Sometimes, the place where a play is performed is as important as or more important than the play itself. The first known theatrical rituals were performed in spaces which came to hold deep religious significance. Many religious traditions regard certain places as sacred because of spiritually significant events which took place there, sometimes involving the presence of Deity. In an effort to build on that sacrality, sometimes religious cultures bring theatre to these spaces, which, in turn, tend to alter the nature of the theatrical event. This seems especially true in regards to theatre which presents a re-enactment of the events which originally sacralized the performance space. Creating a theatrical performance at the same space, and recreating the same event which made the space sacred in the first place, gives the theatrical event a reflexive quality which performances in a space designated for theatre do not have. The Passion of Osiris in Ancient Egypt and the celebrations and commemorations of the early Christian Church are two examples of theatrical reenactments of sacred events in sacred spaces. Although such performances have been uncommon since those of the early Christians, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers two comparable performances today (the Hill Cumorah Pageant and the Nauvoo Pageant); they are also reenactments of sacred events framed by the sacred spaces where they originally occurred. The main commonality of my focus is the sacred physical space which frames each of the performances as a sort of ethereal proscenium arch or a silent witness of sacred events.
College and Department
Fine Arts and Communications; Theatre and Media Arts
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Lewis, Heidi Diane, "Speaking Out of the Dust: Religious Reenactments with the Specific Iconic Identity of Place" (2006). All Theses and Dissertations. 505.
LDS Pageants, Sacred, performance space, theatre, specific iconic identity, Passion of Osiris, Egeria, outdoor theatre