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Northern and Eastern Europe Theatre
Transcript of Northern and Eastern Europe Theatre
Northern and Eastern Europe
Court Theatres of German states
1652- Austria imports Italians to stage court entertainments (Burnacini)
1654-court theatre opens at Munich (Bibienas)
proscenium arches, perspective settings, rapid shifts of scenery, and spectacular special effects.
1688- Vienna opens opera (becomes a central part of the German states artistic center
opera becomes the most admired form
Sturm and Drang (Storm and Stress) 1767-1787
subject matters often shocking (rape, baby killing, state sponsored prostitution: The Child Murderess The Soldiers
The Revolt of Neoclassic ideals
The Gotha Court Theatre 1775: each member was a state employee w/ pensions built in the remains of the Hamburg National theatre, non profit (
Ekhof responsible for staging plays
The Karntnertor theatre in Vienna
The Court and National theatre
Troupes and directing managers
Neoclassic wanes and writers idealize the past
emphasis on humans as rational and a faith in emotions
Took in students that were meant to be leaders in the church and state
1st production 1551 usually at least one performance in every school (200- 769 schools, universities, and seminaries)
used as a teaching tool
students were the cast
professors wrote the scripts
audience: court officials, church dignitaries, parents, municipal authorities
Latin then vernacular and comedy, spectacle and music
Early German Theatre
English companies perform
Clowns become a favorite
companies perform a long play & afterpiece (Nachspiel) Typically a farce
the Clown was the central figure of all pieces
1707 all clowns become-Hanswurst
Joseph Anton Stranizky-
compounded w/ many elements
jolly beer drinking peasant
green pointed hat
The Reforms of Gottsched and Neuber
Johann Christoph Gottsched: wanted to raise the moral level of Germany & refine artistic taste
Caroline Neuber: raise level of theatrical performances
abandonment of improv.
each actor was assigned other duties
control actors personal lives
Banishment of Hanswurst
Johann Freiderich Schonemann took Neuber's ideas
and built upon them.
His group is given the title "Court comedians to the Duke of Schwerin"
Schonemann's son-in-law Johan Frederich Lowen build upon the ideas and forms the Hamburg National Theatre
proposes a nonprofit national theatre
run by a salaried manager
establishes an academy to train actors
high salaries and pensions to attract best actors
translated Diederot's work
attracted a large middle class audience (1st time)
disavows the neoclassic idealism
Miss Sara Sampson- drew upon the Medea myth-most popular play in Germany-sentimental drama
Minna von Barnhelm
- 1st national Comedy
Emilia Galotti- bourgeios tragedy
French Dramas hold on Germany broke
Lessing still upholds some neoclassic ideas:
universe ruled by a benevolent God
man is good
human mind is capable of solving all important problems
Lessing breaks the hold of French drama as he seeks to discredit them
Translated Diderot's work
English drama was better than French
Friederich Schiller: The Robbers
Friederich Klinger: The Twins
Jacob Lenz: The Soldiers
Goethe: Goetz von Berlichingen
Heinrich Wagner: The Child Murderess
Concern for historical accuracy
practical and realistic set pieces (bridges,walls, ect...)
insisted on perfection
championed Shakespeare &
Storm and Stress writers
produced Lessing's work
Gave the premier of Goethe's
work: Goetz von Berlichingen
performer: known for his Falstaff
recognized as Germany greatest actor
played more than 700 roles
created the Hamburg school of acting
Iffland and Kotzebue
August Wilhelm Iffland
ability to humanize his roles
made his characters seem noble average people
Director of Mannheim acting school
His plays romanticized the simple life:
The Huntsman (1785) (contrasts middle class w/ oppressive aristocrats)
Sought to keep romantic drama out of Berlin :(
August Fredrich von Kotzebue
most popular playwright in the western world from 1761-1819)
36 plays translated into English
wrote over 200 plays
German drama considered most popular and vital during this period
Misanthropy and remorse :
a drama- popular play (considered 1st Melodrama most popular play in Paris 1790s)
He was approached in 1812 by Beethoven, who suggested that Kotzebue write the libretto for an opera about Attila, which was never written. Beethoven did, however, produce incidental music for two of Kotzebue's plays, The Ruins of Athens (Beethoven's opus 113) and King Stephen (opus 117).
Kotzebue was murdered by a theology student
Goethe, Schiller, and Weimer Classicism
Johann Goethe 1749-1832 considered 1st director of the modern stage
A "universal genius"
Götz von Berlichingen -made him the most famous writer of his time
center of the storm and stress school
Goethe goes to italy and changes his writing style
sought to counter the major artistic turns of his day along w/ Schiller
Worked with his actors to:
enunciate, control tempo, taught principles of movement and grouping, posture and stance (tableau)
worked with his actors for several months on their role
rehearsals did not begin until the actors knew their lines
tried to teach and train his audience as well as actors
Most famous work
together they argued:
drama should transform the ordinary
experience rather than create an illusion of life
simple harmonious costumes
rhythmic speech= to lead the audience into ideal truth
tried to create a harmonious picture n to show audience true beauty
This became known as Weimer Classicism
Drama should transform the ordinary experience rahter than create an illusion of real life i.e. Aristole
adopted blank verse (Shakespeare's fav)
Goethe worked with indivuidual actors for sveral months about heir role
tried to create "natural stage movement"
Created tableu dived the stage into squares (SL SR USL DSL)
sought to counter major artistic trends
Schiller is considered by most Germans to be Germany's most important classical playwright.
