/thee"euh teuhr, theeeu"-/, n.

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Building or space in which performances are given before an audience.

It contains an auditorium and stage. In ancient Greece, where Western theatre began (5th century BC), theatres were constructed in natural hollows between hills. The audience sat in a tiered semicircle facing the orchestra, a flat circular space where the action took place. Behind the orchestra was the skene. The theatres of Elizabethan England were open to the sky, with the audience looking on from tiered galleries or a courtyard. During this period the main innovation was the rectangular thrust stage, surrounded on three sides by spectators. The first permanent indoor theatre was Andrea Palladio's Olimpico Theatre in Vicenza, Italy (1585). The Farnese Theatre in Parma (1618) was designed with a horseshoe-shaped auditorium and the first permanent proscenium arch. Baroque European court theatres followed this arrangement, elaborating on the interior with tiered boxes for royalty. Richard Wagner's Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Ger. (1876), with its fan-shaped seating plan, deep orchestra pit, and darkened auditorium, departed from the Baroque stratified auditorium and reintroduced Classical principles that are still in use. The proscenium theatre prevailed in the 17th–20th centuries; though still popular in the 20th century, it was supplemented by other types of theatre, such as the thrust stage and theatre-in-the-round. In Asia, stage arrangements have remained simple, with the audience usually grouped informally around an open space; notable exceptions are the nō drama and kabuki of Japan. See also amphitheatre; odeum.
Live performance of dramatic actions in order to tell a story or create a spectacle.

The word derives from the Greek theatron ("place of seeing"). Theatre is one of the oldest and most important art forms in cultures worldwide. While the script is the basic element of theatrical performance, it also relies in varying degrees on acting, singing, and dancing, as well as on technical aspects of production such as stage design. Theatre is thought to have its earliest origins in religious ritual; it often enacts myths or stories central to the belief structure of a culture or creates comedy through travesty of such narratives. In Western civilization, theatre began in ancient Greece and was adapted in Roman times; it was revived in the medieval liturgical dramas and flourished in the Renaissance with the Italian commedia dell'arte and in the 17th–18th centuries with established companies such as the Comédie-Française. Varying theatrical forms may evolve to suit the tastes of different audiences (e.g., in Japan, the kabuki of the townspeople and the nō theatre of the court). In Europe and the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries theatre was a major source of entertainment for all social classes, with forms ranging from burlesque shows and vaudeville to serious dramas performed in the style of the Moscow Art Theatre. Though the musicals of Broadway and the farces of London's West End retain their popular appeal, the rise of television and movies has eroded audiences for live theatre and has tended to limit its spectators to an educated elite. See also little theatre.
(as used in expressions)
Living Theatre The
Kirov Theatre
Maryinsky Theatre
No theatre
documentary theatre
theatre in the round

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▪ 1995


Great Britain and Ireland.
      In November 1994, 87 playwrights, including Harold Pinter, Arnold Wesker, and Peter Shaffer, wrote a letter to the artistic directors of subsidized theatres demanding a quota system of new plays—two or three a year—on their main stages. The writers expressed the feeling that the nation's theatre was slipping into "irrelevance and decline" because of a lack of opportunity for new work. Their argument was not exactly borne out by the abundance of good new plays that progressed from the regions and the fringe theatres into the West End of London. Touring companies, however, were feeling the pinch, and alarm signals sounded as, toward the end of the year, temporary closures were announced at the Salisbury Playhouse, Redgrave, Farnham, and Everyman in Cheltenham; the latter proposed working in conjunction with its senior, and more prestigious, West Country neighbour, the Bristol Old Vic.

      Although commercial success proved elusive, the stream of new plays was unprecedented. The West End welcomed Tim Firth's Neville's Island from the Nottingham Playhouse, with the young comedian Tony Slattery in an "Outward Bound" comic version of The Lord of the Flies; Maria Friedman in John Godber's April in Paris, a modest but tender piece originated by the Hull Truck touring company; Sue Townsend's The Queen and I, adapted from her own novel and presented by Max Stafford-Clark's new Out of Joint touring company in conjunction with the Leicester Haymarket and the Royal Court; and Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing, a delightful and innocent comedy of a burgeoning homosexual friendship between two teenagers in South London, which was first produced by the tiny Bush Theatre in West London before moving into the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden and the Duke of York's Theatre.

      In addition, Kay Mellor's entertaining A Passionate Woman, a play in the Shirley Valentine mode and mold, transferred from the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds (with a stellar performance from Stephanie Cole, a popular television sitcom actress), and Wendy Wasserstein's Broadway comedy hit The Sisters Rosensweig, beautifully acted by Janet Suzman, Maureen Lipman, and Lynda Bellingham, crossed town from Greenwich to the Old Vic. The Old Vic also housed David Beaird's riotous 900 Oneonta, which title signified the address of a plantation in Louisiana where, as one actor (Roger Allam) summed up on opening night, "Dynasty meets The Munsters meets the Addams Family meets Eugene O'Neill." There were less successful new plays: David Mamet's The Cryptogram, with Lindsay Duncan and Eddie Izzard (a brilliant transvestite comedian making his acting debut), failed to attract audiences, and Michael Palin's The Weekend was a crushing failure.

      Nonetheless, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia sailed on unstoppably at the Haymarket, and Maggie Smith collected her fifth Evening Standard (ES) best actress award in Edward Albee's Pulitzer Prize-winning Three Tall Women (ES best play), which divided the critics. Audiences, however, flocked to Wyndham's Theatre to see Dame Maggie, who slew them in the aisles as a crabby, dilapidated nonagenarian before returning in the second half as a dignified, dominating 70-something. She was ably supported by Frances de la Tour and Anastasia Hille. The other big new writing hit of the year was Kevin Elyot's My Night with Reg (ES best comedy), first presented in the small Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court, a subversive boulevard comedy in three movements about an enclave of homosexual friends devastated by AIDS. The unseen Reg was the promiscuous harbinger of death, but the others battled on resiliently if apprehensively. The outstanding cast included John Sessions, David Bamber, Anthony Calf, and Roger Frost.

      There was an interesting fuss over Deborah Warner's poetic production of Samuel Beckett's 20-minute Footfalls. The Beckett estate took issue with Warner's free interpretation of the stage directions and withdrew permission for the production (given just a few performances at the Garrick Theatre) to proceed to Paris. Fiona Shaw as the anguished monologuist swung between granite despair and flickering sensuality and bound the rhythms of the text to her own Irish identity. Another fleeting highlight was the second shortest production of the year, Pinter's Landscape, a mere 38 minutes, which Ian Holm and Penelope Wilton played for 18 performances in the Royal National Theatre's (RNT's) Cottesloe auditorium after participating in the Pinter Festival at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, in May.

      The West End celebrated Sir John Gielgud's 90th birthday by renaming the Globe the Gielgud. The actor beamed delightedly at a reception in his honour and revealed how confusing he had found it in recent years to wander along his beloved Shaftesbury Avenue and not recognize any names on the marquees; now at least, he said, there would be one name he could recognize.

      As the new artistic director of the Royal Court, Stephen Daldry started tremendously with a revival of Wesker's early success The Kitchen, but the following new pieces—Howard Barker's Hated Nightfall, about the last days of the Romanov dynasty; Harvey's Babies (ES most promising new playwright award); and Meredith Oakes's The Editing Process, a feeble look at the absorption of small publishers in large conglomerates, which starred Alan Howard and Prunella Scales—failed to attract much critical favour. Upstairs, however, after My Night with Reg's triumphant debut, there were promising first plays from Joe Penhall (Some Voices) and Nick Grosso (Peaches).

      The RNT, too, had a mixed year, with so-so productions of Pinter's The Birthday Party, George Bernard Shaw's The Devil's Disciple, and Anton Chekhov's The Seagull (Judi Dench as a blowzy Arkadina) and a couple of genuine catastrophes, both hastily withdrawn: Phyllida Lloyd's elaborate version of Pericles and Richard Eyre's unconvincing British premiere of Charles MacArthur's Johnny on a Spot. Eyre bounded back with a sumptuous revival of Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. Indeed, the RNT did well by the American repertoire all year, offering well-received productions of Arthur Miller's Broken Glass and Lillian Hellman's The Children's Hour, an initially creaking but finally moving period piece about an alleged lesbian relationship between two teachers. Harriet Walter and Claire Higgins (who also gave a knockout performance in the Williams) played these roles with considerable emotion and sensitivity. The RNT's other chief successes were Jonathan Kent's revival of Pierre Corneille's Le Cid and Sean Mathias' exotic gothic revival of Jean Cocteau's Les Parents terribles (with Sheila Gish, de la Tour, and Howard).

      Mathias received the ES best director award for both this production and his subsequent Donmar Warehouse revival of Noël Coward's Design for Living, in which smoldering newcomer Rachel Weisz oscillated between the cool, frank sexual shenanigans of Clive Owen and Paul Rhys. The 1933 play suddenly seemed entirely contemporary. The small Donmar did as well as the RNT by American dramatists, repeating two of the RNT's successes of the early 1980s; Sam Mendes' new look at Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross was a chilling confirmation of the play's status as a masterpiece, while Matthew Warchus directed Sam Shepard's True West (coproduced with the West Yorkshire Playhouse) as an actors' paradise for Mark Rylance and Michael Rudko, who alternated in the roles of the two brothers, and appeared to swap identities, in their mother's California house. Rylance, the previous year's West End Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing, gave what many considered to be a double-headed performance unmatched throughout the year. Tom Courtenay (ES best actor) played a short season at the Garrick as the alcoholic Russian layabout in Moscow Stations, the one-man show imported from the Traverse in Edinburgh.

      Elsewhere in the West End, the Peter Hall Company offered one of the best productions of Georges Feydeau in living memory, An Absolute Turkey starring Felicity Kendal and Griff Rhys Jones (yet another young comedian in transition to the legitimate stage). Hall stuttered with a poorly received revival of Frederick Lonsdale's On Approval but recovered with a strong West End Hamlet in which Stephen Dillane, who made a great impression earlier in the year in the two parts of Tony Kushner's Angels in America (at the RNT), won critical acclaim as an ironic, detached, blackly modern prince of Denmark. Donald Sinden was a gruff and comical Polonius, and Michael Pennington a sepulchral, imposing ghost doubled with a sensual, deceitful Claudius.

      Nicol Williamson returned with a great banging of the drum in his one-man show about John Barrymore, but he received lukewarm notices and poor audiences. Helen Mirren (see BIOGRAPHIES (Mirren, Helen )), another favourite who returned to the London stage too infrequently, scored a great success in Ivan Turgenev's A Month in the Country, paired with John Hurt (also in fine form) in Bill Bryden's bleakly funny production. David Suchet, television's Hercule Poirot, was well received as the drunken comedian Sid Field in a ribald, old-fashioned entertainment called What a Performance! and there was a gripping revival of Patrick Hamilton's Rope. Patricia Hodge, glacial and compelling, led a popular revival of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and survived all comparisons with such distinguished previous incumbents as Vanessa Redgrave (stage), Maggie Smith (film), and Geraldine McEwan (television).

      It was a dire year for the musical theatre. Hot Shoe Shuffle, a feeble tap-dancing cabaret from Australia, came and went. Once on This Island proved a jolly but slight Broadway import with a few good but unoriginal songs. Topol trundled smugly back into the Palladium with a tatty touring version of Fiddler on the Roof. A much-touted Barry Manilow compilation, Copacabana, drew some praise for wholehearted tattiness and lack of pretension, while another compilation, Only the Lonely (which originated at the Liverpool Playhouse), using the songs of Roy Orbison, was sporadically entertaining but dramatically inept. A 40th anniversary production of Sandy Wilson's The Boy Friend emanated on tour from its first home, the Players' in Charing Cross, and proved as delightful as ever.

      The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) maintained a good standard in London and Stratford-upon-Avon, though its metropolitan base was rocked by the unseemly disputes surrounding the allegedly authoritarian rule of the Barbican Centre's managing director, Detta O'Cathain, who vacated her position in mid-November. The Barbican highlights were Robert Stephens' King Lear (the actor struggled heroically through the run, though beset with illness) and The Tempest with Alec McCowen and Simon Russell Beale as Prospero and Ariel. There were two worthwhile events in the Barbican's smaller Pit: Euripides' rarely seen Ion, and New England by American Richard Nelson, a domestic drama following a suicide, with a sharp transatlantic tweak. It was Nelson's sixth play to be presented by the RSC.

      In Stratford-upon-Avon there were two outstanding new pieces in the RSC's third auditorium, The Other Place: Anne Devlin's After Easter, charting a painful and hilarious homecoming to Belfast, and David Edgar's Pentecost, a confrontation with the events of Sarajevo—the action, set in an abandoned Byzantine church, weighed the sacrilegious destruction of a culturally significant mural against the plight of a mixed collection of stateless refugees. On the main Stratford stage, there was a seductively enjoyable Twelfth Night, a robust and nightmarish A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a powerful Measure for Measure, in which 50 supernumeraries swelled the stage for the public confrontation of the hypocritical deputy, Angelo, by the pleading Isabella of Stella Gonet. The production also contained a dark and brooding performance by Toby Stephens as Isabella's condemned brother, Claudio; Stephens (the younger son of Robert Stephens and Maggie Smith) had a fine summer, also playing an energetic Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream and knocking audiences dead in the title role of Coriolanus in the Elizabethan-style Swan Theatre.

      A few miles from Stratford, the Birmingham Rep thrived under the new artistic directorship of former RSC associate Bill Alexander. Alexander's own production of The Tempest was a brave and bold companion in the repertoire to Anthony Clark's revival of Cyril Tourneur's rarely seen The Atheist's Tragedy and Philip Prowse's gloriously costumed and choreographed staging of Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan (which moved into the West End, starring Francesca Annis as the woman with a past). Prowse was equally effective at his home theatre, the Glasgow (Scotland) Citizens', where he directed clever and appealing revivals of Coward's Private Lives and Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore. Rupert Everett played Williams' Flora Goforth (the Tallulah Bankhead role) in glamorous drag, but the character's decline and isolation took on the grim resonance of AIDS-age mortality.

      Manchester was the Arts Council's choice as City of Drama for the year, and the city responded with a full and attractive program. The highlights were undoubtedly the opening of a new venue, the Dancehouse, with the premiere of Theatre de Complicité's The Three Lives of Lucie Cabrol, a brilliant adaptation of a John Berger book, and the British premiere of Peter Brook's The Man Who . . . (L'Homme qui . . .), adapted from Oliver Sacks's neurological case studies, a meditation on pure methods of acting on a bare stage. In nearby Mold, Anthony Hopkins played the title role in Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, which he also filmed for Granada TV. The production transposed the action from Russia to Wales with limited success, but every ticket was sold.

      Brian McMaster's third year in charge of the Edinburgh Festival attracted some of Europe's best directors to Britain: Peter Stein, with his momentous seven-hour production of Aeschylus' Oresteia performed in Russian; Peter Zadek, with his impassioned four-hour Antony and Cleopatra from Berlin; Luc Bondy, with his gorgeous, wordless 90-minute The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, also from Berlin; Robert Lepage (see BIOGRAPHIES (Lepage, Robert )) with his first-draft version of a work-in-progress about Hiroshima, Japan, and photography, The Seven Streams of the River Ota from Montreal; and the new French wunderkind, Stéphane Braunschweig, with his grave and beautiful four-hour The Winter's Tale from Orléans. The splendid new Edinburgh Festival Theatre proved an ideal home for visiting dance and opera companies, and the sight of audiences spilling down the stairs behind the gleaming glass frontage only added to the sense of occasion and excitement.

      For the first time in 30 years, the Abbey Theatre of Dublin performed in Edinburgh. Patrick Mason's production of J.M. Synge's The Well of the Saints proved a strange and potent parable of two blind, married beggars regaining their sight and promptly falling out of love with each other. Curiously, Brian Friel tackled almost the same theme in Molly Sweeney, his touching and poetic new play for the Gate Theatre in Dublin, later seen at the Almeida in London. Friel reverted to the tripartite monologue structure of his earlier The Faith Healer, and though the new play was less impressive, it marked a return to form after the previous year's slightly disappointing Wonderful Tennessee.

      The 35th Dublin Theatre Festival featured The Mai by Marina Carr, a promising new playwright at the Abbey, and a misfired, expanded version of Jim Plunkett's The Risen People, about the Dublin lockouts in 1913 by the Sheridan brothers (playwright Peter and filmmaker Jim) at the Gaiety. Best of all was the visiting Romanian company from Rimnicu Vilcea in Decameron 646, a moving and sensuous distillation of Boccaccio by the outstanding young director Silviu Purcarete. The number in the title indicated the years that had passed since the Black Death in 1348, when Boccaccio's characters decamped to a Tuscan villa to tell each other 100 stories of sexual ingenuity and hilarity.


U.S. and Canada.
       Theatre in the U.S. in 1994 was vital but vexatious, a paradox reflecting Broadway's fading role in the overall picture, particularly in the realm of drama. The concept of Broadway as the national American theatre was fast losing credibility even while drama itself was not. The best dramatic work was being done either off-Broadway or in noncommercial, institutional theatres, whether in New York City or elsewhere. By general consensus the best new play, produced off-Broadway, was Albee's Three Tall Women, a strikingly surreal drama of a woman's life and death as seen through three actresses playing her simultaneously in youth, the middle years, and old age. Beyond the value of the play itself, its success had personal resonances, partly because Albee had become the forgotten man of the American theatre. It had been 30 years since his youthful success with Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and more than a decade since he had introduced a new play in a major theatre. With Three Tall Women, which won a Pulitzer, his reputation was instantly restored.

