The theater (from the Greek : θέατρον , théatron or "place to contemplate" derived from θεάομαι , theáomai or "look") [ 1 ] is the branch of the performing arts related to performance . Represents stories acted out in front of viewers or in front of a camera using a combination of speech , gestures , scenery , music , sound, and spectacle .
"Theater" is also understood as the literary genre that includes plays performed before an audience or to be recorded and reproduced in the cinema, as well as the building where such works or recordings are traditionally presented. In addition to the common narrative, the style of dialogue, the theater also takes other forms such as opera , ballet , film , Chinese opera or pantomime .
The World Day of Theater is celebrated since 1961. [ 2 ] Specifically this date is celebrated on 27 March each year, defined by the International Institute of the Theater, reason to show representing the theater world for culture.
Most studies consider that the origins of the theater must be sought in the evolution of magical rituals related to hunting , as well as cave paintings , or agricultural collection that, after the introduction of music and dance, were embedded in authentic dramatic ceremonies where the gods were worshiped and the spiritual principles of the community were expressed. This character of sacred manifestation is a factor common to the appearance of the theater in all civilizations.
In Ancient Egypt , in the middle of the second millennium before the Christian age, dramas about the death and resurrection of Osiris were already being performed . The theater begins with masks and dramatizations with them and testimonies of actors have been found explaining that they made trips, so according to researchers Driotton and Vandier it is possible that groups of traveling comedians existed since the Middle Kingdom .
I accompanied my master on his tours, without failing in the declamation. I gave him the reply in all his speeches. If he was god, I was sovereign. If he killed, I resurrected.
The roots of the theater of ancient Greece are based on the Orphic rites and festivals celebrated for Dionysus , where performances of the life of the gods were performed accompanied by dances and songs ( Dithyrambs ). Later the first properly dramatic performances began, performed in town squares by companies that included only one actor and one choir. At the end of the 6th century BC, the legendary poet and interpreter Thespis achieved extraordinary celebrity , in whose honor the phrase the Thespis chariot alludes, even today, to the world of theater as a whole.
The Greek theater arises after the evolution of Greek arts and ceremonies such as the grape harvest festival (offered to Dionysus) where young people danced and sing towards the temple of the god, to offer him the best lives. After a young man who will highlight among the youth group was transformed into the corifeo or master of the choir, who addressed the group. In time the bard and rhapsody appeared , who were reciters.
In the course of the V century a. C. , during the classical age of Greece , the traditional models of tragedy and comedy, and established playwrights Aeschylus and Sophocles added a second and third respectively actor action, which gave it a complexity that necessitated the creation of larger scenarios. For this, great stone theaters were erected, including the still preserved Epidaurus in the 5th century BC. C., capable of housing about 12,000 people, and that of Dionysus , in Athens , in the 4th century BC
Its construction was carried out by taking advantage of the slopes of a hill, where the stands surrounding the orchestra were arranged in a semicircular shape , a circular space in which most of the representation was carried out. Behind the orchestra a building called skené , a scene, was erected for the actors to change their clothes. In front of her stood a colonnaded wall, the proscenium, which could hold painted surfaces that evoked the scene of the action. These sets, together with the robes and masks used by the actors and machines, constituted the entire stage apparatus.
The representations of the Greek theater were made in the open air, it had a choir (directed by the Corifeo or master of the choir) that sang the choir and danced around an altar. In the Greek theater two types of works were represented: the tragedy, a dramatic work with an unfortunate ending that dealt with themes of heroic legends and used, opportunely, the gods for its end; and the satirical comedy, which humorously criticized politicians and works and incurred a mime started by a chorus of satyrs, and comedies that had everyday life issues as their theme; all were written in verse and wore masks.