Leads to Romanticism
beyond earthly existence there is a higher truth than that of social forms (Kant and Kierkegaard )
the less spoiled a thing is the more likely it is to embody fundamental Truths.
dualities of human nature (body and soul, spirit and flesh, temporal and eternal)
humanity longs for an ideal existence Romans 8:19-21
Art gives us a higher eternal Truth
the ability to obtain Truth requires an exceptional imagination only found in the artist thus art is a superior from of knowledge
Happiness and truth can only be found in the spiritual realm
Romantic Drama in Germany
1804 France offers 10,000 francs for the best tragedy and comedy
none of these plays that won lasted long in favor
melodrama (first called in 1800)
Melodrama (Made Famous by the Germans)
virtuous hero hounded by a villian
hero is rescued from insurmountable odds only after a series of trials
episodic story unfolds after an expository scene
each act ends with a strong climax
all important events occur on stage
usually elaborate spectacle
relief is provided for by a servant or loved one
focus on emotional appeal
Comic relief character
musical underscore of emotions
written in a three act structure
August Schlegel 1767-1845
influenced Samuel Taylor Coleridge
popularized romanticism and brought ideas around Europe
Translated Shakespeare into German
Mood, emotion and Character were the main ingredients of Drama
first to use romanticism as a term
Ludwig Tieck 1773-1853
Familiarizing Germans w/ Shakespeare
by 1820s considered German's leading authority on the theatre
advocated realistic acting
true illusion results from convincing acting not pictorial realism (forced perspective)
advocated a return to the open stage
every element of of production should be supervised by a single autocratic director
The first fully developed box set was used in Berlin 1826
famous for his work on Midsummer-music by Mendelssohn
France rises to Romanticism
120 melodramas: most famous-
The Dog of Montarges
Racine vs. Shakespeare
Victor Hugo 1802-1885
called for an abandonment of the unities
denounced strict separation of genres
advocated placing dramatic action in w/i historical milieus
art should go beyond the neoclassicist's idealized nature to one that included both the sublime (spiritual qualities) and grotesque (animal nature)
culmination of the "debate"
pitched battle bt. romantics and neoclassicists
the actors could not be heard over the yelling and fighting
Hernani: "a melodrama w/ an unhappy ending"
French Romantic Playwrights
Alexander Dumas (1802-1870)
The Three Musketeers 1830?
Marion Delorme 1831
The King Amuses Himself 1832
Alfred de Musset 1810-1857
A Venetian Night 1830
Scenery costume and lighting
managers seeks to re-create actual places and real events (famous battles w/ 100 people)
historical accuracy increases
two great designers of this period:
Daguerre and Ciceri
Louis Daguerre 1787-1851
invention of 1st effective form of photo
worked on dioramic set pieces (spectator was set on a platform which revolved to reveal different paintings) in order to create the idea of constant change.
used light to create the idea of passing time
his panorama-dramatique became so popular he opened the first scenic studio studio in Paris
Romanticism in England
Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834
36 Kotzebue's plays were translated
Otho the Great
Sir Walter Scott
Famous English actor managers
Kemble Family: Front Rt. Sarah Siddons, lft. John Phillip as cardinal, Chales Kemble seated @ table, UC Stephen Kemble
John Phillip Kemble 1757-1823
Manager of Drury Lane
advocated historical accuracy
realistic set pieces and design
mounted calvary onstage
Charles Kemble 1775-1854
Brother of Phillip
manager of Covent Garden
1st to use historically accurate costumes in King John 1823
audiences liked it
James Planche- antiquarinism urged for historically accuracy in his other shows. provided impetus for authentic stagng
Sister of Charles and Phillip
Greatest tragic actor of her day
Sarah and Phillip establish an acting style called "classical" (stateliness, dignity and grace)
great emotional intensity
Noted for playing Lady Macbeth
opened up the Kemble school of acting
30 a week
Edmund Kean (actor) 1787-1833
perfected the romantic style of acting
excelled in villians
worked out every moment (beginning idea of beats)
emphasized realism of emotion
50 $ a performance
Went to Kimble acting school
Charles Macready 1793-1873
sought to give an illusion of real life
lead to the first modern director:
did not allow actors to chose their own place on stage
demanding acting during rehearsals
constantly sought historical accuracy
in costumes & scenery
performed shows 3 times a week
Restored much of Shakespeare's original text
Elizabeth Vestris 1797-1856
introduced an early form of musical theatre which Gilbert and Sullivan will be influenced by
created an overall concept for her shows
special consideration to spectacle introduced box set to England
completely enclosed the acting area
realistic box settings (rooms)
1st to treat minor dramas with respect formerly reserved for the classics
Before we go ( A quick overview of American Theatre 1781-1850)
Earliest record of Performance 1665 The Bear and the Cub
First performance in the USA 1781 in Baltimore by Thomas Wall
Bt. 1794-1815 Philadelphia will grow to become the dominate theatrical center
Alexander Reinagle builds: The Chestnut Theatre 1791 & will become the 1st theatre in the world to light the stage w/ gas lights in 1816
Charles Powell Federal St. Theatre Boston 1793
John Joseph Sollee City Theatre in Charleston 1795
