Theatre has always existed in societies, in form or another. Many things have the elements of theatre, but are different from theatre as an art form. Some of these things are parades, game shows, sports, dances, religious services and political campaigns. There is no clear evidence as the where the origins of theatre come from, but there are many theories, though they are mainly speculations. Five theories are storytelling, movement/dance, judicial system, revolutionary discoveries and the ritual theory, which is the most accepted, but also most questioned theory.
Storytelling was when a narrator elaborated the writing by doing impersonations. It was both enjoyable and natural. Movement and dance was when people imitated the physical behaviours of animals as well as humans, and usually wore skin as garments. Speech was eventually added to the performances. With the judicial system, the need to converse in court needed expansion. There was a desire to perform and to see performances. Revolutionary discovery was an act of an unidentified artist, possibly Thespis or Aeschylus.
This was to synthesize many other pre-existing elements. Ancient religious rituals normally linked with the seasons, and these rituals are how drama evolved. “Aristotle suggested that mimesis is innate in humans. ” He thought that theatre most likely originated from dithyramb, which was a hymn that was either sung or chanted before religious rituals took place. This was to honour Dionysus, the god of wine, rebirth and fertility. “Tragedy” appears to originate from the Greek word for goat and song, and therefore tragedy was known as the goat song.
In the late 19th century, a Sir James Frazer thought up a theory that the ancient cultures which had no written language used to perform the rituals to try and win over the favour of the natural forces. They were made official, and as time went, the stories grew to explain the rituals. People soon started impersonating the gods, other beings, or the forces, and from there a “dramatic sense” was created. Throughout time, rituals were discarded or at least modified, however the myths still remained as oral traditions. A major step towards drama occurs when these are performed with simple drama.
There are five reasons why rituals were performed. Firstly, it was a way of gaining knowledge. They were also used for educational purposes. Another reason was to show how they worshiped, and also to influence the audience. Of course they were also used to for entertainment purposes. Over time, aesthetics slowly overtook the religious and useful aims of the rituals. In post WWII, there were two ways of thinking, one was scientifically and one was mythically. In ancient days, they were included together, but in ours, they are split.
What was common in the theories was that they had the same beliefs. The rituals and myths were significant in all societies. The rituals are just one source of theatre, however not all societies developed the same. Theatre and Rituals are similar in many ways. They both have similar ways, music dances, masks, costumes, speech, performers, audiences, a stage, makeup. They also shared similar themes, which were pleasure, power and duty. Their production methods were of the same nature, with a technical director to keep everything flowing.
Both tend to join some cultures and some forms of theatre, but in most advanced societies, they remain apart. The elements of theatre began to increase, when rituals mains concerns were no longer religion, and man had gained confidence. Theatre is performed differently, and has different themes. In Western theatre, there are myths which show the relationship between the gods and humans. There is change, and progress, which create a certain reality. They include lots of conflict to show it as being the core of our living.
In the Eastern theatre, myths show a certain togetherness between the gods and man. Contrary to change and progress in Western theatre, the Eastern theatre shows it to be illusions, and instead of much conflict, show tranquility and peace as being the truths of life. Western theatre originated from theatre in ancient Greece, and was quite possible influenced by eastern myths and rituals. However, Greeks developed these rituals into theatre, while the Eastern, which included Egypt, Byzantine, the Asians and the Indians, never went past rituals.