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Theatre History Middle ages


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Brief overview of theatre history from the middle ages to renaissance

Brief overview of theatre history from the middle ages to renaissance

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  • 1. Theatre History from the Middle Ages to the English Renaissance Ms. Aixa B. Rodriguez High School for World Cultures Art in Literature Class, Fall 2009
  • 2. References
    • Prince, Nancy & Jackson, Jeanie. Exploring Theatre . Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009.
    • &quot;William Shakespeare.&quot; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . 13 Dec 2009, 15:45 UTC. 14 Dec 2009 <>.
    • &quot;Commedia dell'arte.&quot; Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia . 11 Dec 2009, 18:15 UTC. 14 Dec 2009 <>.
  • 3. What characterized the theater of the middle ages ?
    • 500- 1500 AD.
    • Different than theatrical performances in Rome.
    • No powerful monarch or government.
    • Church was in charge of most leadership.
    • Few people were literate .
    • Theater used to communicate religious messages to the general public.
    • Plays told stories from the Bible.
  • 4. How were the mystery plays performed?
    • Several stories were performed right after each other in what was called a cycle.
      • Ex. Wakefield cycle-32 plays back to back
      • 13 th the second shepherds play
    • Cycle plays also called mystery plays as they focused on the mysterious nature of God’s power.
    • From creation in Genesis to the last judgment in Revelation.
  • 5. What were morality plays?
    • Modifications introduced in the content led to morality plays, those used to teach a moral lesson using allegorical or symbolic characters.
    • One character called everyman/or mankind would represent all mankind or a virtue such as greed/anger/mercy in which the character was tempted by evil but returned to the side of good in the end.
  • 6. Elements of Drama- staging
    • Unlike the Greek amphitheaters and Roman arenas these plays were put on in the church in the church yard or in the street.
    • Settings could be
      • a series of temporary hut like houses called mansions decorated to represent different locales
      • Even movable floats upon which the action was acted.
    • Audience followed action /scene changes based on the mansion from which the actors entered.
  • 7. The Italian Renaissance (late 1300’s-1600’s )
    • Cultural center of Europe was Italy.
    • Renaissance means rebirth
      • This theme reflected renewed interest in classics and Greece and Roman culture
      • Advancement in all Arts, Science and learning during this time
    • Theatre gets closer to our modern styles
    • Merchants sponsored artists
      • System of financial support was called patronage
    • Topics/subjects from the religious to human activity rather than divine.
    • A change in philosophy called humanism.
  • 8. Neo-classical ideas
    • Renaissance rules of writing drama influences drama for 200 years.
    • Rules came from a mistaken understanding of what was meant by the rediscovered Greek & Roman playwrights (Aristotle).
    • Renaissance writers created plays and copied stories and themes from the Greek and Roman plays.
    • Verisimilitude - being true to life.
  • 9. Ideals
    • Renaissance philosophy demanded all characters be recognizable and verifiable from real life
      • Unity of time- action doesn’t over more than 24 hours of time.
      • Unity of place- all action takes place in one location.
      • Unity of action- plot has only one story line (no subplots).
    • This wasn’t followed universally.
    • Particularly and England and Spain, these ideals were ignored
  • 10. What changed in terms of space and styles of theatre decoration?
    • 1. Visual arts had developed during this time, having a major effect on imagery in theatre
      • Illusion of depth /perspective painting.
      • Images were no longer flat.
      • Architecture, theatre building changed.
  • 11. What was the Proscenium arch?
    • Proscenium arches or picture from opening around stage spaces
    • Oldest example is in Vicenza, Italy the Teatro Olimpico completed 3000 people stage has a permanent facade
    • Doorways build into wall w/deep hallways giving the illusion of deep interior spaces.
  • 12. Permanent facades were not flexible.
    • Painted scenery could be shifted to reveal new sets behind them.
    • Painted flats/canvases allowed for changes.
    • 1st theater with proscenium stage was Teatro Farnes in Parma, Italy in 1618.
  • 13. What changed when scenery was introduced?
    • Multiple settings behind each other for changes requires that there be more backstage space for scenery and equipment.
    • Renaissance stages therefore became deeper.
  • 14. What were the standard settings in these plays?
    • Reuse of standard styles of settings
      • Tragedies (streets of a wealthy neighborhood)
      • Comedies (streets of a lower-class homes)
      • Pastoral plays (Countryside cottages)
  • 15. What is Commedia dell’arte ?
    • A form of improvisational theater that began during the renaissance in Italy.
    • Troupes of actors toured the Italian country-sides.
    • They performed using stock characters.
    • Dialogue was improvised following a basic outline there was no script.
  • 16. Who were the stock characters in Commedia dell’arte?
    • Vecchio A category of aged, male characters members of this group are
      • Pantalone,
      • Il Dottore
      • Il Capitano.
      • The word means &quot;old one&quot; or simply &quot;old&quot; in Italian.
    • They are overwhelmingly the antagonists, opposing the love of the innamorati
