The Dawn Of
• There audiences were to be just
the middle class people except if
you were performing for the king
then it was considered high class
Dawn of theatre {ancient theatre}
• The dawn of theatre is divided into three
> The Primitive People
> The Egyptian Theatre
> The Hebrew Theatre
The primitive period had No definite theatre or
auditorium. This era was filled with lots of
shamanism, rituals, dances and a lot of fireside
storytelling and they had a SHAMAN who served
as a representative of their god. Their dances
are done to express the rhythm of life and to
pacify the spirits in which they believed.
The Egyptian theatre
• Theatre was set to have started between 20003000 B.C.
• Plays were sometimes written in
HIEROGLYPHICS, and the plays were said to
have been inspired by the plays on the pyramid
walls. However, many were simply ceremonies
past from generation to generation such as rites
of passage, war dances, etc.
• Plays were often written for important events
such as coronations, so basically the audience
was the whole community. The earliest form of
dramatic production comes from the river Nile,
• First recorded play “Passion” around 2000 B.C.
Hebrew theatre
• The Hebrew theatre can be linked to:
>The old Testament
>The book of JOB
>The songs of Solomon
One of the modern plays was written by Archibald
MacLeish based on the Book of Job.
During this period the bible serves as a raw
material for actions and characters. The Hebrew
theatre are closely linked with Jewish national
renaissance movement of the twentieth century.
Greek and Roman Theater
Roman is better!!!!
• History
– Ancient Greek civilization flourished during the
8th to 6th centuries BC to 146 BC.
– Alexander the Great was one of last rulers of
Greek until it was taken control by the Romans
after his deaths.
– Many problems raised like who gets the power of
the empire which made Greek Empire corrupted.
– Many celebrations were thrown for Dionysus, the
patron God of the Arts.
Famous Plays
• AESCHYLUS -The Persians (472 BC)
• Euripides- Rhesus, Medea, Herecles,
Alcestis (450 BC)
• Sophocles-Ajax, Oedipus, Antigone
(440 BC)
• Aristophanes-The Frogs,The Birds
(414 BC)
• Actors were the play writers.
• Thespis was the first man to win a
documented competition in theatre.
• All Actors, or “Thespians”, are named after
• Proscenium Stage
• The plan of Greek theater has three
major parts: the Orchestra, the Scene
and the main theatre, called Koilon.
• The Greek theaters were performed
with many types of plays like comedy,
satiric drama, and tragedy.
• The audience of the Greek times
were very respectful to the actors
and writers at the time.
• In Greek Theater, the main themes
were comedy and tragedy. Many
plays had the Greek gods in the story.
• In Greek Theater, the costume was a very
important factor of the production,
because they could determine the
characters by gender or class. For
example the color of a chiton would
determine rank.
• Actors started to use masks so it can
create a effect of personality. Few believe
that the mask added resonance to the
voice of an actor so that everyone in the
huge ancient theater could hear him. It
was also used to express emotion.
• History
– After the fall of the Greek empire through 396264BC, the Roman Empire took full control.
– The Roman empire was split into two. The
West Roman and East Roman.
– The Western Roman fell very easily while the
Eastern Roman flourished.
Famous Plays
• Plautus-comedies
– Rudens
– Persa
– Cansina
– Braggart Warrior
– The Casket and Pot of Gold
• Terence-comedies
– The Brother
– The Mother-In-Law
– Self-Tormentor
– Most of the plays Found in Rome were copied or
Stolen from the Greeks.
Famous Plays Con’t
• Seneca-tragedies
-The Trojan Women
-Hercules on Oeta
• Mainly Proscenium stages and also arena stages as
well. Many participants in the arena Coliseum were
mainly criminals
• The Theaters and stages were very similar to the Greek
• The main difference was the theaters started to be for
• mainly entertainment Mainly men performed in most
theatrical shows, but women could perform in
pantomime shows. The most famous actor was Robert
Gallus, Quintus who eventually had his face put on the
currency coins for his achievements in acting
• Music was involved in these plays. Many of the music
were played on wind instruments. (Pipes, cornus, flutes,
• Masks were used to show expressions and emotions to
the audience.
• High silk cloths (Toga) were worn which were very
expensive at their time.
