Theater and Religion

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Kattwinkel
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 1050
End: 1205
Field Work: Day 1 | India Download Syllabus

Religion and theatre have been intimately connected in nearly all parts of the world since theatre’s earliest beginnings.  This class will examine some of the theatrical forms where this connection has been the strongest.  Although we will encounter some western theatrical forms like ancient Greek theatre and medieval European theatre, we will primarily focus on eastern theatres, in keeping with our voyage itinerary.  In much of Asia, theatrical forms remain expressions of religious traditions and texts. We will look at the Buddhist-influenced theatrical genres of China and Japan, the Hindi-influenced genres of India, the Islam-influence theatre of Malaysia and also consider the role of local folklore and superstition on theatres in Africa. There will be one field assignment involving a written response to a theatrical production we see onshore, and there will be multiple opportunities to see more theatre in multiple ports.

Field Work

Country: India
Day: 1

For this field lab we will visit two theatres and their accompanying museums to get exposure to a variety of traditional dance-drama forms. First we will visit Fort Cochin, an area in Cochin showcasing colonial culture and traditional arts of Kerala. There we will visit Greenix theatre and museum, where we will see a performance of traditional Keralan dance forms. Afterwards, we will visit the Kerala Folklore Museum and Theatre. At the museum we'll see examples of masks, puppets, props, etc., historically used in a variety of dance/dramas and other art forms. After watching the performers put on face makeup and prepare for performance, we will view a performance presenting several traditional forms of Indian performance. Students will have the opportunity to compare several forms of Keralan dance-drama, and observe how different performers approach the same form. They will observe first-hand traditional dance-drama as a product for cultural tourism and reflect on their own experience as tourists.
Academic Objectives:
  1. To view a live dance/drama performance
  2. To analyze the religious connection
  3. To analyze one’s own physical experience and reception in the theatre