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Ritual Aspects of Theatre

Several guest lectures, support, organization & evaluation of the seminar as a (doctor-)assistant

Short summary of the course

This advanced course is intended to help students acquire insight into the connection between ritual, theatre and communication media in history (focus: Antiquity & Shakespeare) and in the present day (focus: contemporary theatre and new social media).

Contents of the course

Antique theatre is the origin of the European tradition, but at the same time has its roots on other continents (e.g. the Arabic continent). Tragedies had a central function in the antique city, and showed collective rituals that engage with kinship, love and death. The ritual aspects in theatre history and in contemporary performances will be questioned on the basis of Greek tragedies. Also William Shakespeare’s oeuvre will be dealt with in its mystic and ritual aspects. 

Next to the focus on the re-staging of antique tragedies and the oeuvre of Shakespeare, rituals are dealt with within the frame of contemporary art and daily life, like for example the music festival as an urban ritual and the creation of community (“relational art”) in that context. Also Psy-Trance-festivals are questioned in regard to their ritual aspects. Finally, the course also questions the newest communication media, such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, about their ritual aspects in the formation of individual and collective identities. Does theatre (still) have a ritual function today, and if so, how and for whom? Or has society moved the formative function of theatre towards other media and other art forms?

Final competences of the course
  • Detailed knowledge about the ritual function of antique theatre and of contemporary performances of tragedies.
  • Detailed knowledge about the ritual functions and the community education in contemporary theatre and performances (namely the theatre festival as urban rituals). 
  • Detailed knowledge about the theatricality of individual and collective rituals in contemporary (Western) society.
  • Detailed knowledge about the ritual aspects of contemporary communication media (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter,…).
Shakespear Company, Hamlet (David Tennant), 2008 (Photo: Donald Cooper / Rex Features)
Shakespear Company, Hamlet (David Tennant), 2008 (Photo: Donald Cooper / Rex Features)