Google the words ‘history of theater,’ and you’ll get a timeline that begins in ancient Greece, circa the 6th century BCE, and high-kicks forward through time to Broadway and London’s West End.
And that’s accurate. But it’s also missing the dramatic developments in storytelling techniques happening in other parts of the world — Japan, China, Indonesia, and India — at the same time. While European peasants learned to walk the straight and narrow via morality plays, Asian theater-goers explored mythology via shadow puppets, dance, and dramatic masks.
In this episode, we travel the world (and through time) for a make-believe theater festival that takes us from Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in London to the lights of Broadway, then to South America and Indonesia. We drop in on the premier of Fiddler on the Roof, learn about an avant-garde approach to theater meant to build empathy, and are dazzled by puppets that bring kings and demons to life. Then we recommend five great books that took us straight to our seats in the theater.
Here are the books about theater we recommend on the show:
For a complete roundup of all the books we recommend, plus a full transcript and the other cool stuff we talked about, visit the Episode 53 show notes.
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