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Alkazi Theatre Archives

A Bibliographic Listing from the Archive

Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre

Book: Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre
Written by: Erika Fischer- Lichte
Published by: Routledge (2005)

Erika Fischer-Lichte’s ‘Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual: Exploring Forms of Political Theatre’ charts the shift from ruminations on individual identity to the political aspect of the being of a body. The author investigates the sacrificial element in the theatre of the twentieth century, where she critically examines the beliefs, desires, and aspirations of people from before World War I to the late 1960s. The book is divided into three parts — Max Reinhardt’s ‘Theatre of the Five Thousand’, the Nazi ‘Thingspiel’ movement (1933–36), and performance art of 1960s. The author opines that in all of these performance sites, the spectator is not passive but enters into an affective and dynamic relationship with the performer. This liminal space thus allows for a transformative experience where the sacrifice of the individual identity of the bodies is redefined and enacted to realise the utopian visions of a community. The book, therefore, tries to explore the linkages between the theme of sacrifice and such community-building devised through these performances.

“….[S]ince it was primarily based on shared, short-lived experiences, emotions or bodily sensations, and dissolved the moment after it happened, it was a community in a liminal state – never able to acquire an identity of its own. In some respects, it may appear as a kind of utopian community. On the other hand, the question arises – which will emerge repeatedly in the course of the following chapters – as to whether this kind of community is the only conceivable kind in modern heterogeneous societies; whether, in the case of such societies, a community can only come into existence if the idea of a collective identity valid and binding for each and every member is given up” (p. 59)

Theatre, Sacrifice, Ritual-Exploring Forms of Political Theatre