Literature Review: Atheism & Performance

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Because our society is mostly Christian, most of the entertainment industry caters to that idea. Theatre has made references to Christianity throughout centuries; however no one has performed atheism. To prove this notion, it is important to prove Christianity in theatre really exists to begin with. In "The Laughing Dead and the Lively (or was it lovely?) Virgin," the authors trace the relationships between theatre, ritual, circus and Christianity (Bosque 1). It examines the New Circus theatre in Chile. This can show how different cultures use Christianity in theatres, proving it exits to begin with. This idea offers an almost humorous look on the ritual of religion. It plays with the ideas of blurring the boundaries between life and theatre (Bosque 1). To further prove Christianity exists in performance and theatre, we must search for the different forms that have been established. Wayang Wahyu is a Catholic form of shadow theatre (Poplawska 1). It presents a history of Christian theatre. This can further prove Christian theatre is more abundant and even exists. Marzanna Poplawska shows how the different forms of church politics are used in theatre in different cultures (Poplawska 1). This also focuses on the past decade's attention to the rising appearance of religion in such forms as anthropology and ethnology. This can add to the history of religion in theatre further ignoring atheism. Park Honan in "Theatre and Religion: Lancastrian Shakespeare/Region, Religion and Patronage: Lancastrian Shakespeare," reviews two books comparing Shakespearian theatre to theories of religion. This could be helpful to add to the history of arising atheism and its association to theatre and performance. Shakespeare, as many like to study, uses much religious morality as he does non-religious morality. One does not need to be an atheist, theist or any deviation of belief in order to enjoy Shakespeare, however there is much religious influence upon his writings and stage practice. Donalee Dox in, "The Eyes of the Body and the Veil of Faith," describes how Christianity was used in ancient and ninth through twelfth century performance (Donnalee 1). At this time, Christianity was largely studied, practiced and lived by. This indicates an extreme history to the idea of Christianity and theatre. Christianity has threatened, more specifically in ancient times, the wrath of "God" would punish all who disobeyed him. Because of the fear of believers, there was never any question or free thought. Performance was a useful tool in ancient and ninth through twelfth century times. The theatre practices were commonly used as a way to enforce the Ten Commandments and ethics in the bible. Christianity in ninth and twelfth century theatre can be helpful history in figuring out how atheism has been overlooked throughout history. Christianity in theatre, in fact, does exist and this can further suggest atheism has not really been performed, whereas religion has. Theatre at this time was used as a tool to teach. There is a larger emphasis on performance studies to educate students on the subject on religion (Gordon 1). In the lengthy "Pilgrams' Progress," it suggests non-Christian theatre professionals are dismissive and hostile. It uses Christian ‘theatre artists' to show salvation and excellence on stage. In an atheist's views, this article is completely discriminatory further adding a notion of bias toward atheism and atheism in performance. Celia Wren provides information on how the CITA organization has strove to work against anti-Christian theatre and performance. Christians, in this article, seem to be unable to understand how one can be involved in theatre and not be a Christian (Wren 1). CITA is dedicated to enhancing Christianity in theatre. According to a Christina artist, Dale Salvage, he had experienced a feeling of isolation while viewing traditional New York theatre (Wren 1). I find this quite puzzling, since all the sources so far I have...
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