©Damen, 2021

Classical Drama and Theatre


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While the comparison of genetic evolution and cultural change may seem to some a bit stretched, if not tortured, it is nevertheless valid to see entertainment as a "niche," at least inasmuch as people who have the leisure will seek to be entertained and forms of entertainment will then come and go as tastes evolve. While one should not push the metaphor too far, genres of art just like animal species do both "feed off" a situation and fill a role in a larger system. But what dictates changes of popular taste in art is very hard to say, much harder really than it is to track the mechanisms that have driven the restructuring of biological life in the past. Art involves whimsy as well as luck, whereas luck is the more dominant factor behind the randomness that bedevils paleontology. Yet it is quite clear from history that drastic changes in lifestyle often precede the rise of new forms of art. So, for instance, both the Renaissance and the birth of Elizabethan drama follow closely on the heels of massive social reconfiguration. Cubist art and absurdist theatre are also clearly by-products of their day. Thus, while the equation of biological and artistic development may seem at first outlandish, it is not entirely so, and even if it were, a similar biological model is what underlies our older, gradualistic presumptions about the origin of Greek drama. If it is unwise to carry over the methodologies of one field to another, it is even less wise to import outdated modes of thinking.

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