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History of Theatre

History of Theatre Early in the 1700’s British people that were involved with theatre were mostly middle class. There were 2 kinds of new dramatic theatre: sentimental comedy and domestic tragedy. The fist playhouse was in the American colonies was built in Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1741 the greatest British actor was born and his name was David Garrick. Aeschylus wrote the first major playwright and multiple contests. “The Orestria” was the last remaining tragic trilogy. Sophocles pioneered painted scenery and added the third choral leader, wrote “Antigone. Euripides went against popular belief and pioneered female protagonist. Aristophanes was the first comedian and made fun of current leaders, rated “M” for mature. Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was the head German dramatist during the Enlightenment, as well as a critic, a philosopher, and an aesthetician. His works advocated liberal thinking and religious tolerance. He wrote the first German plays of “Note and Sought” to make German drama as an entity seperate from French and classical influences.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is permanently associated with the German romantic movement and is the major literary figure in German history. A true Renaissance man, he was a novelist, playwright, translator, natural philosopher, poet, musician, composer, scientist, and finally a historian. His Faust is a “closet drama”, a work in dramatic form to be read not performed. In the late 1700’s, German theatre changed dramatically by the Romantic movement known as “Sturm und Drang” (storm and stress).

In 1773, British playwright Oliver Goldsmith attacked the popular sentimental comedy and proposed a more humorous and realistic “laughing comedy. ” In his fast paced comedy She Stoops to Conquer, Goldsmith had achieved his goal. Rich Brinsley Sheridan got into sentimental comedy in the 1770’s with his plays The Rivals and The School for Scandal. The American Revolution had a crippling effect on all forms of theatre. Congress passed a resolution discouraging theatrical “entertainments”, and after the U. S. eclared independence, the individual states passed laws forbidding all stage performances. Most of the anti-theatre laws remained in effect until the early 1780’s. construction of the Paris Opera House began in 1861 and was completed in 1875. The idea for a protected performance area arose after a royal procession escorting Napoleon the third and his wife to the opera was bombed by a group of revels and scores were killed. Napoleon wanted an opera house where royalty could enter less publicly, and created a contest calling for new designs.

The architect Charles Garnier won. The Paris Opera House has 17 stories, covers three acres of land, and seats 2000 people. Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera took place here and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical based on this too. The “Father of modern drama,” was a Norwegian playwright who’s name is Henrik Ibsen. James A. Herne began his theatre career as a very good actor. Later he became a stage manager at Baldwin’s Academy of Music in California, a job that brought him many more roles.

In 1878, he married the actress Katherine Corcoran, a member of the Baldwin acting company, and began a career as a playwright to write leading parts for him and his wife. Naturalism was a theatrical school of thought developed in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. it introduced sets that looked as real as possible, characters who spoke in a natural way, and story lines that were plausible. The primary spokesperson for early naturalism was French novelist Emile Zola(1840 – 1902).

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