Thomas Cooper and the Park Theatre in NY 1798
The Expanding American Theatre 1815-1850
theatre moves westward in 1815 from: Samuel Drake and James Caldwell planting theatre on the Ohio and MS rivers (Ohio, Kentucky, Louisanna, Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri
Edmund Kean in 1821
Charles and Fanny Kemble in 1833
Macready in 1826
American Born actors
Edwin Forrest debut in NY 1826 @ Bowery Theatre
established an "American" school of acting (physical or heroic) athletic uninhibited performances (rough)
Charlotte Cushman 1816-1876
originally an opera singer
appeared w/ Macready when he came to US
finest american actress of the time in US
acting style consisted of energy and constant motion
American Dramatists:Plays of this time period promote two important native types: The Native American and the Yankee
James Nelson 1784-1858
10 plays- 5 extant: Tears and Smiles (a comedy of manners)
The Indian Princess (
romantic drama about Pocahontas (1808) 1st play about native americans, first protomusical The comedy was first performed in 1808 at The Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. It has been cited as the first play about American Indians by an American playwright known to be produced on a professional stage, and possibly the first play produced in America to be then performed in England,
(1824) treats witchcraft in New England
Samuel Woodworth (1785-1842)
The Forest Rose (1825) introduced the Yankee character: Jonathan Ploughboy
John Augustus Stone (1801-1834)
Metamora (1829) Native American Chief (Forrest played the role)
George Washington Park Custis (1781-1857)
The Indian Prophecy (1827)
A Trip to America (1824) Yankee Character: symbol of American common man
Jim Crow: Thomas D. Rice (1808-1860)- introduced singing and dancing american black slave
The City Boy: urban folk hero
City low life: Pierce Egan's Tom and Jerry (1820s)
descended from English touring troupes
English troupes had to adapt by simplifying plots and adding low comedy elements, pantomime, music song and dance (spectacle)
English actors developed stock comic fools aka Johan Psset, Stockfish and Pickering
Played mostly to the groundlings
George Jolly troupe was the last English troupe in Germany 1650s
Johann Freiderich Schonemann
Hamburg National Theatre
Johann Friederich Lowen (Schonemann;s son-in-law
blamed uncultivated managers, actors and profit motive, lack of state report, shortage of German dramtists
proposed a permaneant theatre non profit
run by a salaried manager and advocated training actors high salaries and pensions
Opened in 1767-1769
Hamburg Dramaturgy paved the way for future state supported theatres
the virtues of private life are exhibited, rather than the vices exposed. Sentiment at this period meant feeling or sensibility. While many of the plays were nominally comic, the characters tended to be dull and priggish, the plots bathetic and the language stilted. Despite this, it was popular with the rising middle-class audience, especially in Germany, France and Britain, because it tended to treat them seriously in ways which neither comedy nor tragedy did. For all its dramatic ineptness, it is important in theatre-historical terms, as it marks an important stage in the development of serious prose drama
storm and stress plays:
rebellious against the neoclassic idea
Evolution of staging:
Plays now demanded practical set pieces: bridges, walls, complex stuff
First steps towards a box set
costumes intended to evoke a historical milieu (social environment)
Both started out as actors turned playwright
beyond earthly existence there is a higher truth
All creation has a common origin ( the less spoiled a thing is the closer it is to truth)
human existence is made up of dualities
art is a superior form of knowledge
Wrote Kaiser Octavianus
Theatre of Common Sense
sought a middle ground bt. romantics and neoclassics
but soon lost its appeal to Realism
Napoleon and Theatre 1807-1850
Napoleon supports 12 then 8 theatres
but soon grows to 28 by the end
each theatre was given a specific rep to follow
1831 these laws were dropped
Nappy liked Neoclassic drama :(
French Melodrama brought a concern for
Pixerecourt- wanted absolute control over all his works (Hugo, Dumas soon followed suit)
actors use curves and circles in blocking
actors had their back to the audience
national sentiment grew
Mikhail Shchepkin first great Russian actor (STAN) ( started out in a serf troupe eventually moved to a professional troupe in 1808 and eventually obtained his freedom)
taught at the dramatic school and toured
Read the play to the compnay before roles were cast and guided actors in the roles
Nigolai Gogol- 1830s The Inspector General
original for its time because it included neither
love story or sympathetic characters (beginnings of Realism
1800 London is the largest city
theatres were enlarged and seating increased
Authorizes minor theatres in Westminster
longer seasons of shows 5-7 months then 10
five or six hours of entertainment
Tragedy did not fare well
melodramas were exotic (set in remote places and times) appealed to middle class)
featured the supernatural or unusual
(dogs performing heroic acts etc..)
water tanks were installed in Sadler Wells theatre
Pierce Egan- melodramas of contemporary life and events (
Tom and Jerry,or Life in London
Black Eyed Susan (1829) most popular play of the century in London
George Cooke 1756-1812
avoided emphasizing rhythm and rhyme
emotionality and madness loss of control
Cooke played villainous roles such as Richard III
Dion Boucicault 1822-1890
Irish actor and playwright famed for his melodramas.
