arabic drama. He died in 1987.
o The Donkey Market is a social comedy that reflects societal discontent with humor and sarcasm
as it focuses on the state of unemployment and the plight of the underdogs of society. Its
themes transcend national boundaries as the social problems it examines are universal in
o A vivid picture of the struggle that the youth of Egypt faces everyday. The main cause is the lack
of freedom and the poverty that kills every dream and attempts for freedom and self-
accomplishing. The protagonists even can't find a proper job due to their lack of good
appearances and relationships. Tawfik el Hakim is an expert at drawing the picture of the
poverty in the Egyptians' lives.
§ The Trickster (Hassawi): Eiron
§ Farmer: Agroikos
§ The Shrewish Wife: (Domina Matrix)
§ Issues: unemployment, agricultural practices involving storing seeds for the future, use
of irrigation (shadufs)
El Hakawati Company of Palestine
o With pantomime, folklore, song and allegory, El-Hakawati is carrying the age-traditions of the
Arab storyteller into modern times and foreign places.
o Adopting the Arabic word for "storyteller" as its name, the El-Hakawati Company was founded in
1977and is based in East Jerusalem, the only Palestinian theater group to be formed in the
occupied territories.
Belly Dancing: early pagan communities often worshipped a matriarchal deity and extolled the magic
and fascination of the ability of woman to create life, there is historical evidence which links the ritual of
fertility dances at that time, with symbolic recreations of giving birth to modern belly dancing, the sharp
hip movements, despite muscular contractions and spasms, as well as sinewy undulations,
demonstrate strong connections to the body’s responses during labor and delivery
pg. 608-615
o Roots of African Theater
§ storytelling performances- griots (healers) improvise a story through song and dance,
the narrator assumes the voice and physical characteristics of the many people in the
story, other leap in to play particular characters, may use masks and costume pieces
§ simple enactments- hunting animals is the primary plot in some stories and serves a
functional and spiritual purpose, other enactments are more social in scope and act out
social rituals
§ ritualized enactments- have sympathetic (homeopathic) magic, often spiritual plays,
Loga of Central Africa have an initiation ritual where important artifacts are paraded
through the village while proverbs are sung, go to an initiation hut and expel bad spirits
until the good one reach their bodies
§ spirit cult performances- medium assumes as character while in a trance, speak in spirit
language and the spirit medium performs in such a way that it gives the illusion that the
spirit is actually there, Ex. Macumba of Brazil and people in W.Uganda
§ masquerades- beautiful costumes and parades, evolved from death rituals in secret
societies, dramatic narrative, use mimetic actions
§ ceremonial performances- Dogon of Africa celebrate festival of the dead, do acrobatic
performances and mock battles to accept the inevitability of death
§ comedies- descended from enactments/masquerades and may have been the beginning
of formal theater around the world
o Post-Colonial Drama in African Theater
§ Europe occupies Africa (French, Dutch, German, etc.) and the British establish South
African colonies and theater is established in Cape Town. In 1884-1885, the Europeans
divide up their colonies in Berlin.