• Greeks wore chitons
• While performing, Roman actors wore different colors on
their robes to represent the role that actor was playing.
Wearing a purple robe meant acting as a young man.
Wearing a yellow robe meant acting as a young women.
Wearing a yellow tassel meant acting as a god.
Roman vs. Greek
• The Romans where more interested in comedy plays
and however many found tragedies to be boring and too
depressing for the stage.
• When comparing and contrasting ancient Roman theatre
to that of Greek theatre it can easily be said that Roman
theatre was less influenced by religion. Also, Roman
theatre was more for aesthetic appeal. In Roman
theatre, war was a more common thing to appear on
stage as opposed to the Greek theatre where the plays
were mimed and repetitive.
• The Romans loved war and many of their plays involved
violence. On the other hand, the Greeks focused on
Comedies and Tragedies.
• Most of the plays were written in Latin.
Chinese, Japanese, and
Chinese Theatre
Goes back to 722 BC.
They would have lavish festivals
Actors were known as “children of the pear garden”
There were 2,890 plays written during the Sung Dynasty
Only males were allowed to perform
They were called Shan
Costumes were elaborate and filtered into the dramatic spectacle.
They used few props to leave more room for dancing.
A famous play was “The Fisherman’s Revenge.”
One of the oldest forms of Chinese drama was Kunqu.
It was performed at regular theater, birthday parties, harvest festivals, and deitie’s
In China, acting was requested as a life study.
One of the elements they used to tell a story was an interpretative dance.
The symbols that they used: 1.) White paper falling from an umbrella means snow.
2.)An actor carrying a flag means army.
The language they performed in is the Chinese language.
Started in the 12 and 13 century
The expression “noh” meant talent
The five types of plays were “god, fighting, wig, madwomen, final or demon.”
Kyogen were performed between plays.
In the Noh plays they used masks in the Kyogen Theatre they did not.
It derived from religious ceremony, now used for entertainment and to keep the culture alive.
Zeami was a famous playwright who wrote the famous play Matsukaze
Performed mainly by men.
Three main types; Kabuki, Noh, and Bunraku.
The Kabuki Theatre was based on the Noh Theatre but they wanted to make it more real and
shock the audience.
Kabuki means the art of song and dance.
Mostly done for entertainment, but also religious.
Bunraku used puppets instead of actors.
They used wooden puppets, most of them had three puppeteers.
Chimkamatu Monzaemon wrote, “ Sonezaki Shinju.”
Many plays played around with the idea of loyalty over personal feelings.
The language they used to perform is the Japanese language.
Costumes: As costumes they wore robes such as a Karaori, or a Surihaku. Men would wear
something lika an Atsuita under a robe, normally a Kimono.
• The Hindu theatre began 1500 B.C but real theatre did not emerge
until the 5th century B.C.
• Kalidasa was best known for Plays
• Sanskrit drama and poetry were among the Gupta empire’s artistic
• The 8 main rasas were love, heroism, loathing, anger, laughter,
terror, pity and wonder.
• Hindu theatre was expressed by singing, dancing, and poetry
• India and Hindu theatre is one of the few countries which can boast
of an indigenous drama, unaffected by any foreign influence.
• Sanskrit is a literary language used and understood only by
• The green room is where actors change and relax before and after
Medieval Theatre
• 480 A.D.- 1300 A.D.
• The middle ages sprang into being wholly
influenced by the drama of the Greeks
• Medieval theatre involved many church
plays such as, Mystery plays, Miracle
plays, and Morality plays
• The medieval theatre mainly revolved
around religion
• Morality plays would instruct man in what
they should do. The great focus in these
plays were death
• Miracle plays widened its religious
horizons and focused on religion outside
the bible
• Mystery plays were a joined effort by the
community in which different guilds where
assigned a portion of the Bible to act out
• The main language of medieval times
were old English some other people spoke
Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Old Occitan,
Greek, Arabic, Cornish, and welsh.