Perfected melodramatic stories
highest paid playwright (500,000 for the
employed actors for the run of the show
The Corsican Brothers
The Octoroon 1859
William Robertson 1829-1871
first English playwright interested in realism
tries tell of contemporary life and locales
Gilberts and Sullivan
responsible for comic opera in England
encouragaed by Robertson to take up playwrighting
Gilbert wrote the words Sullivan wrote the music
The Pirates of Penzance
English theatrical traditions
Played Hamlet contempoary
realistic acting style
classic and contemporary drama was the same
entered through doors and not the wings
Mrs. Bancroft and Robertson
Bancroft perfected an acting style called domestic realism
Bravura acting: emphasized ensemble effects
establish the single playbill
established matinee performances
acted behind the proscenium arch
orchestra level became the favored seating area
Dame Ellen Terry
played with Edmund Kean a chile
son was Gordon Craig
Powerful actress (Ibsen rewrote Doll House for her)
partnered with Terry
pushed England toward pictorial realism
make use and art of stage lighting
experimented with colored lacquered
1st perfomred to be knighted
: Vampire Trap: invented for James Planché's 1820 adaption of Polidori's The Vampyr. It involved two spring leaves that parted under pressure and immediately reclosed. Placed in the floor or stage wall, it could give the impression a figure was passing through solid matter
Corsican Trap (ghost glide)
made for Dion Boucicault's 1852 adaption of Alexandre Dumas' The Corsican Brothers, involved an ascending track, on which a wheeled cart could be run, rising up out of the stage through a 'bristle' trap - a trapdoor covered with bristles painted to match the scenery. Once on the stage and in view, the track was covered by a sliding arrangement reminiscent of that of a roll-top desk; towhit, nothing was seen except the ghost rising up through the floor and gliding across the stage
1890 stage innovations cont.
treadmills were installed in corsican traps to create:
chariot races for Ben Hur
Herbert Beerbohm Tree
a versatile and skilled actor, particularly in character roles, by his later years, his technique was seen as mannered and old fashioned.founded the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 1904 and was knighted, for his contributions to theatre
Antonio Ceste opera Il pomo d'oro
set for the underworld
Franz Lang: Jesuit Theatre director, producer, paywright who started as an actor in the Jesuit school at age 13.
Best known for his
Discourse on Stage Movement
MAIN POINTS OF lANG'S WORK
Freedom from the rules of French neoclassicism
function of theatre -to communicate the play to the audiecne in terms of action, spectacle, and speech
The beginning and end of stage movement is to move the audience in the way the director intends
The director should posses a strong imagination, trained in Latin, rhetoric, pooetics, music, art and psychology and should have complete control over the staging
Acting: natrual talent is not enough. Actor must be disiplined and trained in techinique on order to have effective stage movement and presence
Give adive on how to convey emotion through body movements (Engel pg 185)
had to "dumb" down plots (make them simple)
added low comedy slap stick elements
Developed Stock comedic characters
added Germna prahses to plays
Last Enlgish troupe was
during 1650s (was an actor, an early actor-manager and a theatre impresario of the middle seventeenth century. He was "an experienced, courageous, and obstinate actor-manager" who proved a persistent rival for the main theatrical figures of Restoration theatre, Sir William Davenant and Thomas Killigrew.
Jolly eventually organised a company of fourteen actors, his English Comedian Players, and led them around Europe from 1648 to 1659.
They began in Germany, and were in Poland and Sweden in 1649 and 1650. They regularly performed in Vienna and Frankfurt, and may have performed before the future King Charles II in Frankfurt in September 1655.
The company came to include German as well as English actors over time, and apparently adapted its personnel to the countries in which it operated.
Jolly also brought woman actors onto the stage in Germany in 1654,
1st All German Troupes
Carl Andreas Paulsen 1620 c
German actor/manager toured 1650-87
toured nothern and Eastern Europe
used a play rep which inlcuded: English Spainish and French playwrights : Kyd, Shakespeare, Lope de Vega, and Caleron
Fist to stage Marlow's Dr Faustus in Germany
staged plays with little rehearsal and discipline
The Velthen Company: called Velthenska sällskapet in Sweden, and Hochdeutsche Hofcomödianten in Germany, was a travelling German Theatre Company, active in Germany, Poland, the Baltic and the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden between 1678 and 1712.
The company played a vital role in the theater history of Scandinavia, were a local theater was not yet developed and where it toured from at least the 1690s onward: in 1707, it became the first professional theater to have performed in Norway.
The company was founded by Johannes Velten upon is marriage in 1678, from the theater company Hochdeutsche Hofcomödianten, which was previously led by his father-in-law. The company had a monopoly in Saxony, and was regarded as one of the best in Germany.
Upon the death of Velthen in 1692, the theater company was taken over by his widow Catharina Elisabeth Velten.
Bourgeois tragedy (German: Bürgerliches Trauerspiel) is a form of tragedy that developed in 18th-century Europe. It is a fruit of the enlightenment and the emergence of the bourgeois class and its ideals. It is characterized by the fact that its protagonists are ordinary citizens.
