The Chorister as a Performer

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Department of Theatre Arts, University of Calabar


The fight and romance between the church and the theatre is a long one. However, the fact has been established that the spoken drama and the musical dance (theatre) must have both probably developed from religion or as a means of religious worship (Hodgson 1972:72). All through the ages however rind the theatre being sometimes totally embraced by the church and sometimes sternly denounced by it. For example, the church had begun to attack the minstrel or Harper or dancer, actors and stage players - the theatre - as early as A. D. 348 when the Third Council at Cartage: ...declared such people to be excommunicated and the council of Eliberis adds, 'If a Sooth-sayer or stage player have a mind to become believers, that is, to be baptized, let them be received on condition that they first bid adieu to their arts, and return not to them again1 (Edwards 1984: 24). However, around the same time, the theater was embraced in some churches so much that Basil (Bishop of Caesarea in 370) called dance the noblest act of the angels and by the sixth century, there is evidence of dance in the churches especially at Christmas Rasters and other festivals. (Edwards, 1984:25). This ancient trend has continued till modern times. For example, In May 1967 a dramatic presentation of the mass was performed in Liverpool's Roman Catholic Cathedral. It was planned for two years, involved thirty-six dancers, a choir of eighty, an orchestra of fifty and cost £50.000 (Edwards 1984: 4). Up till today, the argument persists. Has the church anything to do with the theatre? While some churches embrace the theater there are some that will have nothing to do with it. Nevertheless, we shall go on to establish in this paper that the church has some common grounds with the theater in function, purpose and practice. The paper therefore examines who the theatre artists and the choristers are, and their interrelationships. Since the church and the theatre, as well as, the chorister and the theatre artist are seen differently by different people, there is need to define their characters see if they have anything in common



Chorister, Performer, Theatre, Church