Saturday, September 18, 2010

Theater History: Notes

In case you missed it this past week, here are the notes on rituals, storytelling, and dance:

·      Theatre began thousands of years ago, probably before the start of recorded history.

·      Early cultures used ritual, dance and storytelling to communicate.

·      Theatre is one of the HUMANITIES; it attempts to answer the questions: “Who am I?” “Why are we here?” and “Where are we going?”

·      A RITUAL is an action performed REPEATEDLY because of its symbolic significance and its ability to evoke the emotions of those engaged in the performance.

·      Through rituals, early humans wanted to:
- Achieve success in battle and hunting
- Ensure adequate sun and rain
- Express their duty to the community and to the gods

·      Common to all traditional cultures, the shaman is a priestly figure who communicates directly with the gods through rituals for the benefit of the community.

·      Rituals were usually performed by elders, priests or shamans.

·      Our knowledge of early theatre and rituals comes from wall painings, artifacts, and hieroglyphics.

·      Rituals often told a story based on the culture’s beliefs.  These stories were often based on MYTH.

·      Myths gained a life beyond the rituals, and began to be performed for entertainment.

·      Myth, Stories, Rituals BECAME Habit, Tradition BECAME Entertainment which BECAME Theatre!

·      The earliest example of ritual evolving into theatre comes from Ancient Egypt.

The world’s first report of a dramatic production is an Egyptian drama known as the Abydos Passion Play.
- The play at Abydos is the story of the god Osiris.

Myths and stories have been used to entertain and to educate human beings since
the very beginning of spoken language.

• Stories were told in order to:
            - TEACH HISTORY                                                - ENTERTAIN
            - SETTLE ARGUMENTS                                    - HONOR THE GODS
            - MAKE SENSE OF THE WORLD                        - COMMUNICATE EXPERIENCES
            - RECORD HISTORY

·      Homer was a blind poet who may have been born on an island in the Aegean Sea (GREEK).
·      He probably composed his works between 700 and 800 B.C.
·      Homer was an ancient Greek epic poet, traditionally said to be the
author of the epic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey.
·      Homer was one of the first storytellers to use repetition and dialogue in his stories.
·      Homer’s (and others!)  stories provided many of the ideas and plots for playwrights that came after him!

·      Dance is another probable origin of theatre.

·      Dance comes from:
- animal imitation                        - pantomime
- gymnastics                                    - rhythmic movement

·      Dance was often used as part of rituals.

Theater I students are beginning work on a SUMMATIVE collaborative assignment: the Primitive Theater Project.  Reminder: SUMMATIVE assignments make up 60% of your class grade!  Don't be a slacker in your group!

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