TheaterTheater (AE) or Theatre (BE and widespread usage among theatre professionals in the US) is that branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle - indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialog style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, chinese opera, and pantomime. Here is a list of acting terms.
Kinds of theater
"Drama" is that branch of theatre in which speech, either from written text (plays or "dramatic literature") or improvised, is paramount. "Musical theater" is a form of theatre combining music, songs, dance routines, and spoken dialogue. There is a particularly long tradition of political theater, intended to educate audiences on contemporary issues and encourage social change. Various creeds, Catholicism for instance, have built upon the entertainment value of theatre and created (for example) mystery plays and morality plays.
There is an enormous variety of philosophies, artistic processes, and theatrical approaches to creating plays and drama. Some are connected to political or spiritual ideologies, and some are based on purely "artistic" concerns. Some processes focus on story, some on the theatre as event, some as theatre as a catalyst for social change. According to Aristotle's seminal theatrical critique Poetics, there are six elements necessary for theatre. They are Plot, Character, Idea, Language, Music, and Spectacle. The 17th-century Spanish writer Lope de Vega wrote that for theatre one needs "three boards, two actors, and one passion." Others notable for their contributtion to theatrical philosophy are Konstantin Stanislavski, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Orson Welles, Jerzy Grotowski.
20th Century American Playwrights
20th Century British Playwrights
(see also the more extensive list at British playwrights since 1950)
- John Arden
- Alan Ayckbourn
- Peter Barnes
- Robert Bolt
- John Bowen
- Caryl Churchill
- David Edgar
- Michael Frayn (Noises Off)
- John Galsworthy
- Trevor Griffiths
- David Hare
- Sarah Kane
- Henry Livings
- David Mercer
- Peter Nichols
- John Osborne
- Harold Pinter
- J.B. Priestley
- Terence Rattigan
- Peter Shaffer
- Tom Stoppard
- David Storey
- Alfred Sutro
- Keith Waterhouse
- Timberlake Wertenbaker
- Arnold Wesker
- Emlyn Williams
20th Century German Language Playwrights
20th Century Irish PlaywrightsIrish theatre
Other 20th Century English-language playwrights
Other Important playwrights
This gives a brief listing of some of the better-known playwrights; but theatre is a highly collaborative, multi-person, multi-media craft. Plays are usually produced by a production team*artistic staff combined with various technical, support, and design staff. Among these are the director, scenic designer, the lighting designer, the costume designer, the dramaturge, and the stage manager and production manager. This is not an all inclusive list, and may include other personnel from the world of technical theatre.
20th Century English Language Theatre Directors
20th Century Russian and French Theatre Directors
20th Century Polish Theatre Director
20th Century German Language Theatre Directors
Repertory theatre, regional theater, dramatist, list of dramatists, history of theatre, improvisational theatre, radio and television drama, summer stock, cinematic drama, suspension of disbelief
A theatre is also the building in which works and plays are performed. There are as many styles of performance space as there are styles of performance, but most theatres include a designated "stage" or playing space, a designated audience area or "house," and some sort of off-stage area for preparation and storage, called "backstage," which is typically concealed from the audience. Theatres range from ornate, cathedral-like structures to simple undecorated rooms or black box theatres.
The original Greek theatre was semicircular in form and was normally built on a hillside, often overlooking the sea. These theatres also typically included a "raked" or sloped stage, with the back of the stage being higher than the front. Such theatres were often constructed with excellent acoustics, so that a player standing centre stage could be clearly heard throughout the auditorium. The Romanss copied this style of building, but tended not to be so concerned about the location, being prepared to build walls and terraces instead of looking for a naturally-occurring site.
During the Elizabethan era in England, theatres were constructed of wood and were circular in form, like the Globe Theatre in London, home to William Shakespeare's troupe of actors. The Globe has now been rebuilt as a fully working and producing theatre near its original site (largely thanks to the efforts of film director Sam Wanamaker) to give modern audiences an idea of the environment for which Shakespeare and other playwrights of the period were writing.
Contemporary theatres are often non-traditional, such as very adaptable spaces, or theatres where audience and performers are not separated. A major example of this is the modular theatre, (see for example the Walt Disney Modular Theatre). This large theatre has floors and walls divided into small movable sections, with the floor sections on adjustable hydraulic pylons, so that the space may be adjusted into any configuration for each individual play. As new styles of theatre performance have evolved, so has the desire to improve or recreate performance venues. This applies equally to artistic and presentation techniques, such as stage lighting.
Specific designs of contemporary live theaters include proscenium, thrust, black box theater, theater in the round, amphitheater, and arena. A special kind of theater is one in a train carriage (picture). See also movie theater and puppet theater.
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