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    Culture, Ritual and Theatrical Performance Essay

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    Performance studies is sort of a discipline that works with other fields. These are anthropology, gender studies, folklore, religion even art and more. Eventually none of those disciplines can’t work on their own. Like Performance Studies need to establish its roots on those branches. It examines artistic performances and cultural performances. Traditions and rituals seem take part in our cultures however they shape our daily life. Rituals are divided into two parts. First one is sacred and the second one is secular. Sacret rituals are called religious performances.

    Like praying, sacrificing, fasting, baptism. Secular rituals are our daily life routines and duties. Every human being performs consciously and unconsciously. Individuals are supposed to perform according to their jobs and situations. At the same time one can perform as a doctor and also as a father. And also some of those performances could be both sacred and secular. Both performances is divided into two transportations and transformations. Transportation performances don’t last too long just a couple of hours or less like praying, dancing and meditating.

    However transformation performances are permanent like getting married and puberty. These performances take a part in cultures. In everyday life people act according to their cultural rituals. As a secret ritual Christians go to church on Sunday, Muslims go to mosque on Fridays, Jewish go to synagogue. They perform according to what they believe in. Carnivals and dances could be secret. In Islamic culture, Sufi whirling is kind of religious ritual but it seems like dancing. Sufis while spinning their around start to go into a trance and abandon their egos, personal desires for desiring God.

    This movement symbolizes of the planets which take place in Solar System. In American Indian culture dance has a different place in their culture. In 19th century Ghost Dance was performed for communicating with death people. Meal times and feasts can be both secular and secret. It depends on the cultures and people’s beliefs. Instance, now in USA and Canada Thanksgiving Day is dedicated for families and God. Being together, preparing meal and having it with family is the aim of the day.

    On the other hand in the past, Thanksgiving Day was celebrated for different reasons. The European family who came for dwelling in America were very hungry and tired. American Indians helped them. Then this day started to celebrated in this way. At first Thanksgiving Day seemed to be secular though for the time being it became a secret ritual. On the other hand in Islamic culture sacrificing requires sharing your meal with the poor and having huge feasts with relatives and other guests. As a another cultural difference death and burial rituals.

    Nearly all of the cultures the death body is got dressed, cleaned and prepared for the burying. Some of the other cultures prefer to burn the body. In the seasons, Japan culture celebrates spring with cherry blossoms. They call these flowers as Sakura. In Turkey it is celebrated with jumping over the fire and wishing something good. Apart from Turkey the other cultures do the same thing for different reasons. Sports can be ritual as well. Bullfighting in Spain, Sumo in Japan in addition to those specific sports the other sports are rituals.

    On the contrary to secret rituals one can perform secular. Those performances are having sex, shopping at supermarket, celebrations, giving a present. To conclude culture is not universal but local. Every culture has their own unique rituals and performances. While one culture celebrating spring others don’t. Generally these cultural performances date back to nation’s background and their religion. Even they share the same religion because of their nations they don’t perform rituals. In this point rituals manipulate us in this life.


    Performance studies : an introductionAuthor :Schechner, Richard 2002

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