Theatre of community: healing functions of theatre in society
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This thesis addresses multiple social and psychological implications found within three types of theatre and their communities and audiences. In particular it embraces the theory that people can benefit from the group-healing effect found when one becomes part of the theatre audience or a member of a community that supports theatre. The first subject presented is the work of Dr. J.L. Moreno and his Psychodrama, a staged form of psychotherapy, in relation to social psychology. The similarities between his process and that of Western dramaturgy are compared to show that Moreno drew upon healing rituals from Classical Greek society and adapted them as tools for healing in his society. The second section examines the 19th-century melodrama of the United States of America in order to reveal social psychology and ideology. Melodrama expresses important social knowledge about American ideals and the theatre's ability to solicit empathy from the audience in the form of entertainment for political and cultural changes. The final sections are dedicated to ancient Greek theatre and how it served as a reflection of the communal psychological aspects of ancient Greek society. Aeschylus' dramatic trilogy The Oresteia is examined to illuminate the cultural views of a society that valued the plays. Aristophanes' Peace shows the emotional state of the Athenian society nearly a century after the fifty-year Persian War. The core of the thesis is that theatre is a societal healer of individuals, which can result in communal healing.
Table of Contents
Introduction -- Dr. Moreno, psychodrama and modern healing through theatre in society -- Melodrama bridging the gap from Moreno to Antiquity -- Ancient Greek society and reflections of community in theatre -- Analyzing Agamemnon to reveal social issues -- The Libation Bearers and double empathy -- The Eumenides: Orestes, social justice and community -- Aristophanes' Peace: a society's comedic cry in opposition to war -- Conclusion