Category: Theatres

West End Facts

The West End is London’s answer to Broadway and entertains the capital with hundreds of musicals, plays, ballets and operas on a nightly basis. Here are some of the most interesting and informative facts about the UK’s theaterland.

1. It is reported to take up to two hours to apply the makeup to the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera. The actor wears prosthetics, two wigs, contact lenses and plenty of makeup.

2. In British theatres, it is considered bad luck to say the word, Macbeth. While some actors do not believe in this superstition, others take it very seriously.

3. During the Second World War over 150 bombs were dropped directly on the West End and many theatres were either destroyed or partially damaged. Thankfully they have all been restored to their former glory.

4. The first public theatre in London was built in 1576 and was even used by Shakespeare before he built the Globe on the South Bank. This theatre was not in what is now considered the West end and was located in Shoreditch to the east.

5. The longest running show in the world id in London, The Mousetrap.

Musicals

Musicals are a form of theatre which combines not only spoken dialogue but also singing, music and dance. They musical dates back to the 19th century and the second world war with Oklahoma considered the first ‘book musical’ where the story is driven by the songs. Before this, a musical was just a collection of songs added to a story that often dd not progress the plot.

While early musicals were mainly classical in style, think The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, and South Pacific, modern musical have to come to use a variety of different styles. Musical such as Rent, Porgy and Bess, School of Rock and We Will Rock You have pushed the musical far away from its traditional boundaries.

The nature and content of musicals have also changed. Traditionally the musical was a love story but in recent decades have come to deal with issues as wide-ranging as death, sexuality, drugs, and war.

While most musicals contain both songs and dialogue, some musicals have no speech at all and are known as sung-through musicals. Famed musicals of this variety include Les Miserables, Miss Saigon, Starlight Express and Evita.

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.

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