      Albee's play, having been produced off-Broadway, was not eligible for the Tony, which was instead bestowed on Perestroika, the second half of Kushner's Angels in America. The first half, Millennium Approaches, had won the prize in 1993. By year's end, however, both Kushner plays had closed, and no other new dramas were running on Broadway. Indeed, the only play there was the brilliant British revival of J.B. Priestley's wartime melodrama An Inspector Calls.

      Broadway apparently had lost its core audience of local theatregoers. The tourist audiences who paid its stiff prices (which in 1994 soared to $75) were not interested in mere dramas at such a cost. Thus, there was only the briefest of interest in such worthy new plays as Friel's heartfelt Wonderful Tennessee; Anne Deavere Smith's Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, a brilliant collage about the post-Rodney King race riots; and Miller's perception of Jewish identity, Broken Glass. Indeed, even Neil Simon, the most popular playwright in Broadway history, announced that his next play (London Suite) would be produced off-Broadway. Thus was the death knell sounded for a Broadway dramatic theatre that had once nurtured the likes of O'Neill and Williams. Broadway was left a theatre of musicals.

      At least musicals were popular. From the oldest (Cats) to the newest (Sunset Boulevard), in 1994 they attracted record audiences, despite a virtually unchanging lineup of long-run tourist attractions. The new hits were in that same blockbuster category—Beauty and the Beast, an adaptation of the popular animated Disney movie; Sunset Boulevard, the latest effort from Britain's Andrew Lloyd Webber; and a spectacular revival of the Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II classic, Show Boat. Each of these shows had merit as well as visual muscle, but only Show Boat, as directed by the masterful Harold Prince, had the pulse of living musical theatre.

      The year's only other major new American musical was Stephen Sondheim's Passion, a rhapsodic examination of unending and utter love. As usual with this American artist, the work was artistically uncompromising as well as brilliant, beautiful, and brainy. Sondheim, beginning his fourth creative decade, remained the conscience as well as the genius of the American musical theatre, but despite his perennial winning of Tony awards (Passion was named the year's best musical), his esoteric shows had never been crowd-pleasing entertainments. This show was not able to attract full audiences to even a small theatre and, what was more depressing, Sondheim seemed to be the only regularly productive American writer of musicals.

      The story was different among dead writers. Revivals of American musicals had grown to epidemic proportion in recent years, doubtless because they made money. In 1994 three more became hits—Damn Yankees, Grease!, and, in an innovative British production, Rodgers and Hammerstein's magnificently scored Carousel. Revivals were as important to the theatre as books to libraries, but an art form without new work was dead, and Broadway's producers apparently had lost confidence in their own taste, perhaps frightened by the staggering costs of production (Sunset Boulevard cost $13 million). It seemed safer to bet on an old favourite.

      On the other hand, off-Broadway was alive with productivity during the year. The most significant of the hits was a show called Stomp, which was incomprehensible to nearly everyone except the youthful audiences who flocked to see it. A British import, Stomp was neither a musical, a drama, nor a comedy but 90 minutes with a small group of working-class youths who made rhythmic, percussive noises with a variety of props that ranged from garbage can lids to blocks of wood. What might be dismissed as illiterate noise was in fact an alert about the new languages of youth, languages perhaps inspired by a world of rock videos and computers and languages that had to be listened to. In fascinating contrast, another off-Broadway success was entirely about language, David Ives's four one-act plays entitled All in the Timing. Ranging from a playlet about a young man constantly testing and editing his flirtatious approach with a girl to a sketch about a new language altogether, the quartet was crisp, funny, and brainy. What both Stomp and All in the Timing suggested, different though they were, was that a modern theatre must embrace a wider range of genres than the old categories of musicals, dramas, and comedies.

      Most vigorous of all, not only in New York City but across the United States, was the work in institutional theatres. At the Manhattan Theatre Club, for example, the emphasis was on well-crafted plays with social responsibilities. Terrence McNally seemed to be the resident playwright, providing the organization with A Perfect Ganesh early in the year and later with Love! Valour! Compassion! Both works were keyed to the AIDS crisis, with the first the more artistic. At Lincoln Center Theater, while Carousel was holding forth at the large Vivian Beaumont Theater, a series of exciting new American works were being presented in the studio theatre below (the Mitzi E. Newhouse). The most fascinating of these was Hello Again, written in its entirety (music, lyrics, libretto) by Michael John LaChiusa. This balletlike musical, a variation on Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde, told its interconnecting love stories through songs that were operatic at one moment and ragtime the next and then as danceable as a Cole Porter tune. It was for exactly such work that LaChiusa was considered the most exciting newcomer in U.S. musical theatre.

      Meantime, the Roundabout Theatre solidified its position as New York's hometown repertory theatre. Roundabout followed a sound and yet original formula, seldom venturing among playwrights older than Henrik Ibsen or Shaw but, rather, concentrating on 20th-century works its public would enjoy. Its year of overflow business included excellent productions of Pinter's No Man's Land (with Jason Robards and Christopher Plummer), Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come!, and William Inge's Picnic, as well as a glorious restaging of Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The latter showcased Julie Harris in the performance of her career. U.S. regional theatres likewise seemed to be thriving, but with a safe, standard repertoire of classics. In Cambridge, Mass., for instance, the American Repertory Theatre was doing Shakespeare's Henry IV, Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard, and O'Neill's A Touch of the Poet, while in Houston, Texas, the Alley Theatre was presenting Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, Williams' Orpheus Descending, and Molière's Tartuffe.

      Canada's venerable Stratford (Ont.) Festival, with artistic director Richard Monette, brought back such familiar faces as director Michael Langham; actors Martha Henry, Marti Maraden, Nicholas Pennell, Roberta Maxwell, and Douglas Rain; designer Ming Cho Lee; and composers Louis Applebaum and Stanley Silverman, some of whom were in their third decades at Stratford. In 1994 the festival offered Shakespeare's Hamlet, Twelfth Night, The Comedy of Errors, and Othello along with O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night and Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance. (MARTIN GOTTFRIED)

      See also Dance ; Music .

      This updates the article theatre, history of (theatre, Western).

▪ 1994


Great Britain and Ireland.
      After years of crying wolf, in 1993 the British theatre finally seemed to face the wolf at the door. The theatre was in a parlous state, with closures imminent around the country. Most theatres had large deficits. The Lyric, Hammersmith, a famous auditorium rehoused in a new building in 1979, launched a public appeal for funds to stay open beyond spring 1994. Important repertory theatres in Liverpool, Bristol, and Plymouth were all threatened. The director of the Royal National Theatre (RNT), Richard Eyre, supported a nationwide campaign to protest Arts Council cuts in the subsidized theatre. The British theatre remained a very close-knit society, and feelings ran deep that the government was impervious to its plight.

      The best defense of all was mounted by good work, and the RNT hit the heights with The David Hare Trilogy, a culmination of five years' effort and the high-water mark of Eyre's tenancy. The subjects were the church and the hunger for faith in Racing Demon (1990); the law, prisons, and the reactive instinct for radicalism in Murmuring Judges (1991); and the background of politics and the packaging of socialism in the new piece, The Absence of War. Hare's new play used the events of the 1992 general election in Britain to define the tragedy of George Jones—easily identified in some respects as Neil Kinnock, the defeated Labour leader—who could no longer heave his heart into his mouth. John Thaw was lauded for his magnificent, rasping portrayal of George, an impetuous Cockney bachelor whose political fire is extinguished in a campaign devised to make him seem sober and responsible. The trilogy played to packed houses and great public acclaim, though most critics and some politicians were guarded in their expressions of approval.

      Just as popular, and with a more predictably appreciative critical response, Tom Stoppard returned to top form with Arcadia, another big hit for the National. Stoppard's play was a fireworks display of coincidence and collision in a 19th-century Derbyshire country house, involving Byron, landscape gardening, and romantic love. The acting of Felicity Kendal, Rufus Sewell, Harriet Walter, and Bill Nighy was inspired in Trevor Nunn's fine direction. Arcadia was voted best play in the Evening Standard (ES) Awards.

      The National's other big successes were Nicholas Hytner's revival of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's Carousel, which moved to the West End at the end of the year; an irresistible production by John Caird of Sir Arthur Pinero's Trelawny of the Wells; a definitive production by Declan Donnellan of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd, which moved from the Cottesloe auditorium to the larger Lyttelton; and a sensational British premiere, directed by Stephen Daldry, of Sophie Treadwell's 1928 Expressionist drama Machinal, in which Fiona Shaw (ES best actress) triumphed as a suppressed and murderous stenographer.

      The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) in Stratford-upon-Avon and London responded with sellout seasons of Kenneth Branagh (see BIOGRAPHIES (Branagh, Kenneth, and Thompson, Emma )) as an intensely romantic and royal Hamlet, Robert Stephens as a titanic, emotionally overwhelming King Lear, and Alec McCowen as a well-received Prospero in The Tempest. In the RSC's Barbican, Antony Sher laid a strong claim to be the actor of the year in both Tamburlaine (from the 1992 Stratford season) and as Henry Carr in the athletic, surreal revival by Adrian Noble of Stoppard's Travesties.

      The new plays policy of the RSC was less successful. In London there was a misfired collaboration between the American Richard Nelson and the Moscow Art Theatre of Misha's Party, and in Stratford, McCowen played Edward Elgar in David Pownall's Rondo, a piece that aimed to uncover the dark side of the composer in the manner of Peter Shaffer's Amadeus but failed.

      There was another King Lear at the Royal Court, with Tom Wilkinson and a brilliant Fool (Andy Serkis), whose mysterious demise was explained by political marginalization; his vision of perfidious Albion expressed itself in subversive sloganeering, and the poor fool was hanged, for once, because he had fallen foul of a state over which Lear had ceded control. This was seen by many as an ingenious and original solution to the chief problem of the play. Images of refugeeism, inspired by the tragic events in former Yugoslavia, were pointedly incorporated.

      Another outstanding Shakespearean performance was given in the West End by Mark Rylance as Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing at the Queen's, directed by the notable new director and designer team of Matthew Warchus and Neil Warmington. Rylance's Benedick was a humourless Belfast Protestant, and Janet McTeer presented an unusually physical and contemporary Beatrice.

      The box-office jackpot was hit by Maggie Smith, at last reclaiming Lady Bracknell from the memories of Edith Evans in a faithful revival of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Aldwych. Smith provided a whirlwind performance in dove-grey silk, armour-plated in a carapace of social pretension and defensiveness that swung her round immediately to the suitability of Cecily (Claire Skinner) as a match for Algernon (Richard E. Grant) when the girl's wealth became known.

      The musical theatre came down to a straight contest between the Broadway hit City of Angels and Andrew Lloyd Webber's new blockbuster, Sunset Boulevard, with book and lyrics by Christopher Hampton and Don Black. Although Sunset did not show signs of being as big a hit as Phantom of the Opera or Cats, it was a solid achievement with spectacular designs by John Napier to match the spectacular performances of Patti LuPone and Kevin Anderson in the old Gloria Swanson and William Holden cinema roles. Nunn's Sunset production was compared unfavourably by most critics with Michael Blakemore's work on City of Angels, which won the ES best musical award but failed to attract any significant public interest. No one disputed City's wit or intelligence, and the lyrics of David Zippel, in particular, were justly noted.

      The Savoy Theatre reopened after the fire of 1990 with a completely refurbished interior that gloriously re-created the silver-liner, Art Deco luxuriance of the 1929 Basil Ionides design. The first residents were the English National Ballet, followed by the one-sided world chess championship between Gary Kasparov and Nigel Short and a lacklustre revival of Noël Coward's 1951 Relative Values, an indifferent comedy, with Susan Hampshire.

      American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, who devoted more than 20 years to rebuilding Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, died in December just months after the project's first stage was unveiled. Wanamaker had founded the Globe Playhouse Trust in 1971 to raise money for the reconstruction, which was scheduled to be completed in 1995.

      Two regular West End heavyweights scored in 1993: Peter Shaffer and Alan Ayckbourn. Shaffer's The Gift of the Gorgon dealt with terrorism and passion in an adventurous fusion of classical terminology and current despair. Judi Dench was the fraught widow of a dead, disappointed playwright (Michael Pennington in flashback) whose son mediated their anguish in the form of a biographical quest. It was Shaffer's most moving play since Amadeus. Ayckbourn's Time of My Life centred on a family birthday party in three different time zones and was likewise his best play for some time. It was expertly acted by Gwen Taylor and Anton Rodgers, though it fell victim to summertime indifference and the retreat from the West End of anything like a predictable or reliable audience.

      The audience for new work was otherwise healthy at the Royal Court, at the National, and on the fringe. Martin Crimp's The Treatment and Terry Johnson's Hysteria were both intelligent, skillful new pieces at the Court from the post-Hare generation of playwrights. In the first, fiction and reality clashed in the media world of "facilitators" in New York City's TriBeCa district; in the second, Sigmund Freud and Salvador Dalí were enmeshed in a Stoppardian fracas with the daughter of one of Freud's patients. Ken Campbell's Jamais Vu (ES best comedy) at the RNT, Riverside Studios, and Vaudeville completed a trilogy by the storytelling genius, which had become a classic of imaginative fantasy and inspired comedy.

      Mike Leigh's It's a Great Big Shame! at Joan Littlewood's old haunt in Stratford East, an unusual domestic drama set in two different centuries, made a big impression and offered an alternative view of sexual violence to that promulgated in Leigh's brilliant new film, Naked. The Gate in Notting Hill was refurbished and relaunched with Valle-Inclan's Bohemian Lights, in which the action was moved backward from Madrid in 1920 to Dublin on the eve of the Easter Rising in 1915.

      The Gate's preeminence on the fringe was shared by the Almeida in Islington, which initiated acclaimed productions of Terence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea; Aleksandr Griboyedev's Chatsky, brilliantly translated by Anthony Burgess (see OBITUARIES (Burgess, Anthony )); Thomas Bernhard's The Showman, starring Alan Bates; and the world premiere of Harold Pinter's Moonlight, his first "full-length" (75 minutes) play in many years. This last, a nocturnal idyll in which a retired civil servant, dying in bed, is attended by his wife, haunted by the ghost of his daughter, and spurned by his two sons, gave a tremendous opportunity to Ian Holm, who returned in glory to the stage (ES best actor). The Rattigan and Pinter plays transferred to the West End.

      In the regions the impetus was maintained at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds, the Birmingham Rep, the Glasgow (Scotland) Citizens (where Rupert Everett appeared in Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, released by director Philip Prowse into AIDS-age pertinence), the Salisbury Playhouse, and the Leicester Haymarket. Manchester was scheduled to be the Arts Council's City of Drama in 1994, and the Royal Exchange boasted visits from Vanessa Redgrave and Tom Courtenay in new plays by Mikhail Shatrov and Ronald Harwood.

      The Abbey Theatre in Dublin replaced its controversial artistic director, Garry Hynes, with Patrick Mason, who directed Brian Friel's 1990 hit, Dancing at Lughnasa, and Friel's new, less-successful Wonderful Tennessee. A pall was cast over the Dublin Festival by the death of Cyril Cusack (see OBITUARIES (Cusack, Cyril James )), but one of his daughters, Niamh Cusack, triumphed in A Doll's House at the Gate. Garry Hynes bid farewell to the Abbey with a fierce and poetical revival of Tom Murphy's 1968 Famine. Other Irish plays that made an impression were Vincent Woods's At the Black Pig's Dyke and Bill Morrison's Love Song for Ulster trilogy, both seen at the Tricycle in Kilburn, north London.

      The second Edinburgh Festival of director Brian McMaster was one of the strongest for drama in living memory. The Deutsches Theatre of Berlin took its severe, brilliantly acted production of Heinrich von Kleist's The Broken Jug. But the real impact was made by the star U.S. directors: Robert Wilson with his German student company in Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights and Peter Sellars with his Gulf war update of Aeschylus' The Persians. In addition, Peter Stein took his tumultuous Salzburg Festival production of Julius Caesar (with 200 extras) to an exhibition hall near Edinburgh's airport, and Robert Lepage stunned music and drama critics alike with his Canadian Opera Company versions of Bela Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle and Arnold Schoenberg's Erwartung.

      Lepage returned to Britain with his Theatre Répère, Québec, production of Coriolan (Coriolanus), seen at the Nottingham Playhouse as part of that theatre's 30th anniversary. The theatre had opened on Dec. 11, 1963, with Tyrone Guthrie's production of the same play, starring John Neville, Leo McKern, and Ian McKellen.

      Much was made of the fact that the British theatre as a whole depended on just such events in the regions to feed the national theatre. In accepting the ES best director award for Tamburlaine, Terry Hands, the former artistic director of the RSC who began his career at the Liverpool Everyman, warned politicians and the Arts Council that flagship companies like the RSC and the RNT would not be flagships for much longer if economic cuts killed off the fleet.

Belgium and France.
      Belgium registered a difficult year as the national debt topped $350 billion, the government resigned, and the king died, but Antwerp was still the cultural capital of Europe for 1993. In the year that European frontiers were abolished, the idealism of the Maastricht Treaty was mocked by the destruction of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and by the rise of the nationalist right all over the continent. The premiere of Sarajevo in Antwerp's magnificently restored Bourla Theatre, therefore, had a special poignancy.

