History of the Theatrical Forms and Their Evolution Theater began from myth, ritual and ceremony. Theater means ―place of seeing, but it is more than the buildings where performance take place. To produce theater, - a playwright writes the scripts, - the director rehearses the performers, - the designer and technical crew produce props to create the scenes, - actors and actresses perform on stage. - Then it will only be a true theater act when an audience witnesses it. Ancient Theater 700 B.C.E.-410 C.E. (Greek and Roman Theater) Greek Theater The theater of ancient Greece consisted of three types of drama: Tragedy, Comedy and the Satyr play. - Tragedy is a compound of two Greek words, ―tragos‖ or "goat" and ― δή ᾠ ή ‖ (ode) meaning "song, referring to goats sacrificed to Dionysus before performances, or to goat-skins worn by the performers. In Greece, tragedy was the most admired type of play. It dealt with tragic events and have an unhappy ending, especially one concerning the downfall of the main character. Thespis was the first actor and introduced the use of masks and was called the "Father of Tragedy‖ . - Comedy plays were derived from imitation; there were no traces of their origin. Aristophanes wrote most of the comedy plays. Out of these 11 plays, Lysistrata survived, a humorous tale about a strong woman who led a female coalition to end war in Greece. Cyclops was an adventurous comedy by Euripides. - Satyr Play contains comic elements to lighten the overall mood or a serious play with a happy ending. The satyr play was a short, lighthearted tailpiece performed after each trilogy of the tragedies. It is an ancient Greek form of tragic comedy. It featured choruses of satyrs, based on Greek mythology, and with pretended drunkenness, bold sexuality (including phallic props), tricks, and sight jokes. This featured half-man / half-goat characters known as Satyrs. They were awful, ridiculous, and usually drunk. The Satyr characters lusted after everyone on stage, and they delivered the most humorous lines, often at the expense of others. Ancient Theater Terms: - Theatre buildings were called theatron. The theaters were large, open-air structures constructed on the slopes of hills. They consisted of three main elements: the orchestra, the skene, and the audience Orchestra: A large circular or rectangular area at the center part of the theatre, where the play, dance, religious rites, and acting took place. Theatron- viewing place on the slope of a hill Skene –stage Parodos- side entrance. Roman Theater The Triumvir Pompey- was one of the first permanent (non-wooden) theatres in Rome, whose structure was somewhat similar to the theatron of Athens. The building was a part of a multi-use complex that included a large quadriporticus (a columned quadrangle), directly behind the scaenae fron-, an elaborately decorated background of theatre stage, enclosed by the large columned porticos with an expansive garden complex of fountains and statues. The usual themes for Roman theater plays were chariots races, gladiators, and public executions. The Romans loved a good spectacle. They loved to watch combat, admired blood sports and gladiator competition. The more realistic the violence, the more it pleased Roman audiences. The Christians however opposed the barbaric themes of the plays and closed down all theaters.
Comedy plays were popular too in the Roman Theater from 350 to 250 B.C. and women were allowed to perform on stage. Medieval Theater 500 C.E.-1400 - During the Medieval era, theater performances were not allowed throughout Europe. To keep the theater alive, minstrels, though denounced by the Church, performed in markets, public places and festivals. - They travelled from one town to another as puppeteers, jugglers, story tellers, dancers, singers, and other theatrical acts. These minstrels were viewed as dangerous and pagan. - Churches in Europe started staging their own theater performances during Easter Sundays with biblical stories and events. Eventually, some plays were brought outside the church due to their portrayal of the devil and hell. - An example of this kind of play is the ―Mystére d A ‟ dam” or "The Mystery of Adam. The story revolves around Adam and Eve and ends with the devil capturing and bringing them to hell. - Over the centuries, the plays revolved around biblical themes from the Story of the Creation to the Last Judgment.
