Theatre History

Throughout history, religion has played perhaps the most important role in the influence of cultural and societal trends.The ethics and values that a society holds dear are a direct result of the faith that binds that society together.Faith is something that governs, something that punishes, and when in jeopardy, it is something that people don't mind fighting over.Faith is a reflection of many things. Like literature, theatre has proven to be a reflection of faith.Both theatre and faith share common ground-they are both art forms of emotion, self-expression, and self-discovery.Faith influences society and society looks for an outlet of expression.Society often finds that outlet in theatre and despite restrictions, theatre has always had a way of outlining the best and worst of a society's faith.
Before the widespread growth of Christianity over the last 2000 years, a majority of the world was polytheistic.In the Abydos Passion Play, possibly the earliest surviving evidence of theatre existence, Osiris, son of the supreme god, Geb, is murdered in a jealous rage and then later resurrected.After his resurrection, Osiris is unable to live on earth and goes on to live in the afterworld, judging the souls of others (8).This story strongly resembles the Christian passion play and although there is no definite proof that it was ever actually acted out in theatrical form, just the story itself and what it could possibly imply is enough to make one uneasy (9).The fact that the Abydos story is so much like the passion of Jesus Christ is interesting considering that they are separated by 2500 years and take place under totally opposite cultural roofs.This coincidence supports the notion generally agreed upon by most theatre scholars that as a social barometer, theatre has always been one step ahead of societal trends.As a twenty- first century Christian, it would appear that the theatre of ancient Egypt has h…