The Roman theaters inherited the fundamental features of the Greeks, although they introduced certain distinctive elements. Initially built in wood, only in the year 52 a. C. Pompey , erected the first in stone in Rome . Unlike their Hellenic models, they raised on the flat ground and had several floors erected in masonry. In order to improve acoustics, Roman architects reduced the orchestra to a semicircle, and the shows were presented on a platform, the pulpitum , raised in front of the ancient skene that constitutes the origin of modern stages. The frons scaenae was a monumental multi-storey façade, which served as the backdrop. The bleachers (Cávea ) is divided into 3 parts: Ima , media and sum , the first being located in the lower area where the senators and the ruling class sat; women and slaves being settled in the upper one and the common people in the middle. The whole could be covered with a velum . Rome also opted for comedy, since they took the theater as a way to have fun or entertain themselves.
In pre-Hispanic American cultures the theater came to acquire a remarkable development, particularly among the Mayans . One of the most representative works of the Mayan theater is the Quiché drama Rabinal Achí . The Mayan theater was partially linked to the agricultural cycles and the epic of its historical events, and among the Aztecs and Incas , societies that in correspondence with their theocratic structure gave their theatrical activities an eminently warlike and religious nuance. The latest sites indicate that Mayan theater spaces could serve, in addition to representing plays, to show dramatized political acts such as negotiations, alliances and humiliation of captives.
European Middle Ages
After centuries of mysterious oblivion, the recovery of the theater in the West was mainly supported by the clergy , who used it for religious purposes. Thus, since the eleventh century, the representation in churches of mysteries and moralities was common , the objective of which was to present Christian doctrine to the faithful in a simple way. In order to facilitate understanding, Latin gradually gave way to vernacular languages , and in the 13th and 14th centuries, both religious pieces and flourishing profane farces began to be performed.
The emergence of the Renaissance in Italy had decisive consequences on the evolution of the theater, since, with the emergence of a cultured drama production, inspired by classical models and intended for the aristocratic classes, the construction of halls became general in the course of the 16th century. decks equipped with more comforts.
Theater in Italy
As the first of the modern theaters, the Olympic of Vicenza is often cited , designed by Andrea Palladio and completed in 1585 , which was a version of the Roman models and presented, at the back of the stage, a three-dimensional perspective with urban views. The classic model of Italian theater , prevailing in many respects, was nevertheless the Farnese Theater in Parma , erected in 1618 , whose structure included the stage, framed by a proscenium arch and separated from the audience by a curtain, and an audience in the shape of a horseshoe surrounded by several floors of galleries. During this time it was also developed in Italya form of popular theater, the comedy of art , which with its emphasis on the actor's freedom of improvisation gave a breakthrough to interpretive technique.
England: The Elizabethan Theater
The theaters erected in England during the reign of Elizabeth I of England were very different from each other. This time stands out for the exceptional splendor of the dramatic genre, among which the London-based The Globe stood out, where he presented his works William Shakespeare . Roofless and built of wood, its most characteristic feature was the raised rectangular stage, around which the audience surrounded the actors on three sides, while the galleries were reserved for the nobility.
Spain: the comedy corrals
In Spain, and at the same time as the Elizabethan theater in England (16th and 17th centuries), fixed installations were created for the open-air theater called Corrales de Comedias , with which they bear constructive similarities. Unlike the English case, in Spain some examples of these buildings have survived . Exponents of this time are the authors Lope de Vega , Tirso de Molina and Calderón de la Barca , clear exponents of the important Spanish Golden Age.
Baroque and Neoclassicism
The course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries gave rise to a great enrichment of the scenery. The recovery by the French classical drama of the rule of the three units - action, time and place - made the simultaneity of sets unnecessary, so that only one was used in each act, and the custom of changing them in the sets soon became general. intermissions. Subsequently, the growing popularity of opera , which required several assemblies, favored the development of improved machines that would give a greater appearance of veracity to such effects as: the disappearance of actors and the simulation of flights - the so-called "glories", for example, made possible the descent from the heights of the stage of a cloud that carried the singers. The theater of theScala de Milan , completed in 1778 , is an example of the large dimensions that were required to house both the public and the stage and the stage apparatus.
