Performing Devotion

Tamara Levitz

in Modernist Mysteries: Perséphone

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730162
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199932467 | DOI:
Performing Devotion

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This chapter examines the performance of faith in Perséphone. Jacques Copeau designed Perséphone as a medieval mystery, and interpreted the myth in relation to the Passion of Christ. Yet Copeau’s plans and their execution were fraught with contradictions. He imagined his collaborators would unite spiritually behind him, but in practice alienated both Gide and Stravinsky, whose visions of the sacred contradicted his own. Copeau’s Christian vision suffered from the same aesthetic paradoxes as the theatre of the Renouveau catholique, which aimed to transform theatre into a vehicle for promulgating Christian dogma, while retaining mimesis as the foundation of Christian theatrical practice. The reality Renouveau stage directors hoped to mimic was often at odds with the dogma they championed. Set designer André Barsacq and choreographer Kurt Jooss likewise disrupted the aura of Copeau’s sacred theatre through their modernist use of historical sources and everyday gestures.

Keywords: Jacques Copeau; André Barsacq; Kurt Jooss; Renouveau catholique; Catholic Renaissance; sacred theatre; mimesis; André Gide; dogma; Igor Stravinsky; Fyodor Stravinsky

Chapter.  23029 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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