• Clergy wrote the four-line playlets
• Later the dialogue was expanded
• As it became more elaborate, more playwrights
were recruited
• This opened the door for professional
• Famous play wrights included Hrosvitha,
Hildegard, The Wakefield Master ( his real name
was unknown), John Bale, and Adam de la Halle
Acting and Rehearsing
• Rehearsals took place
over months
• Held between dawn and
beginning of the work day
• Actors were fined for
lateness, not knowing
lines or being drunk
• Multiple playlets were
rehearsed at the same
Some received fees
At first it was to reimburse the actors
Late 1600’s began to see professional actors
Very few women performed in medieval plays
Only exceptions were for female Saints
There were two reasons: male hierarchy and
trained choir boys had better projection
• Were performed on fixed or movable stages
• The fixed stage was usually against buildings on
one side of town square, or in an amphitheatre
• The movable stages were wagons
• Usually broken into three parts from left to right
Hell, Earth, and Heaven
• Nothing was depicted in its entirety. Very little
illusion of a real place.
• All stage production was temporary and
expected to be removed upon the completion of
the performances.
Street Pageants
• When dignitaries would come to town they
would set up stages all along the street
• Clerks and children would then address
them with songs and speeches
• This provided a sense of civic pride
The Audience
• Spectators came from surrounding towns and
countryside – all classes came
• Posters were put up on city gates and invitations
were sent out to neighboring towns
• A trumpeter rode through town announcing the
• Work was forbidden during performance time
• Most were free, however in some of Europe
there was a fee
Costumes and Props
• Two types of garments: ecclesiastical robes and
everyday clothes
• Accessories such as wings were added
• Props were used to identify characters i.e.
sword, mirror, snakes etc..)
• Heaven reps dressed to awe
• Hell reps dressed to scare
• Common humans dressed according to rank
• Great detail went into designing the devil
• Musical instruments included, the celtic harp,
lute, and the rebec.
Festival Theatre
The church still had to approve
Between 1350-1500 Medieval theatre flourished
Clergy began to reduce its participation
Towns began to finance and produce the
• Producers oversaw everything, they got choirs,
nobles loaned costumes, meals were prepared
and lodging was provided. Laborers built the
staging. Basically the whole community helped
• After the fall of Rome, and before the
renaissance, the time is called Middle
• A very active time as cathedrals were built,
the crusades occurred, and kingdoms
were divided and conquered
• The foundations for modern languages
were laid during this time
Background continued
• The Church was extremely opposed to
any other type of theatre due to the
mimes. They still did exist though.
• The Church developed its own dramatic
ceremonies to combat the appeal of pagan
• Pagans believed in multiple gods. (i.e..
The Ancient Greeks)
The York Cycle
• Actors would get in
costume and hop on
• Crowds were gather
in the streets to watch
them pass
• The wagons would
often have two levels
to portray heaven and
The middle ages was considered as the Dark Age
for the lost in the arts or trading of ideas.
There are 3 types of medieval plays morality,
miracle, mystery plays.
All of the plays consisted of spiritual enactments.
Medieval Theatre: Costuming/Stages
Hair was always covered
Garments were worn tight to give skinny yet elegant waist line.
Plays were usually performed outside
Plays were played in cycles and were also acted out on the
courtyards of churches and also played on traveling pageant
No women were allowed to be part of these religious reenactments.
The Renaissance
 The Renaissance which is French for
rebirth, took place from 1454 to the
1600s, and spread across several
European countries. There were eight
major countries that experienced the
Renaissance. Due to many ideas and
philosophies, the culture of the countries
of France, Spain and Italy became more
 People began to use wings and canvas. The
Italian began to use perspective with the
illusion of depth, by angling scenery as well as
 Italy also began using the Chariot and Pole
system to move scenery.
 Sebastino Serlio-Set guidelines for theatres
and design by designing stages fir for three
types of plays- tragedy, comedy, and
 One of the most famous theater was the
Teatro Farnese. It was the first theatre built
with a permanent proscenium arch.
 Many famous playwrights emerged
during this time. These were some of the
most famous; Moliere-French, Lope de
Vega-Spanish, Lope de Rueda and
Pierre Corneille.
 The main writers merged from Italian
playwrights. Most other writers were
inspired from Italian writers.
Actor and actresses
 The most famous actors and actresses
were the following: Moliere ( a middle
class man), Madeline Bejart (a middle
class woman), Lope de Rueda (a middle
class man), and Shakespeare.
 Costumes at this time were extremely
extravagant. They contained a lot of
puffs, slashes, and frills.
