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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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In the winter of 2010, Maciej Nowak, then Director of the Instytut Teatralny (Theater Institute) in Warsaw, invited me to give a series of lectures on any subject I wished, provided that it was connected with the theater. I am very grateful for that invitation, because it inspired me to start work on a project I call “The Origins of Theater.” The Theater Institute offered me a perfect context for my lectures. I am very grateful to Dr Agata Adamiecka-Sitek for helping me with the content of the lectures, but above all for the conversations with her that helped me make many of my interpretations more precise and searching. The Theater Institute also set up a multi-media portal for the project on the internet:

For all their critical comments I also thank the audiences of my lectures on the sources of theater at the Jerzy Grotowski Institute, the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, the University of Wrocław, and the UNICAMP University in Campinas.

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