Theatre history order 3206382 edited
The History of Theater
Meaning of theater
Architecturally, the theater is a structure for performing in front of an audience. The term theater
comes from the Greek word theatron, which translates to “a place of seeing.” The theater is a
collective form of art that employs live performances and performers-actors and actresses to
portray the experience of fictitious and real occurrences in front of the audience in a specified
location, usually a stage. For thousands of years, theater has been a powerful medium of human
expression and inquiry, providing a synthesis of entertainment and teachings to the
corresponding community, allowing them to gain better knowledge of themselves collectively
and on a personal level. The evolution of theatrical designs and the changing nature of the
actions displayed have been greatly influenced by the physical needs of drama lovers since the
dawn of time. Some of the plays of ancient Greek are part of the oldest documented plays that
have survived to this day.
The information we have today about theater originates in the artistic fields of divine tales,
hieroglyphics, life cycles, antiques, divider drawings, and enrichments. Most probably, the
custom performances did not require audience participation, which led to the rise of the theater.
Ancient social setups provided the opportunity to identify links between the gatherings’
specialized performance to the society’s desired outcomes. These behaviors progressed from a
proclivity to habits to then to customs. These rituals constituted costumes masks, and the actors
brilliantly performed, bringing delight to the audience.
Background of theater
Origin of the Greek theater
Records have it that the ancient Greeks were the first ever to compose plays, about 6th bc. They
categorized plays into two: comedy and tragedy. This classification is still being used up to date.
Their plans include the Aristophanes, Aeschylus, Euripides, and Sophocles. Many of these plays
have survived and are still being performed in theaters today. The performances were designed
so that the audience got more concerned with the character than with the performer.
The roots of the Greek theater lie in the revels of Dionysus’s followers, the god of fertility and
wine. The god’s worship rites were thrilling and often in line with specific interests. For instance,
during these rituals, the female fans would go dancing frenziedly. They would then rip the flesh
of sacrificed animals into pieces and consume them raw during these events while carrying long
phallic emblems known as thyrsoi. His followers were also very creative. They created a more
ordered type of drama where they would organize choral dances and songs in line with Greek
Mythology. The onset of the sixth century welcomed Thespis into the limelight. He was a
Dionysiac priest who spiced the performances of the stage acting by introducing a new element:
he started a conversation with the chorus and assumed the role of the first actor. Thespis became
the first recipient of a theatrical prize, according to one of the Greek chronicles in the 3rd century
BC. He also won the first tragedy tournament held in 534 BC in Athens. Then followed the
yearly celebrations, in honor of Dionysus and his followers, at the city of Dionysia, which
included theatrical competitions. Only four writers were selected for the competition, and each
was tasked with composing a satyr and three tragedies, and the winner would then be rewarded.
Only a handful of tragedies survived this competition, the heavyweight being the Aeschylus.
The history of the Roman Theater
Historically. The most ancient theatrical activity in Rome was the musically accompanied dances
brought to the city by Etruscans around 364 BC. Records also suggest that the artillery, a typical
Italian comic show, was played during those times. However, most of their theatrics were
borrowed from the Greeks. For example, the Plautus Comedies with Greek ancestry were the
first Latin plays that survived entirely. Latin tragedy and comedy blossomed very well up to the
second century, before plummeting centuries after. Throughout the imperial error, mimenarrations combined with comedy- and pantomime were the most dominant types of theatrical
During the Roman era, theatrical spectacles were only valued during the religious ceremonies,
arranged by the elected magistrates and funded by the state. Additionally, the Romans would
also experience spectacular displays during in case of military victories, temple dedications, or
during funerals of important persons. Rome did not have any permanent theater until 55 BC
because of powerful opposition from the senate out of concerns for loss of roman morals,
competitiveness among the elite, and fear of popular revolt. The literary sources describe
temporary theaters as being highly ornate. A temporary theater built by magistrate Scaurus in 58
BC was one of the best theaters at the time. The first permanent theater was erected in 55BC in
Pompey by one of Julia Caeser’s competitors, built after Pompey’s magnificent military exploits
in the 60s BC. Pompey’s dedication codified the roman theatrical form setting the blueprint that
would be used for centuries.