Goethe and Schiiller lead to the maming of the Germany National theatre
Jena Romanticism (German: Jenaer Romantik; also the Jena Romantics or Early Romanticism (Frühromantik)) is the first phase of Romanticism in German literature represented by the work of a group centred in Jena from about 1798 to 1804.
The group of Jena Romantics was led by the versatile writer Ludwig Tieck. Two members of the group, brothers August Wilhelm and Friedrich von Schlegel, who laid down the theoretical basis for Romanticism in the circle’s organ, the Athenaeum, maintained that the first duty of criticism was to understand and appreciate the right of genius to follow its natural bent.
By 1804, the circle in Jena had dispersed. A second phase of Romanticism was initiated two years later in Heidelberg with Heidelberg Romanticism and in Berlin with Berlin Romanticism.
Romantic view of Heidelberg Castle ruins
Heidelberg was the centre of the epoch of Romantik (Romanticism) in Germany. The phase after Jena Romanticism is often called Heidelberg Romanticism (see also Berlin Romanticism). There was a famous circle of poets (the Heidelberg Romantics), such as Joseph von Eichendorff, Johann Joseph von Görres, Ludwig Achim von Arnim, and Clemens Brentano. A relic of Romanticism is the Philosophers' Walk (German: Philosophenweg), a scenic walking path on the nearby Heiligenberg, overlooking Heidelberg.
The Romantik epoch of German philosophy and literature, was described as a movement against classical and realistic theories of literature, a contrast to the rationality of the Age of Enlightenment. It elevated medievalism and elements of art and narrative perceived to be from the medieval period. It also emphasized folk art, nature and an epistemology based on nature, which included human activity conditioned by nature in the form of language, custom and usage.
On the Way to Melodrama
Many early Melodramas were closet dramas becuse writers refused to write for the stage.
Fate tragedies: te tragedy, also called fate drama German, Schicksalstragödie, a type of play especially popular in early 19th-century Germany in which a malignant destiny drives the protagonist to commit a horrible crime, often unsuspectingly.
Der neunundzwanzigste Februar
(1812; “February 29”) and
Die Schuld (the Debt)
Der vierundzwanzigste Februar
(1806; “February 24”) are among the best-known examples
Kemble's troupe of English actors tour
used words not considered appropriate for tragedy
shifted the moods of his scenes frequently mixed with humor and seriousness
showed death and violence on stage
broke unities of time and place
George Sand 1804-1876
French Woman playwright in the romantic style
The French Theatres
Parisian theatres retained a rep shows ran for 100 nights
patrons had to present their tickets three times:
the Bureau Dramatique 1829: calculated roylaties for the playwright and boycotted any theatre who refused to accept the work of their authors who recieved 10-15% of the receipts (French playwrights were the first to collect roylaties for their work)
Every theatres had a claque (well trained group of audience members) who were paid to respond in certain ways to certain events in the play in order to ensure success of their play (eventuall actors require for them to recieve a certain amount applause) dueling claques
£20 would be something like £2000, and with far more buying power than today. So Bank of England notes were not items of daily life for most people, but only instruments of large financial transactions. Since the average income in this period (1800-1825) was less than £20 a year, most people went through life without ever coming into contact with banknotes.'
100 $ per week
Considered England's best and foremost actor 1816
A follower of the Kemble school of acting combined with Kean's fire and passion
As a director he did not allow actors to chose their positions on stage. insisted on acting during rehearsals.
insisted on historical accuracy in scenry and costumes
part of the Asotr placeiots in America
1774 Articles of Association the US bans acting : "We will, in our several stations, promote economy, frugality and industry, and promote agriculture, arts and the manufactures of this country, especially that of wool; and we will discountenance and discourage every species of extravagance and dissipation, especially all horse-racing, all kinds of gaming, cock-fighting, exhibitions of shows , plays and other expensive diversions and entertainments" (not recended until 1789)
The Chestnut Street Theatre (originally named the New Theatre) was the brainchild of Thomas Wignell and Alexander Reinagle who in 1791 convinced a group of Philadelphia investors to build a theater suitable for Wignell’s company to perform in. Wignell had not yet formed his company when the New Theatre was being set up to be built, but as the New Theater was being built, Wignell was in England recruiting actors to be a part of his company.
1) The stage ran with a depth of seventy-one feet and had a width of thirty feet. The three tiers of boxes could hold nine hundred people; the theatre itself was able to hold an audience of two thousand. There were multiple dressing rooms, two green rooms, and for the first time in America a large well-stocked wardrobe. There were two different entrances from the street for the theatre patrons, those going to the pit and those headed to the boxes. The entryway to the pit was only eighteen inches wide, a death trap in the event of a fire. Like English theatres the New Theatre on Chestnut Street had all the essentials. A proscenium with proscenium doors in the proscenium walls with a balcony overhead.
 The New Theater's design, modeled after the Theatre Royal, Bath, was made possible by John Inigo Richards, Wignell's brother-in-law, who obtained architect Thomas Greenway’s original plans.
