Category: Theatres

A History of Theater

The theater is considered one of the oldest art forms in the world and takes into account a variety of performance types including musicals, plays, opera, dance and many more. Early theater is thought to have originated in Ancient Greece, especially the kind of theater we are used to today which consists of a stage, costumes, characters, and a structures narrative.

However, it is likely that civilizations were putting on some kind of performance long before this. The Indians and the Chinese also have a long history of Theatre, though it is less prominent in these societies today – especially when compared to Britain and the United States which have the two largest theater hubs in the world.

From the 15th century, the theater has been undergoing a constant revolution. This started with the arrival of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe who are still two of the most famed playwrights to have ever lived. The 19th century was dominated by music hall style productions where sketched and songs would be performed but without a narrative connecting them together.

The 20th century saw another explosion in theatre with playwrights such as Brecht and Samuel Beckett driving the theater revolution. Today the theatre is as big as ever with touring productions making the art form more accessible to many more people. Many musicals, in particular, have been staples of the theatre scene for more than 20 years. These stalwart shows include Les Miserables, Blood Brother and The Phantom of the Opera.

Besides the large productions of the West End and Broadway, other types of the theater include community theater, fringe theatre, street theater, and Off-Off-Broadway.

Plays

The play is an ever-popular form of written literature which has been performed for many thousands of years. Most of the time plays are written to be acted in theaters but there are a few who have also produced works for them to be read. One notable example of this was the dramatist George Bernard Shaw.

There are many different genres of the playthese include comedies, farces, restoration comedy, tragedy, and drama. Some of the oldest plays date back to the Greeks, notably Oedipus Rex which is still staged today. Many works from the 15th century are also still in circulation, including the works of the beloved English playwright William Shakespeare.

The structure of a play is often divided into several acts. Most modern plays consist of two acts, though historically they were many more than this. In modern productions, there is normally an interval at the end of the first act when patrons can leave the auditorium for around 20 minutes. Plays which do not have acts are called a ‘one-acter’ Each act is then divided into several scenes which are normally marked by a change in setting.