The supernatural powers were believed to have power over the events needed for their survival. Other dances were thought to get rid of evil spirits that caused disease and also to make the souls of the newly dead, depart the world of the living.
The performers in these dances wore masks, which represented the spirits. They also wore costumes made of animal skins, rushes, and bark from a tree.
Their plays had a lot to do with tragedy or comedy. The tradition first came from choral songs that dealt with the death and return of Dionysus, their god. That was in about the 6th Century B. One of the rules was that women were not allowed to perform in the Greek theaters. The only scenery in the plays were some sets of rocks and tombs. Thesbis, the first playwright and the first actor was given credit for introducing masks to the theater. The first Greek theater in Athens was a large simple circle called the "orchestra" the dancing place.
The Roman's capital did not have a permanent theater until about 55 B. They didn't build their theaters into hillsides like the Greeks, but instead built a standing structure that they covered with awnings. The early Roman actors were slaves owned by managers. Later actors were citizens and became famous and wealthy. Roman actors had plenty of opportunity to work most of the year in Rome. The church was also responsible for the rebirth of the theater during the Middle Ages.
The dramatic performances, which were based on the story of the Resurrection, were first introduced into the Easter service. These little performances were originally done by priests and monks. They were the beginning of great period of mystery plays, which dramatized almost every part of biblical history.
More worldly secular , plays were performed in inns, hotels, and halls, and slowly moved to theaters of their own. The first "theater" called, "The Theatre", was built just outside of London in Many other theaters soon followed such as, the Curtain, the Rose, and the very famous Globe theater. These theaters were a frame, often three story structure, built around on open courtyard and most were circular. The first audience sat in boxes or in galleries within the frame.
At the end of the stage, where the audience couldn't see, there was the "tiring" house where the actors stored their props and changed costumes.
During these times, the Elizabethan actors all male , formed guilds and became master actors. One of the most famous of these playwrights and actors was William Shakespeare. The stages were decorated with painted perspective settings. The stage was separated from the auditorium by the familiar proscenium, meaning "picture frame". In England and in Spain, there were no women in their plays.
That tradition lasted until about In the 17th century, French and English acting companies began to add women to their troupes. In America, the colonial theater was just beginning to emerge. They used English plays and actors. The 18th century was the last great time of theater for the nobility. Asian theater has had a long and famous history.
Western theater has often had a more realistic style of presentation. The theater in the East has been, and still often is, symbolic. Which means the actors wear masks or wear artificial make-up. The actors wearing masks represent a character, and if an actor had a whip in his hand it would represent a man on horseback.
The realistic style means actors play exactly who they are and what they are doing. They don't wear masks and they ride real horses when possible.
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The Drama chapter of this 9th Grade English Homework Help course helps students complete their drama homework and earn better grades. This homework.
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