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The history of Western TheatreTheatre within human society since the dawn of time has been part of man's community existence

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The history of Western Theatre Theatre within human society since the dawn of time has been part of man's community existence. Long before the first Stone amphitheatre was erected Men had already produced dramatic presentations concerning the prophesising and worship of their gods. Ancient tribes performed "Rain dances" and story told surrounded by their audience, this is thought to be the inspiration behind theatre in the round. However theatre as it would be recognised today, began in Greece between 400 and 500BC In ancient Greece, theatre was a place of social gathering and entertainment. The Audience would be divided according to social status; the most powerful and rich members would sit in the God's (elaborately decorated seats placed above the ground) whereas the lower class members would be sat closer to the front. The amphitheatre's themselves were situated on hillsides so that the mise-en-scene would be that of the heavens. Greeks used masks in order to represent their characters, however they also used high-soled shoes in order to give the character a taller stature. Of course the use of masks and platforms reduced the movement of the actors in-fact the "actors" were not originally an aspect of Grecian theatre at all, and were only developed by playwrights in the late 400's. It is well known that most western dramatic traditions originate from ancient Greece such as the three main genres of theatre, Tragedy, Comedy and satire. ...read more.


Contrary to popular belief jongleurs or travelling performers were not the only form of theatrical entertainment in medieval times, In-fact as ironic as it may seem the Christian Church was primarily the reason drama was kept alive as an art form. The reason the Church began to involve itself with theatre was in order to establish itself within a society still rife with pagan celebrations and rituals. To begin with simple re-enactments of the nativity scene and worship of the Magi were acted out by the priests within the church boundaries, however soon enough members of the local town guilds involved themselves and although the plays were still in close connection with the Church they had more freedom of expression. These plays were known as Morality or passion plays and as the sands of time trickled became more and more adventures featuring characters that were more complex and dimensional. In the 15th and early 16th centuries Theatre became once more the sociable pastime it had been. The ancient works of the Greeks and Romans were discovered and performed within France and Spain (renaissance). However most the plays within England, were still within the themes of religious virtue, and still ran by guild- like companies featuring a group owner, journeymen and hirelings. The stage by this point in time had completely evolved from simple enclosed courtyards into a centre stage surrounded by its audience; this was commonly called an "apron stage". ...read more.


Although the many Elizabethan playwrights (including Shakespeare) did encourage their actors to adopt a more natural form of acting, most could not advocate the degree of realism that a modern day audience would expect. Instead often enough the actors would over dramatise and emphasise. William Shakespeare however was not the only revolutionary playwright during this period, both Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson wrote and directed plays such as 'Edward the second' and 'Catiline', which although not as famous within history were just as avant-garde. From the ancient Greeks to William Shakespeare in three short pages, obviously I have been forced to edit out other areas of less importance for example the Egyptians and the Aztecs both enjoyed theatre as a form of entertainment. Theatre over the last 500 years has changed drastically. Although essential dramatic traditions still remain, actors have a freedom of expression that the likes of Shakespeare could only have dreamed of. Theatre has returned to being a respected form of entertainment. Nowadays theatres are seated (other than theatre in the round) and roofed often decorated with grand sculptures and paintings, frequently enough paintings that are based on ancient Greek or Roman cultures. Showing that Theatre is proud of its dramatic history, indeed it should be. As it is my opinion that there is no-other form of art that can captivate and move the on-lookers as much as theatre ?? ?? ?? ?? Lisa Marie Richardson English literature ...read more.

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