Theories of Origin of Theater Essay

-Worlds earliest recorded dramatic activity took place on the banks of the Nile River in Egypt. They performed rituals and acted out old folktales. Most of their performances were based on religious belief. -Ancient Chinese, Indian and Greek drama also indicate a long tradition of theatrical activity. There are many theories of the origin of theater, but here are the top 5. * Imitation- Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, thought that “mimesis” , otherwise known as imitation, was born within us. Aristotle found that we imitate those whom we admire.

In addition, children learn by imitating adults. For example, when we see a spider, we may have a disgusting, horrified reaction. If we saw a butterfly instead, it would give us content, joyful reaction. Aristotle found imitation to be “superior to life”. * Storytelling- a tradition of the oral performance. It is enjoyable to the audience and there is a narrator. The narrator must exaggerate everything to bring out its effect. Stories always had a lesson, whether it was about family or values. It was never pointless.

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Some of the stories were not always true, so they became known as myths. * Movement/Dance- replicating physical behavior of animals/humans. Eventually, talking was added, in order to give a clearer understanding of the message the performers were trying to portray. For example, lion king is a great example of movement/ dance in theater. The actors are all representing different animals within their choreography. * Judicial System- if you wanted to speak in front of court, you had to “perform”, which required speaking in front of a large audience with confidence on your point of view. Ritual Theory- this is the most known, universal theory. Most people believe it. Others who do not believe it question it often. Drama evolved from original religious theories that almost always tied in with the seasonal cycle. * Ritual influenced theatrical forms * Sir James Frazer developed a theory in the late 19th century. The very first cultures had no written language so they performed rituals. Later, stories were created to explain the rituals. People began to impersonate gods, humans, or natural forces.

This lead to developing a theatrical feeling(sense. ) * Sooner or later, rituals changed, but myths and story telling stayed the same. * When these myths/ stories were acted out, it was one step closer towards drama. * Theater and Rituals Similarity * Both involve music, dance, costumes, performers, stage,a nd an audience * Similar production methods (directors) to make sure things go as planned * At first, rituals were always religious. Within time, they became more about pleasure, power, or duty, making them more profane.