CHAPTER VIII - PRIMITIVE DRAMA AND PANTOMIME  pp. 214-229

PRIMITIVE DRAMA AND PANTOMIME

By Richard Wallaschek

Image View Previous Chapter Next Chapter



We have seen in the former chapters how intimately music and dancing are connected. Primitive dances have in the most cases a special meaning: they have to represent something and have therefore a position among the other arts quite different from the modern dances. At such representations no words are spoken, but mimicry and gestures are not less a language, far better fitted to explain the action than the primitive language of words. These pantomimes, as we may call them, are indeed a primitive drama, and as music is always connected with dances one may judge how great the importance was that music had on these occasions. Dramatic music, or musical drama, if you like, is not an occasional union of two different arts, it is originally one organism, and at the same time the earliest manifestation of human art in general. Therefore, Richard Wagner's artistic genius again correctly denned the essential character of the drama when he said: “Long before the epic songs of Homer had become a matter of literary concern they had flourished among the people as actually represented works of art, supported by the voice and gesture, so to speak, as concentrated, fixed, lyric, dancing songs (“verdichtete, gefestigte, lyrische Gesangstänze”), in which the poets' fondness of resting with the description of the action and the repetition of heroic dialogues prevailed”.