Renaissance Theater: 1400-1600 - Renaissance theater arts were characterized by a return of Classical Greek and Roman arts and culture. - During Middle Ages, mystery plays formed a part of religious festivals in England and other parts of Europe during the Renaissance period. - Morality plays (in which the protagonist was met by personifications of various moral attributes who try to choose a Godly life over the evil) - And the University drama were formed to recreate Athenian tragedy. - Public theatres were developed like, - the Commedia dell'arte (Italian comedy and a humorous theatrical presentation performed by professional players who traveled in troupes) and - the elaborate masques (a dramatic entertainment consisting of pantomime, dancing, dialogue, and song and sometimes players wore masks) that were usually presented in court. One of the most prominent supporters of the theater was Queen Elizabeth I. The companies of players (companies of actors) were organized by the aristocrats and performed seasonally in many places. They were called professional players that performed on the Elizabethan stage. The tours of these players gradually replaced the performances of the mystery and morality plays by local players. Gorboduc (authors were Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville), also known as Ferrex and Porrex, was an English play and first performed at the Christmas celebration in 1561, and performed before Queen Elizabeth I on 18 January 1562, by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple ( was one of the four Inns of Court -professional associations for barristers and judges in London). The famous actor and poet who emerged in this period was William Shakespeare. - He was baptized on April 26, 1564 and died on April 23, 1616. - He was an English poet, playwright and actor and regarded as the greatest writer and dramatist in the whole world. - Shakespeare was often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". - His works consist of about 38 plays. Some of these plays were well-loved Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Much Ado about Nothing. - Shakespeare's greatest works were Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth. Other contemporary playwrights like Christopher Marlowe (tragedies such as Dr. Faustus and The Jew of Malta), and Thomas Kyd (The Spanish Tragedy). - Shakespeare's plays were about the lives of kings, such as Richard III and Henry V, Christopher Marlowe's Edward II and George Peele's Famous Chronicle of King Edward the First. Ballet is a formalized form of dance which originated from the Italian Renaissance courts. It developed and flourished from Italy to France with the help of Catherine de' Medici, (Queen of France). Le Paradis d' Amour', a piece of work presented at her daughter's wedding, Marguerite de Valois to Henry of Navarre. The first formal ―court ballet‖ ever recognized was, 'Ballet des Polonais' in 1573. Was commissioned by Catherine de' Medici to honor the Polish Ambassadors who visited Paris for the enthronement of King Henry in Poland. Innovations of the Stage: 1. Proscenium was developed. This is the area of a theater surrounding the stage opening. Arches frame and divide the stage from the audience.
2. Backdrops for scenery were popularized by the art of painting clothes. 3. Commedia dell‟arte or ―Comedy of the Profession was developed. It was quick-witted performance of the characters/players Baroque Theater 1600-1750 - is marked by the use of technology in current Broadways or commercial plays. - The theater crew uses machines for special effects and scene changes which may be changed in a matter of seconds with the use of ropes and pulleys. - Deus ex Machina(a Latin word meaning "god from the machine) solution. ―The Teatro Regio in Turin‖, oil on canvas - As a result, the theater was richly decorated, the multiplicity of plot turns and a variety of situations characteristic of Mannerism (a variety of approaches or intellectual sophistication as well as using artificial qualities of the play) were succeeded by opera. - The use of theatrical technologies in the Baroque period may be seen in the films Vatel (2000), Farinelli (1999) and in the different stage productions of ―Orpheus by Claudio Monteverdi. Neoclassical Theater 1800-1900 - The Neoclassical period was a movement where the styles of Roman and Greek societies influenced the theater arts. - the theater was characterized by its grandiosity. - Costumes and sceneries were highly elaborate. - The main concepts of the plays were to entertain and to teach lessons. - Stages were restyled with dramatic arches to highlight the scenes - Lighting and sound effects intensified the mood and message of each scene, enhancing the dramatic experience. - The idea of changing scenery and backdrops become more noticeable, particularly with the invention of pulley systems that allowed parts to move more quickly across the stage. The concept of decorum (meaning right and proper audience behavior) was applied in this period which means classical concepts and appropriate social behavior must be observed. This period officially established just two types of plays, tragedy and comedy. Tragedies portrayed the complex and fateful lives of the upper classes and royals, while comedies, which were either public discourse or comedies of manners, tended to focus on the lower ranks of society, Observance to these genres was critical to a play's success. Three playwrights achieved a significant amount of success. - Pierre Cornielle (1606 – 1684) was often called the father of the French tragedy, writing scripts for more than four decades. One of these was “The Cid‖. - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, better known as Molière (1622 – 1673) was known for his comedies, “Tartuffe and The Missanthrope‖ was one of his works. - Jean Racine (1639 – 1699) was a tragedian beloved for his simple approach to action and the linguistic rhythms and effects he achieved. ―Andromache and Phaedra” was one of his scripts. These men were able to take elements from classical Greek and Roman literature and transform them into plays.
