New Book/Field Announcement, Byzantine Theatre
12 November, 2015
I am pleased to announce that my first book on Byzantine theatre has just been published by Cambridge University Press, through their Classics and Byzantine Studies division in the UK.
“Performing Orthodox Ritual in Byzantium” represents the first full-length study in English of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire’s performing arts scene. Given the scope of my project—which covers over 1,000 years of the Greek performing arts between Antiquity and the Renaissance—it represents at best an initial survey; but for those of you currently teaching pre-modern theater, there are a number of points worth considering for future classes.
(Journal editors: if for any reason you don’t receive a review copy, contact my publisher, Dr. Michael Sharp, at: firstname.lastname@example.org ).
My focus is less on professional performers (mimes, pantomimes, etc.) than on the educated Greek elite, the cultural descendants of the first dramatists at the Dionysia and the ones who were tasked with creating Greek Orthodox rituals beginning in the fourth century CE. What I have found challenges many of the assumptions I had made for years about theatre, rhetoric and about the relationship between theatre and ritual.
This being a first effort I would greatly appreciate feedback and criticism; I believe this opens a new chapter in theatre historiography, and an especially rich one because it addresses the question of what on earth the Greeks did with their theatrical legacy. The answer is a bit more complicated than I expected, but well worth exploring. If you have any talented graduate students who are not averse to working on older topics, I would urge them to consider Byzantium's rich performing arts scene.
Best wishes to all,
Andrew Walker White
Stratford University, Woodbridge Virginia, USA