 The New Theatre was built on Chestnut Street near the corner of Sixth Street across from Congress Hall. $30,000 was raised for the construction of the building and the finale touches were not completed until 1805 under architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe..
 Not long after its construction the New Theatre was often referred to as one of the Seven Wonders of America.
 A yellow fever epidemic spoiled the theater’s debut in 1793, and its first regular season did not begin until the following year when the inaugural night’s entertainment offered a double feature, John O'Keeffe's Castle of Andalusia and Hannah Cowley's Who's the Dupe? Over the following twenty-seven years the theater would become a showcase for works by local and national dramatist of the day.
7 In 1816 the New Theatre became the first American theater to be illuminated by gas fixtures rather than candlelight or oil lamps. Four years later a suspicious fire destroyed the theater along with its library, music, scenery and costumes. The cause of the fire remained a mystery since the building had been vacant for several days while the company was engaged in Baltimore.
Wignell hires awesome actors
Eliza Kemble (sister of John)
Sarah Siddons (yes that one)
these actros are all Enlgish trained imported to America.
Freedom o f Art
In 1750 the General Court of Massachusetts passed an act prohibiting stage plays and theatrical entertainments of any kind. On May 31, 1759, the House of Representatives in the Colony of Pennsylvania passed a law forbidding the showing and acting of plays under a penalty of £500. In 1761 Rhode Island passen "an act to Prevent Stage Plays and other Theatrical Entertainments within this Colony," and the following year the New Hampshire House of Representatives refused a troupe of actors admission to Portsmouth on the ground that plays had a "peculiar influence on the minds of young people and greatly endanger their morals by giving them a taste for intriguing,
First professional theatre
Theatre in New York (infighting and problems)
Through the early 1700s, New York's primary form of leisure was consuming alcoholic beverages. With pure water hard to come by, booze was a necessity. The fashionable classes eventually found an alternative when a coffee house called The King's Arms opened in 1696 (on Broadway just south of Trinity Church). Some scholars theorize that The Kings Arms may have housed Manhattan's earliest theatrical performances. If so, they would have been makeshift amateur events. No written record of such performances is known to survive
September of 1732, a troupe of actors from London presented a repertory of plays (we are not certain which titles) on the unoccupied second floor of a building near the intersection of Maiden Lane and Pearl Street. It was just an empty space, not a formal theatre. Records tell us the room was large enough to hold about four hundred people, with raised seats overlooking a stage platform. The earliest documented professional performance of a specific play in New York City occurred on Dec. 6, 1732, when this same troupe offered a comedy entitled The Recruiting Officer. Performances continued in this space (which at least one newspaper ad referred to as "The Playhouse") through the end of the decade. Over time, it is believed that other troupes used improvised performance spaces in Manhattan, but no records of their repertories are known to survive.
Walter Murray and Thomas Kean set up a resident company that presented Shakespeare's Richard III on March 5, 1750. Their repertory also included the first documented performance of a musical in New York -- John Gay's The Beggars Opera, which they offered on Dec. 3, 1750.
ust around the corner from that location, the Theatre on John Street opened on Dec. 7, 1767 with a performance of George Farquhar's comedy The Beaux' Strategem. A period illustration currently in the Harvard Library collection depicts this theatre as all-wooden structure that looked very much like a storehouse, but we have no solid information on its seating capacity or interior appearance. It was home to a repertory company run by actor-managers Lewis Hallam and John Henry who remained in charge during all but the final year of this theatre's existence, 1798.
Records indicate that there were no professional stage productions in New York during the Revolutionary War years -- only amateur performances staged by some of the British troops occupying the city. After the war, New York became the nation's capital for a time, and George Washington is known to have attended several performances at the John Street Theatre. Years later, that same theatre hosted The Archers (1796), a native-born opera that some scholars point to as arguably the earliest American musical.
The Park Theatre
Interior of the Park TheatreA period print depicting the interior of The Park Theatre, New York City's premiere performance space in the early 19th Century.
At the end of the 18th Century, New Yorkers started to exhibit a clear passion for theatre, and actor-managers Hallam and Hodgkinson responded by building the city's first world-class performance space. The Park Theatre, built in 1798 on Chatham Street (now called Park Row), housed few musicals in its fifty year existence. With a spacious bench-filled pit, four tiers of private boxes, and a top gallery, this handsome stone structure could hold up to 2,000 spectators. This theatre helped to make the area around what is now City Hall Park one of the most fashionable districts in the city. The Park attracted a wide ranging audience -- each class sitting in its preferred section. In the quote below, "mechanics" refers to working class men:
All kinds of performances were housed under one roof, so that audiences in the 1830s might see drama, circus, opera and dance on the same bill. New York's Park Theater, despite a reputation as an elite house, had a relatively large room that permitted the masses to govern the stage. Each class had its own part of the theatre, but all attended – mechanics in the pit, upper classes and women in the boxes, and prostitutes, lower class men, and blacks in the balcony. The rowdy audiences often yelled, stamped, drank and smoked during the performance.
- Lewis A. Erenberg, Steppin' Out: New York Nightlife and the Transformation of American Culture 1890-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), p. 15.
