The study of music provides a unique and valuable insight into the cultural tradition or historical period from which it has come. As students become familiar with the music of various cultural traditions and historical periods they gain an intimate and vivid acquaintance with those traditions and periods.
Here is where we find the historical approach to the scenario. I believe that in anything that we do there must be a history behind it or there would be no story to tell. That is why I have chosen to introduce theater to students through
The Dramatic Story Of The Theater
by Dorothy and Joseph Samachson.
We explore how the theater began by pulling out selected points of history from selected chapters. An in-depth study would be far too time consuming and would almost instantly disinterest the students past the point of retrieval. I had not as of yet found a way to present history in a manner which would not bore them to death until I realized that I can have students actually act out the historically important facts. It has also occurred to me that this method will help students to remember what they have learned, as well as gaining some acting experience that can be analyzed later on in the unit.
The historical plays mentioned in this section have been modified and shortened and can be found in
The Dramatic Story of Theater
by Dorothy and Joseph Samachson.
Read text aloud as the class follows along.
The text used in
Abuydos Passion Play
. It was performed at Abuydos, a city in southern Egypt famed as a burial place of kings. The play had only a few lines of text and no stage directing, so actors and directors had to guess about their actions. Egyptian plays were religious in character and sometimes told of dead souls of pharaohs and how they were brought back to life. Others, like this one, described events in the lives of the gods. These plays had very little plot but plenty of action.
This play has scenes concerning the Egyptian gods, numerous fights, and a monk battle. Plays of this era always had processions, religious ceremonies, and battles in which the audience would take part. The plays were given in special temples in the pyramids, close to the tombs of the kings, or in “Houses of the gods”. The Egyptian theater lasted about four thousand years. Then it died out.
A City in China, Any Year, A.D. 1000-1940 The theaters of China are only a small part of the numerous and varied theaters of Asia, Africa, and the islands of the Pacific. It is impossible to mention more than a few theaters. One theater is the magic theater of Bali. Its function was to win the villagers the support of the gods, to protect them against evil spirits. In the Balinese plays, some of the actors are actually supposed to be possessed by the spirits of the witches, the leyaks, whom they are trying to exorcise.
The Chinese theater were usually religious in purpose. Songs were sung by a chorus, and later developed a set of symbols and conventions that has come down to our own times. The plots of the plays tell of emperors and princesses, noble generals and heroes who were trapped in the toils of the villains, and bravely fight their way out. Others tell of trials and tribulations of wives and the sacrifices that they make to aid their husbands. Some parts of the plays have lively action while others are full of poetic thoughts, lofty sentiments and are usually written for select audiences.
Traditional Chinese theater has not changed much during the centuries. Because the symbols are so strange to us one play
Lady Precious Stream
, has been translated and performed in England and the United States.
A Small Park in an American City, 1938. A platform ordinarily used for band concerts is where the vaudeville acts were put on. A juggler skillfully tosses plates and dumbbells. A magician follows the juggler, a song and dance team succeeds the magician. But the next act in this program introduces a serious note. Three men and two women put on a small skit that portrays a strike taking place in a nearby town.
These plays are of strikes, housing shortages, and unemployment. And then there are plays of a different nature;
was produced to entertain children. In the large cities where theaters are available there are more imaginative stagings. of Shakespeare’s
, modern classics like Shaw’s
Androcles and the Lion