Oh boy, you just opened up a huge can of worms. As a performance studies scholar (and former 'theatrical' person), I am hyper-aware of these very issues, and have addressed the idea of 'performance' in ritual pretty thoroughly in my dissertation. I think part of this confusion comes from fairly uncritical uses of the terms 'performance' and 'theatricality.' Or at least differences in the term 'performance' between scholars and practitioners. Interestingly enough, while I have seen little to no work besides my own done on this within the field of Western esotericism, scholars in the Pagan Studies realm have been addressing this for some time (see especially Sabina's work, as well as that of Andy Letcher, Nikki Bado-Fralick and Sarah Pike). Performance is a fairly complex and general term that becomes especially problematic when applied to the
sacred. Especially, when performance has the connotation of inauthenticity.
I will say that much of the ritual work I did between 1996 and 2004 did fulfill a certain gap that I had in my life once I eventually stopped doing live performance. But for me, theatrical performance IS a magickal and sacred act (acting and aspecting: are they really that different?), so I don't quite see the dichotomy between performance and ritual that many people see.
I have much more to say on this, but I have to leave my computer for a bit to interact in the 'real' world.
--- On Fri, 12/12/08, Caroline Tully <[log in to unmask]>
From: Caroline Tully <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: [ACADEMIC-STUDY-MAGIC] Theatre and Magic(k)
To: [log in to unmask]
Date: Friday, December 12, 2008, 4:15 PM
Speaking of the crossover between theatre and magic(k), now I remember when I came across the Caliphate OTO in Australia in the early 90s, they were also into Golden Dawn style ritual and I remember the Master of the group telling me that most of his Golden Dawn group members joined because they *thought it would help them with their acting / theatre work* - his social scene was very into performance art. I was disgusted at that, because I considered that the joining of a magical order should be purely for exploration of magical ritual, or at least primarily for that purpose. I donít necessarily think that now. Around that time I started to see material coming out from, I think it was either Church of All Worlds or Reclaiming, on how to make really theatrical rituals... specific workshops on how to do that. You do need to do a good theatrical job when performing big public rituals, of course. (Well, do you? I
mean what is this? Magic(k) or religious spectacular? My idea of magic(k) is intense focus on the task at hand, not *performing* for other people, Iíve always been rather annoyed at that, I mean when Iíve found myself in those performance situations, but thatís me Ė I guess CAW and Reclaiming are really ĎPaganí rather than ĎMagicalí.. although that could be debated and participants do claim to be doing Ďmagicí). Also, of course the G.D and O.T.O. rituals *are* very much like being in a play (not that Iíve ever been in a play Ė because acting is the last thing I want to do ever - but I have read some)!