A brief history of theatre

A brief history of theatre

DionysiusTheaterThough we often think of theatre of a classical form of entertainment, often we don’t realize just how old the art form is. Western theatre as we understand it dates back to the Greeks and developed in Athens. Though they did have an auditorium of sorts, it was mostly outside. The productions they staged, while has an entertainment value, often had a political or moral standpoint, such as the play Oedipus Rex. The Romans were another ancient people who had a huge role in modern theatre. Though they did adopt a look of the Greek traditions, what they did do is spread the art from with the rapid expansion of their empire.

The 14th century was another period of expansion for theatre, and it was also in this time that the construction of a theatre was developed. We have some sketches from this time, which show the stage and seating arrangements which are not dissimilar to today’s. Another reason for the expansion of the art form in this time is towns were growing in size and therefore productions had a bigger market and thus a larger audience. The 16th century saw the birth of Shakespeare and an explosion of theatre in the Western world. Never before had people been so moved, provoked and entertained. Many still credit him for theatre being the success that it is today.

Moving onto recent years, the twentieth century was also incredibly remarkable period for the art. Not only did we see the introduction of musical theatre, before that there was only cabaret, but we also see the emergence of alternative works and artists such as Brecht. There were several other movements such as Dadaism and Postmodernism which had a huge impact on fragmenting the traditional way that theatre was and still is presented even to this day.

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