      Sarajevo was a tapestry of a former city in a former country, conceived by the director Haris Pasovic and coproduced in Stockholm, Antwerp, and Hamburg, Germany. In a walled, partially tiled corrida reminiscent of the set for Ariane Mnouchkine's Les Atrides, an architectural student sought the "silver soul" of Sarajevo. There was no onstage representation of violence, nothing even to compare with the documentary evidence of rape and abuse that appeared throughout the year in print and on television. Goran Stefanovski's text veered between the banal and the sporadically moving; it was really just an outline, or a series of hints. Precious principles of coexistence were represented by Sufi clowns, Turkish outlaws, anarchists, priests of four religions, and even 1984 Winter Olympians, as well as a postman, a fireman, a taxi driver, a soldier, and a journalist. The airport (and the sky) was closed for lovers wanting to escape. A Bosnian casserole recipe ended in tears. A cellist was raped by her neighbour. The performance was revealed as the dream of a wounded girl.

      The Parisian theatre was electrified by Matthias Langhoff's revival of Eugene O'Neill's 1924 Desire Under the Elms at Nanterre Amandiers. Langhoff described his production as "un film sur scene," deliberately mixing realism with artifice. Langhoff's unconventional set design was a fully inhabited hillocky warren sealed in a transparent cylindrical gauze, plowed by a real horse, populated with two real cows and several chickens, and serviced by a practical water pump under an audience-encircling sky flecked with blood-red clouds.

      O'Neill's stage directions, which describe everything from the "sinister maternity" of the two large elms to the wall-melting sexual intensity between Ephraim Cabot's youngest son, Eben, and Cabot's new wife, Abbie, were delivered on tape by the gravelly, authoritative voice of Alain Cuny. Meanwhile, Françoise Morvan's text recast O'Neill's stilted Irish American in a coarse, often impenetrable, Breton patois (the show was a coproduction with the Théâtre National de Bretagne at Rennes). Overall, Langhoff made a poetic and flattering production of an interesting but difficult play. (MICHAEL COVENEY)

U.S. and Canada.
      The devastation that AIDS continued to inflict on the United States generally, and in the theatre world in particular, was reflected by the plays that dominated not only Broadway and off-Broadway but also U.S. regional theatres in 1993. Thus, the stage year was realistic and reflective, in contrast to the hyperactive, star-studded, and ultimately unproductive previous year.

      All of this was reflected in Broadway's most acclaimed play, Millennium Approaches, which marked as spectacular a New York debut of any American playwright as could be recalled. Moreover, it was only the first part of a seven-hour, two-play cycle called Angels in America. The work by Tony Kushner (see BIOGRAPHIES (Kushner, Tony )) was a drama about nothing less than a perceived crisis in American life. With AIDS as its central metaphor, Angels in America, subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, mixed characters as diverse as middle American conservatives, East Coast liberals, and Roy Cohn—the power broker and lawyer who castigated homosexuals even as he lay dying of AIDS. A sprawling work in alternating naturalistic and surreal scenes, Millennium Approaches had its premiere in San Francisco in 1991 and was then produced in London before being granted a commercial New York showing. That was all because of the chilly Broadway attitude toward adventurous drama.

      After winning most of the year's prizes, Millennium Approaches was joined, in alternating performances with the same cast, by the acclaimed second part, Perestroika. This was an even better play, more cohesive than the first. The characters that had been established in Millennium Approaches began to intertwine in dreamlike scenes of accumulating power. The Kentucky Cycle, which won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize, reached Broadway in November. The six-hour, two-part epic of American history starred Stacy Keach in four different roles.

      Alongside these, the season's other plays were an ordinary lot, although the popular The Sisters Rosensweig (with Jane Alexander and Madeline Kahn) projected a contemporary sensibility by deftly mixing the funny and the serious-minded. It had been a long time since a woman playwright had achieved such status as Wendy Wasserstein, whose earlier The Heidi Chronicles won many of the prizes in 1989. Late in the season Alexander left the play to take over as director of the National Endowment for the Arts amid general expressions of acclaim for Pres. Bill Clinton's choice.

      As for the traditional, Broadway-style comedy, it had virtually disappeared, the exception being the annual Neil Simon entry. His 1993 model, Laughter on the 23rd Floor, was a reminiscence of a youth well spent as a writer on the legendary team— including Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, and Carl Reiner—that wrote the Sid Caesar television shows in the 1950s. Although this was less a play than two and a half hours of gags, there was also no mistaking the old-fashioned style of the play. In March, Simon converted his charming movie The Goodbye Girl into a charmless musical (lyrics by David Zippel, music by Marvin Hamlisch). Despite its attractive stars, Bernadette Peters and Martin Short, it was a lacklustre version of the kind of musical comedies that had had their day. It was Simon's first musical failure, after such successes as Sweet Charity and Promises, Promises.

      In the 1990s, however, hit musicals needed to be more contemporary in style, and the year brought no blockbuster examples. Tommy, based on the 1969 rock album by The Who, looked flashy enough to be an MTV video, but despite some breathless reviews, the show was perhaps too much like a video to do sell-out business with audiences who preferred the theatre's human qualities. In fact, The Kiss of the Spider Woman came as close to a smash hit as the season got. It won the Tony award for Best Musical, as well as acting awards for Canadian actor Brent Carver and perennial Broadway favourite Chita Rivera. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Rivera, Chita ).) That was remarkable for a musical about homosexuals and revolutionaries in and out of a Latin-American prison.

      The New York Times complained that Martin Starger's production The Red Shoes, which opened on December 16 at the Gershwin Theatre with nearly $8 million in investments, was "looking pretty and going no place slowly." Actually, it went no place quickly, closing on the 19th, one of the costliest Broadway failures ever.

      The New York theatre was ever hungry for not a mere hit musical but a smash hit like Phantom of the Opera or Les Misérables. First, all eyes were turned east to London for the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest, Sunset Boulevard. Then eyes turned westward to the Los Angeles stage, where the Lloyd Webber show, with actress Glenn Close starring and winning raves, began its journey to Broadway (scheduled to arrive in late 1994).

      Following the trend of recent years, New York's institutional theatres took up the dramatic slack—not the old institutions, such as Lincoln Center, the Circle in the Square, and the Joseph Papp Public Theater, but the younger set, including the Manhattan Theatre Club and the Roundabout Theatre. While the former specialized in new plays, such as Terrence McNally's unique The Perfect Ganesh (another AIDS-related play), Roundabout grasped the public taste in revivals with spirited productions of Eugene O'Neill's Anna Christie with Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson and the musical She Loves Me. The Manhattan Theatre Club staged the premiere of Arthur Miller's latest, The Last Yankee, simultaneously with the Young Vic in London.

      Tony Randall's beleaguered National Actors Theatre finally won a modicum of credibility with Shakespeare's Timon of Athens. Some years earlier director Michael Langham had mounted it beautifully for the Stratford (Ont.) Festival. He virtually replicated that production for Randall's company, using the same Duke Ellington music he had then commissioned. With Brian Bedford giving the performance of a career as Timon, the National Actors Theatre at last won critical praise.

      The lights were dimmed on Broadway in March when Helen Hayes, first lady of the American theatre, died at age 92. (See OBITUARIES (Hayes, Helen ).)

      Off-Broadway, like Broadway, was reflecting the devastating effect that AIDS had had on the theatre. Jeffrey, by Paul Rudnick, was about the dilemma faced by a homosexual who was attracted to a man infected with the virus. By setting this situation in the form of a comedy, the playwright achieved a cutting, ironic, and life-affirming tone.

      The regional theatres remained cautious despite the change in national politics, as if dubious about a reversal of decades of artistic inhibition and subsidy cutbacks. American artists were definitely the rule, and in Washington, D.C., Arena Stage set the example, with a schedule dominated by such national favourites as Tennessee Williams, George Gershwin, and Thornton Wilder. However, in theatres from Providence, R.I., to San Francisco, there seemed to be a healthy stretching toward the brighter, more contemporary American playwrights, such as McNally (Lips Together, Teeth Apart), David Mamet (Speed-the-Plow), and Jon Robin Baitz (Three Hotels). Chicago remained a beehive of theatre activity, with a dozen or so theatres, from the established Goodman to innovative smaller institutions such as the Remains Theater and Interplay.

      Across the northern border, the subsidy situation was not much better. The Stratford Festival remained the pride of Canada and the only world-class repertory theatre on the continent. Nonetheless, even though government aid to the arts was a part of the Canadian culture, the cutbacks at Stratford were severe. Between that and, perhaps, a weariness with Shakespeare after four decades of specializing in his work, the festival was diversifying its fare. Thus, while the "Shakespeare" had been taken out of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, there still was Shakespeare at Stratford. In 1993 there were productions on the main (Festival Theatre) stage of Antony and Cleopatra, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and King John. But The Importance of Being Earnest and the Broadway musical Gypsy were also mounted on that stage. (MARTIN GOTTFRIED)

      See also Dance ; Music .

      This updates the article theatre, history of (theatre, Western).

* * *

also spelled  theater 

      in dramatic (dramatic literature) arts, an art concerned almost exclusively with live performances in which the action is precisely planned to create a coherent and significant sense of drama.

      Though the word theatre is derived from the Greek theaomai, “to see,” the performance itself may appeal either to the ear or to the eye, as is suggested by the interchangeability of the terms spectator (which derives from words meaning “to view”) and audience (which derives from words meaning “to hear”). Sometimes the appeal is strongly intellectual, as in William Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William)'s Hamlet, but the intellectual element in itself is no assurance of good theatre. A good performance of Hamlet, for example, is extremely difficult to achieve, and a poor one is much less rewarding than a brilliant presentation of a farce. Moreover, a good Hamlet makes demands on the spectator that may be greater than what that spectator is prepared to put forward, while the farce may be enjoyed in a condition of comparative relaxation. The full participation of the spectator is a vital element in theatre.

      There is a widespread misconception that the art of theatre can be discussed solely in terms of the intellectual content of the script. Theatre is not essentially a literary art, though it has been so taught in some universities and schools. For many years the works of the Greek dramatists, Shakespeare, and other significant writers such as Friedrich von Schiller (Schiller, Friedrich von) were more likely to be studied than performed in their entirety. The literary side of a theatrical production works most effectively when it is subordinated to the histrionic. The strongest impact on the audience is made by acting, singing, and dancing, followed by spectacle—the background against which those activities take place. Later, on reflection, the spectator may find that the meaning of the text has made the more enduring impression, but more often the literary merit of the script, or its “message,” is a comparatively minor element.

      Yet it is often assumed that the theatrical experience can be assimilated by reading the text of a play. In part, this is a result of the influence of theatrical critics (art criticism), who, as writers, tend to have a literary orientation. Their influence is magnified by the fact that it is difficult to make serious theatre widely available; for each person who sees an important production in a theatre, thousands of others will know it only through the notices of critics. While reviewers in the mainstream press may give greater credence to such elements as acting and dancing, critics in the more serious journals may be more interested in textual and thematic values. Such influences vary from country to country, of course. In New York City a critic for one newspaper, such as The New York Times, may determine the fate and historical record of a production, assuring it a successful run or forcing it to close overnight. In London, however, audiences have notoriously resisted the will of the critics.

      This is not to say that the contribution of the author to the theatrical experience is unimportant. The script of a play is the basic element of theatrical performance. In the case of many masterpieces it is the most important element. But even these dramatic masterpieces demand the creative cooperation of artists other than the author. The dramatic script, like an operatic score or the scenario of a ballet, is no more than the raw material from which the performance is created. The actors, rather than merely reflecting a creation that has already been fully expressed in the script, give body, voice, and imagination to what was only a shadowy indication in the text. The text of a play is as vague and incomplete in relation to a fully realized performance as is a musical score to a concert. The Hamlets of two great actors probably differ more than two virtuoso renditions of Johann Sebastian Bach's Goldberg Variations possibly can. In general, the truly memorable theatrical experience is one in which the various elements of performance are brought into a purposeful harmony. It is a performance in which the text has revealed its meanings and intentions through skillful acting in an environment designed with the appropriate measure of beauty or visual impact.

      This article contains a treatment of the art of theatre in the most general terms, an attempt to illuminate what it is and why it has been regarded as a fundamental human activity throughout history. An extensive treatment of the elements of theatre can be found in theatrical production. For the relationship of theatre to music and dance, see theatre music, opera, and dance. For historical treatment of Western theatre, see Western theatre (theatre, Western). The theatrical traditions of other cultures of the world are considered in articles such as African theatre (theatre, African), East Asian arts (arts, East Asian), Islamic arts, South Asian arts, and Southeast Asian arts. For a general survey of dramatic literature and its tragic and comic forms, see dramatic literature. Dramatic literature is also treated in articles on the literatures of particular languages, nations, or regions—e.g., African literature, Belgian literature, English literature, French literature, German literature, Russian literature, and so on.

General considerations
      Exactly how the theatre came into being is not known. While it is indisputable that the traditions born in ancient Athens have dominated Western theatre and the theories of Western drama up to the present, it is impossible to state with certainty what the theatre was like even a few years before the appearance of Aeschylus's earliest extant play, Persians (472 BCE). Legend attributes the invention of the dithyramb, the lyrical ancestor of tragedy, to the poet Arion of Lesbos in the 7th or 6th century BCE, but it was not until the creation of the Great Dionysia in Athens in 534 that tragic drama established itself. The Dionysiac festivals were held in honour of Dionysus, a god concerned with fertility, wine, and prophecy. Dionysiac celebrations, held in the spring, were traditionally occasions for frenzy, sexual license, and ecstatic behaviour welcoming the return of fertility to the land after the winter (reflected dramatically in the Bacchants by Euripides). The Great Dionysia was a more formal affair, with its competition in tragedy, but its religious purpose is often cited as a pointer to the origin of drama itself.

      In the theories that see drama as a development from primitive religious rites (ritual), the dramatist is often described as a descendant of the priest. Theatrical representation could have arisen first from the substitution of an animal for a human sacrifice, say, a goat for a virgin or a young warrior. In time, the formula of the sacrifice might have been enacted ritualistically without the actual sacrifice of the animal. (The word tragedy is descended from the Greek tragōidia, meaning “song of the goats.”)

      Considered in such a way, the most famous of Greek tragedies, Oedipus the King by Sophocles, can be seen as a formalistic representation of human sacrifice. Oedipus becomes a dramatic embodiment of guilt; his blinding and agony are necessary for the good of all Thebes, because it was by killing his father and marrying his mother that he first brought the gods' curse upon his people. Aristotle felt that the representation on stage of Oedipus's suffering was a means of catharsis—vicarious purgation or cleansing—for the spectators.

      However, other explanations for the origin of drama have been offered. mimesis, the artistic representation or imitation of an event, has been discerned in such rituals as war dances, which are intended to frighten the enemy and instill courage into the hearts of the participants. These dances may imitate the action of battle itself, or at least the way in which the participants hope to see the battle develop.

      The origins of drama have also been attributed to simple storytelling, as when the storyteller adopts a false voice or adds characterization through movement and costume. In such terms, the art of theatre could be described at its most fundamental as the presence of an actor before an audience.

      Whatever the primary motivation, the first systematic elaboration of theatre can be seen through the work of the Greek playwrights of 5th-century-BCE Athens. Aeschylus apparently inherited a form that consisted of a single actor responding to or leading a chorus. His innovation is generally considered to have been the use of a second actor, and it was either Aeschylus or Sophocles who added a third actor as they competed each year for prizes in the Great Dionysia. Once a third actor appeared, the chorus gradually declined, and it was the multiplying individual characters who assumed importance. In this way, ancient Greece left to posterity a measure of specialization among theatrical performers.

      Beyond these formal elements, however, Classical drama offers a pattern of development that has been reenacted continually in other cultures throughout history. The rapid rise and decline of drama in ancient Athens paralleled the rise and decline of Athenian civilization itself. Great periods of achievement in theatre have tended to coincide with periods of national expansion and achievement, as in Elizabethan England. Conversely, periods of excessive materialism, such as those during which ancient Greece or ancient Rome declined, tend to produce theatre in which ostentation, spectacle, and vulgarity predominate.

      Probably more than in other arts, each theatrical style represents an amalgamation of diverse heritages. Greek theatre has long had the most direct influence on Western culture, but in the late 20th century Balinese and Japanese arts were frequently adapted in the West. Chinese and Indian theatrical practices have had wide influence in Asia. A fundamental difference between borrowings from Greek theatre and borrowings from Asian traditions is that the techniques of Greek performance have not been handed down with the texts. Most of what is known about the actual performance of Greek plays is the result of scholarly and archaeological research. Information about the nature of the music and of choral dances, for example, is very skimpy.

 In Asian theatre, on the other hand, techniques as well as texts have survived. For example, the Noh theatre of Japan has been handed down through families of performers with few changes for hundreds of years. In addition to the instructions for performers contained in India's Natya-shastra (Nāṭya-śāstra), there is a major descriptive treatise on music, giving guidance on musical techniques. The Natya-shastra, which may be as old as Aristotle's Poetics (4th century BCE), is a book with very specific injunctions to performers, including dancers. Some of its techniques may be found in surviving theatre forms such as the Indian kathakali (kathākali) dance. In turn, some of these techniques were assimilated during the second half of the 20th century by such Western directors as Jerzy Grotowski (Grotowski, Jerzy), Peter Brook (Brook, Peter), and Eugenio Barba. Other writers and directors created new relationships between Eastern and Western theatre by consciously exploiting techniques and traditions from such forms as Kabuki and Noh.