During most of the 19th century, architectural and scenographic ideas remained essentially unchanged, although the demands for creative freedom initiated by romantic authors led towards the end of the century to a general rethinking of dramatic art in its various aspects.
In this sense, the construction of the monumental Festspielhaus in Bayreuth , Germany , erected in 1876 according to the instructions of the composer Richard Wagner , was fundamental , which was the first break with the Italian models. Its fan-shaped design, with the staggered stalls, the darkening of the auditorium during its performance and the location of the orchestra in a small pit; they were elements conceived to focus the spectators' attention on the action and to abolish the separation between stage and audience as much as possible.
This demand for integration between the architectural framework, the scenography and the representation was accentuated in the last decades of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th by the growing importance given to the figure of the director thanks to personalities such as the German Max Reinhardt , author of spectacular productions , the French André Antoine , champion of naturalism, the Russian Konstantín Stanislavski , director and actor whose method of interpretation would exert great influence on modern theater, or the British set designer Edward Gordon Craig , who in his defense of a poetic and stylized theater advocated the creation of simpler and more ductile scenarios.
The emergence of modern theater, then, was characterized by its absolute freedom of approach through dialogue with traditional forms and new technical possibilities would lead to a unique transformation of theatrical art. In the field of architectural and scenographic design, the greatest innovations were due to the development of new machinery and the boom acquired by the art of lighting , circumstances that allowed the creation of scenarios with greater plasticity (circular, mobile, transformable, etc.) and they freed the theater from the pictorial appearance provided by the classical structure of the proscenium arch.
The African theater, between tradition and history, is currently being channeled in new ways. Everything predisposes in Africa to the theater. The sense of rhythm and mimicry, the fondness for words and verbiage are qualities that all Africans share to a greater or lesser extent and that make them natural actors. The daily life of Africans passes to the rhythm of various ceremonies, rituals or religious, generally conceived and experienced as true spectacles. However, although Africa has always known this type of ceremony, one wonders if it was really theater; In the eyes of many, these shows are too laden with religious significance to be considered as such. Others consider that African types of theater bear a certain resemblance, as in other times the Greek tragedy, with a pre-theater that would never fully become theater if it was not desecrated. The strength and the possibilities of survival of the black theater will reside, hence, in its ability to retain its specificity. In independent Africa a new theater is taking shape.
- New Theater: It is a committed, even militant theater, conceived to defend the identity of a people that has achieved its independence.
- Avant-garde Theater: It is currently oriented towards an investigation on the role of actor, close to that of Jerzy Grotowski and his laboratory theater. Thus, in Libreville , Gabon , an avant-garde theater was formed in 1970 that performed two shows that left a lasting mark on the younger generations of comedians. Another avenue of research is the theater of silence, created by François Rosira , whose purpose was to perform shows in which singing, reciting, music and dancing complement each other in perfect harmony in the theater.
Drama should be seen as a fictional mode represented in a play, not a genre by itself. [ 4 ] The term comes from a Greek word that means " action ", which derives from the verb δράω, dráō , "to do" or "to act". The staging of a drama in the theater is performed by actors on a stage in front of an audience, it presupposes the adoption of collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception. Unlike other forms of literature, the dramatic structure of the texts is directly influenced by this collaborative production and collective reception. [ 5 ] The tragedyEarly modern Shakespeare's Hamlet (1601) and Sophocles' classical Athenian tragedy Oedipus Rex (c. 429 BC) are some of the best works of dramatic art. [ 6 ] A modern example is Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill (1956). [ 7 ]
The dramatic mode has been considered a genre of poetry, and has been contrasted with the ways epic and lyrical beginning with the Poetics of Aristotle (c. 335 BC), the oldest work on dramatic theory. [ 8 ] The use of the word "drama" in a strict sense is used to refer to a specific type of play from the 19th century. In this sense drama refers to a work that is neither a comedy nor a tragedy, for example, the play Thérèse Raquin (1873) by Émile Zola or the play Ivanov (1887) by Chekhov . However in ancient Greece, the wordDrama encompassed all types of plays, tragedies, comedies, and other forms in between.
