Greek Theater and Ritual
There's a profound connection between the theater, healing, and the soul. From the times of the ancient Greeks, we have been gathering together in the sacred space of the theater to remember, to mourn, to laugh, and to reconnect to our humanity. In this course, you will learn the power latent in the theater to heal our deepest wounds individually and collectively, and how we can achieve catharsis, the deep soul cleansing we need to heal from our traumas.
Humankind has always had a need to express the innermost longings, desires, and sufferings of the soul in a sacred space dislocated from the ordinariness of life. This course will help you to heal your story. And in the process, you will gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between ritual and theater, and its power to transform self and community. We will read, breakdown, and discuss one of the great Greek tragedy plays as we dive deep into its sacred purpose and meaning. And finally, you will write your own theater piece that one day will be performed before a live audience, a piece that embodies these principals of transformation.
Part One: Ritual and Theater
Prior to our ability to formulate sounds into words and connect them to the symbols of speech, humankind had to ritualize and perform what was inside of us to communicate our thoughts, feelings, emotions, fears, and dreams to another. The process of ritualization became a nonverbal means of communication and connection that enabled our ancestors to adapt, acclimate, and survive. Theater, on the other hand, grew out of the Dionysian fertility festivals of ancient Greece. Ritual and Theater - one calls us to unite with the unseen, the other tells a story. Both are powerful, essential tools for healing and transformation.
In this first part of the class, we are going to examine the relationship between ritual and theater, identify their similarities, underscore their differences, and prepare the ground for re-uniting these two form in our own theater piece. We will be reading two books, Ritual: Power, Healing, and Community by Malidoma Patrice Some, and The Magic of Ritual: Our Need for Liberating Rites that Transform our Lives and our Communities, by Tom Driver.
Part Two: Greek Drama
In this section of the course, we are going to immerse into the world of the ancient Greeks, in particular, the theater. The Greeks were very successful in combining the elements of ritual and theater into sacred alchemy for their culture. The theater was a sacred space. Once the audience members crossed over into the sacred precinct of Dionysus, they were no longer in the ordinary world. The story they were about to witness was their story, the archetypal characters on the stage were the archetypes within themselves. The play was lifted and touched the epic.
We will chose one play from the complete lexicon of the Greek drama, and read, study, discuss, and write about how this playwright was able to bring the elements of tragedy together - fear, terror, grief, horror, and evil - and why it worked, or didn't work? We will also examine what they were trying to communicate through these characters, and why watching this together in community, helped to achieve catharsis for themselves and the society at large.
Part Three: Lifting Your Story to the Stage
In this final part of the course, we will create a theater piece that embodies the elements of ritual and drama. We will break down the process by which you take the elements of your life story which you wish to be healed of, and begin to identify the archetypal energies lying underneath. Once we connect to your personal myth and identify the wounded archetypes, you will do dramatic exercises to awaken the archetypes, draft the monologues, outline the story, write the dialogue, compose the scene of your life with the archetypal characters, cast the scene with other members of the class, and then watch your work performed on our last day. The goal of this process is to heal and transform the self and community.
Course will begin April 24th, 2021, and will meet every Saturday morning for 10 weeks on zoom. All interested students must pay tuition in full or you can speak with me about an installment plan. No refunds once class begins. Dedicated students only. All materials and books for the course must be purchased separately. Class size limit: 16.