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Transcript of Drama
The word comedy comes from the Greek 'comodia' meaning 'Dionysiac feast song'.
Comedy has fixed features:
love is the usual theme;
it has a happy ending;
it has a positive development;
'flat' characters, the attention is on the plot and not on the characters.
The word tragedy comes from the Greek word
'tragos', meaning 'goat', and 'ode', meaning 'song'.
Its features are:
solemn style and lofty language;
characters are never common people, but they belong to the high class;
'round' characters, they develop during the story;
everything is dominated by fate.
Christian churches introduce dramatic effects in Easter liturgy.
From these small beginnings the great tradition of medieval Christian drama develops
In about 1170, priests somewhere in France decide to move performances to a platform outside their church and to give them in the language of the people.
In most parts of Europe the plays are done on fixed open-air platforms, usually along one side of a square, with little 'houses' or mini-stages set up for different scenes.
Then, the players perform on carts, each with its own scenery, moving through the town to appear before a succession of audiences.
The theatres built in London in the quarter century from 1576 are a notable example of a contribution made by architecture to literature. In previous decades there had been performances of primitive English plays in the yards of various London inns.
The Archaic Period
The actors were masked, and they took different names depending on the place of the representation:
England were called Mummers,
Tipteers or Soul-cakers,
Geese-dancers in Cornwall,
Goloshans in Scotland.
The Medieval Period
Thanks to the increasing popularity of these forms of sacred representation, lay companies that they set up began to form real professional companies of actors, although their repertoire was limited and their social recognition nil.
The pagan and folk theater, survived a small part in the Mummer's plays of early origin, and performances of the minstrels and troubadours, whose place of performance deputy were the courts of the English lords.
The Renaissance Period
The court needed for dramatic public performances of companies, choosing the plays in their repertoire are most suitable. The Court facilitated the actors' exercise of their profession and protecting them from the attacks of the Puritans. Since the law classified actors as vagabonds in search of work,they were under the protection of some nobleman whose qualified "servant", with the only obligation to carry a livery or a badge and to lend some festive occasions of service their protector.
The Elizabethan Period
The popularity of the Elizabethan theater increased enormously. The standing of Elizabethan Actors improved when the purpose-built theaters were introduced. A play could attract as many as 3000 people to the theater and the Elizabethan actors were the equivalent of today's superstars.
Many of the major Elizabethan Actors became stake holders in the theaters and became wealthy men. They mixed with the nobility and played before royalty.
The playhouses provided Elizabethan actors with enclosed venues so they were able to stage plays in winter as well as summer.
The downturn to the popularity of the plays and the crowds that they attracted were the frequent outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague. When there was such an outbreak the theaters were closed down. The Elizabethan Actors often left the towns for the comparative safety of the country in these frightening periods.
The Playing Companies
In the later Medieval and early Renaissance periods, wealthy and powerful English noble houses sometimes maintained a troupe of half a dozen "players," just as noblemen kept jesters or jugglers for entertainment. English theatre benefited greatly from the predilection for theatricality displayed by the Tudors. In the early period the difference between players, acrobats and other entertainers was not hard and fast. A troupe of players, however, was more costly to keep than a jester; players could defray expenses by touring to various cities and performing for profit. It is from the scattered records of such touring, and from occasional performances at the English Royal Court, that our very limited knowledge of English Renaissance theatre in the early and middle 16th century derives.
One curious development of this era was the development of companies of pre-pubescent boy actors. The use of the boy player in companies of adult actors to play female parts can be traced far back in the history of medieval theatre, in the famous mystery plays and moralities; the employment of casts of boys for entire dramatic productions began in the early 16th century, which utilized the boys' choirs connected with cathedrals, churches, and schools. In time the practice took on a professional aspect and companies of child actors would play an important role in the development of drama through the Elizabethan era and into the Jacobean and Caroline periods that followed.