 Mask worn in Commedia Dell’arte
represented the character’s
 The themes of the plays were primarily love,
comedy, and entertainment. Religious themes
began to decline, in some of the European
 Spanish Theatre’s main themes were
adventure, romance, chivalry. Actually
many Spanish plays were based on religion
and that was the main theme of their plays.
 French plays used the Black death as a
history theme
Commedia Dell’arte
 It was a form of improvised comedy performed by
professional actors who played the same characters
every time. The comedy was conveyed through lazzi,
or comedic interruptions in a play. There was no set
script, but all the actors knew the plot, so entrances
and exits were never missed. The actors made up the
lines as they went along. Because of this, no 2 plays
were the same. Moliere was the father of Commedia
There was seven men and three women that performed in
Commedia Dell’arte.
 Italians biggest type of play
 It is known an “Comedy of the Masks” in English.
Stock Characters
 Are the professional actors of Commedia
Dell’arte. The name is due to the fact that they
typically play the same character for their
whole career. They were established
characters such as young lovers,
neighborhood busybodies, sneaky villains,
witty servants, and overprotective fathers that
are immediately recognizable by the audience.
The characters were identified by the masks
they wore.
Gender Roles
 For the first time in Europe theaters,
female actors began to emerge, though it
was still uncommon.
 Audiences during this time ranged from
poor commoners to the wealthy elite, as
well as men and women. The poor sat on
the ground and wealthy sat up high in
raised theatres. In flat theatres the
wealthy sat up close and the poor sat in
the back.
 The plays of the Renaissance in France,
Italy and Spain were performed in
French, Spanish and Italian.
 Is the form of theater in which the words
of the script are sung.
 Ballets de cour- mix of dance and
theatre. Most famous is “Ballet comique
de la reine” the first ballet. 5 hours long
centered around Greek goddess Circe,
goddess of magic.
 Began in France. The first ballet was
made in France.
Elizabethan &
Elizabethan Theatre
 History:
 Elizabethan theatre started in 1558 and
ended in 1603. This era was named after
Queen Elizabeth; also referred to as the
Golden Age. During this era, there was
no freedom of thought or criticism of
public affairs. Once Queen Elizabeth
came into power, the arts flourished.
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
 Famous Playwrights and Plays
 Shakespeare Thomas Kyd, John Lyly, Robert Greene,
David Garrick, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe
were the famous playwrights during this period.
 Famous plays included:
 “Hamlet”
 “As you Like it”
 “The Tempest”
 “Doctor Faustus”
 “Macbeth”
 “Romeo and Juliet”
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
Famous theatres and stages:
Hope Theatre
Rose Theatre
Swan Theatre
Globe Theatre
Bull Inn Theatre
The plays were always performed
outside in Inn Yards.
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
 Audience:
 All classes watched theatre. The audience was very loud
and boisterous. Especially the groundlings (poor people).
Audience would express feelings about the plays by
throwing things on the stage from flowers, which meant
they liked it, to food, which means they didn’t like they
 Colored Flags were used to tell genre of the play red=history, white=comedy, black=tragedy
 Nobles paid 5 pennies for better, more comfortable
 The commoners called groundlings or stinkards would
stand in the theatre pit paying 1 penny
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
 Language:
 Plays during the Elizabethan period were
spoken in Old English.
 EX: “Though shalt abide in thy ways of
the Lord.”
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
 Famous Actors/Actresses.
 No women were allowed to perform on stage,
so the actors were always men.
 Actors were:
 Richard Burbage.
 Edward Alleyn.
 Christopher Beesten.
 Theophilus Bird
 William Shakespeare
Elizabethan Theatre
 The theatre was a source of
 Themes Included:
 Religion
 Social status
 The main religion of this time was
Elizabethan Theatre cont.
 Costuming:
 The clothing was very elaborate, the costumes
consisted of:
 Wisk: Standing fan like collar.
 Copotain: Bell shaped hat.
 Hoop skirts.
 Balloon pants.
 The amount of clothing worn showed a
person’s wealth.
19th Century Theatre
The Civil War took place between 1861-1865. It closed down
many theatres for the first year, and it also limited touring. But
after the war, the theatre industry rapidly grew, especially in the
north and west.
It was also an era of invention and discovery which laid the
groundwork for the technological advances.