Drama is often combined with elements of music and dance : usually in opera the entire text of the drama is sung; the music in turn usually contain both dialogue spoken and songs ; and some forms of drama include incidental music or a musical accompaniment that accompanies and reinforces the dialogue (eg melodrama and Japanese Nō ). [ 9 ] In certain historical periods (Ancient Rome and modern Romanticism) some dramas were written to be read rather than to be staged. [ 10] Inimprovisation, the drama does not exist prior to the moment of the play; the actors create and develop a dramatic plot spontaneously before the audience. [ 11 ]
Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is serious, complete, and has a certain magnitude: in language with the various types of artistic ornaments, the various types associated with the various parts of the work; in the form of an action, not a narrative; through compassion and fear affecting the development of these emotions.
Aristotle's phrase "the various types associated with the various parts of the play" is a reference to the structural origins of the drama. In it, the various parts with dialogue were written in the Attic dialect while the choral parts (recited or sung) were performed in Doric dialect , these discrepancies reflected the different religious origins and the poetic metrics of the parts that were fused into one new entity, theatrical drama .
The tragedy is stemmed in a specific tradition of drama that has played a unique and important role in the historical definition of Western civilization . [ 13 ] The tradition has had multiple discontinuous expressions, the term has often been used to refer to a powerful effect of cultural identity and historical continuity— "the Greeks and the Elizabethans , as a cultural format; the Hellenes and Christians , in an everyday activity, "as Raymond Williams puts it . [ 14] From its dark origins in thetheaters of Athens2,500 years ago, from which only a fraction of the works ofAeschylus,SophoclesandEuripideshave survived, through the particular elaborations through the works ofShakespeare,Lope de Vega,Racine, andSchiller, to the most recent tragediesnaturalistsofStrindberg, the modernist meditationsBeckett's death, loss, and suffering, and postmodernists retrabajos ofMüllerFrom the tragic canon, tragedy has continued to be an important arena for cultural experimentation, negotiation, struggle, and change. [ 15 ] In the path of Aristotle's Poetics (335 BC), tragedy has been used to mark gender distinctions, either with poetry in general (where the tragic is contrasted with the epic and lyrical ) or with the drama (in which tragedy meets comedy ).
The theater, as has been observed, constitutes an organic whole of which its different elements form an indissoluble part. These elements, however, each have their own characteristics and laws and, depending on the time, the personality of the director or other circumstances, it is usual that one or the other is given greater relevance within the ensemble. These elements are [ 16 ] :
Dramatic works are written in dialogues and in the first person, in which there are actions that go between parentheses, (called annotation language).
In the western tradition, the text , the dramatic work, has always been considered the essential piece of the theater, called "the art of the word". Given that, in a more nuanced way, this orientation also predominates in Eastern cultures, such primacy can at least be admitted as justified. In this regard, however, two considerations must be made: first, the text does not exhaust the theatrical fact, since a dramatic work is not theater until it is performed, which implies at least the element of performance; secondly, there are numerous archaic dramatic forms and modern spectacles that completely dispense with the word or subordinate it to elements such as mimicry , body language, dance , music and the scenic display.
The fact that the work only acquires full validity in the representation also determines the distinctive character of dramatic writing with respect to other literary genres. Most of the great playwrights of all time, from the Greek classics to the English William Shakespeare , the French Molière , the Spanish Pedro Calderón de la Barca or the German Bertolt Brecht , based their creations on a direct and in-depth knowledge of scenic resources. and interpretive and in a wise use of its possibilities.