Mystery play is one of three principal kinds of vernacular drama in Europe during the Middle Ages . The mystery plays, usually representing biblical subjects, developed from plays presented in Latin by churchmen on church premises and depicted such subjects as the Creation, Adam and Eve, the murder of Abel, and the Last Judgment.
Miracle play, also called Saint’s Play, one of three principal kinds of vernacular drama of the European Middle Ages (along with the mystery play and the morality play). A miracle play presents a real or fictitious account of the life, miracles, or martyrdom of a saint. The genre evolved from liturgical offices developed during the 10th and 11th centuries to enhance calendar festivals. By the 13th century they had become vernacularized and filled with unecclesiastical elements. They had been divorced from church services and were performed at public festivals. Almost all surviving miracle plays concern either the Virgin Mary or St. Nicholas, the 4th-century bishop of Myra in Asia Minor. Both Mary and Nicholas had active cults during the Middle Ages, and belief in the healing powers of saintly relics was widespread. In this climate, miracle plays flourished.
The morality play is a genre of Medieval and early Tudor theatrical entertainment. In their own time, these plays were known as interludes. The plays were most popular in Europe during the 15th and 16th centuries. Having grown out of the religiously based mystery plays of the Middle Ages, they represented a shift towards a more secular base for European theatre.
Genesis and themes
Interlude was born around 16th century.Interlude, in theatre, early form of English dramatic entertainment. Interludes were performed at court or at “great houses” by professional minstrels or amateurs at intervals between some other entertainment, such as a banquet, or preceding or following a play, or between acts.Those performances were short. Although most interludes were sketches of a nonreligious nature, some plays were called interludes that are today classed as morality plays. John Heywood, one of the most famous interlude writers.
The morality plays originate from the danse macabre.
The Morality Plays are therefore focused on human life and on the arrival of death, establishing itself as allegorical dramas sophisticated in style and language, drama, philosophy and purpose of the human condition. The arguments of morality, although still a predominantly religious, detached themselves from the biblical story, bringing on stage no more scenes of the Passion of Christ or the saints but representations of man in comparison with the three theological virtues, the four cardinal virtues and their opposite, disbelief, despair and hatred, which originate from the seven deadly sins.
Aristotle wrote about the qualities of tragedy, which include a catharsis or cleansing. Greek tragedy was performed as part of an estimated 5-day Athenian religious festival, which may have been instituted by the tyrant Peisistratus in the second half of the sixth century B.C.
The Great Dionysia, the name of this festival, was held in the Attic month of Elaphebolion, from the end of March to mid-April.The dramatic festivals were centered around competitions, agones.
Greek comedy is divided into Old and New.
Since the only Greek comedy comes from Attica (the country around Athens) it is often called Attic Comedy.
Old Comedy tended to examine political and allegorical topics while New Comedy looked at personal and domestic themes.
In the Roman Comedy the chorus was abandoned ,there weren’t act or scene divisions. The most important authors are Plautus and Terence.
In comedies were performed everyday domestic affairs and the action was placed in the street.
In Roman tragedy there were elaborate speeches and sententiae (short pithy generalizations about the human condition) to express the interest in morality.
Violence and horror were onstage, unlike Greek tragedy.
Characters were dominated by a single passion ,which is obsessive (such as revenge) that drives them to doom.
A picture of the "Swan" theatre
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action", which is derived from the verb meaning "to do" or "to act"
Playhouse is a common Elizabethan term for an indoor theatre, especially those built in London such as The Globe and The Rose.The first Elizabethan playhouse was a
theatre built in 1567 by james Burbage called "The theatre".
The audience capacity of the playhouse was up to 500 people.The Playhouse was an indoor hall so the play could also be produced during the cold winter months.Playhouses allowed for an all year round profession, not one restricted to the summer; Playhouses also allowed for luxury and comfort for courtiers and the nobility when watching a play thus encouraging wealthy and powerful clientele.
Fixed-stage constructed in Valenciennes in 1547 for the Passion Play