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‘The Spirits Wouldn't Let Me Be Anything Else’: Shamanic Dimensions in Theatre Practice Today

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 October 2003


In today's diverse and evolving world of performance there is a place for the reinvestigation of the archaic realm of shamanism, and the extent to which it relates to modern theatre practice. To what extent do the calling, initiation, trance, and performance states of the shaman resemble the experience of today's actors? Is there really a dichotomy between a theatre of greed and a theatre of need? Inspired by her own personal sense of the evolution of the actor from the role of the shaman, Rachel Karafistan here considers the work of contemporary, so-called ‘third theatres’ such as Odin Teatret, Teatr Biuro Podrozy, and Derevo in the light of shamanic precedent. Having initially studied Psychology at university, Rachel Karafistan worked as a freelance director, teacher, and actor in England for seven years while researching her doctoral study: Shamanic Dimensions within Theatre Practice Today: a Theoretical and Experiential Investigation, which she completed in 2001. She is currently working as an actress and teacher in Poland with Teatr Biuro Podrozy and her own company, COSmino.

Research Article
© 2003 Cambridge University Press

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