Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Orthodox | Church As Theatre

The experience of visiting the Greek Orthodox Church was one of pure theatre. Sitting in the front row of the balcony probably added to that; but so did the stage at the front, on which there was a tabernacle (stage set); the painted walls; the enormous gold candleholders hanging from the ceiling; the ornate pulpit; the costumed principal character; the chorus; the congregation participating with the main proceedings primarily as observers…

The theatre of the occasion was fascinating, and raises lots of questions:
What is the purpose of theatre?
Is theatre unreal, or reality seen through a particular lens? Distilled, focused?
What do we learn, about ourselves, about the world, from theatre?
Is the audience in a theatre passive? (I don’t think so.)
Or do they add something? With a play, is there a qualitative difference between the last rehearsal behind closed doors and the first performance in front of an audience? And is that difference only for the benefit of the players? Does it change with every audience?
Are writer and director and cast and crew and audience co-creators of meaning?
Are we changed by the experience of theatre? If so, in what ways?

What about church as theatre?

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