      There is little doubt that the Greek theatre—and especially the study of its literature—has provided Western theatre with a sense of continuity in stories, themes, and formal styles. The plays themselves are regularly revived, with discernible references to specifically modern concerns. It is also notable that the Greek theatre has served as a model for a wide range of great writers, from Jean Racine (Racine, Jean) and Pierre Corneille (Corneille, Pierre) in 17th-century France to Eugene O'Neill (O'Neill, Eugene) in the United States during the 20th century. When Arthur Miller (Miller, Arthur)'s Death of a Salesman (1949) touched its audiences with awe and pity in the manner of Aristotle's prescriptions, critics debated whether the play could be genuinely tragic in the Greek sense, given that it had no nobler a protagonist than the salesman Willy Loman.

Theatre as expression

mimesis in theatre
      The art of the theatre is essentially one of make-believe, or mimesis. In this respect it differs from music, which seldom attempts to imitate “real” sounds—except in so-called program music, such as Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, which suggests the sounds of a battle. In this respect the art of narrative in literature is much closer to that of the theatre. In a story, considerable attention must be paid to plausibility. Even if the story is not intended to be believed as having actually happened, plausibility is essential if the story is to hold the auditor's attention. The principal factor in plausibility is not precise correspondence with known facts but inner consistency in the story itself.

      Drama also requires plausibility, but in drama it must be conveyed not by a narrator but by the actors (acting)' ability to make the audience “believe in” their speech, movement, thoughts, and feelings. This plausibility is based on the connection between the impression made by the actors and the preconceptions of the auditors. If the character Hamlet is to be plausible, the actor must make an audience believe that Hamlet could conceivably be as he is presented. This does not mean that the actor must make the audience believe that he (or she) literally is Hamlet, merely that he is plausibly and consistently making-believe to be Hamlet. The aim of a performance is not to persuade spectators that a palpable fiction is fact, that they are “really” there, out on those bitterly cold battlements of Hamlet's castle at Elsinore. Indeed, they are far freer to appreciate the play and to think about it if they are not “really” present. Knowing all the time that it is a figment, they are willing to enter into the make-believe, to be transported, if it is sufficiently convincing. Yet they know that, however thrilling or pleasurable the rapture, it may be shattered at any moment by some ineptitude or mistake on the stage or by a coughing neighbour in the audience.

 That is the basic rule, or convention, of the make-believe of the theatre. The actor breaks the basic rule of the game if he forgets his words, or laughs at private jokes, or is simply incompetent, or is unsuited to his part. No modern audience can accept a vulgar, lumpish, elderly Hamlet, because Hamlet is a young prince whose lines are consistently thoughtful and witty. Yet it is not necessary that the actor playing Hamlet should “really” be all these things; he need only give the impression of being princely, witty, elegant, and young enough to sustain the credulity of the people sharing the make-believe. That credulity can extend a considerable way; the actress Sarah Bernhardt (Bernhardt, Sarah) played Hamlet several times in her old age.

      Thus, in every performance there must be realism in some degree. At certain epochs and in certain kinds of plays, the aim has been to be as realistic as possible. But even the most realistic production (e.g., Anton Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton)'s play The Cherry Orchard as first produced by Konstantin Stanislavsky (Stanislavsky, Konstantin Sergeyevich) at the Moscow Art Theatre in 1904) made immense concessions to theatrical artifice. Conversation in real life often leads nowhere; it is full of inconclusive, meaningless, boring passages. It does not necessarily attempt, as every word in Chekhov's play must, to fit into a story, to be part of the expression of a theme, or to introduce and reveal a group of characters.

      Though most commercial, light comedies continue to be written and acted realistically, realistic theatre fell out of fashion in the first half of the 20th century in response to a host of avant-garde theatrical experiments and the advent of motion pictures (motion picture). Just as realistic painting declined when photographs began to achieve similar effects mechanically, so did staging that attempted to reproduce the actual world in every detail lose artistic status when such effects became commonplace in films.

      Even before the introduction of motion pictures, the theatre was moving toward extravagantly nonrealistic theatrical effects, from the puppet-inspired theatre of Alfred Jarry (Jarry, Alfred), author of Ubu roi (1896; “King Ubu”), to the Symbolist (Symbolist movement) dramas of Maurice Maeterlinck (Maeterlinck, Maurice), the concept of the Übermarionette (“Superior Puppet”) developed by Edward Gordon Craig (Craig, Edward Gordon), and theatrical Surrealism. The most unrealistic productions, however, inevitably retained certain realistic features; the actors still had to be human, no matter how fantastic the script and settings might be.

Theatre as social expression
      In different contexts, various aspects of humanity have seemed important and have therefore been stressed in Western theatrical representation. Much Renaissance drama, for instance, emphasized the individuality of each character, while in later 17th-century theatre, which was much more restricted in its philosophy and in its setting, a character was presented not as a creature who occupied a unique place and status in the universe but rather as someone adapted to and determined by the quite limited environment of 17th-century society. The greatness of the Elizabethan theatre was the universality of its outlook and the breadth of its appeal. Since the latter part of the 17th century, the art of the theatre has been concerned with smaller themes and has aimed at a smaller section of society.

      From the 17th through the 18th century, the theatre's leading characters were almost exclusively persons of breeding and position; the “lower classes (social class)” appeared as servants and dependents, mostly presented in low comedy. Rustics were almost automatically ridiculous, although sometimes their simplicity might be endearing or pathetic. The 17th-century plays of Molière are a good deal more egalitarian than English plays of similar date or even of a century later; but even Molière never allowed the audience to forget that his plays were about, and for, persons of high station. A very clear line is drawn between employers and employed in these plays, and the latter, though often more intelligent, never seem to belong to even the same species as the former. However, such English plays as John Gay (Gay, John)'s The Beggar's Opera (1728) and George Lillo (Lillo, George)'s The London Merchant; or, The History of George Barnwell (1731) were influential and theatrical successes that stood out against the norm.

      By the early 19th century, European theatre had become at least as much a middle-class as an aristocratic entertainment. Nevertheless, it was still thought important, especially in London, that the actors suggest gentility. George Bernard Shaw (Shaw, George Bernard), in Our Theatres in the Nineties (1932), remarked that, to be employed in a good production, it was far less important that a young actor be talented than that he speak “well” and be beautifully dressed. The plays that succeeded throughout Europe were plays about men and women of good social position, and the plots were concerned with some infringement, usually sexual, of the genteel code of behaviour; The Second Mrs. Tanqueray (1893) by Arthur Wing Pinero (Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing) is an example. The melodrama that dominated 19th-century European (and especially British) theatre championed the values of the middle class. However, the new literary drama of Henrik Ibsen (Ibsen, Henrik) that emerged during the second half of the century challenged those values.

      After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Soviet (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) theatre broke with gentility. The heroes and heroines of Soviet theatre were muscular, idealistic workers. In western Europe, however, gentility continued in the 1920s and '30s to be the dominant aim of the fashionable theatre. In New York City it received a setback at the time of the Great Depression of the 1930s. At a famous series of productions at the Group Theatre, the director Harold Clurman (Clurman, Harold) was in conscious revolt against the oppressive bourgeois gentility of the day. The Group Theatre was not spectacularly successful, however, and it stayed in existence for no more than a few years.

      In Europe after World War II, the theatre made more-concerted efforts to reflect and to interest a wider section of society. By that time, however, audiences at all levels had lost the habit of theatregoing and were fast losing the habit of moviegoing, as television was becoming the popular medium of drama—indeed, of all entertainment. Theatre began to be directed not to any one class in society or to any one income group but rather to anyone who was prepared for the energetic collaboration in the creative act that the art demands. By the end of the 20th century, the emergence of digital technologies that enabled the use of high-quality recorded video and sound in theatres had sparked a debate over the “liveness” of theatre and whether the nature of theatre itself had become fundamentally altered by these technologies.

Elements of theatre

The theatrical hierarchy
      Theatrical art demands the collaboration of the actors with one another, with a director, with the various technical workers upon whom they depend for costumes, scenery, and lighting, and with the businesspeople who finance, organize, advertise, and sell the product.

      Collaboration among so many types of personnel presupposes a system that divides duties. In the commercial theatre the most powerful person is usually the producer, who is responsible for acquiring the investment that finances the production. The rehearsal of the play is conducted by the director (directing), who is responsible for interpreting the script, for casting, and for helping to determine the design of the scenery and costumes. Under the director's general direction, a stage manager, possibly with several assistants, looks after the organization of rehearsal and the technical elements of the performance—light and curtain cues, properties, sound effects, and so on.

      Naturally, the hierarchy varies somewhat in different circumstances. In the state-subsidized Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, for example, the apex of the pyramid has traditionally been occupied by an artistic director, who is more concerned with guiding the policy of the theatre than with details of administration or the preparation of any single production—though the artistic director may, of course, also assume responsibility for the preparation of a number of productions. In regional theatres, implementation of artistic policy may be subordinate to a board of directors that is ultimately responsible for overseeing costs.

      The dominant expression—so far as the audience can tell—is nearly always that of the actor. It may therefore be wondered why theatres are no longer dominated by the actor-manager system, as they were during the 19th century in Europe and the United States. In London, for example, Sir Henry Irving (Irving, Sir Henry) managed the Lyceum (Lyceum Theatre) for 21 years (1878–99) as its artistic director, administrator, producer-director, and leading actor. After Irving's day, theatrical business became infinitely more costly and complicated. Budgets in Irving's time were only a fraction of what they are today. A single Broadway musical can now cost many millions of dollars, while the running costs of organizations such as the Royal Shakespeare Company are tens of millions of pounds each year. In addition, negotiations with trade unions make oversight of a theatre significantly more complicated.

      Although the leading actor seems to dominate a performance completely, that actor is often only a mouthpiece: the words spoken so splendidly were written by someone else; the tailor and wigmaker must take some credit for the actor's appearance; and that the actor should play the part at all was usually the idea of a producer or director.

      Even before the actors assemble for the first rehearsal, the producer, director, designer, and—if available—the author have conferred on many important decisions, such as the casting and the design of scenery and clothes. In the commercial theatre, the capacity of the theatre that is selected and the anticipated number of the show's performances determine the budget and therefore the scale of the production. (Different considerations affect the planning of programs in the subsidized theatre, including responsibility to new writing, to the national heritage, and to a balanced repertoire.) Certainly the most lively part of the work still lies in the period of rehearsal, but much of the artistic imprint has been determined before rehearsals.

The role of the audience
      The theatre depends more than most arts upon audience response. If the house is not full, not only does the performance lose money but it also loses force. It is unusual—but not impossible—for new ideas, even for new ways of expressing old ideas, to achieve wide commercial success. With few exceptions, people apparently do not go to the theatre to receive new ideas; they want the thrilling, amusing, or moving expression of old ones.

      If a performance is going well, the members of its audience tend to engage in collective behaviour that subordinates their separate identities to that of the crowd. This phenomenon can be observed not only at the theatre but also at concerts, bullfights, and prizefights. The crowd personality is never as rational as the sum of its members' intelligence, and it is much more emotional. Members of an audience lose their powers of independent thought; unexpected reserves of passion come into play. Laughter becomes infectious; grave and solid citizens, as members of an audience, can be rendered helpless with mirth by jests that would leave them unmoved if they were alone.

      While an audience may typically be a passive participant in a modern theatrical performance, this norm is neither universal nor transhistorical. Until the late 19th century, when auditoriums were first darkened, audiences were highly responsive, demonstrating disapproval as boisterously as approval. This type of involvement is still evident in British pantomime, which is produced annually during the Christmas season. During the 20th century, audience passivity was challenged through the theories of drama associated with Bertolt Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt) and Augusto Boal and through the breaking of various social codes, as occurred in the Théâtre Action in France or the Théâtre Parminou in Quebec. Such interactive relations with the fictional stage world—either bringing audience members onstage to interrupt and redirect action or involving the public unwittingly as witness to a theatre event—are typically engineered to challenge individuals' political beliefs as well as a society's norms.

The effect of theatre structure
 From the 17th to the early 20th century, few dreamed of building a theatre in other than the traditional proscenium style. This style consists of a horseshoe shape or rounded auditorium in several tiers facing the stage, from which it is divided by an arch—the proscenium—which supports the curtain. Behind the curtain the backstage machinery facilitates quick changes of illusionistic scenery. This type of theatre was developed for Italian opera in the 17th century. From the proscenium theatre's introduction, productions of plays of all themes have tended to exploit the audience's pleasure in its dollhouse realism.

      Whereas today's proscenium theatre separates the audience from the performers, the theatres of Elizabethan England and 16th- and 17th-century Spain were open stages (open stage) (also called thrust stages), structured so that the actors performed in the very midst of their audience. English theatres had evolved from the courtyards of inns, while Spanish theatres took corrales (courtyards enclosed by the backs of several houses) as their model; in both a raised platform was erected for a stage. Some members of the audience stood around it while others watched from windows and galleries surrounding the courtyard.

 In the early years of the 20th century, the English actor-manager William Poel (Poel, William) suggested that Shakespeare should be staged so as to relate the performers and the audience as they had been on the Elizabethan stage. His ideas slowly gained in influence, and in 1953 just such a stage, with no curtain and with the audience sitting on three sides of it, was built for the Stratford Shakespearean Festival in Ontario, Can. A considerable success, it had a strong influence on subsequent theatre design. The Globe Theatre was rebuilt in London in the 1990s along even more rigorous reconstructive principles.

      The open stage proved suitable not only for Elizabethan plays but also for a wide repertoire. It will probably never completely replace the proscenium, which remains more suitable for the countless plays that were written with such a stage in mind, including the highly artificial comedies of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (Sheridan, Richard Brinsley) and Oscar Wilde (Wilde, Oscar). On the other hand, the more realistic plays of Ibsen, Shaw, and Chekhov, all written for the proscenium theatre, lend themselves well to the open stage.

      There are a number of reasons for preferring the open stage. First, more people can be accommodated in a given space if arranged around the stage instead of just in front of it. This is important not merely for the economic advantage of a larger capacity but also for artistic reasons—the closely packed audience generates more concentration and a greater sense of unity.

      A second reason for preferring the open stage is that the actors are nearer to more of their audience and can therefore be better heard and seen. This point is contested by adherents of the proscenium stage, who claim that the actor at any given moment must have his back turned to a large part of the house and, as a result, must be more difficult to see and hear. If the open stage is used efficiently, however, the actor's back will never be turned to anyone for more than a few seconds at a time. Likewise, an open stage allows actors to be more aware of their audience.

      After the arguments for the open stage were first made and gained popularity after the middle of the 20th century, many theatres—such as the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.—were designed “in the round” so that the audience completely surrounded the stage. Other theatres followed the example of Grotowski's Polish Laboratory Theatre by taking as the starting point an “empty room,” in which a different environment may be constructed for each production, radically altering the relationship between actors and audience for each play. The proliferation of “black box” spaces from the 1960s onward demonstrates the popularity of this configuration, in which a neutral space—a theatrical tabula rasa—can be, through spatial reconfiguration and minimal scenic detail, redesignated again and again in infinite variety.

      The proscenium has come to be associated so closely with creating “ illusion” that, its critics argue, it has led to a misconception about the function of drama and to a misdirection of the energies of dramatists, players, and audiences. A single-minded attempt by the actors to create, or by the audience to undergo, illusion reduces drama to a form of deception. By the end of the 20th century, proscenium theatre had become a term used to denigrate an art form dominated by bourgeois aesthetics and dismissed as not innovative.

      The art of the theatre is concerned with something more significant than creating the illusion that a series of quite obviously contrived events are “really” happening. King Lear is far more complex and interesting than that. Art is concerned not with deception but with enlightenment. The painter's art helps its audience to see and the musician's art helps it to hear in a more enlightened way: Rembrandt and Bach are trying not to deceive their audiences but to express and to share their deepest thoughts and feelings. Similarly, the art of the theatre is concerned with expressing the most profound thoughts and feelings of the performers about the story they are enacting, so that the audience may partake in the ritual event. The actual configuration of the stage and audience spaces may be less important in this respect than the performances themselves.

The influence of writing and scholarship
      Like the other arts, the theatre has been the subject of a great deal of theoretical and philosophical writing, as well as criticism, both of a journalistic and of a less ephemeral character. Members of the theatrical profession have probably been influenced by the work of scholars and theorists more than they realize. Scholarship has made Shakespeare's work, for example, far more intelligible and coherent. On the other hand, many of the scholarly debates over small points seem irrelevant in the theatre.