  • 17. Who were the stock characters in Commedia dell’arte?
    • Arlechinno /Harlequin was a clever prankster
  • 18. Who were the stock characters in Commedia dell’arte?
    • Punchinello- was a malicious servant
    • Innamorato, Inamorata- Young hero/heroine
    • Fontesca-serving maid
    • Zanni- male servants
    • All were identified by their half masks or costumes
  • 19. Why is this important?
    • The stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte influenced the archetypes used in other works. Taking Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet as an example:
      • Nurse = Fontesca
      • Friar Lawrence, Balthazar, Benvolio = Zanni
      • Mercutio= Archelinno/Harlequin
      • Tybalt=Punchinello
      • Capulet= Vecchio- Il Pantalone
      • Paris= Vecchio- Il Capitano
      • Romeo and Juliet= Inamorati
  • 20. What was different in Elizabethan England?
    • Powerful English Ruler Queen Elizabeth I
      • ruled for 45 years, 1588-1603
      • language literature and the arts flourished due to her patronage.
        • Acting changed from amateur to professional status
        • Playwrights now had a stable experienced group of performers for whom to write more detailed and complicated plays.
        • Permanent theatres built
        • All classes could attend performances
  • 21. What was theatre-going like in Elizabethan England?
    • Previous policy by church viewed all non-religious theater as evil.
    • City of London didn’t permit theatre buildings to be erected inside the city limits.
    • Theatres were then built across the Thames river in a suburb of London.
    • Audience members had to take ferry boats to see the play.
  • 22. Flags flying atop a theatre
    • Signified a play was being given
      • White= comedy
      • Black= tragedy
      • Red= History
  • 23. The Globe theatre where Shakespeare’s plays were presented
    • Elizabethan theatres were circular or octagonal structures of three stories with an open roof
    • Theater had a raised platform stage that would be surrounded by the audience on the three sides
  • 24. It was closer to a contemporary thrust stage than a proscenium arch stage being used in Italy at the same time
  • 25. How did plays in England differ from those in Italy at the same time in history?
    • No neoclassical ideals.
    • Dramas structured in a series of scenes.
    • Changes of location.
    • This influence the use of stage space in England .
    • Little use of scenery,
      • entrances and exits signified a change of scene
      • A piece of furniture suggested the location of the next scent
      • Characters would speak/announce the change of location called “spoken décor”
  • 26. Noted feature of Elizabethan Drama
    • Use of poetry
    • Iambic pentameter
    • 2 syllables to each beat, 5 beats per line
    • 10 syllables in each line, stress put on the 2 nd beat
    • Sonnets
    • William Shakespeare considered the most important playwright during this period
  • 27. William Shakespeare
    • “ All the world’s a stage and all the men and women meerely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages”
          • - As you like it - William Shakespeare
    • Awareness of human nature
  • 28. Biographical Info
    • b. 1564 in Stratford upon Avon to John and Mary Shakespeare 1 of 8 children.
    • Married in 1582 to Anne Hathaway
      • Has three children Susanna, Hamnet and Judith.
    • 1587- left to go to London,
      • member of Lord Chamberlain's men
      • became a shareholder in the company
      • helped finance/part owner of the Globe theatre
    • 1613 Globe theatre burned down
      • Shakespeare retired to Stratford
    • d. 1616 @ age 52
  • 29. What was Shakespeare’s body of work?
    • 154 sonnets
    • 38 plays ?
    • (There is some argument here)
      • Tragedies/Comedies/Histories/Fantasies
      • Apocrypha
      • Lost Plays
  • 30. List of plays
    • Comedies
    • All's Well That Ends Well
    • As You Like It
    • The Comedy of Errors
    • Love's Labour's Lost
    • Measure for Measure
    • The Merchant of Venice
    • The Merry Wives of Windsor
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • Much Ado About Nothing
    • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
    • The Taming of the Shrew
    • The Tempest
    • Twelfth Night
    • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
    • The Two Noble Kinsmen
    • The Winter's Tale
    • Tragedies
    • Romeo and Juliet
    • Coriolanus
    • Titus Andronicus
    • Timon of Athens
    • Julius Caesar
    • Macbeth
    • Hamlet
    • Troilus and Cressida
    • King Lear
    • Othello
    • Antony and Cleopatra
    • Cymbeline
    • Histories
    • King John, Richard II,
    • Henry IV part 1, Henry IV part 2,
    • Henry V, Henry VI part 1, Henry VI part 2, Henry VI part 3,
    • Richard III, Henry VIII
  • 31. Other Works attributed to Shakespeare
    • Poems
    • Shakespeare's Sonnets
    • Venus and Adonis
    • The Rape of Lucrece
    • The Passionate Pilgrim
    • The Phoenix and the Turtle
    • A Lover's Complaint
    • Lost plays
    • Love's Labour's Won
    • Cardenio †
    • Apocrypha
    • Arden of Faversham
    • The Birth of Merlin
    • Locrine
    • The London Prodigal
    • The Puritan
    • The Second Maiden's Tragedy
    • Sir John Oldcastle
    • Thomas Lord Cromwell
    • A Yorkshire Tragedy
    • Edward III
    • Sir Thomas More
  • 32. Controversies
    • Did Shakespeare really write all the plays attributed to him ?
      • It is accepted that he had borrowed stories from source history but made them his own/
    • Shakespeare wrote sonnets to both a man, his patron, and a mysterious Dark Lady.
    • Was Shakespeare’s identity lifted by a group of collaborators? Or one person who’s status would be jeopardized?