Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Theatre and Religion

There has always been a strong link between theatre and religion. The Greek theatre was always part of religious festivals. In the middle ages, the theatre was used by the Catholic Church to help educate their parishioners on Bible stores. But beyond that, theatre seems to be fascinated with religious topic as subject matter. Take a look at some of our favorite plays: Doubt, Angels in America, Inherit the Wind, Red Noses, Sarah Ruhl's Passion Play, Fiddler on the Roof, Freedomland by Amy Freed, and even Amadeus. There are of course many other and, conversely, many plays that don't treat religion at all, but theatre does seem to be inclined to view religion in a different way than many other performance mediums.

Perhaps this is because of theatre's tenuous relationship with religious authority. Theatre, it seems, is often the first art to be condemned and censored by any sort of moral authority. The idea of the loose morals of the theatre is an old one associating actors with the lowest of low lifes there can be. Perhaps this is theatre's revolt against institutions that for so long have tried to stifle their important voice.

Perhaps too, theatre is able to tackle issues in a more direct way that popular medium. Theatre is generally not your normal form of entertainment and therefor is able to criticize in ways a pop film won't be able to. Theatre too is an older form and has a greater sense of their self identity and how to criticize.

But there are many other factors that keep religion and theatre together as strange bed-fellows. What are some of your thoughts as to why the two fight, intermingle, and compliment each other so well.

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