Also known as “The Victorian Age”, theatre at the time was influenced by
such things as inequality towards women, slavery
In Europe however, the birth of Romanticism had a great deal of impact in
theatre. Originating in Germany, it spread throughout the rest of Europe.
The invention of railroads, telegraph, telephone, improved on rapid
transportation, and the invention of the light bulb.
Famous Plays and Playwrights
The two most famous playwrights were
Henrik Ibsen and Anton Chekov.
One famous play was A Doll’s House which
was written by Henrik Ibsen.
The Importance of Being Ernest- Oscar Wilde
Miss Julie- August Strindberg
Cyrano De Bergerac- Edmond Rostand (Also
created romantic and comedic plays).
There were male and female actors.
 Many of them came from came from
theatrical families and backgrounds, and got
their start in theatre as children.
Famous actors where Joseph Jefferson,
Coquelin Edwin Booth
Famous actress was Sarah Bernhard
Famous Theatres/Stages
The most famous theatre was the Moscow
Art Theatre, which was located in Moscow
and was made as a location for
naturalistic theatre
 The Ritz Theatre, The Moscow Arts
Theatre, and the arrival of the cinema.
The theatres of the time period where very special
and well decorated. With the finest drapes and wall
décor. The stage was a proscenium stage with seats
in the front and sides.
The crowd during the first half of the
century were unruly, loud and uncouth. By
the end of the century though crowds
became quieter, more genteel, and less
prone to cause disruptions of the
To be in these theatres you had to be very well
dressed and well mannered. Only the wealthiest sat
on the sides or also called “box seats”. The rest sat
on the bottom seats
Women usually wore chemises , corsets,
and petticoats underneath either a walking
dress or a hoop skirt.
 Men usually wore formal pants with a
white shirt, a vest, a coat, and a top hat.
Realism-Literary term that identifies an author’s attempt
to portray characters, events, and setting in a realistic
Naturalism – Literary movement which is the application
of the scientific principles to literature.
Romanticism -A movement in literature and the fine arts
that stressed personal emotion, free play of the
imagination, and freedom from rules of form.
The plays were performed in:
 English
 Spanish
 French.
 English was modern, but slightly different.
 German
 Italian
 (Other European countries)
Century Theatre
Evolution of Electricity
Before the evolution of electricity candles were used for
Then came the “Floating oil wick lamp” but it was too
inefficient because they would always flicker
randomly and too expensive
First Spot lamp was called the “Limelight”, created by
Thomas Drummond. It was more natural looking and
could use spot lights and control the lights.
First theatre to use an electrical lighting system was the
Savoy Theatre in London, England.
Theatre of the Absurd
Started in 1962
Five major playwrights of the Theatre of the
Absurd are..
Eudene Lonesco
Samuel Beckett
Jean Genet
Arthur Adamov
Harold Pinter
Movement produced some of the most exciting
and original dramatic works of the 20th Century
Symbolism- The belief that art should aim to
capture more absolute truths which could only
be accessed by indirect methods.
Expressionism- It started out in poetry and
painting at the start of the century. Its typical trait
is to present the world under an utterly
subjective perspective, greatly distorting it to
obtain an emotional effect and expressing
personal moods and ideas in depth and clarity.
Themes cont.
Surrealism- Surrealist Theatre shows the
hidden experience, moody tone and
unorganized structure, sometimes
bringing together an idea. Basically the
ideas from a dream.
Women's typical style was: flat bosom,
unfitted waist, and belt placed at the hip.
Modern day clothing.
 Men wore business suits, vest, jackets,
and trousers.
 Famous designers of this time period were
Ralph Lauren and Donna Karon.
Plays and Playwrights
Samuel Beckett
 Tennessee Williams
 Lillian Hellmann
 Samuel Beckett wrote the play Waiting
for Godot.
 August Wilson, Sam Shepperd, Nail
Simon, Landford Wilson, Paul Zindel, Pete
Shaffer and Tom Stoppard.
Broadway was one of the most important
things of the 20th century!
 The two most famous Broadway shows
were, Steamboat and Oklahoma!
 Two big Broadway show that made Disney
big was Beauty and the Beast and the
Lion King.
 Broadway was a wide range of
movements and singing.
During this time plays were used to
entertain soldiers in camps.
