The History of Theatre

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Greek and Roman Theatre:

Greek and Roman Theatre Starting at 1000 BC The Roman’s used a lot of what the Greeks used. A lot of the same architecture. All of the actors were men, they wore large masks that exaggerated facial features and emotions. Everything was dedicated to the god Dionysus Major playwright: Sophocles. Plays: Antigone and Ajax

Medieval Theatre:

Medieval Theatre 5 th through 15 th century The church had to explain a new religion to an illiterate public. Churches would put on dramatized biblical events on specific days each year to explain the Bible. This helped the start of the Renaissance by making theatre more recognized Major playwrights: Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson Plays: Volpone and Alchemist

English Renaissance:

English Renaissance 14 th through 17 th century Playwrights started becoming more professional. Once a playwright sold the rights of the play they no longer owned the play. Plays were not seen as literature. In the Restoration plays were extremely popular and they were becoming more popular in the renaissance. Major playwrights: Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe (as well) Plays: Macbeth, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, and Tamburlaine Explore Theatre. Chapter 5

French Neoclassicism:

French Neoclassicism Just like the Renaissance, playwrights were valued for their talents but involvement in the stage made them morally suspect. During this time France was back to being the most powerful country in the world The plays had to be practical. Either a comedy or tragedy, no mix of the two. Major playwrights: Jean Batiste Moliere Plays: Tartuffe Explore Theatre. Chapter 5.

English Restoration:

English Restoration 1660, right after King Charles II came back into power after the Puritans threw them out. Charles II loved theatre and wanted to breathe new life into theatre. This period is important for theatre because it made theatre a respectable thing and not morally suspect anymore. Playwrights: William Congreve and Thomas Otway Plays: Love for Love, The Double Dealer, and The Orphan Explore Theatre. Chapter 9.


Melodrama 19 th century Parallel to romanticism, good vs. evil, “music drama”, Strict adherence to poetic justice, stock characters, and escapism. Accompanying music that underscores the action. Melodrama helps shape realism. Realism is a movement against melodrama. Playwright: August Von Kotzebue Plays: The Stranger Explore Theatre. Chapter 2.


Realism 19 th century Movement against melodrama. Movement that wants to confront what was actually happening during that time period. Playwright: Henrik Isben Plays: A Doll’s House, Ghosts, Brand Explore Theatre. Chapter 7.

Post- Modernism:

Post- Modernism 20 th century Plays abandon linear narrative. Open-ended interpretations. Embrace nostalgia and parody Playwright: August Strindberg Plays: Miss Julie, The Father, and The Death of Dance Explore Theatre. Chapter 7.