TRIVIA about the Neoclassical Theater: 1. The first "spotlight" was used in the U.S. during this period and was called the "Limelight 2. The Theatre Regulation Act of 1843 banned drinking in legitimate theaters. Many tavern owners took advantage of the situation and renovated their establishments to accommodate live performances. Romantic Theater 1800-2000 Romantic Playwrights: - During Romantic period, melodrama and ―operas became the most popular theatrical forms. - Melodrama originated from the French word “melodrame”, which is derived from Greek ―melos”, music, and French‖ drame”, which is derived from Greek ―dran” to peform. Melodrama can be also be described as a dramatic work that puts characters in a lot of danger in order to appeal to the emotions and in which orchestral music or song was used to accompany the action. - Opera, in the other hand, is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work c ombining text (called a l ibretto ) and musical score. Such as acting, scenery, and costumes and dance were important elements of theater. It is usually performed in an opera house, accompanied by an orchestra or smaller musical ensemble. - Victor Marie Hugo was born on February 26, 1802 and died on May 22, 1885.
- He is considered one of the greatest and best known French writers. - He was a poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. - Among his works that stand out all over the world are “Les Contemplations , La Légende des siècles, Les Misérables, and Notre-Dame de Paris” which is known as the Hunchback of Notre- Dame. Quasimodo, a deformed hunchback, the bell-ringer of Notre Dame had a good heart of helped Esmeralda, a beautiful Gypsy street dancer with a kind and generous heart. Esmeralda captured the hearts of many men that had always wanted to own her. - There are several playwrights that had been known in this period such as, Charles Nodier, George Sand, Heinrich von Kleist, Ludwig Uhland and many more. Renaissance: Romeo and Juliet (William Shakespeare) Genre: Tragedy - William Shakespeare was born and baptized on April 26 1564 and died on April 23 1616. - Shakespeare was born and brought up in Stratford-upon-Avon. - At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. - He was an English poet and playwright, widely known as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. - He’s been known also as the "Bard of Avon". His existing works consist of about: - 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems - Between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part- owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. - He appears to have retired to Stratford around 1613 at age 49, where he died three years later. - With the exception of Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's most famous tragedy and one of the world's most enduring love stories, William Shakespeare's early plays were mostly histories written in the early 1590s. Theatrical Elements: Staging for Romeo and Juliet: ARTS LEARNERS’ The stage itself was divided into three levels: a main stage area with doors at the rear and a curtained area at the back for "discovery scenes"; an upper, canopied area called "heaven", for balcony scenes; and an area under the stage called "hell," which could be accessed through a trap door in the stage. - There is no curtain in the front of the stage, which meant that scenes had to flow into each other, and "dead bodies" had to be dragged off. - There are dressing rooms located behind the stage, - Backdrops for every scene can be seen through the use of computers. Props are created much more easily and are more colorful. There is a greater impact and satisfaction not only to the audience but also to the performers in using the innovations in the plays. Characters: Montague’s Family: - Romeo ― sole heir to the Montague - Benvolio ― Romeo’s cousin fortune - Balthasar ― Romeo’s faithful servant - Lord Montague ― Romeo’s father - Abraham ― Montague servant - Lady Montague ― Romeo’s mother - Capulet’s Family - Other Characters: - Juliet ― sole heir to the Capulet fortune - Friar Lawrence ― friend and advisor to - Lord Capulet ― Juliet’s father Romeo and Juliet - Lady Capulet ― Juliet’s mother - Mercutio ― Romeo’s best friend; - Tybalt ― Juliet’s cousin Prince’s kinsman - The Nurse ― Juliet’s faithful Nurse - Prince Escalus ― Prince of Verona; - Peter ― Capulet servant kinsman to Mercutio and Paris - Sampson ― Capulet servant - Paris ― Loves Juliet - Gregory ― Capulet servant - Rosaline ― Romeo’s first love who never - actually appears in the play - - Friar John ― Friar Lawrence’s friend - - Apothecary ― Romeo’s acquaintance in - Mantua