The History of Theatre
Effective Essay Writing/COM/150
May 27, 2012
The History of Theatre
Theatre is a fantastic, entertaining, and very old art form. An evolution of storytelling, theatre is an expression of life. The history of theatre can be traced all the way back to the time of Ancient Greece. The art of theatre has survived many years and has evolved greatly during those years. A performance you would have seen in Ancient Greece is not at all what you would see in a performance today. Many things in theatre have changed, from the dialogue and costumes, to the sets, themes, and the playwrights themselves. Just as the human race has had to ...view middle of the document...
C., due to his introduction of the first actor, or protagonist, the main character of a play and the first time an actor interacted with the chorus with spoken word. Thespis forever changed the art of theatre. Before Thespis’ introduction of the protagonist, performances included only the chorus, a group of males chanting with gestures and music, in honor of the god, Dionysus. The word thespian, interchangeable with actor, comes from the name of this famous and influential playwright (The Ancient Greek Theatre Page, 2004).
Along with Ancient Greek theatre, the Elizabethan era was also an important time for theatre, introducing one of the most well-known playwrights of all time: William Shakespeare. A few of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays include Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and A Midsummer’s Night Dream. Christopher Marlowe, John Lyly, and Richard Greene were also popular playwrights during this era (Robinson, 2002). Shakespeare was part of a group called Lord Chamberlain’s Men, which included the best theatrical talent in London and was the performing group for the famous Globe Theatre. Many people came to see the plays performed at the Globe, including children, nobleman, and kings and queens. Audience members who could not afford the price of a seat were permitted to stand in an area in front of the stage (William Shakespeare, 2012). Although theatre was extremely popular in every social class during this era, the Bubonic Plague (Black Death) had a large effect on the ability to continue performances. The plague was spreading so quickly that many thought it dangerous for people to come together in an enclosed area. The theatres were first banned to areas outside of London’s city limits and then closed down altogether. There were several outbreaks of the plague causing theatre closures in 1593 A.D., 1603 A.D., and 1608 A.D. (Alchin, 2008).
Theatre did, however, survive the Bubonic Plague and is an art that many people still enjoy today. Modern Broadway theatre has a wide range of genres, from serious dramas to comedic musicals and everything in between. New York City has been the home for these productions from as early as 1750 A.D. The first known musical production in New York City was The Beggar’s Opera, written by John Gay, in December of 1750 A.D. (Kenrick, 2009). A few of the most influential American playwrights of the 20th century are Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neil, Arthur Miller, Sam Shepard, and David Mamet.
Theatre goers these days look for an entertainment experience in which they can escape the mundane of everyday life and immerse themselves into a fantasy world where they are able to uncover the life and story of the playwright’s characters. Special effects also play an important role in some of the most modern productions on Broadway today. For example, The Phantom of the Opera, musical version written by Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Show, 2009), has a huge chandelier that swings over the...