Chapter 11 Non-Western Theatre
Three Stages: Ritual, ritual theatre, and theatre.
is an early form of theatre; it uses theatrical techniques such as song,
dance, and characterization, but it was still firmly rooted in religion.
Theatre is artificial. Aristotle—a play is an imitating of an action, not the action itself.
Second, theatre usually has a story of conflict.
Ikhernofret wrote of his participation in a ritual play in Abydos about the death and
resurrection of Osiris, the god of fertility and the underworld.
grew out of the theatre of Thespis in ancient Greece. This form of
theatre passes from the Athenians to the Roamns to the medieval Europeans. Western
theatres are sometimes called
because it grew, at least in part, out of the ideas
of the Greek philosopher Aristotle.
includes all other forms of drama, from the ancient ritual theatre of
Africa to the traditional theatre of Asian to the shadow and puppet theatre of Muslim
lands. Non-Western theatre can be difficult for Westerners to fully comprehend because
of unfamiliar theatrical conventions and the haze of translation. Doesn’t attempt to re-
create objective reality. Closely tied to ritual, and it uses color dance, song, and
movements to exaggerate, stylize, and symbolically represent life.
African Theatre: Myths, Rituals, Rites, and Celebrations
African theatre into three periods: the pre-colonial times when African theatre was in its
purest form, the colonial period when Western-style drama was introduced to Africa, and
the postcolonial period when Western and non-Western theatre were fused into what has
been called “Total Theatre”.
A Circle of Participants: Pre-colonial Forms
Pre-colonial African theatre
grew out of ritual. It incorporated acting, music,
storytelling, poetry, dance, costumes, and lots of masks to create a theatre that combined
ritual and ceremony with drama.
African ritual theatre encourages the audience to sing and dance as they formed a circle of
participants that fused the two most important institutions of pre-colonial Africa: religion
Some label pre-colonial African theatre “nonliterate drama” or “pre-drama”, as if it were
*Spotlight* Masks and Theatre
Although actors today in the West rarely wear them, masks have been important in ritual,
religion, and theatre for thousands of years.
Masks can help wearers enter an altered state or at least allow them anonymity as they
take on the qualities of a different person, an animal or mythical being.
Will Durant points out the word; “persona” signified the actor’s mask. – The part played
by human beings in life and finally to mean human beings themselves.
Some theatres still use the word