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The Necessity of TheaterThe Art of Watching and Being Watched$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332001

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332001.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 17 May 2021

Sacred Space

Sacred Space

(p.108) SIX Sacred Space
The Necessity of Theater

Paul Woodruff (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Theater is the heir of a tradition that makes spaces sacred for religious ritual; only people who have been consecrated may enter such a space without transgression, that is, without a violation of reverence. The art of theater divides the watchers from the watched by placing the watched in a measured or defined space, such as a stage, a sanctuary, or a playing field. Space is usually defined externally in theater, but it may be defined more fluidly by actors as they move, especially if they are seen as consecrated in such a way that they change the meaning of the space they enter. Transgression of performers into watching space, or of audience into performing space, can be electrifying, but only if it is seen as transgressive, and occurs only if the space has been fairly well defined at the outset. Powerful theater sometimes leads to an altar call that draws the audience into sacred space and converts them from watchers to participants, closing down the theatrical nature of the event while opening something new.

Keywords:   altar call, transgression, stage, sanctuary, reverence

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