Origins of Theatre
Theatre has been in and around mankind from centuries ago. We know them by different names like sports, religious rituals, political parades, dance, etc. Although theatre has its own definition of art it has similar characteristics to the above mentioned events. Although the exact history of theatre is not known to us there are certain theories that give of glimpse of early theatre.
History of theatre tells us that any activity that required a certain set of people (performers) to carry out the procedures and a set of people (audience) to watch the proceedings could be termed a theatre in a more broad sense. Dance is one such activity where by there is a performer and an audience. Dance has its traces in early historical times of theatre and is infact a form of theatre arts. Similarly a judicial argument in court needs a performer and an audience to carry out the proceedings to come to a final conclusion. This is why we say that theatre has been from times immemorial.
When studying the History of theater it is clear that theatre came to existence during the 6th century BC in the holy lands of Greece. A group of people performing in chorus comprised of the main performers at that time but as time passed by importance was given to individual performances too. The Greek theatre made use of painted backdrops as scenery for their shows. The central theme of these Greek plays would mostly consist of God. They used to make use of some mechanical machine to help portray these actors as God. Greek Theatre history was known for its competitive spirit. They used to perform on special occasions and prizes were given out to the best performances. Greek Theatre had elements of tragedy, comedy, melodrama and gave importance to individual performances too.
History of theatre is differentiated into various periods when theatre was born. Depending on the shape of the auditorium and the stage, where the performances were showcased theatres can be divided into several categories. Greek Theatres is one such type of early theatre. Later came, the Roman Theatre in 55 BC. Roman Theatre history tells us that they drew large inspiration from Greek Theatre. Roman theatres attracted large number of spectators who were accommodated within the huge open air theatres. Roman Theatre auditorium was semicircular in nature along with a roofed stage about 10 m in height.
Medieval Theatre history marked the role of the churches in theatre at the beginning of the 10th century. The premises of the church were used to present these plays. The area where the play was acted out was known as the platea. The Church put in efforts to make the scene look elaborate and precisely technically.
Later in the 14th century, Italian Theatres made great impacts on the masses with their painted scenery, used as a backdrop while the play progressed ahead. Alongside the concept of side wings was brought up by the Italian theatres, which made entry and exit easy for performers and actors. Yet another breakthrough came with the Italian Theatres - change of scenery or backdrop. By replacing the backdrops with different painted scenery the plays began to become more interesting and entertaining. It made it possible to create illusions of reality, thus attracting larger mass interest. Painted scenery made theatre seem larger than life.
As centuries passed theatre started gathering a serious socio-economic importance. English Theatre subdivided theatre largely into two categories - indoor theatres and outdoor theatres or public theatres. London became the hub for English Theatres. These plays had extravagant costumes and sophisticated scenery.
Today theatres have come a long way. It is possible for theatres to employ every kind of technicalities to bring their performances to life. Right from architecture to staging it is been made possible today to bring any kind of illusion to factual reality in order to mesmerize the audiences, which has been the fundamental aim of Theatres from centuries ago.