      A commendable example of scholarship is the emendation by the 18th-century editor Lewis Theobald (Theobald, Lewis) of Mistress Quickly's description of Falstaff (Falstaff, Sir John)'s death in Shakespeare's Henry V (Act II, Scene 3) from “a table of green fields,” which, in the context, seems unintelligible, to “a [i.e., he] babbled of green fields,” which is not only comprehensible but touching. But it scarcely alters the way in which an actor will speak this phrase. It is one descriptive phrase among five or six others relating Falstaff's fumbling with the sheets, playing with flowers, and smiling at his fingers' ends. It may be among the greatest descriptions of the moment of death in all Western literature; in the course of performance, however, an audience does not follow even so great a passage as this word by word. Likewise, a compelling actor playing Hamlet can ask whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the “eggs and bacon” of outrageous fortune, and few will be aware that he has not said “slings and arrows.” And, if Mistress Quickly says “a table of green fields” with good accent and discretion, the musical flow and emotional effect of this marvelous speech will hardly be diminished.

      From the late 19th century, theatre attracted considerable attention from scholars. The German tradition of Theaterwissenschaft (“theatre science”), following the work of Max Herrmann, was particularly influential during the last decades of the 19th century in defining theatre studies as distinct from literature. Brander Matthews (Matthews, Brander) pioneered the teaching of playwriting in universities in the United States at the turn of the 20th century, and, as a result, today all the theatre arts garner respect as academic disciplines. Beginning in the 1940s, Alois M. Nagler trained generations of students at Yale University to value original documents and historical data in the study of theatre, an approach that considerably expanded knowledge of performance style and production circumstances across historical periods and around the world.

      From the 1980s onward, theatre scholarship—like almost all scholarship across the humanities—showed the influence of deconstruction, postmodernism, and interculturalism (an analytic approach that emphasizes the relationships between cultures). Cross-cultural approaches by both scholars and theatre artists also reflected the tremendous influence of anthropology on the field. The result was that, by the turn of the 21st century, theatre was no longer studied as an art form isolated from other social practices; instead, performance was regarded as something that exists along a continuum that includes theatrical performance—what is conventionally “on the stage”—as well as everyday life, religious devotion, a multitude of rituals, and many forms of spectacle presented by (and by way of) the mass media and other elements of a culture's media network. Scholarship of the mid-20th century often emphasized the work of “great” artists in various disciplines (playwriting, acting, directing, design, and so forth); in the first decade of the 21st century, scholars tended to disregard the biographies of these individuals and instead to emphasize aesthetic achievements in theatre as culturally relevant statements with meaning that is determined not just by the artists but also by those who watch and listen. Theatre came to be studied not primarily as an elite form but as one pursued in and by communities of all kinds. Within this environment, performance studies emerged as a discipline alongside theatre studies and pushed many scholars toward a more inclusive approach (aesthetically, socially, and transculturally).

      Yet until the late 20th century, scholars and professionals in the English-language theatre lived almost completely segregated from one another. The tradition was rather different in continental Europe, where for many centuries the dramaturge was a vital part of the state theatre companies. A dramaturge is usually a writer, critic, or scholar who advises a theatre on literary points, as well as editing classic texts and perhaps translating foreign plays. With the establishment of the National Theatre of Great Britain in 1962, the idea of a dramaturge was transplanted to Britain, the critic Kenneth Tynan becoming part of the theatre management in 1963. Other British theatres, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, fruitfully married scholarship, in the form of a dramaturge, to their planning of productions.

The place of theatre in contemporary life

Work, leisure, and theatre
      In general, human beings have regarded as serious the activities that aid in survival and propagate the species. At all levels of sophistication, however, serious human pursuits offer opportunities for entertainment. Perhaps members of the human species have never made a clear-cut distinction between work and play. All kinds of work may be enjoyed under the proper circumstances, be it surgery, carpentry, housework, or fieldwork. The best workers engage themselves in work that permits, even demands, an expression of their invention and ingenuity. Indeed, the most valuable workers are often not the most strenuous but rather the most ingenious and resourceful, and as their tasks increase in complexity and responsibility, the need for intelligence and imagination increases. These qualities are also expressed in the play of such people.

      In the times and places in which theatre has become frivolous or vulgar or merely dull, the more educated theatregoers have tended to stay away from it. This was the case in London during the first half of the 19th century. A similar movement away from the theatre by the intelligentsia occurred in New York City in the middle of the 20th century, as fewer and fewer serious dramatic productions were undertaken. While Broadway became devoted primarily to musicals (musical) or star vehicles, interest in serious theatre developed in the smaller and more specialized Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway theatres and in regional theatres.

      Of the many theories and philosophies propounded about the purposes of theatrical art, from the Poetics of Aristotle onward, most presuppose that the theatre is directed toward an elite consisting of the wealthier, more-leisured, and better-educated members of a community. In these theories, popular theatre is assumed to be noisily cheerful and egregiously sentimental, with easy tunes, obvious jokes, and plenty of knockabout “business.” In the 20th century, however, the distinctions between social classes in the West became more blurred. Egalitarian manners became fashionable, indeed obligatory, and the theories that gave serious art a role exclusively for the upper classes lost much of their force. Likewise, elite interest in “folk” forms generated new audiences for such forms and helped save traditions around the world that might otherwise have succumbed to industrialization and cultural globalization (globalization, cultural).

      Paradoxically, while more people in industrialized nations are enjoying more leisure than ever before, there has not been a proportional increase in theatrical attendance. Those engaged in white-collar professions or employed in a managerial capacity, unlike the aristocrats of earlier times, generally allow themselves little leisure time. Of those engaged in industry, whose leisure time has increased, a significant proportion do not choose to attend the theatre regularly. Moreover, the theatre's efforts to appeal to the whole community generally have been futile. There exists an ever-widening gulf: on one side, a small, enthusiastic, and vocal minority clamours for art galleries, symphony concerts, and drama; on the other side, the majority is apathetic with regard to these cultural pastimes and institutions. The apathy—or even hostility—felt by the majority was evident in the 1980s and '90s in controversies over state support for the arts, centred especially on the National Endowment for the Arts in the United States and the Arts Council of Great Britain.

The role of subsidy
      In most countries at the turn of the 21st century, a serious theatre, with or without massive public attendance, had to be sustained by financial support that went beyond box-office revenue. Public funds were—and continue to be—used for this purpose throughout Europe and in much of Asia and Africa. The assumption behind such a subsidy is that a serious theatre is simply too costly to pay its way. Usually, national theatres in urban settings are the recipients of support.

      In Great Britain (United Kingdom) in 1940, under the threat of imminent invasion in World War II, the national government took the first steps toward subsidizing theatre by guaranteeing a tour of the Old Vic theatre company against loss. Subsequently, with the establishment of the Arts Council of Great Britain in 1946, its support of theatre increased continually. By the 1970s many millions of pounds were committed each year to supporting a network of regional theatres, small touring groups, so-called fringe theatres, and the “centres of excellence,” meaning the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English National Opera, and the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. Subsidy in Britain was the means by which the British theatre industry became the strongest in the world, both as a significant export and as a chief tourist attraction. Under successive Conservative governments, however, such subsidy was slashed, and by the 1990s funds derived from a national lottery were substituted for direct government support.

      Until the middle of the 20th century, private patronage and box-office revenue were still the sole supports of legitimate theatre in the United States, but eventually charitable support was encouraged by a structure of tax allowances and by philanthropic organizations such as the Ford Foundation. With few exceptions, however, professional theatre in the United States remained strictly a commercial business. In the West in the late 20th century, only in Germany did there exist a truly generous level of federal and civic support for the arts.

      At the turn of the 21st century, private money compensated for decreasing public subsidy in both the United States and Great Britain. Corporate sponsorship became increasingly important in underwriting theatre companies as well as specific shows. Such a means of funding tended to be more conducive to large-budget theatre and well-established companies (particularly opera, ballet, and regional theatres) with strong ties to local philanthropic and corporate communities. Start-up or smaller companies were less likely to be sustained by corporate sponsorship; such funding was also often considered anathema by companies committed to political critique.

Academic (college) theatre
      From the second half of the 20th century onward, there was a significant amount of theatrical activity conducted by American and European universities (university) with departments of drama. Their theatres, sometimes handsomer and better equipped than professional houses, presented plays of all sorts to communities often beyond the reach of regional or touring companies. Today millions of people attend performances in university theatres each year, and, in planning and choice of programs, the academic theatre's standards frequently rival professional theatre, since the aim is educational. However, many leading parts, whether in classics or in potboilers, call for assured and authoritative actors between 35 and 50 years of age. Academic theatre, therefore, is handicapped at the outset by the lack of experience of most of its student-actors, though professional actors are sometimes hired for special productions or to become actors-in-residence.

      A more serious drawback is that the direction of drama departments and of university theatres is often entrusted to theatrical professionals who, in order to fulfill teaching obligations, often cannot devote much time and energy to the theatre. Furthermore, most college theatres operate on extremely low budgets, and, while money without taste and intelligence cannot create good theatre, taste and intelligence without money can seldom do so either. The highest standards can in certain instances be achieved by sheer ingenuity, but, in general, shoestring budgets result in that desperate air of “making do”—almost a trademark of academic theatre.

      It is a common error in colleges and universities to suppose that the mere production of a masterpiece must amount to an educational experience for players and audience alike. It is not so. Incompetent acting and direction can reduce the greatest masterpiece to suffocating, excruciating tedium. Moreover, in many schools the theatre must be economically self-supporting, and each season one of the successful Broadway musicals of yesteryear is put on to redeem the losses incurred by Shakespeare, Molière, and O'Neill.

      Nevertheless, the staff and actors of the majority of professional theatres today gain much of their early experience in academic theatre. Internship programs often help students' transition from undergraduate or graduate programs into the professional world.

The search for an audience
 Throughout the world, government and private funds have been applied in varying fashions to attract wider audiences to the theatre. Theatre-in-education troupes, as adjuncts of regional theatres, frequently tour schools and perform classics, children's plays, or new drama. Many programs also exist to bring young people to the theatre. Regional and international tours are also undertaken by theatres such as the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Taganka Theatre of Moscow, and countless others. The late 20th century also saw the worldwide development of performing arts festivals modeled on the Avignon Festival in France and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; these provided a venue for a great variety of international performing artists while also boosting local economies through tourism. At the turn of the 21st century, theatre was also being used as a development tool. Funded by international aid agencies in conjunction with local governments, this type of theatre deployed actors as agents provocateurs to identify issues of concern in communities. Performances expressed local communities' views on the genesis, manifestations, and solutions applicable to that locality. This approach was subsequently adopted in developed countries through programs that partnered theatre artists with underprivileged communities (the homeless, urban youth, the rural poor, the incarcerated, immigrants and refugees, etc.) in an attempt to build solidarity within each community and bring the attention of a broader public to the community's circumstances.

      Throughout the 20th century, live theatre demonstrated an unexpected tenacity in the face of competition from film, television, video, the Internet, and other media. At one time, theatre lovers feared that a new generation of actors, directors, and technicians without professional experience of the theatre would precipitate a decline in theatrical art; on the contrary, many actors most identified with movies took large risks to perform on the stage. These actors, including Dustin Hoffman (Hoffman, Dustin), Martin Sheen, and Lauren Bacall (Bacall, Lauren), brought to the theatre precisely those qualities of risk and commitment that make live performance so challenging.

      Other factors that contribute to the ongoing survival of theatre include the revival of dramatic classics, which are given new expression to show perennial relevance across time and culture. Revivals of dramas of different epochs and different cultures—including Aristophanes' Lysistrata (411 BCE), Molière's Tartuffe (1664), Racine's Phèdre (1677), Ibsen's Peer Gynt (published 1867), Shaw's Saint Joan (1923), and Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children (1939), although the instances could be multiplied countless times without exhausting the list of the classics regularly performed—often reinvigorate these works by reimagining their settings or their characters. The success of these revivals is a reminder that such works were written for the stage and, it is often argued, can be given full expression only by stage representation.

      Adaptations for the screen or television of material that was conceived in terms of the stage remain merely adaptations, in the same sense that a reproduction of Georges Seurat (Seurat, Georges)'s painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte on a coffee mug remains merely an adaptation. Although Laurence Olivier (Olivier, Laurence, Baron Olivier of Brighton)'s film adaptations of Shakespeare's Henry V, Hamlet, Richard III, and Othello were justified—in that thousands of people who would not otherwise have had the opportunity to see the original plays were enabled to see adaptations magnificently performed—those who saw both stage and film versions usually testified to the superiority of the theatrical experience. The texts used in the films were necessarily incomplete, and the acting and direction were adapted to suit a medium for which the originals were not conceived. Some part of the public will always believe that it is as important to see fine performances of theatrical masterworks as it is to see the originals of great achievements in painting, sculpture, and architecture rather than photographic reproductions of such works. As long as this is the case, there is a good reason for the continued existence of a live theatre.

      Another reason for believing in the survival of theatre is that the live theatre can achieve a sense of occasion. This sense of occasion is a heightening of everyday people and occurrences into a new vividness and significance—not just the heightening of characters and events of the drama but also a heightening of the people who take part, spectators as much as performers. This can occur more effectively if the occasion is a great one, if the house is large and full, if the audience appears to be distinguished, and if celebrated performers are taking part. But the sense of occasion can be achieved more simply, more subtly, and less expensively. What matters is that, when the performance begins, the audience should be excited, receptive, and ready. Yet the heart of the occasion lies not in the auditorium, however bedizened with celebrity, but on the stage. There a troupe is about to create either a new work or a new interpretation of a classic. The sense of occasion is at its strongest when the cast is distinguished, but even unknown players in obscure performances can create it.

      Activity is required of the theatre audience if the performance is to succeed; the audience is required to share with the performer and to assist in the act of creation. In films and in television, mistakes can be eliminated; unsuccessful scenes can be reshot and rewritten; and the whole work can be manipulated, edited, and set before the public with every detail in place. The product has been prefabricated without the cooperation of its audience, which is therefore reduced to the status of a consumer. In the theatre, on the other hand, every audience helps to create or to destroy the performance. To some extent, audiences get the performance they deserve.

      Moreover, in every live performance is the imminence of disaster. An actor must be skillful and an audience must be imaginative if Macbeth, seeing a phantom dagger in the air, or Othello, falling down in an epileptic seizure, is to be moving and impressive instead of merely ludicrous. Yet it is precisely this hairbreadth division between the sublime and the ridiculous that creates the sense of occasion.

      Some dozens of immortally great expressions of the human spirit have been written for performance by live actors for live audiences and cannot be adequately experienced in any other medium. This is why, despite economic challenges, limited technical resources and funding, and the logistical problems of touring, the live theatre must survive.

Sir Tyrone Guthrie Ned Chaillet Ed.

Additional Reading
Few works deal as comprehensively with shifting aspirations for the theatre as Marvin A. Carlson, Theories of the Theatre: A Historical and Critical Survey from the Greeks to the Present, expanded ed. (1993). Collections of supporting material that serve as good companion texts are Bernard F. Dukore (compiler), Dramatic Theory and Criticism: Greeks to Grotowski (1974); and Richard Drain (ed.), Twentieth-Century Theatre: A Sourcebook (1995). These are complemented by three surveys of theatre history: Glynne Wickham, A History of the Theatre, 2nd ed. (1992); Margot Berthold, The History of World Theater: From the Beginnings to the Baroque, trans. from German (1991); and Felicia Hardison Londré, The History of World Theatre: From the English Restoration to the Present, trans. from German (1999).The social function of theatre is addressed by Susan Bennett, Theatre Audiences: A Theory of Production and Reception, 2nd ed. (1997); an apt companion to Bennett is Philip Auslander, Liveness: Performance in a Mediatized Culture, 2nd ed. (2008). Marvin A. Carlson, Performance: A Critical Introduction, 2nd ed. (2004), surveys a range of late-20th- and 21st-century perspectives on theatre studies. Victor Turner, From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play (1982), became a point of reference in the 1980s and '90s for intercultural studies; one such is Richard Schechner, Between Theater & Anthropology (1985).Relationships of cultural policy to subsidy may be traced in Loren Kruger, The National Stage: Theatre and Cultural Legitimation in England, France, and America (1992); Justin Lewis, Art, Culture, and Enterprise: The Politics of Art and the Cultural Industries (1990); and David L. Looseley, The Politics of Fun: Cultural Policy and Debate in Contemporary France (1995). The historical background to these debates can be traced in William J. Baumol and William G. Bowen, Performing Arts: The Economic Dilemma (1966, reissued 1993); and Tracy C. Davis, The Economics of the British Stage, 1800–1914 (2000).Tracy C. Davis

also spelled  theater 

      in architecture, a building or space in which a performance may be given before an audience. The word is from the Greek theatron, “a place of seeing.” A theatre usually has a stage area where the performance itself takes place. Since ancient times the evolving design of theatres has been determined largely by the spectators' physical requirements for seeing and hearing the performers and by the changing nature of the activity presented.

Origins of theatre space
      The civilizations of the Mediterranean basin in general, the Far East, northern Europe, and the Western Hemisphere before the voyages of Christopher Columbus in the second half of the 15th century have all left evidence of constructions whose association with religious ritual activity relates them to the theatre. Studies in anthropology suggest that their forerunners were the campfire circles around which members of a primitive community would gather to participate in tribal rites. Karnak in ancient Egypt, Persepolis in Persia, and Knossos in Crete all offer examples of architectural (architecture) structures, purposely ceremonial in design, of a size and configuration suitable for large audiences. They were used as places of assembly at which a priestly caste would attempt to communicate with supernatural forces.

      The transition from ritual involving mass participation to something approaching drama, in which a clear distinction is made between active participants and passive onlookers, is incompletely understood. Eventually, however, the priestly caste and the performer became physically set apart from the spectators. Thus, theatre as place emerged.

