Performing the Sacred (completed)
Performative acts of the sacred are meeting-places and crossovers that are intertwining different local cultures, the local and the global, the new and old, and works between the aesthetic and the functional.
About the project
Central to our common project is the idea that performing the sacred plays a major part in how societies are shaped. Although the sacred has been marginalised and forgotten in many societies, it plays an often hidden, but an increasing role (or it is articulated indirectly in aesthetic expression), which is of the utmost importance to highlight.
“Performing the sacred” is not limited to the areas of religion. In fact, one can observe an increased use of actions styled as sacred in intercultural encounters between and within communities and nations for purposes of self protection and challenge. Approaching the sacred from the perspective of performance theory as epitomised by Richard Schechner, encompasses both the performance arena and its contexts, and in this way can reveal how “staged” acts create meaning and values for individuals and societies. Performance theory includes theory of ritual and ritualization as well as theory of acting and theatre. Approaching the sacred from its action, rather than as system of belief, may show how such “staged” acts interacts with, and shapes communities and individuals. Performative acts of the sacred are meeting-places and crossovers that are intertwining different local cultures, the local and the global, the new and old, and works between the aesthetic and the functional.
Performance on theatrical stage, in holy place or “secular”, as in other public sphere or in media is investigated, as well as questions concerning how old religious institutions and traditional texts, artefacts, symbols and significant gestures gain new meanings in new fields of sacred performances, locally and globally.. Staging religion may be argued to be a main force in today’s globalized society. Acts considered to be “sacred” acts is today no longer only to be found exclusively within religious institutions. Considering religious expressions as performed acts may add new knowledge to the understanding of these dynamics.
The individual projects collaborating in this research group are working from the overall approach of performance theory. Approaching the sacred as it appears in concrete actions of performance, will allow the development of performance theory and also integrate fields like semiotics, ritual theory, drama theory, gender studies, art theory, literature and oral text theory, sociology of religion and theology. By gathering resources from various subject fields, this project will open new ways in analysing how the sacred is generated in performances and used as an agent that shapes discourses and social practices which move beyond the horizon of performance arenas.
Theatre studies, literature and the study of religion on various continents and in different cultural contexts are represented in the project.