How Theatre Has Changed Over the Years
Theatre is one of the oldest and most important art forms of man that has been in existence for many years and is closely associated with our culture and history, and daily living. And there’s no way we’ll talk about the popularity and attention that theatre has attracted today without reference to how it all started and how it has changed over the years. Before theatre became what it’s known today? Where and when was it birth? The theatre, which involves live performances and plays, was derived from the Greek word “theaomai.” Even though its exact origin is unknown, we can significantly trace theatres to traditions and cultures born in ancient Athens, Greece’s capital city, which has also dominated the present western culture and exhibiting the most direct influence on it.
We can also cite the establishment of tragic drama in 534 when the great Dionysia got created. And even though the great Dionysia was more of an official matter, with its competition in tragedy, we can use its religious purpose as a pointer of the origin of drama. We can also trace another possible trace of drama origin to simple storytelling where the storyteller would imitate an unreal voice and then add characterization through some movements and costumes.
However, we can certainly view the first systematic and elaborative representation of theatre in the greek playwrights’ works of the 5th century-Bce in Athens, the capital and largest city of Greece. In the earliest days of theatre in the greek country, men were the main and only actors in performances, and they played even female roles, unlike what we’ve today where we see both male and female characters on the scene. Likewise, these earliest actors always wore their masks when on stage, confirming how they sang ancient hymns known as dithyrambs in honor of the god Dionysus. They later adopted the hymns for choral processions, with participants dressed up in costumes and masks.
Ultimately, some specific members of the chorus begin to take up notable roles during the processions. The plays were then mainly themed on tragedy and comedy, with the disasters based on the Greek myths and legends, and the comedies on the greek real-life and political situations.
Today, we now have tragicomedy, melodrama, fantasy, etc. Theatre has changed significantly in this area. The dramas performed contained lots of graphics and were materialists. It wasn’t long before people began to stereotype these plays as sinful, harmful, and religiously conflicting, mainly due to Christianity’s surging reign then.
However, plays became popular in the middle age, and they were used to depict significant bible stories. But this didn’t last long. During the early form of the protestant reformation, early protestants believed plays and dramas were terrible, and they began to prohibit them throughout Europe
During these periods, playwrights developed themselves vastly in creativity, which saw the rise of Williams Shakespeare and his contemporaries, whose plays still take a significant portion of our big stages today. Likewise, it’s also important to note that during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, a substantial supporter of theatre, the first permanent playhouses began to open.
The playhouses were open-air structures similar to those today, though they contained semi-circular galleries and a pit below. Cheap ticket holders would stay in the front row while important guests would have their space on a higher platform. Two features marked the playhouses: rowdiness and heavy drinking/fighting. Thus, they quickly became objects of despite by the puritans and the London city authorities. The opposition was strong, and the theatre got banned for 18 years. Theatre returned in 1600 remarkably, and a thousand years later, after the first plays, people were still fond of explicit comedies, setting a landmark for the restoration period.
In the restoration period, theatres began to feature known as machine plays that contained various actions, elaborate costumes, musical and outstanding effects like the trapdoor tricks and fireworks. By the 20th century, many playwrights wanted new, improved, and better stage acting and performance so much they wanted to get rid of the traditional play performances. The avant-garde became the new theme, and the conventional theatre systems were going into obsoletion though not all playwrights were pleased with this new development.
However, this experimentation yielded reasonable efforts as its pace for improvement of actions, stages, and effects, to the present century, where technology has made available high-technology recording instruments and projection equipment, which have primarily improved the theatre industry. Even though theatre might seem to have changed significantly over the years, it remains a place where everyone can come together to relate and interact freely together through play-acting and viewing. In this, the theatre hasn’t changed.