Developments in ancient Greece

Visual and spatial aspects
      During the earliest period of theatre in ancient Greece, when the poet Thespis—who is credited both with inventing tragedy and with being the first actor—came to Athens in 534 BC with his troupe on wagons, the performances were given in the agora (i.e., the marketplace), with wooden stands for audience seating; in 498, the stands collapsed and killed several spectators. Detailed literary accounts of theatre and scenery in ancient Greece can be found in De architectura libri decem, by the 1st-century-BC Roman writer Vitruvius, and in the Onomasticon, of the 2nd century AD, by the Greek scholar Julius Pollux. As these treatises appeared several hundred years after classical theatre, however, the accuracy of their descriptions is questionable.

      Little survives of the theatres in which the earliest plays were performed, but essential details have been reconstructed from the architectural evidence of the Theatre of Dionysus (Dionysus, Theatre of) in Athens, which has been remodeled several times since its construction in stone by the politician Lycurgus on the south slope of the Acropolis in about 330 BC. The centre of the theatre was the original dancing place, a flat, circular space containing the altar of Dionysus, called the orchestra. In the centre stood a platform with steps (bemata) leading to the altar (thymele). Nearby was the temple out of which the holy image would be carried on festival days so that the god could be present at the plays.

      Theatrical representations, not yet wholly free of a religious element, directed their appeal toward the whole community, and attendance was virtually compulsory. Thus the first concern of theatre builders of the day was to provide sufficient space for large audiences. In the beginning, admission was free; later, when a charge was levied, poor citizens were given entrance money. It seems reasonable to assume, from the size of the theatres, that the actors performed on a raised platform (probably called the logeion, or “speaking place”) in order to be more visible and audible, while the chorus remained in the orchestra. In later times there was a high stage, with a marble frieze below and a short flight of steps up from the orchestra. The great Hellenistic theatre at Epidaurus had what is believed to have been a high, two-level stagehouse.

      The earliest productions did not have a background building. The actors dressed in the skēnē (skene) (from which the word “scene” is derived), which was then a small tent, and the chorus and actors entered together from the main approach, the parodos. The earliest properties, such as altars and rocks, could be set up at the edge of the terrace. The first extant drama for which a large building was necessary was Aeschylus' trilogy the Oresteia, first produced in 458 BC. There has been controversy among historians as to whether the skēnē was set up inside a segment of the orchestra or outside the edge of the orchestra. The skēnē in its later development was probably a long, simple building at the left of the orchestra terrace.

      In the first period of Greek drama, the principal element of the production was the chorus, the size of which appears to have varied considerably. In Aeschylus' Suppliants, there were 50 members of the chorus, but in his other plays there were only 12, and Sophocles called for 15. The size of the chorus became smaller in the 5th century, as the ritual element of drama diminished. Since the number of actors increased as the chorus shrank, and the plots of the dramas became more complex, doubling of roles became necessary. On a completely open stage such substitutions were delayed, and the suspense of the drama was dissipated. Dramatic plausibility was also vitiated by the fact that gods and mortals, enemies and friends, always entered from the same direction. The addition of a scenic facade, with three doors, more than doubled the number of entrances and gave the playwright more freedom to develop dramatic tension. About 425 BC a firm stone basis was laid for an elaborate building, called a stoa, consisting of a long front wall interrupted at the sides by projecting wings, or paraskēnia. The spectators sat on wooden benches arranged in a fan shape divided by radiating aisles. The upper rows were benches of movable planks supported by separate stones planted in the ground. The seats of honour were stone slabs with inscriptions assigning them to the priests.

      The background decoration consisted originally of a temporary wooden framework leaning against the front wall of the stoa and covered with movable screens. These screens were made of dried animal skins tinted red; it was not until Aeschylus that canvases in wooden frames were decorated according to the needs of a particular play. Aristotle credits Sophocles with the invention of scene painting, an innovation ascribed by others to Aeschylus. It is notable that Aeschylus took an interest in staging and is credited with the classic costume design. Simple Greek scenery was comparable with that of the 20th century; the impulse to visualize and particularize the background of the action became strong. Painted scenery was probably first used in production of the Oresteia; some 50 years afterward a second story was added to the wooden scene structure. A wooden colonnade, or portico, the proskēnion, was placed in front of the lower story of the building. This colonnade, which was long and low, suggested the exterior of either a house, a palace, or a temple. Painted screens set between the columns of the proskēnion suggested the locale.

      In the beginning, scenery was probably altered slightly during the intermissions that separated the plays of a trilogy or a tetralogy or during the night between two festival days. By the latter part of the 5th century, scene changes were accomplished by means of movable painted screens. Several of these screens could be put up behind one another so that, when the first one was removed, the one immediately behind appeared.

      Soon after the introduction of the facade, plays were uniformly set before a temple or a palace. To indicate a change of scene, the periaktoi (periaktos) were introduced. These were upright three-sided prisms—each side painted to represent a different locality—set flush with the palace or temple wall on either side of the stage. Several conventions were observed with regard to scenery; one was that if only the right periaktos was turned, it indicated a different locality in the same town. According to another convention, actors entering from the right were understood to be coming from the city or harbour and those from the left to be coming from the country.

      The permanent facade was also used to hide the stage (stage machinery) properties and the machinery. Evidence for the use of the so-called flying machine, the mēchanē (Latin machina), in the 5th century is given in the comedies of Aristophanes; a character in his play Peace ascends to heaven on a dung beetle and appeals to the scene shifter not to let him fall. The mēchanē consisted of a derrick and a crane. In the time of Euripides it was used conventionally for the epilogue, at which point a god descended from heaven to sort out the complications in the plot, a convention that became known as deus ex machina (“god from a machine”). The lavish use of flying machines is attested by the poet Antiphanes, who wrote that tragic playwrights lifted up a machine as readily as they lifted a finger when they had nothing else to say.

      A wheeled platform or wagon, called ekkyklēma (eccyclema), was used to display the results of offstage actions, such as the bodies of murder victims. The ekkyklēma, like the periaktoi, was an expedient for open-air theatre, in which the possibilities for creating realistic illusions were severely limited. A realistic picture of an interior scene under a roof could not be shown, because the roof would block the view of those in the higher tiered seats of the auditorium. So the Greeks, to represent the interior of a palace, for example, wheeled out a throne on a round or square podium. New machines were added in the Hellenistic period, by which time the theatre had almost completely lost its religious basis. Among these new machines was the hemikyklion, a semicircle of canvas depicting a distant city, and a stropheion, a revolving machine, used to show heroes in heaven or battles at sea.

Howard Bay Clive Barker George C. Izenour

      Much recent study has centred on the problem of acoustics in the ancient theatre. The difficulty in achieving audibility to an audience of thousands, disposed around three-fifths to two-thirds of a full circular orchestra in the open air, seems to have been insoluble so long as the performer remained in the orchestra. A more direct path between speaker and audience was therefore essential if the unaided voice was to reach a majority of spectators in the auditorium. Some contend that the acoustical problems were to a degree alleviated when the actor was moved behind and above the orchestra onto the raised platform, with more of the audience thus being placed in direct line of sight and sound with him. By this time, the actors' masks had reached considerable dimensions, and there are grounds for believing that their mouth orifices were of help in concentrating vocal power—much as cupped hands or a rudimentary megaphone would be.

      Increased architectural and engineering sophistication in the Hellenistic Age encouraged further innovations. The theatres of mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, and southern Italy had been constructed in hillsides whenever possible, so that excavation and filling were kept to a minimum; or, lacking a suitable slope, earth was dug out and piled up to form an embankment upon which stone seats were placed. By contrast, the cities of Asia Minor, which flourished during the Hellenistic Age, did not rely on a convenient slope on which to locate their theatres. The principles of arch construction were understood by this time, and theatres were built using vaulting as the structural support for banked seating. Archaeological remains and restoration of theatres at Perga, Side, Miletus, and other sites in what is now Turkey exhibit this type of construction. By a third method, auditoriums were hewed out of rock. Of some six such Greek theatres extant, two excellent examples (both extensively remodeled in Roman times) are the great theatre at Syracuse in Sicily and that at Argos in the Peloponnese. The best preserved of all Greek theatres, also in the Peloponnese and now partially restored, is the magnificent theatre at Epidaurus. This theatre provided seats for some 12,000 people, and its circular orchestra is backed by a stagehouse and surrounded on three sides by a stone, hillside-supported bank of seats. Both chorus and actors performed in the orchestra, but only the actors used the two levels of the stagehouse as well. Theatre construction flourished during the Hellenistic Age as never before in classical times, and no city of any size or reputation was without its theatre.

George C. Izenour

Developments in ancient Rome
      The development of the theatre, following that of dramatic literature, was slower in Rome than in Athens. The essential distinction between Roman and Greek stage performances was that the Roman theatre expressed no deep religious convictions. Despite the fact that the spectacles were technically connected with the festivals in honour of the gods, the Roman audience went to the theatre for entertainment. The circus was the first permanent public building for spectacles, which included chariot races and gladiatorial fights. When Etruscan dancers and musicians were introduced in 364 BC, they performed in either the circus, the forum, or the sanctuaries in front of the temples. The players brought temporary wooden stands for the spectators. These stands developed into the Roman auditorium, built up entirely from the level ground.

Stage design
      The most important feature of the Roman theatre as distinct from the Greek theatre was the raised stage. As every seat had to have a view of the stage, the area occupied by the seating (cavea) was limited to a semicircle. As in Greek theatre, the scene building behind the stage, the scaenae frons, was used both as the back scene and as the actors' dressing room. It was no longer painted in the Greek manner but tended to have architectural decorations combined with luxurious ornamentation. The audience sat on tiers of wooden benches, spectacula, supported by scaffolding. There was no curtain; the back scene, with its three doors, faced the audience.

      When the popular comedies or farces of southern Italy were introduced to Rome, they came with their own distinctive type of stage—the phlyakes stage. Comedies in Italy were mimes, usually parodies of well-known tragedies, and the actors were called phlyakes, or jesters. They used temporary stage buildings of three main forms. One was the primitive low stage, a rough platform with a wooden floor on three or four rectangular posts. The second was a stage supported by low posts, covered with drapery or tablets; sometimes steps led up to a platform and a door was indicated. The third type was a higher stage supported by columns, without steps but usually with a back wall. The stages often had a short flight of five to seven steps in the centre, leading to the podium. The forewall, covered with drapery, was often decorated, and the background wall usually had objects hanging from it. The rear wall sometimes had other columns, besides the ones set at the corners, as well as doors and, in several cases, windows to indicate an upper floor. The door was usually behind a heavily decorated porch, with a sloping or gabled roof supported by beams and cross struts. Among the furnishings there were usually trees, altars, chairs, thrones, a dining table, a money chest, and a tripod of Apollo (i.e., an oracular seat). The stage was set up in the marketplace in the smaller towns and in the orchestras of Greek theatres in the larger cities.

      Coincident with the development of the phlyakes stages, and under the inspiration of Hellenistic colonists, the Romans began to build stone theatre buildings. Beginning by remodeling Greek and Hellenistic theatres, they eventually succeeded in uniting architecturally their own concept of the auditorium with a single-level, raised stage. This they did by limiting the orchestra to a half circle and joining it to the auditorium, thereby improving on the acoustics of Greek and Hellenistic theatres. They also brought to perfection the principles of barrel and cross vaulting, penetrating the seat bank at regular intervals with vomitoria (exit corridors). The raised stage was at a single, much lower level than in the Hellenistic theatre. It was roofed, and the number of entrances to it was increased to five: three, as before, in the wall at the rear of the stage and one at each side. The Romans' love of ostentatious architecture led them to adorn the permanent background with profuse sculptures. In some theatres, a drop curtain was used to signal the beginning and end of performance. In some cases, a canvas roof was hoisted onto rope rigging in order to shade the audience from the sunlight.

Howard Bay Clive Barker
      In Roman theatres the stage alone was used by the actors, who entered the playing space from one of the house doors or the side entrances in the wings. The side entrance on the audience's right signified the near distance and the one on the audience's left the farther distance. If a scene took place in a town, for instance, an actor exiting audience right was understood to be going to the forum; if he exited audience left, he might be going to the country or the harbour. Periaktoi at the side entrances indicated the scenery in the immediate neighbourhood. If the play required a character to move from one house to another without bringing him on the stage, which represented the street, the actor was supposed to use the back door and the angiportum (i.e., an imaginary street running behind the houses). Since interior scenes could not be represented easily, all action took place in front of the houses shown in the background. If a banquet was to be depicted, the table and chairs would be brought on stage and removed at the end of the scene. Costumes were formalized, but real spears, torches, chariots, and horses were used.

      The orchestra became part of the auditorium in Rome, reserved by law for those of privileged rank, who seated themselves there on a variety of portable chairs and litters. The orchestra was no longer needed as part of the performance area because the chorus had long since ceased to be an integral part of drama. The tragedies of Seneca, in the 1st century AD, included a chorus because they were patterned after Greek models. But they never achieved the popularity of earlier comedies, especially those of Plautus and Terence. These works had at first been performed on temporary wooden stages that had been erected on a convenient hillside and sometimes surrounded by temporary wooden seating.

      Until the late republic, a puritanical Senate had banned all permanent theatre building within the city of Rome itself as decadent. Thus, theatres there were temporary structures, set up in the Campus Martius for the duration of public games. In 55 BC, however, the triumvir Pompey the Great built Rome's first permanent stone theatre. Another public stone theatre was built in Rome in 13 BC and was named after Marcellus (Marcellus, Theatre of), son-in-law of the emperor Augustus. Both were used for the scaenae ludi (“scenic games”), which were part of religious festivities or celebrations of victory in war and which were paid for by triumphant generals and emperors. During the period of the Roman Empire, civic pride demanded that all important cities have theatres, amphitheatres, and, in many instances, a small, permanently roofed theatre (theatrum tectum, an odeum, or music hall) as well. In fact, it is from outlying cities of the empire such as Arausio (Orange), Thamagadi (Timgad), Leptis Magna, Sabratha, and Aspendus that archaeological evidence provides most of the firsthand knowledge of Roman theatre building. The best preserved Roman theatre, dating from about AD 170, is at Aspendus in modern Turkey.

Vitruvius' (Vitruvius) treatise on architecture
      Literature is another source for knowledge of Roman theatre. De architectura libri decem (“Ten Books on Architecture”), by the Roman architect Vitruvius (1st century BC), devotes three books to Greek and Roman theatre design and construction. The author gives general rules for siting an open-air theatre and for designing the stage, orchestra, and auditorium. These rules are based on principles of Euclidian geometry in matters of layout and proportion. His dicta on the provision of good sight lines from auditorium to stage are generally sound. Apart from that, however, his treatise is not very helpful. He mentions changeable scenery but is vague about what was involved. Vitruvius' notion of acoustics, which he claims is based on theory as well as practice, appears to be vaguely associated with Greek ideas of musical theory but has since been proved to have no scientific or mathematical basis. Indeed, his views on this important matter were to cause problems for almost 2,000 years.

The odeum
      Vitruvius has nothing to say about the roofed odeum (or odeon, “singing place”), which, according to some authorities, represents the high point of theatre building in the ancient world. Theatre history has, unfortunately, largely overlooked these buildings. Excavation work has revealed more than 30 of them, in a wide range of building materials. Odea were apparently first built in Athens under Pericles (5th century BC). They continued to be built throughout the Hellenistic Age and also in the Roman Empire up to the time of Emperor Severus Alexander (3rd century AD). They range in size from one with a seating capacity of 300–400 to one of 1,200–1,400. Experts disagree as to their specific purpose and use but claim they exhibited a refinement of detail and architectural sophistication found in no other Greco-Roman buildings devoted to the performing arts. They are most often found in Greek cities dating from Hellenistic times, on the grounds of private villas built by Roman emperors from Augustus to Hadrian, and in major cities of the empire, usually dedicated to the emperors. One of the most imposing, which also boasts the greatest span for a wooden trussed roof in the ancient world, was the Odeon of Agrippa, named after the emperor Augustus' civil administrator. This Roman building in the Athenian agora, dating from about 15 BC, is beautifully detailed, with an open southern exposure and a truncated curvilinear bank of seating. It achieves an atmosphere of great dignity and repose, despite the vast size of the room. In the last years of the Roman Empire the odeum was, it is claimed, the only remaining home of the performing arts, because by this time open-air theatres had long been given over to sensational and crude popular entertainments.

      Greek and Roman theatre building influenced virtually all later theatre design in the Western world, the theatres of the Spanish Golden Age, the English Elizabethan period, and the 20th-century avant-garde, with its experiments in primitive theatre-in-the-round techniques, being exceptions to this pattern. The architectural writings of Vitruvius became the model for the theatre building of the later Renaissance and early Baroque periods.

George C. Izenour Clive Barker

Developments in Asia
      Although the emergence of Asian theatre was not simultaneous with that of ancient Greece and Rome, it merits discussion here rather than as an appendage to the history of Western drama.

      Indian theatre is often considered the oldest in Asia, having developed its dance and drama by the 8th century BC. According to Hindu (Hinduism) holy books, the gods fought the demons before the world was created, and the god Brahmā (Brahma) asked the gods to reenact the battle among themselves for their own entertainment. Once again the demons were defeated, this time by being beaten with a flagstaff by one of the gods. To protect theatre from demons in the future, a pavilion was built, and in many places in India today a flagstaff next to the stage marks the location of performances.

