Sacred Theater

If asked, many stage director’s would probably define the fundamental requirements for theater as “a story, a storyteller, and an audience.”

The great myths and stories of humankind have been brought to life on stages of every imaginable size, so that we might enjoy their imaginative effects and know them in our hearts. But to fully participate in what they offer also requires bodily participation. This bodily kind of participation takes place as the story unfolds, when we become so immersed that we no longer try to separate ourselves from what we are experiencing, even from our environment.

Great theater can transport us beyond even the imaginary world of great literary works. But ultimately, it serves to ground us in the patterns of this physical world.

When theater is performed in a sacred context and culture, it is not simply intended to entertain and to educate. Sacred theater can transform the participant in each of us. The archetypical myths enacted in ancient ritual can communicate to participants at a greater depth than just their conceptual or analytical mind. Ecstatic theater draws us away from our self-concern and separateness, to the experience of a greater reality, beyond the seeming differences of class, culture, race, gender and lifestyle. It is always intended to purify us and lift us up.

An Overview of Theater to the Present

Word History

Theories about the roots of the theater in the West generally begin with studies of Greek drama, which is etymologically appropriate as well as historically correct. The words "theory" and "theater" are related through complex Greek sources, and the original Greek word for theater was theatron, meaning “a place for seeing, especially for dramatic representation." Other words associated with theatron clearly indicate a close relationship to "cultural meetings between envoys and diplomats." So, in ancient Greece, it would have been truly fitting to elaborate theories about culture while watching a play in a theater.

 
The Ecstatic Art and Theater Project sponsors live traditional and contemporary sacred, ceremonial presentations to allow you to experience the transmission inherent in the great sacred works of theater.

Classic Examples of Sacred Theater — 1 2 3

The Mahabharata

Traditional Rendering of Scene from the MahabharataA Historical Account Of Two Dynasties, India, Circa 5000 BC, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India, the other being "The Ramayana."

With more than 74,000 verses, plus long prose passages, or some 1.8 million words in total, it is the longest epic poem in the world.


Traditional Rendering of The Baghavad Gita Section of the Mahabharata"The Mahabharata" is of immense religious and philosophical importance in India, in particular for including the "Bhagavad Gita," one the most important texts in Hinduism.

Traditionally, in its original form, "The Mahabharata" has been ascribed to the poet Vyasa.


Scene from a Motion Picutre version of The Mahabharata
For many reason, including its immense length, philological study of this work carries with it a long history of scholarly attempts at unraveling its historical growth, and the various layers of its final composition.

Many sections of this epic have been produced as sacred theatre, and many have been made into motion pictures in a great many countries

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