Memory, community and encounter. Sacred theatre in Italy (1998-2018)

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

The short circuit triggered by the terms “theatre” and “sacred” endures; theatre research is permeated with spirituality and performance defines itself through the categories of ritual, chorus, experience and action; the sacred refers to spirituality, but attempts to distinguish itself at all costs from religion and from religiosity. In Italy today, teatro sacro (sacred theatre) refers to at least two different phenomena. The first is the vast heritage of dramatic and paraliturgical traditions (so-called “popular piety”), which have been associated with important events in the Christian calendar for centuries, and are still very much alive in Italy, but also throughout Europe today. Live Nativity scenes, passions, dramatizations of religious ceremonies, dramatized processions, stories of the Virgin and the saints etc. constitute a long and rich chapter in the history of sacred theatre; nevertheless, I will not deal with these, since understanding their role in contemporary society would require substantial and specific historical and anthropological analysis. I will focus, instead, on the second phenomenon i.e. that of the numerous festivals and events that sprung up in the wake of the 2000 Jubilee, all across Italy, promoting and developing performances centred on the themes of the spiritual quest and the sense of the sacred, often drawing inspiration from the Catholic faith, but in other cases seeking to bring together in dialogue secular and multi-faith elements as well. These events aimed to engage the audience, who were invited to partake in an experience rather than come and be entertained. To this end, they found solutions that were conducive to bringing people together, and, therefore, carefully associated with either important religious occasions, meaningful locations or shared themes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMEDIA AND COMMUNICATION IN ITALY: HISTORICAL AND THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES
Pages149-163
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords

  • History of contemporary theatre

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