As educators, we are constantly being asked to diversify our teaching to broaden students’ knowledge about the world in which they live. But for many, teaching about other cultures can pose significant problems. Providing materials that students find accessible yet engaging— that helps them develop creative and critical thinking—is a challenge teachers must confront. One way to begin to overcome these struggles is to look to the primary sources available to us, connect them directly to the cultures from which they emerge, and investigate how the cultural and textual heritage compares and contrasts to other traditions and societies.
This essay begins by exploring the heritage of two very specific forms of dramatic theory—Bharata-muni’s Natyashastra and Aristotle’s Poetics— that serve as starting points to represent the emergence of the performing arts in two distinct cultures: Hindu India and ancient Greece. More specifically, by exploring these primary sources, we can gain a better understanding of how storytelling emerged in one Eastern and one Western region; how it was influenced by cultural heritage; and the ways in which those formulas continue to inspire the creation of the arts, both within and beyond the cultures today.
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________. trans. The Natyashastra. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1996.
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