 Most theaters were made of makeshift
tents that 50 to 100 soldiers could fit in.
 Most times soldiers were the actors in
these plays.
Vietnam was very important to theater
because it mainly gave world renowned
plays that hadn't been seen in some parts
of the world.
 Plays from Vietnam that hadn't been seen
by there world were seen by few soldiers
Important Facts
Epic Theatre was from 1920-1930.
 Because of WWI and WWII a lot of
theatres had to close.
 The Great Strike started in 1926.
 Theatres before war mostly had a good
and clean ending.
 The Epic Theatre was the most advanced
type of theatre and introduced animation.
Important Facts Continued…
Theatres became more of an improvised
stage because props and materials were
hard to buy, it was also part of a theatre
movement and to go against war.
 Theaters also closed in 1942 for inline
cinemas that used recorded films rather
than people
There are many events that happened during the 20th/21st century.
The Holocaust was the mass murder of over a million Jews that
started around 1941. On December 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor was
invaded by the Japanese. World War 1 and 2 were two very major
wars during the 20th century. September 11, 2001 was the tragic
attack of the twin towers located in New York City, There were many
other events, like the invention of the airplane, the Persian Gulf War,
The Cold War, The Great Depression and many more.
Important Themes
Many plays you see today reflect the events that have happened in
the past 100 or so years. Like The Holocaust, WWII, and The Attack
of Pearl Harbor. A lot of the plays you see also have themes that
represent how life is today and has been during the last 100 years,
like segregation, racism, and poverty.
Important Facts
Costuming- Costuming during this time period usually
matched the plays theme. Per say if the play were over
the Holocaust you would probably see German soldiers
uniforms, dresses, and suits. It all depends on the time
period of the play.
Stages- The most common stage type you see today is
the proscenium stage. A couple other types are the
arena, ex. Houston Arena Theatre, and the thrust.
Famous Playwrights- The Lion King, The Diary of
Anne Frank, Peter Pan, High School Musical, The
Nutcracker, and Hamlet are a few of the famous
playwrights being performed today.
Actors/Actress's- Burny Mattison, Ice Cube, Tom Sito,
Noni White, Megan Fox, Vanessa Hudgens, Denzel
Washington, Will Smith,Johnny Depp, Phylicia Rahshad,
Tom Hanks, Matt Damon, Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie.
Language- English and others depending on where the
plays are preformed.
Important Facts
Audience- Everyone of all classes attended the
Economy- Since the economy is bad it caused
some people not to want to attend theatre. But
lately there has been a pick up in the number of
people attending the theatre.
Movies- A trend that started to occur during this
time period has been turning musicals and plays
into blockbuster movies and vise versa. (ex.
Shrek, Lion King, Hairspray, Rent, Raisin in the
sun, and the color purple)
Black Theatre
Black Broadway picked up
around the 1960’s. And
has continued to progress
even in today’s world.
 It started off politically and
as time progressed it
became more for
The raisin in the sun
A raisin in the sun was the first black play
written by an African American woman
Lorraine Hansberry to be produced on
Broadway, It premiered in 1959. In
February 2008 it was on television on
ABC, with Sean Diddy combs,Audra
McDonald,phylicia Rashad,and Sanaa
“The raisin in the sun” the story of a family living and
struggling on Chicago's South Side in the 1950s. It is a
fiercely moving portrait of people whose hopes and
dreams are constantly deferred. The Washington Post
hails it as “one of a handful of great American plays – it
belongs in the inner circle, along with Death of a
Salesman, Long Day's Journey Into Night and The Glass
The world train center
When they debuted in 1973, the two glistening 110-story towers of New
York City's World Trade Center (WTC), 1,362 and 1,368 ft high, were more
than 100 ft taller than the city's other world height record holder—the
Empire State Building. Their size was the subject of a joke during the press
conference to unveil the landmarks. WTC architect Minoru Yamasaki was
asked: "Why two 110-story buildings? Why not one 220-story building?" His
tongue-in-cheek answer: "I didn't want to lose the human scale.
The World Trade Center Twin Towers collapsed after 2 planes crashed
against them on September 11th, 2001, during a terrorist attack that caused
the deaths of more than 5000 people.
In 2006 the world trade center became a movie with Nicholas cage

The Dawn Of Theatre