Religious practitioners and theatre-goers have much in common. So much, in fact, that we could say that religion is often a theatrical phenomenon, while theatre can be religious experience. By examining the phenomenology of religion, we can in turn develop a better understanding of the phenomenology of theatre. That is to say, religion can show us the ways in which theatre is not fake.
This study explores the overlap of religion and theatre, especially in the crucial area of experience and personal identity. Reconsidering ideas from ancient Greece, pre-modern India, modern Europe, and the recent century, it argues that religious adherents and theatre audiences are largely, themselves, the mechanisms of their experiences. By examining the development of the philosophy of theatre alongside theories of religious action, this book shows how we need to adjust our views on both types of experience.
Featuring discussion of influential notions from Plato and Aristotle, the Natyashastra, through to Schleiermacher, Sartre, and contemporary performance and ritual, this is vital reading for any scholar in religious studies, theatre and performance studies, theology, and philosophy.
David Mason is Editor-in-Chief for Ecumenica: Performance and Religion, the South Asia area editor for Asian Theatre Journal, and has been a board member of the Association for Asian Performance. His scholarship on religion and the arts appears in multiple books and journals.