Admission was 50 cents for the pit, 25 cents for the gallery, and a full dollar for the boxes. The overall din of a rowdy audience often drowned out the action on stage. Most of it came from the "gallery gods" in the uppermost tier, who considered it their social duty to proclaim their feelings. Showers of fruits and nuts (and sometimes worse) from the upper reaches were common. Prostitutes openly transacted business in the balcony, which only added fuel to the fiery sermons of preachers convinced that theatres were "foyers of hell."
When Stephen Price took over as manager of the Park in 1808, he initiated a policy of importing and promoting renowned British actors -- America's first taste of a "star system." Any degree of success in London almost guaranteed sell out houses in the United States. Price used his British contacts to create a virtual monopoly on imported talent, and every theatre in America had to negotiate with him to book imported stars.
Through the mid-1800s, theatrical prostitution remained an accepted feature of the so-called "sporting life" common to men of that time, whether single or married. Since the top gallery was also the only place where young boys could afford seats, it is easy to see why preachers and newspaper editorials condemned theatre as a sinful influence on all age groups.
Federal Street theatre
Charles Stuart powel creates a poor theatre company
company changed hands often and eventually becomse a major professional theatre
the thetare burned down in 1798
Charleston SC America's First Theatre
On February 12, 1736 the Dock Street Theatre opened with a performance of The Recruiting Officer. Built on the corner of Church Street and Dock Street (now known as Queen Street), the Historic Dock Street Theatre was the first building in America built exclusively to be used for theatrical performances. Flora, the first opera performance in America, took place at the Historic Dock Street Theatre.
The original Dock Street Theatre was probably destroyed by the Great Fire of 1740 which destroyed many of the buildings in Charleston's French Quarter. In 1809, the Planter's Hotel was built on this site and in 1835 the wrought iron balcony and sandstone columns of the Church Street facade were added. A number of notable persons worked and patronized the Planter's Hotel including the noted 19th Century actor Junius Brutus Booth (father of Edwin and John Wilkes Booth). Robert Smalls, an African-American Civil War hero, who stole a steamboat in the harbor and sailed it out past the Confederate-held Ft. Sumter and turned it over to the blockading Union Fleet, served as a waiter in the hotel's dining room prior to the war. Charleston's famed Planter's Punch was first introduced here.
Ealry American playwrights
for the most part omost of the play came from England but a few stand out
started as a lawyer
wrote the 1st American Comedy
1st american comedy professionally produced
William Dunlap 1766-1839
Influenced by tyler
spent years in England watching plays
wrote over 60 plays (13 adaptions from Kotzebue)
He managed two of New York City's earliest and most prominent theaters, the John Street Theatre (from 1796–98) and the Park Theatre (from 1798–1805). He was also an artist, despite losing an eye in childhood (Ouch)
Two plays of note:
Andre 1798: r, Major John André, the British officer who was hanged as a spy on October 2, 1780, for his role in the treason of Benedict Arnold. The play does not go into the historic details, but rather presents a fictionalized account of the American debate over whether to spare or hang him. Only three characters in the play are historic: André himself, George Washington
The Father 1789: Two running plots: A rake husband and flity wife learn the error of their ways through a series of comic complications. the second plot centers around a Heroine pining away for a lost love, an old man regrets an affair that casued him to abandon the child. An evil old villian wants to marry the girl. In the end it is discvoered that the girl is the man's daughter a young disguised beggar tells the story of the terrible villain and the young man is rich and marrys the girl.
120 plays, mostly comedies, earning him the nickname "The American Aristophanes"
John Bray: wrote
The Indian Princess; or, La Belle Sauvage
, is a musical play with a libretto by James Nelson Barker and music by John Bray
Inspired other playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw and W.S. Gilbert
Came up with the Stage Manager
His plays are very topical for the time period
i.e. social climbing
theatre in the U.S. 1850-1900
Expanding Theatre (just like Frogs expand)
1848-Theatre soreads to California along with the gold rush
Catherine Sinclair -( Edwin Forests's divorced wife)- highly popular)
leased and ran the Metropolitan theatre in San Fran
Hired a large staock company including nthe Edwin and John W. Booth
The California theatre 1869
built by william Ralston based on the tremendous acting talents of john McCullough and Lawerence Barrett
John Wilkes Booth appeared at Ford's Theatre, Washington, on March 18, 1865, in the play The Apostate which was performed as a benefit for John McCullough, less than a month before he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.
In support of Edwin Forrest and Edwin Booth he played second roles in Shakespearean and other tragedies, and Forrest left him by will all his prompt books.
On the night of September 29, 1884, he broke down on stage at McVicker's Theater in Chicago and was unable to recite his lines. The audience, thinking he was drunk, hissed and booed. In fact, McCullough was suffering from the early stages of general paresis. He was later committed to the Bloomingdale Insane Asylum but continued to decline and finally died in an asylum in Philadelphia. His "insane ravings" became popular and were imitated in one of the first audio recordings.
