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Cultural Identity and Theater Aesthetics

Theater in the twenty-first century is characterized by the examination of various topics related to diverse aspects of human life. Cultural identity is one of the areas explored with the help of theatrical aesthetics. It is noteworthy that the issues related to identity have been recurrent throughout the history of theatre. Who are humans? This question has been raised and answered many times. Clearly, cultural diversity that is typical of contemporary society is now reflected in theatrical styles and genres. The postmodern worldview has shaped the way cultural identity is explored in the theater.

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It is important to note that there is a direct link between cultural identity and theater aesthetics. Shakespeare noted that people are actors, and their life is a theatrical performance. This statement is a bright and precise reflection of the universal truth. People develop certain identities and choose the ways to reveal them to the rest of the world. Individuals wear masks and create numerous settings, which is a characteristic feature of theatrical aesthetics. When it comes to cultural identities, more elements are often involved. People choose specific wording and movements; they use diverse images to explore themselves and open up to others.

Theatrical setting is one of the platforms appropriate for this exploration. For instance, people pertaining to minority groups try to understand what it really is to be a representative of their cultural group in American society (Asia Society, 2008). Theater helps many people see themselves in the situations presented on the stage. The cast addresses different challenges in their search for their cultural identity, which is similar to the experiences of some part of the audience.

It is also necessary to note that theater reflects the culture as playwrights tell (and performers show) the stories that are around them. At present, the theater is a perfect manifestation of the ideas of postmodernism. Multiculturalism, feminism, activism, and globalization are only some of the topics discussed in theatrical performances. Playwrights ask questions the rest of society asks. In the past, the theater was also a reflection of the culture with its forms, ideas, and settings (Cohen, 2013). For instance, the Golden Age in the history of Great Britain is marked by considerable progress of theater. Playwrights such as Shakespeare referred to numerous aspects but paid specific attention to the rule of the Crown. Society had concerns regarding the future of the empire, and playwrights found answers by telling stories about the great rulers of the past.

At the same time, it is also quite true that cultures have been fashioned theatrically in numerous ways. For example, the empowerment of females had many causes, and theater also contributed to this process. Females became playwrights and a part of the cast, especially starting with the seventeenth century. They started playing more significant roles in theater and in society. It is also possible to note that theater is often a source of ideas and instruments people may use to address the issues they encounter in their everyday life.

On balance, it is possible to note that culture and theater are closely related. People explore their cultural identities in the theatrical setting that, in its turn, fashions humans’ identities in different ways. The theater is a reflection of the life of the society, but it is also the factor that contributes to different transformations. The theater helps people find the most appropriate ideas, tools, and strengths to develop and find their way in the world.


Asia Society. (2008). Asians in “Yellow Face” – David Henry Hwang. YouTube. Web.

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Cohen, R. (2013). Theater (10th ed.). McGraw-Hill Higher Education.

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