• Welcome. Today, I will be addressing the history of theater.
    The history of theater was shaped and influenced by many people (such as William Shakespeare), places (such as Ancient Greece), ideas (such as deciding how to portray a certain character or event), and events (such as the Renaissance).
    In this research paper, I intend to show where theater started (from early, primitive people), how it has changed (such as how technology has improved), and how it has stayed similar (such as how Commedia del’ Arte influenced modern pantomime) over the centuries.
    I think that it was, is, and always will be a vital part to people's social lives. Please, read and enrich your mind . . .

    It was said by early, primitive people that dancing and acting would “calm the supernatural powers that controlled their life”. These primitive people are our earliest known actors. However, very little is known about these people.

    There is a common misconception that theater and actual performances first started in ancient China; this is, however, incorrect as thought by scholars. Ancient Greek theater begins with Thespis, who won the theater competition (called Bacchus) at a festival being held in honor of Dionysus in 534 B.C. The performance structure was a hillside amphitheater, which could hold a capacity of up to about twenty-thousand people. These were open theaters, with the seating in a semicircular formation. There is a common belief among scholars that actors not spoke during performances, but sang.
    There were many famous playwrights in Ancient Greece, including, but not limited to;
    Aristophanes, who wrote plays, such as;
    -The Knights
    -The Clouds
    -The Wasps
    -The Birds
    Sophocles, who was famous for the Oedipus Trilogy (Theban plays) that he wrote, here are some more of his plays;
    -Theban Plays (Antigone, Oedipus Rex, and Oedipus at Colonus)
    -The Trachiniae
    Euripides, who foreshadowed theater as we know it today and who wrote over ninety plays, including;
    -The Bacchae
    Aeschylus, who introduced the concept of a second actor and wrote plays including;
    -The Persians
    -Seven Against Thebes
    -The Suppliants
    -The Oresteia
    -Prometheus Bound
    Menander, who was a great admirer and imitator of Euripides whose works include;
    -Aspis ("The Shield" wink
    -Dis Exapaton ("Double Deceiver" wink
    -Kitharistes ("The Harper" wink
    -Misoumenos ("The Man She Hated" wink
    -Naukleros ("The Ship's Captain" wink
    Of these many playwrights, the three great tragedians are Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus and the two great comedians were Aristophanes and Menander.

    Roman theaters differed from Greek amphitheaters in this way; Instead of just being built, they had their own foundation. They were also different in that rather than being open in a semicircular way, they had the stage enclosed from all directions.
    As Greek theater did, Roman theater had its share of famous playwrights as well, including;
    Plautus, who wrote;
    Terence, who wrote;
    -Adelphoe (The Brothers)
    -Andria (The Girl From Andros
    -Hecyra (The Mother-in-Law)
    And Seneca the Younger, who wrote;
    -Hercules Furens (The Madness of Hercules)
    -Troades (The Trojan Women)

    In the middle ages, theater was a vital part of everyone’s civic, economic, and religious lives. However, since plays at the time taught a Catholic doctrine, the Protestant Reformation targeted the theater, especially in England, in an effort to stamp out allegiance to Rome.
    There were three famous playwrights in the Middle Ages;
    Hrosvitha, who wrote;
    “The Wakefield Master”, who wrote;
    -Wakefield Cycle
    -the First and Second Shepherd’s Play
    -Herod the Great
    -The Buffeting
    John Bale, who wrote;
    -The Examination of Lord Cobham
    -William Thorpe and Anne Askewe

    While the Elizabethan era is short, it has a powerful meaning to theater’s history. It brought the genius of two authors;
    William Shakespeare, who I will discuss in a moment. And Christopher Marlowe, a skilled poet and playwright, but not much compared to Shakespeare, whose works include;
    -The Massacre at Paris
    -Edward II
    -The Jew of Malta

    Without Shakespeare, our literary world would be much less advanced and intriguing. Shakespeare was the greatest writer of all time in the English language, and was possibly the greatest writer in any existing society.
    Among his many plays include;
    -Romeo and Juliet
    -King Lear
    -Titus Andronicus
    -The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
    -Antony and Cleopatra
    -The History of Troilus and Cressida
    -The Life of Timon of Athens
    -All’s Well That Ends Well
    -As You Like It
    -A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream
    -Much Ado About Nothing
    -Measure for Measure
    -The Tempest
    -Taming of the Shrew
    -The Merchant of Venice
    -The Merry Wives of Windsor
    -Love’s Labor’s Lost
    -The Two Gentlemen Of Verona
    -Pericles Prince of Tyre
    -The Winter’s Tale
    -Richard II, III
    -Henry IV (parts 1-2), V, VI (parts 1-3), and VIII
    -King John
    -Other Literary Works
    -long poetry

    Commedia del’ Arte was an improvisation theater (so there were no writers) that was popular from the 16th-18th century. Traveling troupes would travel around and do things such as juggle, acrobatics, and perform humorous plays for people’s amusement. It was largely influenced by Roman comedy and largely influenced modern pantomime.

    In the 19th century, theater-goers became tired of the same old things and wanted a change. Because of this common wish, many new types of theater were born, including;
    -Vaudeville (song-and-dance routines)
    -Burlesque (drama where a subject is made to look ridiculous)
    -Melodrama (exaggeration of characters in conflict-heroine/hero vs.

    In the 20th century, theaters had been changed drastically, having newer special effects and being the place to come for not only drama, but also music, entertainment,
    education, and to learn something new as well. These are basically the theaters as we know them today, except that they have been advancing steadily.

    So, as I stated previously, theater has changed over the years, but at the same time, stayed the same. It has had its strong eras, and its weaker eras, but it has braved the test of time nonetheless. With this, I conclude my paper, if there are any questions or you would like to do further reading, I recommend the sources below. Thank you.

    Works Cited
    -“History of Theater”, Wikipedia, 14 December, 2007, http://nostalgia.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Theater

    -“Take A Trip Through Time”, Children’s Creative Theater Short History Lesson, 14 December, 2007, http://library.thinkquest.org/5291/history.html

    -“History of Theater”, Tupelo Community Theater, 16 December, 2007,