The director's personality as a creative artist was consolidated at the end of the 19th century, although his figure already existed as coordinator of the theatrical elements, from scenography to interpretation. It is his responsibility to convert the text, if it exists, into theater, with the procedures and objectives that are required. Powerful examples of this task were the Germans Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator , who devoted their energy to getting the spectator's maximum capacity for reflection, or the asceticism of the Polish Jerzy Grotowski . [ 17 ]
Acting techniques have varied enormously throughout history and not always uniformly. In classical Western theater, for example, the great actors, the "sacred monsters", tended to emphasize the emotions in order to highlight the content of the work, in the comedy of art the interpreter gave free rein to his instinct; the Japanese actors of the Nō and kabuki , show certain states of mind through symbolic gestures, either of great subtlety or deliberately exaggerated.
In modern theater, the naturalistic orientation has generally been imposed, in which the actor, through the acquisition of physical and psychological techniques and the study of himself and the character, tries to recreate his personality on stage. Such option, evolved in its fundamental features from the teachings of the Russian Konstantín Stanislavski and very widespread in the cinematographic field, is certainly not the only one and ultimately the choice of an interpretive style depends on the characteristics of the show and the indications. from the director.
However, currently, at the beginning of the 21st century, the theatrical performance with a naturalistic tendency is being seriously rethought. Contemporary theatricality requires a critique of naturalism as a simple reproduction of human behavior, but without ties to its environment. Currently there have been great transformations of Stanislavski's work, the most important of which are Antonin Artaud , Jerzy Grotowsky, Étienne Decroux and Eugenio Barba . These techniques, currently called extra-daily, involve a complex synthesis of stage signs.
Strictly, decoration is understood as the environment in which a dramatic representation takes place, and by scenery, the art of creating the sets. Nowadays, the concept of "scenographic apparatus" tends to be introduced to all the elements that allow the creation of that environment, among which the machinery or stage and lighting should be highlighted.
Over time and at different moments in the history of the theater, the scenography has undergone important transformations. Before the theater existed as we know it, the representations were carried out with a ritual sense and in them the sets were already used to give more enhancement, mystery, setting, as well as a scenic image and spectacularity to ritual acts.
In the Greek theater they were used periactos they were a few pointers triangular base, had these few screens or prismatic panels, whose planes or faces, different sets, were drawn according to the requirements of the scene that was playing. [ 18 ]
In ancient times, the scenography was conditioned to technical and architectural limitations, a circumstance that was maintained throughout the Middle Ages . It was already at the end of the Renaissance and, above all, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when the scenography began to acquire prominence, thanks to the improvement of the pictorial perspective, which allowed the decoration to be given a greater appearance of depth, and later to the development of the theatrical machinery. In the 19th century, with the introduction of realistic drama, the set became the basic element of the representation. The discovery of electric light, in short, gave rise to the rise of lighting. the footlights, which were originally an accessory element, are now considered poetically a symbol of theatrical art.
Closely linked with the scenic conception, the costumes have always been found . In Greek theater, the roughness of the sets was compensated for by means of masks - tragic or comic - and the stylized robes of the actors, whose object was to highlight the archetypal character of the characters. During the Baroque and Neoclassicism, make-up and wardrobe became important , although this was often used anachronistically - for example, it represented a work set in Rome with French costumes from the 17th century until the appearance of realism.. At present, the choice of wardrobe is just one more element within the general conception of the montage.
The narrator of parables does well to openly show the viewer everything he needs for his parable, those elements whose help he tries to show the ineluctable course of his action. The scenic builder of the parable thus openly shows the spotlights, the musical instruments, the masks, the walls and doors, the stairs, chairs and tables, with whose help the parable is to be constructed.
Room in front of the stage
In the traditional Italian arrangement, in older theaters, the room in front of the stage is often shaped like a horseshoe. The lower part, the widest, is the stalls or stalls , where the armchairs or armchairs are divided into rows separated by a central corridor and framed by two side corridors. In older theaters, the stalls floor is flat and slightly sloped to preserve a minimum of visibility. In contemporary theaters, behind the stalls are the boxes and a tiered amphitheater that allows good visibility of the stage from the farthest rows.
