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Chapter 1- Theatre the Lively Art

by: Ciara Singleton

Chapter 1- Theatre the Lively Art THTR 100

Marketplace > East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania > Theatre > THTR 100 > Chapter 1 Theatre the Lively Art
Ciara Singleton

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About this Document

These notes cover the first chapter of the theatre book, " Theatre the Lively Art" the ninth edition, by Edwin WIlson and Alvin Goldfarb, published by McGraw Hill Education.
GN: Introduction to Theatre
Professor Domanski
Class Notes




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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Ciara Singleton on Sunday September 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to THTR 100 at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania taught by Professor Domanski in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 2 views. For similar materials see GN: Introduction to Theatre in Theatre at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania.


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Date Created: 09/25/16
Chapter 1- Theatre the Lively Art We call theatre the lively art because it is alive in a way that makes it different from every other form of dramatic presentation. It’s the live quality of theatre that makes it so indispensable and durable. When comparing seeing a drama in a theatre vs. seeing a drama on film or television, in may ways they are alike: - Both offer a story told in dramatic form - Both are en enactment of scenes by performers who speak and act as if they are the people they represent - Both give us many of the same feelings and experiences when watching the performance They however have a fundamental difference- the relationship between the performer and the audience. The experience of being in the presence of the performer is specific to theatre. At a movie, you’re in the presence of an image, not a person. The term “live” has changed over time. Before television, “live” meant “in person”, not just occurring at the same moment it airs. During a stage performance, the actresses and actors can hear laughter, can sense silence, and can feel tension in the audience, in short subtly affecting the performance. At the same time, members of the audience consciously or unconsciously ask themselves questions such as: are the performers talented? Have they learned their parts well? Are they convincing in their roles? Will they do something surprising? Will they make a mistake? Theatre is the foundation of all drama. The ancient Greeks stablished the categories of tragedy and comedy that are still used today. They also developed dramatic structure, acting, and theatre architecture. Roman domestic comedies are the prototype of every situation comedy we see in the movies or on television. Seventeenth century France, Italian commedia dell’arte, Ancient Asian theatre, Italian Renaissance in the early seventeenth century are all products of history that shaped theatre today. Theatre’s two-fold appeal: one is the cheer excitement or amusement of a theatre event, two is the ability to incorporate provocative, timeless observations about the human condition in dramatic material. A drama art has a structure- a beginning, middle, and end, a purpose, a cast of characters, a unique completeness. What is art? Art is a mirror reflection of life: an extension of a projection of how we live, think, and feel. Art reveals to us what people treasure, admire, and fear most deeply. It can be divided into three categories: 1. Literary- novels, short stories, poetry 2. Visual- painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, film 3. Performing- theatre, dance, opera, music, film All art is selective in sense. Visual for example deals solely with sight and touch, what we can see and feel. Music however concentrates on sound, what we here. This is why we are silent at art museums or close our eyes at concerts. Another characteristic of art is it’s relationship to time or space, a second way to differentiate the different categories of art. For example visual art exists in space. Movies move through time, taking up no space. Theatre, dance, and opera occupy both space and time. Characteristics of Performing Arts: - Movement through time - Require interpreters as well as creators (a playwright writes a play, but actors and actresses perform it; a composer writes music that singers and instrumentalists will perform, a choreographer develops a ballet that dancers will perform) - Require an audience, must occur in one place at one time with both performers and audience present. Must be live and immediate an interaction between performers and the audience. Elements of Theatre: - Audience - Performers - Script or Text, with it’s structure, characters, and point of view - Director- person who rehearses and coordinates performers to ensure that they interpret the text appropriately. - Theatre Space- stage of similar space - Design Elements: scenery, costume, lighting, and sound Theatre is a collaborative art. Director must stage the play written, make clear the structure, theme, and style to the cast, work closely with performers rehearsing the play, designers of scenery, lights, costumes, and sound. The elements must all collaborate with each other. The collaborative enterprise is the business and administrative