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On the Origins of Theater


Mirosław Kocur

This book presents an interdisciplinary investigation into the emergence of the actor and theater. Scholarship helps us to realize how we have evolved to who we are today and to understand the transformative power of performance. The author proposes to boost and advance theater studies by reviewing new research in anthropology, archaeology, paleoanthropology, classics, ethnography, physics, cognitive science, neuroscience, theater anthropology and performance studies. Referring to his fieldwork in Bali and Tibet, and to his professional experience in theater, the author explains the role of bipedality, toolmaking and trance in the evolution of the performer, examines the performativity of space and writing, and argues that ancient culture emerged from dance.


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List of Illustrations


0.1. Pura Besakih (photo: M. Kocur) 0.2. Dhalang Cenk Blonk (photo: M. Kocur) 0.3. Dhalang Cenk Blonk with Tualen and Merdah as seen from behind the screen (photo: M. Kocur) 0.4. Merdah and Tualen as seen from the shadow side of the screen (photo: M. Kocur) 0.5. Dhalang Ketut Pasek performs Wayang Lemah at Bug Bug in 2013 (photo: M. Kocur) 0.6. Sanghyang Jaran at Pura Taman Kaja in Ubud (photo: M. Kocur) 0.7. Barong (photo: M. Kocur) 0.8. The Mask of Rangda (photo: M. Kocur) 0.9. The Cremation Bull at Batubulan in 2009 (photo: M. Kocur) 1.1. Comparisons of walking and running (Bramble and Lieberman 2004: 346, Fig. 1). 1.2. Pointing: Uncle Sam’s Call to Arms, „the most famous poster in the world” created by James Montgomery Flagg in 1917 (photo: Leemage/EastNews) 1.3. Pantomime: Kozakiewicz’s Gesture (AFP) (photo: AFP/EastNews) 2.1. Bears painted at the Recess of the Bears (photo: J. Clottes) 2.2. Bear skull on a stone (photo: J. Clottes) 2.3. Lions on the Lion Panel at Chauvet Cave (photo: J. Clottes) 2.4. Lioness at Serengeti National Park (photo: M. Kocur) 2.5. Animal-human figure on a hanging rock at Chauvet Cave (photo: J. Clottes) 2.6. The images in the Shaft, Lascaux (photo: N. Ajoulat © MCC/CNP) 3.1. Göbekli Tepe, Enclosure D, Pillar 43 (photo: © DAI, Orient Department) 3.2. Building Enclosures D and C at Göbekli Tepe (drawing: F.G. Baptista, © Na- tional Geographic) 3.3. Two vultures with human legs and a headless human figure, “sanctuary VII.21” (drawing: M. Kocur,...

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