Prologue Theater’s rebirth
The curtain opens on the traditional history of theater’s rebirth in Europe. This story is familiar to most of us who have endured standard coursework in theater history. The following is a retelling of the myth, or history we have received, narrated from a different perspective, and with a different emphasis. Here, it will serve to illustrate the myth of origins deployed in the displacement of performances designed to induce transformation, or transmutation with a theater of representation. Hopefully, revealing the specific cultural investment in this displacement will help to clarify how theater, and its cultural partner, the “new” science have served to construct a strictly European tradition of the mode of representation. The ironic tone of this revised narrative has been encouraged by the omissions and subjugations embedded in the traditional history of origins, particularly as they have affected the participation of women in cultural production and the construction of “othered” cultural ethnicities. It will be argued that two basic strategies of extraction were deployed to displace sciences and rites dedicated to change: the special role assigned to the human subject and the notion of a virtual space that was designed for exclusive access.