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The History of Theater
Transcript of The History of Theater
1859 to 1900's
The History of Theater
Greek Theater (365 B.C)
Greek theater began over 2,500 years ago. It began as a religous festival to honor the Greek of wine and the harvest, Dionysus. The earliest plays were stories told by a chorus of boys and men. Then one day a man named Thespis stepped out of the chorus and spoke alone. Today actors are called Thespians. Actors in Greek plays played more than one role and in order to do so they wore different masks of comedy and tragedy. The Greek built their theaters on hillsides and used the slope of the hill to seat the audience. An area called the orchestra was located at the foot of the hill where the chorus moved. An area called a skene was where the actors changed their masks and that is where our word scene originates from. Significant Greek playwrights include Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides whom wrote tragedies, and Aristophanes Menander wrote comedies. Many historians believe that the greek era is one of the most famous in theater history.
The Middle Ages (Fall of Roman Empire to 14th century)
In the early Middle Ages the church outlawed theater believing that it was vulgar and evil. Only a small group of strolling players continued to perform. After many years theater was brought back as a part of church services. Short biblical scenes called tropes were shown at mass. The tropes became popular and soon became more elaborate and different tropes were shown together. The tropes that were shown together were known as cycles. The tropes were then ordered to be moved outdoors by the Pope, and were shown on small sets at on the steps of the church. In some places cylcles were presented on severala carts. By the end of the Middle Ages theater regained importance and by the end of the era writers began producing non-religous plays again.
The Renaissance (15th Century)
The Renaissance began in Italy in the fifteenth century. The Renaissance introduced indoor theaters, and better methods of lighting on the stage. They Renaissance also introduced three dimensional realistic scenery. The stage was set within an arch called a proscenium which served as a 'picture frame' through which the audience viewed the scenery. The Renaissance also introduced many great playwrights like Moliere the most important playwright of the French Renaissance. Spanish playwrights Lope de Vega and Calderon. And English playwrights Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson. Another playwright of the renaissance is the remarkable William Shakepreare who is known for his beautiful plays. Shakespeares most famous plays are Othello, The Taming of the Shrew ,Twelfth Night, Julius Caeser, Richard III , Macbeth, Midsummer Night's Dream, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet
The Restoration (1660)
The Restoration began a new and different era in theater. While Charles II was in exile in France he enoyed theater and when he returned to England he brought many changes to the theater. The Restoration was the first era to establish official theaters. Another major change in theater that happened during The Restorartion is allowing women to appear on stage. The idea was controversial at first but actresses became quite popular. Many actors and actresses became famous during this time. During this period in time the audienece belonged to the upper class and wealthy patrons often sent their servants to save seats for them. To please this audience many authors often included gossip in their plays.Some of the most famous playwrights of this time include William Wycherley,Richard Brinsley Sheridan, William Congreve, Oliver Goldsmith and one of the first woman playwrights Mrs. Aphra Behn
Romanticism (Beginning of the 19th Century)
Romanticism was the major literary and artistic form during the 19th century. Romantic plays used heroes to fight against unjust societies. The heroes used emotions and feelings to guide them. The most popular type of Romanticism was melodrama. The hero always succeeded in melodrama's. The plays included special effects and the theaters showed fires,floods, earthquakes,horse races, and train crashes on the stage. Significant Romantic playwrights include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Victor Hugo, and Alexander Dumas.
Realism (1859-1900 'Late 19th Century, early 20th')
Realism plays dealt with social issues. They incorporaed scientific discoveries within the play. Realism plays also inclued political and social issues. Some significant playwrights of the realism era include Henrik Ibsen,August Strindberg,Anton Chekhov,abd George Benard Shaw. Realism also introduced a new acting style by actor and director Constantin Stanislavsky, it is referred to today as 'The Method'. In this style of acting was more subtle and believable.
The Musical (Mid-1800s)
Musicals first appeared in the United States in the mid-1800s. Musicals incorporated music and dancing into the theater. Most of the popular music from the early 1900's came from broadway musicals. Some of the most significant playwrights from this era in theater include Jerome Kern, George and Ira Gershwin, Irvin Belrin, Cole Porter, Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers,Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. Some signifcant composers include Rudolf Frimel,Sigmund Rhomberg, Victor Herbert and George M. Cohan. Since then musicals have become very big, and are a very big part of theater today.
Modern Theater (Beginning of the 20th Century-)
Modern theater brought ne wtrendsin stage scenery and lighting. The scenery in modern theater moved away from flat, painted scenery into three-dimmensional design. The new scenery and lighting helped create mood and atmosphere. Modern theater helped break down many barriers and minority plays achieved production beginning in the 1960s. Some of the most significan playwrights of modern theater include Eugene O'Neill,Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Lillian Hellman, and Lorraine Hansberry.
Primitive Theater (8500 B.C or 'Ancient Times')
Theater is said to have begun during the primitive times. Little is known of how theater evolved during this time but what is known is found through artifacts and drawings in caves. A theory on how primitive theater began is that when some members of the tribe came back from hunting the question the others would ask was "Did the hunt go well?", and they would reenact it. Over the years changes occured in how to act out the hunt and they would do it before the hunt believing that acting out a successful hunt before hand would create magic that would bring them good luck. They repeated this ac before every hunt and it son became a ritual overseen by a member of the tribe called a shaman. Primitive theater is a big part of theater history because this is where theater began and came to be.
A clip from the 1968 movie adaptation of Shakespeares
Romeo and Juliet
A proscenium arched stage
Examples of a Harlequin and Pantalone costumes.
A clip from Richard Briinsley Sheridans play
The School for Scandal
A clip from the movie adaptation of Dumas'
play The Three Musketeers
A clip from the movie adaptation of Dumas' play
The Count of Monte Cristo
A clip from 'the father of realism" Henrik Ibsens play
An Enemy of the People
A trailer for Ibesens play
A Dolls House
A clip from Michael Bennets
A Chorus Line
A clip from Andrew Lloyd Webbers
A Greek Theater
Examples of Biblical Plays
An example of restoration style scenery
A picture from the musical adaptation of
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
A clip from Tennessee Williams'
The Glass Mengerie
A picture of a modern theater play
A clip from Lillian Hellmans play
The Little Foxes
Beginning of the 20th century
By Thelma Boateng