Theatrical performances have taken place for thousands of years and in all world cultures with few exceptions.
The great societies of Europe, China and India first nurtured theatre as a means of gathering citizens together to celebrate civic accomplishments, warn of personal errors, or ridicule society’s fools. Because of that, ancient civilizations in the East and West created dramatic art and stage traditions lasting centuries.
Immediacy and presence have set theatrical art apart from other forms of art.
Actors present themselves to their audience in a story involving intensely personal aspects of human behavior.
Theatre has been defined as a way of seeing men and women in action, observing what they do and why, and the results of their actions.
It can be said that theatre is an immediate way of experiencing what it means to be human.
Thornton Wilder’s, The Match Maker is an example of how theatre engages actors in a very human story about true love. In his play it shows the course of true love failing to run smoothly because their elders did not approve but went over their heads and saw each other anyway.
Theatres living quality- it’s immediacy, aliveness, spaces and spectators.
Theatre is different from T.V, films, etc. is the live interaction of the physical presence audience and actors.
The Lion King, The Wicked, and The Addams Family are all examples of diversion from serious events like civil unrest and unfolding wars.
A theatrical event is restricted to a fixed number of seats in a single building. In New York or London playhouses seat approximately 700-2,000 people nightly.
In contrast to the interactivity of digital media, theatre engages us in an active and kinetic physical construction of behavior and meaning.
Theatre cannot be replicated in another medium, once the performance ends it is gone forever. What’s unique and disheartening is that theatre is being lost to future generations.
Theatre’s living quality on both sides of the “footlights” sets it apart from its popular mass media competitors.
Theatre parallels life- representing our humanness in an imitation of human truths and realities.
Theatre is “alive” as actors tell a story in immediate communion with its audience.
Film and theatre are equally convincing in their story telling powers, but their modes of presentation are vastly different.
6 ESSENTIAL PARALLELS:
Actors <-> Humanity
Simulation <-> Reality
Rehearsal <-> Discovery
Improvisation <-> Spontaneity
Stage <-> World
Audiences <-> Society
At all times in theatre there is doubleness. The actors are human beings representing the playwright’s imaginative expression of our humanity and the human condition; the stage is a platform that convinces us it’s another world.
Theatre’s doubleness—art mirroring life, and life mirroring art—is another special quality of this complex art.
Doubleness reflects a sense of life lived on stage during a theatrical experience. The audience experiences the actor both as actor—the living presence of another being—and fictional character.
The Elizabethan idea of the stage as a mirror, related as it is to the act of seeing, can help understand the dynamics of theatre and its aesthetics.
As reflected in the mirror, our humanity has shape, color, form, attitude and emotion; it is even capable of movement within the limits of the mirror’s frame. It is both a stage world and an illusion of a real world.
Theatre is life’s double, it is a selected reflection organized into stories and fictions about events and people to tell us something about our humanity.
Theatre creates illusion, as we watch, that we are sharing an experience with others for the first time.
In theatre we both believe in what is happening before us (“suspend our disbelief,” as the poet Coleridge said) and disbelieve in the stage-world before us.