Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This dissertation examines past cultural influences that have shaped theatre historians' perception of ancient Greek and contemporary Native American performance. It suggests that through a recognition of these influences, which have long tempered the Western narrative of theatre, ancient and Indigenous performance can be reviewed as similar forms of a lived exchange. The study tracks the formation of certain beliefs and assumptions within performance history through Roman, early Christian and Renaissance cultural identities. It notes the misrepresentation of oral and popular theatre within theatrical scholarship through its reliance upon the written remains of the ruling classes and confronts the notion of high and low forms of art as class-based within the theatre canon. Through an historical methodology the chapters attempt to disclose and refute long held assumptions within the discipline of theatre history. It explores ancient Athenian theatre as a sacred tribal ritual and an Apache puberty ritual as similar theatrical performances. The chapters also note the similar paths of ancient popular theatre and ritual performance of the Native American within Western theatre history. In conclusion the dissertation argues that Western definitions and ideology cannot be placed upon another separate and distinct culture and produce anything more than a distorted and fictionalized interpretation. It summarizes the impact of ancient social structures upon our view of Indigenous performance today and argues that without these religious and cultural biases from antiquity, the Apache ritual and fifth century B.C.E. theatre can be seen simultaneously as dramatic and sacred forms of equal importance with their own parallel history within the Western theatrical narrative. In conclusion the study offers an alternative historiography of both cultures through their performances.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jennifer Jones Cavenaugh