      According to myth, Brahmā ordered that dance and drama be combined; certainly the words for “dance” and “drama” are the same in all Indian dialects. Early in Indian drama, however, dance began to dominate the theatre. By the beginning of the 20th century there were few performances of plays, though there were myriad dance recitals. It was not until political independence in 1947 that India started to redevelop the dramatic theatre.

      In the 4th century a codification was written of the śāstra (Nāṭya-śāstra), or the staging conventions of the dance. It lists not only the costumes, makeup, gestures, and body positions but also any plots considered unsuitable, and it is the most complete document of stagecraft ever compiled. There is no scenery in Indian dance, although there are usually a few properties, such as a three-foot-high brass lamp. A curtain is used, however, by troupes that dance kathākali, an ancient danced drama of southwestern India. The curtain itself is a cloth rectangle that is held between the stage and a large lamp by two stagehands.

      The dancers perform a group of preliminary dances behind the curtain until they make an important entrance called “peering over the curtain.” In this, a character fans the lamp by pulling the curtain in and out until the flames are spectacularly high. The dancer, still hiding his face, displays his hands and legs at the borders of the curtain. At the climactic moment the dancer pulls the curtain aside, displaying his awesome makeup, and stagehands remove the curtain until the next dramatic entrance.

      Classical Indian drama had as its elements poetry, music, and dance, with the sound of the words assuming more importance than the action or the narrative; therefore, staging was basically the enactment of poetry. The reason that the productions, in which scenes apparently follow an arbitrary order, seem formless to Westerners is that playwrights use much simile and metaphor. Because of the importance of the poetic line, a significant character is the storyteller or narrator, who is still found in most Asian drama. In Sanskrit (Sanskrit literature) drama the narrator was the sūtra-dhāra, “the string holder,” who set the scene and interpreted the actors' moods. Another function was performed by the narrator in regions in which the aristocratic vocabulary and syntax used by the main characters, the gods and the nobles, was not understood by the majority of the audience. The narrator operated first through the use of pantomime and later through comedy.

      A new Indian theatre that began about 1800 was a direct result of British colonization. With the addition of dance interludes and other Indian aesthetic features, modern India has developed a national drama. Two examples of “new” theatre staging are the Prithvi Theatre and the Indian National Theatre. The Prithvi Theatre, a Hindi touring company founded in 1943, utilizes dance sequences, incidental music, frequent set changes, and extravagant movement and colour. The Indian National Theatre, founded in Bombay in the 1950s, performs for audiences throughout India, in factories and on farms. Its themes usually involve a national problem, such as the lack of food, and the troupe's style is a mixture of pantomime and simple dialogue. It uses a truck to haul properties, costumes, and actors; there is no scenery.

      The most noticeable contrast between China and other Asian countries is that traditionally China has produced virtually no dance. The classic theatre of the Chinese is called “opera” because the dialogue is punctuated with arias and recitatives. Of the amazingly detailed written record of Chinese theatre, the first reference to opera was during the T'ang dynasty (618–907). The development of the opera style popular today took place during the Manchu rule of the 19th century. The Empress Dowager (Cixi), the last hereditary ruler of China, was so enamoured of opera that she had a triple-deck stage (representing heaven, hell, and earth) constructed in the summer palace at Peking. The most important individual in Chinese theatre of the 20th century, Mei Lan-fang (Mei Lanfang), an actor and producer, was the first to apply scholarship in reviving ancient masterpieces and opera forms.

      In general, Chinese theatrical performances start in the early evening and conclude after midnight. The performance itself consists of several plays and scenes from the best known dramas. The audience drinks tea, eats, and talks, and there are no intermissions. The stage itself has a curved apron, covered only by a square rug. On one side is a box for the orchestra, which plays throughout the evening. There is neither a curtain nor any setting to speak of other than a simple, painted backdrop. The virtual absence of scenery accentuates the elaborate and colourful costumes and makeup of the actors.

      During a typical performance, the members of a Chinese theatre audience stop talking to each other only at climactic moments. The actors are concerned with their movements only when they are at the centre of the stage; when they stand at the sides they drink tea and adjust their costumes in full view of the audience. An interpretation of this behaviour was the view of the 20th-century German dramatist Bertolt Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt) that a Chinese actor, in contrast to a Western actor, constantly keeps a distance between himself, his character, and the spectator; his performance is mechanistic rather than empathic.

      Property men walk around on stage setting up properties for the next play before the preceding one is finished. There are usually very few properties, only a table and a few chairs. A chair may act as a throne, a bench, a tower if an actor stands on it, a barrier if he stands behind it, and so on. A curtain suspended in front of two chairs represents a bed. Doors and stairs are always suggested: an actor mimes opening a door and taking a high step when he “enters” a room.

      There are a number of stage conventions; all entrances, for instance, are from a door stage left, and all exits through a door stage right. After a fight scene, the man who is defeated exits first. Wind is symbolized by a man rushing across the stage carrying a small black flag. Clouds painted on boards are shown to the audience to represent either the outdoors or summer. Fire, however, is always represented realistically, either by the use of gunpowder or by pyres of incense. The Chinese feel that Western dramatic realism atrophies the imagination.

      Japan is unique in Asia in having a living theatre that retains traditional forms. When an attempt is made in the West to recreate the original production of a Greek tragedy or even a play by Shakespeare, its historical accuracy can only be approximated. In Japan the traditions of stagecraft and costumes for both drama and dance have remained unaltered. Japanese staging developed far earlier than did that of the West; by the time of Shakespeare, for instance, the Japanese had already invented a revolving stage, trapdoors, and complex lighting effects.

      Although there are many kinds of theatre in Japan, the best known are the Nō (Noh theatre) and the Kabuki. Nō was developed by the late 14th century and was first seen by Westerners in the 1850s. It developed from the dengaku, a rice planting and harvesting ritual that was transformed into a courtly dance by the 14th century, and from the sarugaku, a popular entertainment involving acrobatics, mime, juggling, and music, which was later performed at religious festivals.

      Two performers and adherents of Zen Buddhism in the late 14th century, Kan'ami and his son Zeami Motokiyo, combined the sarugaku elements with kuse-mai, a story dance that uses both movements and words. Soon dengaku elements were added, and the distinctive Nō style slowly emerged. Like the Zen ways of tea ceremony, ink drawing, and other arts, Nō suggests the essence of an event or an experience within a carefully structured set of rules. There are scores of Nō theatres in Japan today, even though the design of a Nō theatre is so stylized that it is not usable for other types of performances. The Nō stage is a platform completely covered by a curving temple roof. The audience sits on three sides of the stage and is separated from it by a garden of gravel, plants, and pine trees.

      Masks (mask) are used, though they are restricted to the principal dancer and his companions. The male characters are costumed in brilliant stiff brocades and damasks well suited to the grandiose posturing of the actors. The female roles are played in bright flowered brocades. The outer robes of both sexes are of a fine-woven gauze, light and suitable for the gliding dances when sleeves and fans float in the air. Mask carving is an important art in Japan, and Nō masks add considerable beauty to the traditional robes. Most costumes are based on the classic court hunting dress of the Heian (794–857) and Kamakura (1192–1333) periods.

      Kabuki troupes, originally composed only of women, developed in the early 17th century. By the 1680s Kabuki had become an established art form, and curtains and scenery were introduced. Kabuki was first seen in western Europe during the latter part of the 19th century, but it was not until the 1920s that it was accepted there as something more than quaint. The work of the Russian film director Sergey Eisenstein (Eisenstein, Sergey Mikhaylovich) was influenced by the Kabuki troupe that toured the Soviet Union in 1928, and Kabuki staging devices were tried out in theatres in the Soviet Union, France, and Germany; one Kabuki actor, in turn, brought back Russian techniques that influenced the Japanese theatre.

      A Kabuki theatre in Tokyo is one of the largest legitimate theatres in the world, with a 91-foot- (28-metre-) wide stage and seating for 2,599 people. Running through the audience and connecting the stage with the rear of the auditorium is the platform runway, called the hanamichi. It is utilized for significant entrances and exits, processions, and dance sequences. Its purpose is to unite the actor and audience by moving the actor out of the decorative background. Originally there were two runways, with a connecting bridge at the rear of the auditorium. Because of economic pressure to seat more people and the influence of Western architecture, the second hanamichi was removed in the early 20th century.

      The scenery for Kabuki may be as elaborate and complex as that found anywhere; the stage, for instance, may be a house, a forest, and a river simultaneously. Some settings are triple-level palaces, with the actors using all levels at once; others have only a simple backdrop.

      Kabuki costumes are of the Edo period (Tokugawa period) (1603–1868), when Kabuki is considered to have been at its height. Wigs and makeup carefully conform to classical tradition, enabling habitual playgoers to recognize the type of play and characters at a glance. Many of the costumes are much exaggerated; all are designed to accentuate dramatic movement. Courtesans and heroes, for instance, wear stilts that raise them several inches off the ground.

      Balinese theatre is included here as representative of theatre in the smaller nations of Asia, such as Thailand, Kampuchea ( Cambodia), Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, in all of which drama consists almost exclusively of dance. Balinese dancing may take place anywhere; usually it is executed in front of a temple or a pavilion used for community meetings. The audience sits on three sides of the performers or, occasionally, in the round. The musicians, called the gamelan, sit on one side of the stage area.

      There are neither settings nor visible indications of scene changes; location is suggested by the dialogue or the facial expressions and gestures of the actors. A scenic “device” is employed at the beginning of each section of the dance; for instance, the dancer makes a gesture called “opening the curtain.” The hands, palms out, are in front of the face; they separate on a diagonal line to reveal the figure, stopping only when the full, formal posture of Balinese dance is reached.

Howard Bay Clive Barker

The Middle Ages in Europe
      In terms of performances and theatres, Roman drama reached its height in the 4th century AD, but it had already encountered opposition that was to lead to its demise. From about AD 300 on, the church tried to dissuade Christians (Christianity) from going to the theatre, and in 401 the fifth Council of Carthage decreed excommunication for anyone who attended performances on holy days. Actors (acting) were forbidden the sacraments unless they gave up their profession, a decree not rescinded in many places until the 18th century. An edict of Charlemagne (c. 814) stated that no actor could put on a priest's robe; the penalty could be banishment. This suggests that drama, most probably mime, had ridiculed the church or that it had tried to accommodate religious sensibilities by performance of “godly” plays.

      The invasions of the barbarians from the north and east accelerated the decline of Roman theatre. Although by 476 Rome had been sacked twice, some of the theatres were rebuilt. The last definite record of a performance in Rome was in 533. Archaeological evidence suggests that the theatre did not survive the Lombard invasion of 568, after which state recognition and support of the theatre was abandoned. Theatre did continue for a while in the Eastern Roman Empire, the capital of which was Constantinople, but by 692 the Quinisext Council of the church passed a resolution forbidding all mimes, theatres, and other spectacles. Although the effectiveness of the decree has been questioned, historians until recently used it to signify the end of the ancient theatre.

      The assumption now is that although official recognition and support of performances were withdrawn and theatres were not used, some remnants of at least the mime tradition were carried on throughout the Middle Ages. Christian writings suggest that performers were familiar figures. For instance, two popular sayings were “It is better to please God than the actors” and “It is better to feed paupers at your table than actors.” Apart from the mime tradition, one Roman playwright, Terence, retained his reputation through the early Middle Ages, probably because of his literary style.

Howard Bay
      Women performers were widespread during the period as jugglers, acrobats, dancers, singers, and musicians. There were women troubadours and jongleurs, and many of the French chansons are written from the point of view of female narrators, notably the chansons de mal mariée, or complaints by unhappily married women. Generations of ecclesiastical authorities protested against the great choruses of women who poured into churches and monasteries on feast days, singing obscene songs and ballads. Complaints are recorded from the 6th century AD to the 14th about women taking part in licentious public performances on festive occasions. Women were also active participants in the later mumming plays (mumming play); the London Mumming of c. 1427 was presented by an all-female cast, while in the Christmas Mumming at Hertford, the young king Henry VI saw a performance consisting of “a disguysing of the rude upplandisshe people compleynynge on hir wyves, with the boystous aunswere of hir wyves.”

Church theatre
      Medieval religious drama arose from the church's desire to educate (education) its largely illiterate flock, using dramatizations of the New Testament as a dynamic teaching method. It is doubtful whether there is any connection between the drama of classical times and the new rudimentary dramatizations that slowly grew into the miracle and mystery cycles of plays in the Middle Ages. As early as the 10th century in Switzerland, France, England, and Germany, short and simple dramatic renderings of parts of the Easter and Christmas liturgy of the mass were being performed. As these short scenes grew in number, small scenic structures, called mansions (mansion), sedum, loci, or domi (the Latin words for seats, places, and homes, respectively), were placed at the sides of the church nave. At these were acted stories of the Nativity, Passion, or Resurrection, depending upon the particular season of the Christian calendar. At the conclusion of each scene the congregation turned its attention to the next mansion, so following a succession of scenes set out at intervals around the nave. Gradually, the performance of liturgical drama passed out of the hands of the clergy and into those of the laity, probably via the trade guilds of craftsmen, which were also religious fraternities. More and more secular interludes crept into the dramas—to such an extent that the dramas moved out of the church building into the public square. The individual plays became linked in cycles, often beginning with the story of the creation and ending with that of the Last Judgment. Each play within the cycle was performed by a different trade guild. Many of the plays from different cycles have survived and can still be seen in parts of England.

George C. Izenour Clive Barker

Staging conventions
      A number of staging conventions that evolved in the church were to continue throughout the Middle Ages. Apart from the mansions there was a general acting area, called a platea, playne, or place. The methods of staging from these first liturgical dramas (liturgical drama) to the 16th-century interludes can be divided into six main types. The first involved the use of the church building as a theatre. In the beginning, for Easter tropes (embellishments of the liturgy), a tomb was set up in the north aisle. As dialogue was added, the entire nave was used, and within this space different localities were indicated by mansions. A few mansions housed numerous elaborate properties, particularly those for the Last Supper. Some mansions had curtains so that characters or objects might be revealed at a particular moment or concealed at the end of an episode. Sometimes the choir loft was used to represent heaven and the crypt to represent hell.

      The second type of staging evolved by the 12th century, as drama began to outgrow the capacity of the church to contain it. As long as the action was confined to the central theme, it could be played in an arrangement of mansions down the length of the nave. But as the subject matter extended to include both Old and New Testament history, the action was transferred to a stage outside the west door of the church. In 1227 Pope Gregory IX decreed the removal of what had become a show from holy ground to the marketplace or an open field. During the same period the language of the plays began to change from Latin to the vernacular. When drama was first taken outdoors, the crucifix was placed at one end, no doubt where it would have appeared above the altar in the church. Mansions were placed alongside each other, usually in sequences reflecting earlier church performances.

      A third type of staging was the so-called stationary setting, found outside of England, which involved placing the mansions in a wider range of locales. Here the audience accepted three conventions. One was the symbolic representation of localities by the mansions; the second was the placing of the mansions near each other; and the third was the use for acting purposes of such actual ground as was enclosed by or in front of each mansion. The mansions were placed in either a straight or a slightly curved line, and all of the scenery was visible simultaneously. Because of their scope, many of the plays were divided into parts separated by intermissions ranging from one to 24 hours. During the intermissions, mansions were changed. Also, some mansions might represent more than one location; the identity of the mansions was announced before each segment of a play. It is difficult to know exactly how many mansions were used; in a play at Lucerne, Switz., in 1583, for instance, 70 different locations were indicated, though only about 32 mansions were actually used.

      The two mansions almost always present were those representing heaven and hell, set at opposite ends of the playing area. The earthly scenes were set in the middle, and the two opposing mansions were supposed to represent man's dual nature and the choices that faced him. In the 15th and 16th centuries, heaven was usually raised above the level of the other mansions. Sometimes heaven had a series of intricate turning spheres, from which emanated the golden light of concealed torches. The hell mansion was designed to be the complete opposite of that of heaven; some portions of it, for instance, were below stage level. Sometimes hell was made to look like a fortified town, an especially effective image when Jesus Christ forced open the gates to free the captive souls. The entrance to hell was usually shaped like a monster's head and was called Hell's Mouth, emitting fire, smoke, and the cries of the damned.

      The fourth type of staging was in the round (theatre-in-the-round). In France and England particularly, surviving Roman playhouses were used for drama, and the mansions were probably placed in a circle. The play Castle of Perseverance from this period was intended to be performed within a moated round. Within the moat was an earthen bank on which the mansions were placed. Within the bank was a circle of flat earth with a tower structure in the centre. Members of the audience perambulated in the centre from mansion to mansion. The actors dressed in a small tent outside the round. Entry to the circle was over one bridge. The remains of several of these rounds still exist, the principle one being Piram Round in Cornwall.

      The fifth type of staging employed movable settings. Processional staging was particularly popular in Spain. The wagons, called carros, on which the scenery was mounted were positioned next to platforms that had been erected in every town. Developments were somewhat different in England and the Netherlands. There, the mansions themselves became portable, being called pageant wagons (pageant wagon) in England and wagonseel in the Netherlands. Beneath the raised platform was a curtained space with room for the actors. Although the number of settings available was the same as for the mansion presentation, only one wagon was visible at a time; the audience remained stationary, and the successive pageants were wheeled into place before it. Sometimes the pageant wagons were quite elaborate structures: a realistic ark, stocked with animals and possibly floated on water, might be constructed for the story of Noah and the Flood; or an ingenious model of a whale, able to contain an actor within its belly, might be used for the story of Jonah.

