Scholars have often pursued comparative studies of major traditions of theatrical theory (Greek, Sanskrit, and ), and the theories themselves are often used as windows on vanished modes of performance. This article, however, considers the theoretical treatises as discourses that advance claims about the status of theatre and establish value through the creation of standards for achievement. The author situates treatises on the art of theatre in the context of philosophical debate (Greek), religious and ethical writing (Sanskrit), and courtly aesthetics (Japanese) and examines the question of discursive communities and those to whom theatrical theory is addressed.