"Mr. Barrett is generally looked upon as being a brainy man, an earnest man, an ambitious man, and a studious man. He writes well, talks well, and manages well, but in the judgment of the metropolitan connoisseurs he does not play well. His culture and cleverness appear, they say, in everything he does except in his stage personations"
worked with fellow stage actor Edwin Booth; he played Othello to Booth's Iago and Cassius to his Brutus in Julius Caeasar. He wrote a sketch of his colleague for Edwin Booth and his Contemporaries (Boston, 1886). Shortly after, Barrett contacted Booth and suggested that the two tour together beginning in 1887 season
Mormons produce plays as early as 1850
The Salt Lake Theatre, finished in March 1862, was the largest structure yet built and cost $100,000. modled after Drury Lane
major force in the development of drama in Utah arrived in 1892--Maud May Babcock. Babcock was hired as an instructor in elocution and physical culture at the University of Utah and quickly set about putting together a sustained program in dramatics. BYU
Maud May. In the summer of 1915 she formed the Utah Players Stock Company, which performed in the Utah Theatre.
Chamber Street Theatre
Created by william Burton
created a small professional theatre conp-any emphasising ensemble work not a star based show.
wnated hisotrically acurate setting in Shakespeare play and costumes
J.W. Wallack and Lester Wallack
took over the Lyceum theatre (leading theatre in America
"Wallaces with a completeness of scenery,
dresses, and properties, that is almost un
known in those English theatres from which
the pieces played in America are generally,
borrowed. The last named house is situated
in that part of the Broadway immediately
before its intersection at Union Square, and
like other New York the....
Establishes a reputation for his professionaly produced production using everyday actors
Laura Keene (woked with Vestris, acted with Wallack, played at Ford's Theatre the night Lincon was killed)
versatile actor she also directed, designed
scenery, built costumes, trained actors, wrote and adapted plays
she leased and performed in the Metropolitan theatre in NY
Philidelphia Arch Street theatre 1860-1892
led by Mrs. John Drew (ancestor of the Barrymore acting family. Professionally she was often known as Mrs. John Drew. real name was Louisa Lane Drew))
renown over America as refined company and trainning of young actors.
Drew adopted a baby boy and named him Sidney. She was the grandmother through Georgie of John Barrymore, Ethel Barrymore and Lionel Barrymore, and eventually Drew Barrymore
Resident Stock Compnaies grew and a huge demand for new plays grew with it.
showsbegin to have long runs (with stars they might run 14-40 with ensemble casts runs grew to 50-100 in the 1880s
Uncle Tom's Cabin ran 300 performances
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Stowe
depicts the harsh life for African Americans under slavery. It reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and Great Britain. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South
George Aiken- most popular adaption
50 theatre companies across America were perfoming it at the same time
Other important Late post Civil war Actors and playwrights
Edwin Booth 1833-1893
1869 he founded Booth's Theatre in New York, a spectacular theatre that was quite modern for its time. Some theatrical historians consider him the greatest American actor, and the greatest Prince Hamlet. Toured America
James Morrison Steele MacKaye 1842-1894
American playwright, actor, theater manager and inventor. Having acted, written, directed and produced numerous and popular plays and theatrical spectaculars of the day, he became one of the most famous actors and theater producers of his generation. Codified the Delsarte system
- domestic comedic play made into a movie in 1912 once the longest running play (ran for a year and revised over the next 20 years centered on a father’s rejection of his daughter who refuses to marry the man of his choosing, it broke the record run for a non-musical play.
Won at Last-
comedy-drama in which misunderstandings jeopardize the marriage of an innocent young woman to a man-of-the-world.
John Wilkes Booth
critics called Booth "the handsomest man in America" and a "natural genius", and noted his having an "astonishing memory"
stage performances were often characterized by his contemporaries as acrobatic and intensely physical, with him leaping upon the stage and gesturing with passion. He was an excellent swordsman, although a fellow actor once recalled that Booth occasionally cut himself with his own sword
Booth performed for the only time with his brothers Edwin and Junius in a single engagement production of Julius Caesar at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York. He played Mark Antony and his brother Edwin had the larger role of Brutus in a performance acclaimed as "the greatest theatrical event in New York history.
Junius Brutus Booth
Father of Edwin and J.W.
contributed much to the development of Relaism in AMerica
many of his plays are adaptions of Neoclassic works
legendary speical effects in plays (heor on a tied on a train track, a heroine locked in the stateroom of a burning building)
(1871) - first play to prsent american indians as villians and demonstrate diffference bt. east and west america) melodramatic frontier play in the vein of the indian princess.
Bronson Howard 1842-1908
known for Shenandoah. A military drama of the Civil War.
Joseph Jefferson III 1825-1905
Jefferson was particularly well known for his adaptation and portrayal of Rip Van Winkle on the stage, reprising the role in several silent film adaptations. Through his appearances in the latter, he is believed to be the earliest born actor to appear in a film.
Jefferson's name continues to live on through the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee in Chicago which offers awards in recognition of excellence of Chicago's Equity and non-Equity theaters and their productions. Jefferson Island in Mashpee, Massachusetts, which was once known as Stayonit Island, is named for him.
Burlesque and Vaudville
combination of spectacular scenery, lightly clad girls, music, dance, parody and song.
Burlesque and Vaudville reahced its peak just prior to WWI.
Tony Pastor created Vaudvlle from Burlesque to make it more family friendly 1890-1930 Vaudville was the most popular from of entertainment in America
He was sometimes referred to as the "Father of Vaudeville".