From Oral Tradition To Contemporary Theater

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From Oral tradition to Contemporary theater

From Oral tradition to Contemporary theater


The term performance has significantly gained much importance in the recent years, based on the wide array or activities in arts, literature and social science, performance has always been the core element of theater since it encompasses analyzing and understanding the human activity being presented (Calson, 1996). Through this paper we will focus on discussing the past oral traditions of theater to contemporary theater. To begin with we will discuss the origin of theater.


Origin of theater

The term theater means a place for viewing which can be traced back to 5000 years in Ancient Greece, theater is a disciple of performing arts that basically involves live performances by actor who create a self contained drama, since its inception theater has taken various forms and has incorporated various elements like dance, gestures and pantomime. The little information that is available regarding the origin of theater is obtained from drawings, hieroglyphics and artifacts, which usually portray the story of Gods, seasonal changes and life cycles. Theater was a form of passing on life experiences to the youth through storytelling and drama.

Theater emerged from rituals, ceremonies and myth, in the past people made connections between acts performed by the leader which showed the desired results to certain existing issues, it was from these repetitive actions which became a customary habit which became part of the early traditions, then to rituals and then to ceremonies. The constant repetition of these habits and actions finally broke grounds for the formulation of theater.

Rituals performed are associated with three core concepts; Power, pleasure and duty. Rituals were usually performed on influencing events and events that were for a positive result such as rituals for a successful crop or for the purpose of pleasing Gods. Rituals in the past were for the purpose of glorifying Gods and superpowers. For the purpose of representing the supernatural beings and Gods costumes were used. The rituals performed were mostly based on myths. Theater and Rituals are very closely associated with each other since both aim at imparting knowledge, to glorify something or someone and to influence and control (Trumbull,2007).

Myths in storytelling was based on the traditional beliefs people held, which gradually shifted more towards the purpose of entertaining others, as rituals grew and became more elaborate there was a need for a proper space to perform which gave rise to the development of theater spaces. The earliest examples of ceremonies and rituals can be traced to the ancient Egyptians dating back to 2800 BC the images and drawings found reveal plays and ceremonies in which the dead Pharaoh's were sent off to the underworld. The rituals were also a form of continuing the power and life of the dead Pharaoh. The most significant Egyptian play was the Abydos play which was based on the story of Osiris. The drama was considered sacred and was performed on the burial site of Osiris and became a huge tradition and was performed every year from 2500 ...
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