Chapter seven

Report
Theatre exists in the present,
but is deeply rooted in its past
Many plays seen today are revivals…
Contemporary theatre artists
are compared to their
predecessors
Some ancient plays adapt to
modern times
Many of the world’s great
plays are closely based upon
preceding ones
One theory suggests that the origins
of theatre are in tribal groups,
dating as far back as 6000 years…
Another theatre suggests that theatre
evolved from rituals that can be seen
as collective ceremonies…
STORYTELLING…
Storytelling requires an
audience
Storytelling involves
character impersonation
In Animism SHAMANS are
guides to the spiritual world
Mediums are examples of
spiritual guides like Shamans
The Sri Lankan sanniyakuma
A Bundu Devil Dancer
Traditional
theatre and
drama seems to
have its earliest
expressions in
Ancient Egypt
Abydos Passion Play is likely the
first known drama in Egypt.
It was associated with the
rites of burial.
Egyptian ceremonies and rites
date as far back as 2500 BC
The Abydos procession to the Nile was not unlike a
modern parade
Other rites appeared in Babylonia
and other locations in the Middle
East but did not flourish.
The next
wave of
development
occurred in
Attica
(Greece).
th
5
Century Athens stands as
one of the great ages of theatre
Attic rites developed both
tragedy and comedy
Evidence exists in mosaics
and vases from the period
A dithyrambic chorus
Attic rites honored the God of
fertility, harvest and wine
Dionysus
City Dionysia held in Athens
in theatre at base of Acropolis
Model of Theatre Dionysia
Artists reconstruction of
Greek Theatre at its height
Components of Greek drama
1. Performed for special occasion to celebrate the
seasons or some important civic event
2. It was competitive. Prizes were awarded.
3. They featured CHORAL singing and dancing…the
chorus was comprised of from 3 to 50 members.
4. The plays were based upon familiar stories and
myths.
Types of Greek Drama
- TRAGEDY
- COMEDY
- SATYR PLAYS
Comedy and tragedy were the most popular types of
plays in ancient Greece. Hence the modern popularity
of the comedy and tragedy masks to symbolize theatre.
Aeschylus
524 – 456 BC
The Persians
Seven Against Thebes
The Suppliants
The Oresteia
Agamemnon
The Libation Bearers
The Eumenides
Prometheus Bound
Sophocles (497-406 BC)
Oedipus Rex and Antigone
Euripides
480-406 BC
Alcestis
Electra
The Bacchae
Trojan Women
Greek masks and musicians
Greek masks and chorus
Greek Comedy
Aristophanes (447-388 BC)
The Birds (pictured), The Clouds, Lysistrata
The satyr play
Theatre at Epidaurus
Greek costumes
Onkos
Himation, Chlamys
kothurnoi
A Greek Chorus
Greek drama introduced...
• Tragedy and comedy
• Conventions in costume
• The third actor
• Skene (elevated stage)
• Choral singing
• Stock characters
• Trilogy
• Satyr (parody)
Roman Drama
Terence
Plautus
Roman Theatre
Roman theatre in Syria
Medieval Drama
After the fall of Rome,
theatrical activity in the
West was brought to an
end.
It re-emerged in the 10th
century with QUEM
QUERITAS
By 1250,
Bible-based
dramas
(Mystery
Plays) were
common in
Europe
Mystery cycles were staged by
guilds in European cities
York
Wakefield
Pagaent wagons
Logo for York Mystery Play today
Valenciennes Mansion Stage
Morality plays
Renaissance Drama
16th century Commedia dell’Arte troupe
Plautus and Seneca were first
translated in the 1470s
Agamemnon
Hercules
Medea
Phaedra
Phoenician Women
(4BC-65AD)
The Elizabethan Age (15581603)
Theatre’s golden age
Christopher Marlowe
Ben Jonson
John Webster
William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Shakespeare’s first folio-1623
The Plays of William Shakespeare
Sir John Gilbert - 1849
The King’s Men
William Kemp
Richard Burbage
Elizabethan Playhouse
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
at The Theatre
Globe Theatre
Globe Theatre (exterior)
Interior
Shakespeare Festival Theatre
Stratford-upon-Avon
The Royal Theatre
In Spain, there was
Pedro Calderon at the
court of Philip IV
Louis XIV in France
 Moliere at court
Pierre Corneille
Jean Racine
In England, The Restoration
The Royal Theatres of Europe
defined the Neoclassical age
Theories of drama were adapted from Aristotle
Development of neoclassical ideal of “reasonableness”
Onstage violence eliminated
Strict unity of style and genre
Theatres were moved indoors to encourage new stagecraft
The classical unities
TIME
PLACE
ACTION
Corneille’s LE CID
Moliere’s TARTUFFE
Congreve’s THE WAY OF THE WORLD
After Neoclassicism came
the Romantic Era
 A rebellion against Neoclassicism and its rigidity and
decorum
 The dominant form of the 18th and 19th centuries
 Celebrated the exotic and grotesque and emphasized the
individual over society
 Focused on compassion rather than style
 Gave rise to the form of melodrama
Major authors of the romantic age
In Germany
Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
Friedrich von Schiller
In France
Victor Hugo
Cyrano de Bergerac (1897)
Theatre in the East is rich and diverse
ASIAN Theatre is never just spoken, but danced,
chanted, mimed and sung
Dramatic language is rhythmic and melodic and
sound has multiple meanings
Eastern forms of theatre are more visual and
sensual than literary or intellectual
There is a strong emphasis upon storytelling, but is not
tightly plotted
It has a rich and long heritage, literally hundreds and
thousands of years
Asian theatre forms are highly stylized
Actors train in traditional forms through an intense
apprentice system
Asian theatre is deeply traditional with significant
connections to folk history, ancient religions and cultural
myths
Indian Sanskrit Drama
Dates from 200 BC. Performed indoors.
Natyasastra (treatise on theatre) dates from around
100 a.d.
Indian Kathakali (story play)
Chinese Xiqu (tuneful theatre)
often referred to as Chinese Opera
The Monkey King
Scale and spectacle in Xiqu
Japanese Noh
Noh theatre groundplan
Noh masks
NOH masks change identity in
light and shadow
Kabuki Theatre
ka (song) – bu (dance) – ki (skill)
Two major forms – history
plays and domestic plays
Modern kabuki actors are descended from 11
families dating to the beginnings of the form.
Sakata Tojuro
Tojuro playing the courtesan
Ohatsu opposite his son Nakamura
Kanjaku as her lover Tokubei in
"Sonezaki Shinju"
The Lion Dance
"Yoshitsune Senbonzakura (Yoshitsune
and 1,000 Cherry Trees)"
1851
2008
Chikamatsu (1653-1725)was the
greatest Japanese dramatist
Chikamatsu also wrote for Bunraku
Theatrical Tradition: East & West
COHEN identifies twelve
great theatre traditions
Greek
Roman
Medieval
Renaissance
Royal (Neoclassical)
Romantic
Sanskrit
Kathakali
Xiqu
Noh
Kabuki
Bunraku
All of these traditions
influenced
THE MODERN THEATRE

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