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On the Origins of Theater

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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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Introduction: Cultural Practices on Bali

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Introduction:  Cultural Practices on Bali

The island of Bali is today a unique cultural laboratory; there traditional practices still survive in perfect symbiosis with contemporary global civilization. In 2014, the population of Bali passed the four million mark, and every month the island was visited by around two hundred thousand tourists from all over the world – mostly from Australia, Japan, and China – which at an annual rate makes for well over two million. The incursion of a crowd of foreigners has not, however, in any way disrupted the traditional rhythm of life for the Balinese. The inhabitants of the island do not fail to make regular offerings before the thousands of altars, even in localities consumed by the global tourist industry, such as Kuta, Legian, or the artificial and luxury resort of Nusa Dua. They honor the gods with splendid works of art; they throw offerings to the demons on the earth.

On Bali there are more temples than homes. Every village has at least three public temples, usually more, and every family complex, surrounded by a wall, has at least one family temple. These buildings give space a sacred character. They are always raised in the direction of the interior of the island, toward mountains of volcanic origin. The geography of Bali is surprisingly consistent with Hindu-Buddhist cosmology, according to which at the center of the universe there stands a mountain that is the home of the gods. The space of...

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