The History of Theater


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Theater is the art of acting and can include drama, singing, and dancing.

Theater, which is also spelled as theatre, has been around for a long time now. It has developed and changed over time, only improving throughout the centuries. Theater has brought people entertainment as well as enjoyment. 

Greek theatre’s origins are from the followers of the god of fertility and wine, Dionysus. His cult ceremonies would be very exciting occasions, keeping up with the god’s interests. However, the Dionysians also developed a better-structured form of drama. They would sing and dance the stories of Greek myth. In the 6th century BC, Thespis, a priest of Dionysus, introduced a new element, which can be seen as the birth of theatre. He included dialogue with the chorus, and even became the first actor ever. Thespis was also the first winner of a theatrical award, according to a Greek chronicle of the 3rd century BC. Theatrical contests became a normal feature in the annual festivals honoring Dionysus. 

Very few tragedies still survive as full texts today, but some of them are the works of three great dramatists. Aeschylus, the earliest and heavyweight of the trio, adds a second actor. Aeschylus is known to have written around eighty plays, although only seven survived. In 484 BC, he won the prize for tragedy. Sophocles defeat Aeschylus in 468 BC, gaining his first victory. With that, he was credited with being a third actor, increasing the potential for drama even more. The tragedies that Sophocles wrote, unlike Aeschylus’s, were worked out at a more personal level. The plots were more complex, and characterization was more subtle. Sophocles wrote more plays than Aeschylus, around 120, but again, only seven survived. The youngest of the three, Euripides, introduces a more unconventional view of Greek myth, viewing mythological characters differently, or just seeing it from a different angle. More of Euripides’ plays survive, nineteen rather than seven. 

London theaters from 1576 have definitely made a good contribution to the development of theater. An actor of the name James Burbage built a permanent playhouse in Shoreditch, and gives it the obvious name: The Theatre. A second playhouse, The Curtain, opened soon after in 1577. Then, a third opened in 1587, called The Rose. In that year, one of the three theatres put on Tamburlaine by Christopher Marlowe, a play that reveals how English playwrights progressed far in a short period of time. After James Burbage died, his two sons dismantled The Theatre and built a new theatre, The Globe. It was where one of the Burbage brothers, Richard, became one of the first great actors of the English stage, and where many of Shakespeare’s plays were first presented. The theatres drew many people in. A city with around 160,000 people provided a weekly audience of around 21,000. 

All in all, theatre has so much history around it. it has evolved so much, and is a big part of what theatre is today.