Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Theatre Arts


Theatre Arts

First Committee Member

Nate Bynum, Chair

Second Committee Member

Michael Tylo

Third Committee Member

Brackley Frayer

Graduate Faculty Representative

Felicia Campbell

Number of Pages



Korean mask-dance is the traditional theatre of Korea. It was formerly the country's most well-known form of drama among traditional theatrical entertainments. This study explores the theatrical structure of Korean mask-dance as well as its historical background.

The rise of Korean mask-dance may be traced back to the shamanistic village ritual which gradually became similar to the extant form after absorbing aspects of the Buddhism festival through the Goryeo Dynasty, which lasted from 918-1392). During the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), the mask-dance had acquired its basic form with aspects of professional theatrical entertainment. The mask-dances have been performed during traditional holidays and festivals over the past three hundred years. Four types of the mask-dance continue to exist today, all being derived from their geographic origins.

Many scholar and artists have explained the value of Korean mask-dance and its own esthetic level. Dance, song, music, masks, costumes, props, stage, and audience participation of Korean mask-dance are obvious theatrical elements and have their own separate meaning. The main purpose of this study is to examine the weak parts of the dramatic structure of the art form and attempt to analyze it using Aristotle's Poetics (384-322 BCE).

When Korean mask-dance is analyzed by Aristotle's concept of drama, the mask-dance exactly reverses this order of importance of the dramatic elements. Through recognition of both the uniqueness of Korean mask-dance and the dramatic standards of Aristotle's concept, this study should enable scholars and artists to embrace more fully the universal nature of theatre.


Aristotle; Communication and the arts; Folk drama; Korean; Korean mask-dance; Mask dances; Masques; Poetics; Theater


Asian Art and Architecture | Dance | Theatre and Performance Studies | Theatre History

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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