side of a production or theatre organization, including producers and mangers. These people organize and administer press and public relations, advertising, scheduling, fund-raising, ticket sales, ushering, etc. Theatre occurs all over the world and is found in many cultures. This is why globalization is one of the most important trends in our theatre today. The various ways different nations and cultures influence one another’s theatrical traditions is affected by this. In approaching global theatre, three things should be kept in mind: 1. In many cultures, theatre has a long history unlike American theatre which is relatively short. European and Asian theatre history goes back more than 2,000 years. Europe preceding contemporary theatre, Greek theatre moving through roman, medieval, Renaissance, eighteenth century, and nineteenth century theatre into modern theatre. In Asia, theatre in India started it with Chine a few centuries after that, Japanese was established by 800 C.E. Also Africa, Pre-Columbian Latin America, Native American culture. 2. Beginning around 1900, Asian and other non-European theatres were influenced by developments of modern theatre in the West: the realism introduced by Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov, and a number of departures from realism such as expressionism. 3. In many ways, the most significant point for modern audiences is the development of global exchanges in communication. It becomes difficult to decipher whether a product is made by a company of a specific country since most major corporations are multinational. Theatre artists cross national boundaries to stage their works with artists of other countries and then popular works tour the world and cross-pollinate other theatrical ventures. We categorize globalization into 3 general patterns: interaction, adaptation, and collaboration. Two words that also characterize today’s theatre are diversity and multiculturalism: Diversity- types of theatre available to audiences are so wide ranging and because audiences themselves are so diverse Multiculturalism- contemporary theatre embraces such a wide variety of social groups and concerns. Key Terms: Director- person who rehearses and coordinates performers to ensure that they interpret the text appropriately. Global- Having to do with any political, economic, artistic, or cultural activity in which nations and people around the world relate and interact. Multiethnic/Multicultural- Referring to any nation, community, or group in which people of various ethnic or cultural origins or beliefs coexist and interact. Performing Arts- Theatre, dance, opera, and music. Film also partakes of the performing arts. Script/Text- Story, incident, or event put into theatrical form. Theatre Space- The place where performers and audiences come together. (Prof Notes) Into to Theatre- What is Theatre? Theater vs. Theatre Theater- Physical structure, building Theatre- The art, concept Why Study Theatre? 1. Theatre as a Liberal Art - Helps us understand the world and our place in it 2. Theatre as a Social Force - Medieval theatre taught Christianity - Blue Blouse troupes taught Communism in Russia - Shakespeare’s history defended the monarchy 3. Theatre as a Personal Force - Teamwork/ collaboration - Creative/critical thinking 4. Theatre as an Art Form - It’s a combination of many art forms - Second oldest of all the art forms How did it come to be? There is no clear evidence, hear are some theories: 1. Storytelling- pleasurable and natural, a narrator elaborates by impersonating. 2. Movement/ Dance- imitating physical behavior of animals and humans donning skins as garments- eventually talking was added. 3. Judicial system- necessity to speak in court required expansion, desire to perform and see performances. 4. Supreme Act- of an unidentified artist (Perhaps Thespis, perhaps Aeschylus) – revolutionary discovery- to synthesize many other already existing elements. 5. Ritual Theory- Most persuasive and accepted of theories, often questioned. Ritual Understanding- From primitive religious rituals usually connected with spring and the seasonal cycle, drama evolved. Theatre and ritual are similar: Elements: music dance, spectacle, masks, costumes speech, performers, audience, stage, makeup, etc. Themes- pleasure, power, duty. Production methods- a technical director to make sure things run smoothly Theatre is storytelling for an audience, performing art (art that moves through time), collaborative art (bringing together elements). Theatre can also be found: - On television- sitcoms, drama - In film- science fiction, comedies - Rock and Roll- live performance, glam rock - Amusement Parks- Disney, Universal Studios - Digital Media- video games, internet Role of Audience: Willing suspension of disbelief- the audience – putting aside all literal and practical considerations in order to enter the world that has been created. Aesthetic Distance- Physical or psychological separation or detachment of audience from the dramatic action- fourth wall. Entering the world- If the audience isn’t engaged into the storytelling, the performance won’t be good Criticism: What is being attempted? Collaborative team must have a unified concept. How well has the attempt succeeded? Did all the areas tell the same story? Was the attempt worth making? Was the concept meaningful or significant?


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