To take better advantage of the height of the theater, the room is divided into several floors. On the stalls there may be one or two large raised and recessed floors. The central and lateral walls are dedicated to the boxes or balconied galleries that are spread over several floors. Traditionally, the highest part of the theater is called the chicken coop; it is the least visible and the cheapest.
In this way, the theater is structured in stalls (ground floor), boxes (located on the mezzanine floor) and amphitheater (located on the upper floors), arranged from highest to lowest price of admission. [ 19 ]
There are many superstitions that have been preserved in the theatrical environment of Western culture , beliefs and customs that have been losing force in more recent times but that still determine the "modus operandi" in different aspects of the show. From the long list of superstitions can be mentioned: [ 20 ]
About the premieres
- Tuesday and Friday are not very lucky days for a premiere.
- Wishing you good luck on opening night is unacceptable, so if someone does, they should be answered with a simple "merde", following the French tradition. In the opinion the origin of this superstition dates back to the time when spectators attended the theater carriage : lots of dung at the gates of the theater indicated that the function had much competition.
- In a dress rehearsal, they are ominous signs : hearing a whistle; peacock feathers; and in general, gaffe colors such as yellow (the supposed downfall of Molière , despite the fact that he did not die on stage but in his bed), green and even violet.
- A dress rehearsal without any mistake is equivalent to a failure in the premiere, hence, if this happens, the actor who interprets the last paragraph or reply, will not pronounce it. On the contrary, finding nails forgotten by stagehands is a good sign.
- The fact that an elderly person is the first spectator to show their location at the theater box office on opening day is a benign prognostic sign for many performances.
About the actors
- Many actors find it in bad taste that, in public, they are called by the name of the character they play.
- By prudence, an actor should never whistle , if necessary he can hum.
- Hooking the suit on the set is a warning of error in the recitation of his role.
- It's bad luck to look from behind at someone who is putting on makeup.
- Many actors still come out on stage with some kind of "magic" item or amulet . The most traditional has been the rabbit foot .
- It's bad luck to put your shoes in a box or on the table.
- Except in works in which the wink or the involvement of the public is sought, it can be a bad omen to look at the stalls.
- Among the English, an actress knitting during a rehearsal, even in the dressing room, will guarantee a good mess in the performance. [ 21 ]
- The season should start and end with the same suit or dress (and "polka dot" fabrics are not recommended.
- For a long time glasses were considered on stage : natural flowers, children and horses. [ 22 ]
works faux pas
- Shakespeare's Macbeth , and especially his witch scene, is one of the works with the most negative superstitions. It is always remembered as an example that in 1964 a new theater in Lisbon where the playwas staged burned down. [ 23 ]
- In Spain, in the 1930s, it was a bad omen to perform Jacinto Grau's play , The Lord of Pygmalion .
- Also in Spain, winning the Lope de Vega Prize could mean never having a new release.
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- Francis Fergusson indicates that "a drama, unlike a lyrical piece, is not primarily a composition in the middle of the verb; the words that make up the dialogue are the result of the dramatic structure of the incident and of the character. Note Aristotle , 'the poet, or' creator 'must be the one who invents the argument instead of being the one who writes the verses; since he is a poet because he imitates , and what he imitates are actions ' "(1949, 8).
- See articles on "opera", "American musical theater", "melodrama" and "Nō" in Banham (1998).
- Although theater historians have conflicting opinions, it is probable that the works of the Roman author Seneca were not conceived to be staged. The book Manfred of Byron is a good example of a " dramatic poem ."
- Some forms of improvisation, such as Commedia dell'arte , improvise on the basis of ' lazzi ' or certain thick lines of action on stage (see Gordon (1983) and Duchartre (1929)). All forms of improvisation draw their thread from the immediate response to what the other character says or does, the situations the characters face (which are sometimes defined in advance), and often their interaction with the audience. The classical forms of improvisation in the theater were developed by Joan Littlewood and Keith Johnstone in the United Kingdom and Viola Spolin in the United States; see Johnstone (1981) and Spolin (1963).
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