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Revealing MasksExotic Influences and Ritualized Performance in Modernist Music Theater$
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W. Anthony Sheppard

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520223028

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520223028.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 October 2021

The Audience as Congregation

The Audience as Congregation

(p.115) 8 The Audience as Congregation
Revealing Masks

W. Anthony Sheppard

University of California Press

With the creation of new forms of ritual music theater in twentieth-century Europe and America came a radical reconceptualization of the audience's role and of the performance space itself. A basic trend toward increased audience participation, and away from the notion of performance as commercialized entertainment, reached one extreme in the “happenings” of the 1950s and '60s. These events were based on the premise that everyone present was a participant and that all sound and movement within the performance space constituted the performance. Occasions during which some Euro-American audience members would be accustomed to participate significantly include the religious services of Christianity. In the Catholic Mass, for example, there is a clearly defined audience/congregation and performer/celebrant space. Benjamin Britten is the most prominent twentieth-century composer to have created works of music theater specifically intended to be performed in church.

Keywords:   ritual music theater, audience participation, performance, Christianity, religious services, Benjamin Britten

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