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Jesuit Theatre in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

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Chapter Summary

This chapter distinguishes some basic conditions of Jesuit theatre that reflect significant distinctions between the type of drama and other conventional works of dramatic genre. The dramatic texts that are considered in the chapter are originally products of the pedagogic and rhetorical, learned oral culture of the Jesuit Order or the Societas Jesu (SJ). The circumstances of the genesis, dramatic performance and impact of the plays are highly complex. For that reason the title of the chapter is 'Jesuit theatre' and not 'Jesuit drama'. The authors of the texts, who as a rule also had to stage their plays themselves, were bound to the ideological rules of the Order. The consequence is that theatre is a cultural product that, notwithstanding the artistic peculiarity of individual works, hardly expresses positions accounted for by individual authors. For over two hundred years theatre has represented an important and visible field of Catholic culture.

Keywords: Austria; Catholic culture; Germany; Jesuit Order; Jesuit Theatre; oral culture; Societas Jesu (SJ); Switzerland



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