|“Okay, listen up scumbags! I am Vita, personal assistant tothe school principal, Violet Prefusion. Violet would not let me direct the school production of Romeo and Juliet. But she says it is okay for me to let you know a little bit about the history of theatre because I have won 2 Oscars and an Emmy. So! Pay attention. You might just learn something!”|
Okay now everybody knows that it was very many years ago that theatre came to be. Theatre can be traced back to around 550BC in Greece. It appears that a man by the name of Thespis won a play competition which was held in honour of the Greek God Dionysus. This of course is where the term “thespian” came from. In this day and age there was a high rate of tragedy in Greece therefore the diversion of a good comedy was a welcome relief.
And where my little scumbags did the word ‘play’ come from? Well, it is a literal translation of the Latin word “ludus”, which means to play. And that brings us to Roman theatre. Roman theatre came about in two forms, one a direct translation from the Greek plays into Latin – this was called Fabula Palliata and the second form was called Fabula Togata – a humorous based play. After the Roman Empire fell many believe theatre fell with it. It lived on of course in the form of street theatre, this form of theatre kept the concept alive through the Middle Ages.
The church then became involved in theatre, depicting their religious holidays and other special events in the religious calendar. These small community plays soon grew into passionate reenactments of such things as the crucifixion of Christ. These were referred to as Passion Plays or Miracle Plays. And then, then came the influence of the Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Greek and Roman plays were revived, but this time with more focus on art than religion.
Okay, with me so far? This period was followed by that of Elizabethan and Shakespearian theatre in the 16th and 17th centuries. My favourite time! Although the wonderful Shakespeare was the most notable of playmakers in this time a number of others also deserve credit including Christopher Marlowe and Ben Johnson.
Now, Shakespeare’s plays were all written and performed in very formal English. Although would you believe that Shakespeare’s works were more relaxed and natural than a number of other playwrites in his time?! Shakespeare’s better known works include Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Othello and many more.
Wake up Attention Seekers! We are jumping forward in time… over the years theatre became accessible to everyone.