Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Drama, Revised Edition)
Extreme and harrowing as André’s experiences are, they come about as a result of what he perceives as contemporary art’s inability to portray life. He recognizes that reality has become surreal, and theater has become a tranquilizer that protects its audience from discomforting ideas. Ancient Greek theater, in its purest sense, was a celebration of Dionysus, the god associated with the fertility of the wine grape. André’s experience in Poland, though he likens it to an American Indian tribal festival, also parallels the orgiastic rites of Dionysus insofar as it relied on music and ecstatic chant to induce a new state of consciousness above conventional sense perception. The baptism that concluded the workshop signals rebirth; that André is only partly prepared for his rebirth is clear from his inability to place his right as well as his left hand in fire. Saint Francis of Assisi, before his religious awakening, participated in a medieval version of this fertility rite, in the form of uninhibited group dances known as farandoles. Even so, Francis quickly recognized that such rituals confer only a short-term benefit. André, like Francis, desires closer communion with the world in which he lives, to become a better artist as well as a more complete human being. It is, therefore, appropriate that the principal activity of his group session is a sustained chant in Saint Francis’s honor.
André’s sudden fascination with synchronicity,...
(The entire section is 661 words.)
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