Article Title

Korean Shamanist Theater and Drama


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

In Urdrama: The Origins of the Theatre (New York, 1975), E. T. Kirby has gathered together an impressive amount of evidence from major traditions of the world's drama to support the thesis that the theater has its origins in shamanistic ritual seances. He conceives shamanist ritual in the broadly defined sense of a rite typified by "possession in a trance by a spirit who speaks from within the medium and determines his actions" (p. 2). He stresses that the shaman rite has inherent theatrical tendencies that distinguish it from "other forms of what may be called ceremonial ritual in that it depends upon the immediate and direct manifestation to the audience of supernatural presence, rather than its symbolization" (p. 2). Kirby relies on eye-witness accounts of still extant shamanist rituals when they are available, as in the case of India and China, and pieces together comments found in various ancient documents to support his thesis when he must go back in time, as in the case of Greece. He aims to make a historical statement about the shamanic roots of some of the world's most highly developed dramatic strains and is not primarily concerned with evaluating the intrinsic artistic and dramatic merits of the shamanist rituals themselves.

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