Theater in the middle ages
The roman drama reached its performance and theaters pinnacles in the 4th century CE, but it had
collapsed due to resistance from the church. The church had discouraged people from attending
theaters starting in 300 CE. Additionally, the Carthage 5th council in 401 had threatened to
excommunicate anyone who attended plays on holy days. Presenters and actors were banned
from receiving the sacrament until they were ready to surrender their profession. These rules
remained in place until the 18 century, when they were lifted in many centers. No actor
otherwise was allowed to be in any Christly attire, and doing so meant automatic expulsion from
the country. However, the Catholic Church started to utilize theatrical ideologies to relay the
message of God to those who could not read. They devised plays that displayed several segments
of the bible practically to these particular audiences. The composed plays were supposed to align
believers according to the ways of God. Western countries used short and straightforward
theatrical renditions of the Christmas and Easter liturgy elements that have been in place since
the end of the 9th century. Their churches’ walls had scenes such as mansions, domi, loci, or
mansions. These events included performed accounts of the resurrection, passion, and nativity
with respect to a particular season in the Christian calendar. Day by day, as the society kept
transforming, secular interludes escaped into the performance to the point where it was never a
crime to perform at the Public Square. Plays were very interconnected, from the creation theory
to the last judgment drama. Many plays from diverse cycles have survived and are still getting
attention in some parts of the United Kingdom.
The evolution of the staging methods also characterized the middle stage. to start with, a tomb
was constructed for Easter tropes in the North Aisle. The addition of speech and designation of
various locations implied the full utilization of the nave. The inside of the churches was designed
to accommodate perfect scenarios and staging. The mansions symbolized the surrounding culture
in a straight line as a symbol of hell and earth. The home identities were given before each
performance portion: a mansion could symbolize more than a site. Historic roman houses were
used to facilitate theatrics in England and France. However, countries like Spain preferred the
processional staging, including the usage of movable carts and pageant wagons. By the 15
century, special effects had become more complex and numerous forcing for numerous scenes. A
stationary setup against pulleys and windlasses made structures were always preferred.
In the 16 century, a more different form of theater thrived-more or less unplanned performances
in the European courts born of the medieval passion of tournaments. They were diversions but
more lavished and caparisoned, focusing on the show. Also, the historical war victories called for
a different courtly theatrical. Public involvement was frequently encouraged to make the
occasion more exciting, if not required. An invitation would be sent out to troupe performers
sometimes to perform in the palace or the courtyard.
The first renaissance theater was characterized by wooden structures, assembly halls, ballrooms,
and gardens. Stagecraft was a competition among Italian painters, Palladio, painters and
sculptors, and Da Vinci, Raphael, Bramante, Vasari, and Michelangelo. It was Andrea Palladio
whom the Accademia Olimpica commissioned to create a theater. In the late 16th century, Italian
Architect Francesco Palladio built the Teatro Olimpico. It was designed with a shallow open
stage and a pedimented backdrop: more of a scaled-down lookalike of an outdoor Roman theater.
Vincenzo Scammozzi completed the theater in 1585. A significant archive of events conducted
there has survived the contemporaneous commentary on the plays.
Theater in the 19th century
The French theater under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte had similarities with those of eh
the 1780s. The introduction of Melodrama at the boulevard theaters by popular drama gained
much popularity. Melodrama promoted Neoclassicism’s deviations and piqued the curiosity of a
broad audience. In 1792, one of the most incredible scenic inventions, the panorama, was used in
London after being conceived in 1787. Also, Pierre-Luc Charles Ciceri established an
independent scenic studio in Paris, the first-ever in France. Modifications of the scenic design
technique grew day by day and achieved whole popularity by the end of the nineteenth century.
The beginning of modern theater may be traced back to around 1885, when the younger
generation rose against the material inequalities of society. The breed of managers who earned
money by just ownership rather than presentation flocked the career. The Bancrofts updated the
dilapidated Prince of Wales Theater and installed antimacassars on the seats to make it look
more accommodative. The twentieth-century theater refers to a time of significant change in the
dimensions of the theatrical culture in the 20th century. These changes majorly occurred in North
America and Europe. Many forms of theater developed during this time due to the challenge to
establish rules governing theatrical representation. Nowadays, we have modernism, experimental
theater, political theater, impressionism, and other experimental theater forms. Meanwhile,
Naturalism and realism continue to develop up to date.