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Performing Orthodox Ritual in Byzantium


  • Date Published: October 2015
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107073852

£ 70.99

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About the Authors
  • In this groundbreaking, interdisciplinary study, Andrew Walker White explores the origins of Byzantine ritual - the rites of the early Greek Orthodox Church - and its unique relationship with traditional theatre. Tracing the secularization of pagan theatre, the rise of rhetoric as an alternative to acting, as well as the transmission of ancient methods of musical composition into the Byzantine era, White demonstrates how Christian ritual was in effect a post-theatrical performing art, created by intellectuals who were fully aware of traditional theatre but who endeavoured to avoid it. The book explores how Orthodox rites avoid the aesthetic appreciation associated with secular art, and conducts an in-depth study (and reconstruction) of the late Byzantine Service of the Furnace. Often treated as a liturgical drama, White translates and delineates the features of five extant versions, to show how and why it generated widely diverse audience reactions in both medieval times and our own.

    • The first full-length study in English of Byzantine theatre and ritual
    • Questions traditional assumptions about ritual's 'theatricality', agency and dramatic structure, and proposes a new approach
    • Presents important original Byzantine Greek texts side by side with an original English translation, making them conveniently available to scholars
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Andrew Walker White, professor at Stratford University (Virginia), is the first American theatre historian who has deeply analyzed Byzantine performance. This monograph is the result of his long research, which includes the staging of the Service of the Furnace at the University of Maryland campus.' Maria Pia Pagani, Sinestesieonline

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107073852
    • length: 288 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 159 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.61kg
    • contains: 12 b/w illus. 4 music examples
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Byzantine Spatial, Performance and Musical Practices:
    1. Spatial practices in Byzantium
    2. Ritual versus theatrical performance in Byzantium
    3. Musical practices in Byzantium
    Part II. A Study of the Service of the Furnace:
    4. Origins of the Service
    5. The Service's historical context
    Appendix 1. The Service of the Furnace, Athens 4027
    Appendix 2. The Service of the Furnace, Athens 2406
    Appendix 3. The Service of the Furnace, Iviron 1120
    Appendix 4. The Service of the Furnace, Sinai 1527
    Appendix 5. The Service of the Furnace, Lavra 165
    Appendix 6. Archbishop Symeon's Dialogue in Christ
    Appendix 7. The Russian Furnace Play

  • Author

    Andrew Walker White, George Mason University, Virginia
    Andrew Walker White is an American theatre artist, cultural historian, and theatre critic. As a performer his work embraces everything from Shakespeare and Chekhov to dance theatre and mime; he is a former company member of Source Theatre and Théâtre Le Neon, both in the Washington, DC area. As a historian he has devoted himself to post-classical Greek culture, especially the theatre and drama of Byzantium, and has translated key late antique and medieval Greek texts. A veteran of the Fulbright Program, White has conducted research on site in Greece and Turkey, and has lectured in both the United States and Europe.

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