A brief History of Theatre

Theatre continued to find its place in our history; the plays also finding a fringe element even then to proclaim about perceived and real injustices and to introduce new ideas and values. Roman theatre continued development of the plays and actors and a growing awareness of the audience. Lavish productions and amphitheaters where built where ever the Romans settled and certainly they brought them to Britannica.

Cicero, a great Roman Orator, philosopher and statement in the latter years of the Roman Empire, well knew the value of words to his audience. A compatriot of his was the famous Roman actor, Quintus Roscius Gallus, a comedy actor who also played in the popular tragedies. Roscius well knew the value of the use of gestures to involve, excite and amuse his audience. It is said he and Cicero competed to see who could best express the same thought, either by use of word of movement. The beginnings of our trade, combinations of words, actions and gestures to convey a meaning or feeling that will entice and involve our audiences.

So theatre had at its core, through Greek and Roman times the worship of their mythological gods. As we enter the Middle Ages we come to the more definitive One God. As I am focusing in the main British theatre I am not investigating all the other wonderful theatres at this time but who knows. I have always been very taken with Japanese theatre and the symbolism involved there. In our Middle Ages the Church decided what was allowed for theatre and what was not. Sad to say not a lot was allowed as previous theatre was perceived as evil, some drama was allowed by travelling troupes. The Church soon recognized the value of theatre to introduce and direct the audiences in their perception of belief and behavior. Plays began to be enacted during Mass and the advent of Mystery plays, stories from the Bible and Miracle plays, stories about the saints became common places. Allegorical plays also began to appear; Mortality plays, where characters or events can symbolize or represent concepts and other ideas. Simply put the Hero wins by defeating evil in all its forms. One of the finest examples of this is Everymen, a tale of humour, struggle and the human spirit. If you have not seen the 15th century play, then I recommend that you do so. I have included a video of part one of this play, you can find the rest on You Tube, worth the time.

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