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Proceeding from the history of the terms “theater” and “theatricality” and their usage in different languages, the entry surveys the great variance of their possible meanings. A basic definition of the concept of theater is provided, emphasizing the fact that “theatricality” is to be regarded as a quality that is not inherent to a particular kind of phenomenon. Instead, it emerges and vanishes depending on our perception of and relationship to the situation under consideration. On this basis, the entry discusses the question of the relationship between theater and ritual in religious plays, but also in divine services as a particular genre of cultural performance. Taking into consideration research on ancient Greek theater and medieval religious plays, the inextricable intertwining of the theatrical and the ritual dimensions in religious plays is explained as constitutive of these plays, be they ancient Greek, medieval Christian, the Indian Ramlila, the Iranian ta’ziyeh, or the Yoruba egungun masks. Finally, this relationship is discussed with regard to the liturgy of divine services. ⸙

in Vocabulary for the Study of Religion Online
In: Syncretic Arenas
In: Sprache und Literatur
In: Politik des Raumes
In: Performing the Future
In: Die Aufführung
In: Un/Reinheit im Kulturvergleich
In: Gesten
In: medeamorphosen
In: Performing the Future