      Special effects, which were very popular, became so complex and numerous by the 15th century that many scenes were added to show them off. For flying, a fixed setting was often placed against a building equipped with pulleys and windlasses on its roof. Additional flying machinery was also hidden inside the heaven mansion. Angels, souls released from limbo, devils, and fire-spitting monsters could be shown flying. The machinery became so complex that 17 people were needed simply to operate the hell scenes at a theatre at Mons, in what is now Belgium. Trapdoors were used for sudden appearances, disappearances, and substitutions of dummies for actors in scenes of violence. In a production involving Barnabas' burning at the stake, bones and entrails stuffed in the dummy gave off a realistic smell.

      The morality plays (morality play), which first appeared in the 14th century, made use of no scenery or complex properties. Although some were performed indoors, most were offered outside on a stage that anticipated the English Elizabethan public theatre. A fixed facade was built at the rear of a large platform, and there were three openings at stage level that could be used to show interior scenes. A second level included similar openings, and a third level had a throne for the figure being honoured by the morality.

      The last type of staging, and the one about which least is known, was the curtained platform. Toward the end of the Middle Ages itinerant professional actors who performed interludes required only a curtain behind them for staging.

Howard Bay Clive Barker

Courtly diversions
      Another kind of theatre flourished in the courts—more or less impromptu entertainments, deriving from the medieval love of tournament. Essentially secular diversions, they were most sumptuously costumed and caparisoned, with the emphasis on spectacle. This type of theatrical entertainment grew in popularity throughout Europe, culminating during the 16th century.

      Another manifestation of courtly theatrical display took place on the triumphant entry into a city of a prince and his entourage after victory in war or on the occasion of a neighbouring ruler's visit. Public participation was usually invited, and sometimes mandated, to help augment the sense of occasion. Such entertainment was followed by private festivities held at court. On occasion, a group of strolling players would also be invited to perform in the great hall or courtyard of the palace.

      The theatre of the Middle Ages was essentially one of participation, and throughout its development it never lost an intimacy between actors and audience. It was a theatre that combined realism with considerable symbolism.

George C. Izenour Clive Barker

Developments of the Renaissance
      Just before 1500, Italian (Italy) amateur actors were performing classical comedies on stages with no decoration except for a row of curtained booths. By 1589, complex painted scenery and scene changes were being featured in production in Florence. And by 1650, Italy had developed staging practices that would dominate European theatre for the next 150 years.

      In the beginning of the Renaissance, there were two distinct kinds of theatrical productions. The first was of the type presented by the humanist Julius Laetus (Laetus, Julius Pomponius) at the Accademia Romana, a semisecret society he founded in the mid-15th century for the purpose of reviving classical ideals. In terms of staging, several medieval-type mansions were clustered to form a single large unit. There were, however, two elements not found previously. One was that the mansions were probably framed by decorative columns. This was the first movement toward the framework that would develop into the proscenium arch—the arch that encloses the curtain and frames the stage from the viewpoint of the audience. (The first permanent proscenium was built in the Teatro Farnese (Farnese, Teatro) at Parma, Italy, in 1618–19, a temporary one having been constructed by Francesco Salviati 50 years earlier.) The second innovation was that the mansions, by being linked, were treated as components of a general city street. In 1508 at Ferrara a background painted according to the rules of perspective was substituted for the mansions; the scene included houses, churches, towers, and gardens.

The revival of theatre building in Italy
      The revival of theatre building, first sponsored by 16th-century ducal courts and academies in northern Italy, was part of the general renewal of interest in the classical heritage of Greece and Rome. The ruins of classical theatres were studied as models, along with Vitruvius' treatise on classical architecture. There were, however, new conditions that fundamentally affected design. First of all, the theatre's move indoors gave rise to problems of lighting and acoustics. Second, the newly formulated laws of perspective in painting, when applied to stage and scenic design, brought about a profound change in the effect of a stage on an audience. The first Renaissance theatres, like those of early antiquity, were temporary wooden constructions in gardens, ballrooms, and assembly halls. Sometimes they were hastily erected affairs, put up to celebrate the births and weddings of ducal offspring or to commemorate victories in war. The theatrical performances given were mostly of allegorical pageantry, but the scenic spectacle was calculated to dazzle the eye and often succeeded. One court vied with another for the services of painters, sculptors, architects, and innovators in stagecraft. Such artists as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Vasari, Bramante, Raphael, and a host of other Italian painters, sculptors, and architects, as well as poets, such as Tasso, and musicians, such as Monteverdi, strove to please and exalt the reputations, real or imaginary, of their princely patrons.

      A more sober attempt to revive the classical theatre was made by the academies, organized by upper-class gentlemen who assembled to read and, on occasion, to participate in and to support financially productions of classical drama. The plays were generally of three kinds: contemporary poetic dramas based on ancient texts; Latinized versions of Greek dramas; and the works of Seneca, Terence, and Plautus in the original. Toward the middle of the 15th century, scholars discovered the manuscripts of the Roman writer Vitruvius; one of these scholars, the architect and humanist Leon Battista Alberti (Alberti, Leon Battista), wrote De re aedificatoria (1452; first printed in 1485), which stimulated the desire to build in the style of the classical stage. In 1545, Sebastiano Serlio (Serlio, Sebastiano) published his Trattato de architettura, a work that concentrated entirely on the practical stage of the early 16th century.

      Serlio's treatise on the theatre had three especially significant items. The first was a plan for an auditorium and stage that assumed a rectangular hall, with spectators arranged in the same pattern as in the Roman cavea (i.e., the tiered semicircular seating area of a Roman theatre), the difference being that the semicircle of the audience was cut short by the sidewalls. Second, his three types of stage designs—tragic, comic, and satiric—were the same as Vitruvius' classifications. Third, for the stage, he started with a Roman acting platform, but instead of the scaenae frons, he introduced a raked platform, slanted upward toward the rear, on which the perspective setting of a street was made up of painted canvases and three-dimensional houses. Since the perspective required that the houses rapidly diminish in size with distance, the actors were able to use only the front houses. Serlio used three types of scenes, all with the same basic floor plan. Each required four sets of wings (i.e., the pieces of scenery at the side of the stage), the first three angled and the fourth flat, and a perspective backdrop.

 The Accademia Olimpica in the little town of Vicenza, near Venice, commissioned a famous late Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio (Palladio, Andrea), to design a theatre. This, the Teatro Olimpico, was the first permanent modern indoor theatre, and it has survived intact. Palladio thoroughly researched his subject (the outdoor classical theatre of Rome) and without knowing it designed something now considered very close to a Roman odeum. It is a scaled-down version of an outdoor Roman theatre, with shallow open stage and a heavily sculptured, pedimented, permanent background. A colonnade of heroic proportions, surmounted by sculptured figures, surrounds a steeply stepped bank of seating. Overhead is a painted sky. To promote an intimate stage–auditorium relationship, he used a flattened ellipse in planning the seating, rather than the classic half circle. The interior was to be lit by tallow candles mounted in wall sconces. Palladio died before the building was finished, and his follower Vincenzo Scamozzi (Scamozzi, Vincenzo) completed the work in 1585. Behind the five stage entrances (attributed to Scamozzi) are static, three-dimensional vistas of streets receding to their separate vanishing points; it is not certain whether this was the intent of the original design. In performance, the theatre is efficient if the auditorium is full, and speech carries quite well because of the small volume, flat ceiling, modulated sidewalls, excellent vertical sight lines, and direct hearing lines from all seats to the stage. The exterior is an ungainly, masonry-walled structure with a wood-trussed, tiled roof.

      In 1588–89 Scamozzi designed the Teatro all'Antica, a small court theatre for the Gonzaga family at Sabbioneta. Unlike the Teatro Olimpico the stage here is a single architectural vista behind a shallow-raked open platform, after the manner of the stage illustrated by Sebastiano Serlio. At Sabbioneta a divided horsehoe-shaped bank of seating leaves an empty arena, at floor level, in front of the stage. This space, backed by the permanent bank of seating, can be used for additional seating, but it also accommodates other uses and paves the way for the most famous and influential of all Renaissance theatre buildings, the Teatro Farnese (Farnese, Teatro).

      The Teatro Farnese lies about 12 miles west of Sabbioneta at Parma, in a palace of the Farnese family. The theatre, designed by Giovanni Battista Aleotti and built in 1618 (but not used until 1628, to celebrate the marriage of a Medici daughter to a Farnese son), was the first proscenium theatre to be designed for movable scenery and is the earliest large-scale indoor theatrical facility to have survived. It was severely damaged by fire bombing in World War II but has since been restored to its former glory. There has also survived an extensive catalog giving details of events held there, including some contemporary comment on performances. The catalog describes the variety of uses to which the theatre was put: drama, opera, and ballet were performed on stage; equestrian acts and sumptuous balls were held in the spacious arena between stage and seating, which could also be flooded to a depth of two feet and used for mock naval battles; and, in addition, the theatre accommodated such court ceremonies as ambassadorial receptions, proclamations of state, and princely extravaganzas. The Teatro Farnese has windows (as did the Teatro Olimpico and the Teatro all'Antica at Sabbioneta before it) behind and above the banked seating, which helped to illuminate the space during daytime use; tallow candles or animal-fat lamps, in wall and overhead fixtures, were the only source of nighttime illumination for this and all interior theatres until the introduction of gas lighting in the 19th century. The Teatro Farnese set the style for stage and auditorium design over the next 250 years, with the exception of the courtyard-patio (corrales) theatre in Spain and the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre of England.

George C. Izenour Howard Bay Clive Barker

Developments in staging
      In the latter half of the 16th century, intermezzi (intermezzo) became a popular element of theatrical production. These entertainments, inserted between the acts of a play and totally unrelated to it, were generally on classical themes and were originally mounted during masked balls and banquets. The need to change settings rapidly for the alternating segments of plays and intermezzi encouraged the development of new devices for shifting scenery. The first solution to scene shifting adopted for intermezzi was derived from discussions of periaktoi found in Vitruvius. Nicola Sabbatini's (Sabbatini, Nicola) “Manual for Constructing Theatrical Scenes and Machines,” published in 1638, listed three main methods of changing scenery: one used periaktoi; the second maneuvered new wings around those already there; and the third pulled painted canvas around the wings to conceal the previously visible surfaces. In addition, the author explains how to change the flat wings near the back of the stage by sliding them in grooves or turning them like pages in a book. All of Sabbatini's devices indicate a considerable simplification of Serlio's wings (e.g., the substitution of painted details for three-dimensional ones).

      The demands of scene changing required that flat wings replace the angled ones. The problem of transferring a perspective picture successfully to a series of flat wings was not solved until 1600. By 1650 angled wings were completely outmoded; at each wing position as many flats were set up, one behind the other, as there were settings. Scenery was changed by removing the visible wings to reveal the set behind. Grooves were made in the stage floor to support the flats and facilitate their movement. The background was painted on two flats, called shutters, which met at the centre of the stage; and cloths that could be rolled up were occasionally used.

      The final step in scene-shifting was introduced by Giacomo Torelli in 1641, when he perfected the chariot-and-pole system. According to this system, slots were cut in the stage floor to support uprights, on which flats were mounted. These poles were attached below the stage to chariots mounted on casters that ran in tracks parallel to the front of the stage. As the chariots rolled to the centre of the stage, they carried the flats into view. An elaborate system of winches, ropes, and pulleys made it possible to change every part of a setting by turning a single winch. This invention, adopted by every European country except England and Holland, was the standard method of shifting scenery until the end of the 19th century.

      The Italians were particularly taken with special effects and delighted in elaborating on medieval practices. Most of the special effects were associated with the intermezzi and involved the replacement of biblical characters of the Middle Ages by pagan deities. Machines capable of flying up to 50 characters might be used. According to Serlio, moving mechanical figures representing men, animals, and objects were cut out of pasteboard and drawn across a scene by invisible wires. In many productions clouds that engulfed the stage would hide the activity of lowering painted cloths and flats. The front curtain was used to conceal the scenery and increase amazement at the beginning of a performance. At first the curtain was dropped, but, as this was hazardous, the roll curtain was soon adopted.

      Alongside the theatre of the aristocracy existed the enormously popular commedia dell'arte. The term commedia dell'arte only began to be used in the mid-18th century, though it has since come to denote the traveling companies of actors whose masked, improvised farces enjoyed a period of great popularity in Italy and throughout Europe in the 16th and early 17th centuries. The origins of the commedia are questionable, though it seems most likely that it derived from an ancient tradition of popular dancing and buffoonery, combined with stock characters from Roman comedy. Popular legend associates commedia performances with improvised acting in the open air, but evidence suggests that the commedia was not infrequently performed in enclosed spaces, since its emergence in the early 16th century proves it to be quite clearly a commercial theatre. The development of the commercial theatre, perceived by Vasari in the 16th century as an extraordinary innovation, parallels the emergence of the commedia companies, known for at least a century and a half as performers of commedia mercenaria (mercenary commedia), commedia all'improvviso (improvised commedia), commedia delle maschere (mask commedia), and, in France, as the comédie italienne. The basis of the commedia companies was continuity; roles and plots were transmitted orally, often from generation to generation. The companies traveled constantly and performed in hired indoor spaces, only occasionally on outdoor stages, making use of perspective scenery when they could but relying primarily on the skills of individual actors. Particularly famous were Francesco Andreini and his wife, Isabella, who was a playwright and poet in her own right, besides being a successful actress, Tiberio Fiorillo, and Vicenza Armani, whose arrival in many cities was accompanied by ceremonial cannon fire.

      The commedia dell'arte is best remembered as a theatre of stock types that later degenerated into pantomime clowns but that caught and held the imagination of audiences across the centuries. In fact, the greatest significance of the commedia has often remained hidden; its emergence as a specific form of theatre in the 16th century marks a fundamental change in the history of Western theatre as a whole. In the precommercial theatre, performance was characterized by the mutual participation of actors and audience. In the commercial theatre, where actors have to sell themselves to the audience, the emphasis shifts away from the role of the audience onto the skills of the actors. So the commedia dell'arte began as a festive people's theatre of the medieval world and became an actors' theatre. Its rise to fame and popularity marks the precise moment of the start of the theatre industry.

The 16th and 17th centuries in France
      In 16th-century France most theatrical activity was associated with the Confrérie de la Passion, a Parisian organization set up for the performance of mystery cycles. In 1402 the company was granted permission to stage any mystery play, but by 1548 it had been forbidden to produce sacred mysteries, this satirical forum for the lower clergy having proved to be too much for the ecclesiastical authorities. The company was granted, instead, complete control over secular drama, and they converted the Hôtel de Bourgogne into a theatre. The sets consisted of paintings of houses, unusual for the variety of localities represented within the same stage area.

      Despite the number of critics seeking to hold to the classical “unities”—i.e., the notion that a play should concern a single course of action set in one day, in one place—popular sentiment inspired plays with numerous settings. Such a play could be presented by the use of curtains, by changing scenery, or by a third method, the décor simultané (multiple setting), which was utilized by Laurent and Mahelot, the designers for the Confrérie. In this scheme, several localities were represented on the stage at the same time—each on a different portion of the stage—using angled mansions of wooden frames covered with canvas. When a play needed more mansions than could be fitted onstage at once, units were converted by removing the canvas coverings or by opening curtains to show an interior scene. Molière inherited a permanent town square set when he moved into the Petit-Bourbon in 1658.

The Elizabethan stage
      During the early part of the 16th century, there were two distinct types of theatre in England. One was represented by small groups of professional actors who performed in halls, inns, or marketplaces. The location of a play was established by the words and gestures of the actors. As in the commedia dell'arte, these localities had little significance. The second type of theatre, found in the London area, was made up of amateurs, usually university students, performing for the royal court and assorted gentry. The audience and the actors were educated, acquainted with the classics, and knowledgeable about theatre in other countries, particularly France. The stage was probably set with buildings made of laths, covered with painted canvas, with cloud borders masking the upper part of the acting area.

      The significant achievement of the Elizabethan stage was connected with the theatres of professional acting groups, not the court theatre. During the second half of the 16th century, as they became successful, the troupes no longer needed to remain itinerant. In 1576 the first permanent public theatre, called simply the Theatre (Theatre, The), was erected by the actor James Burbage. The building boom continued until the end of the century; the Globe (Globe Theatre), where Shakespeare's (Shakespeare, William) plays were first performed, was built in 1599 with lumber from the demolished Theatre.

 The typical Elizabethan stage was a platform, as large as 40 feet square (more than 12 metres on each side), sticking out into the middle of the yard so that the spectators nearly surrounded it. It was raised four to six feet and was sheltered by a roof, called “the shadow” or “the heavens.” In most theatres the stage roof, supported by two pillars set midway at the sides of the stage, concealed an upper area from which objects could be raised or lowered. At the rear of the stage was a multileveled facade with two large doors at stage level. There was also a space for “discoveries” of hidden characters, in order to advance the plot; this was probably located between the doors. Some scenes took place in a playing area on the second level of the facade, but, again, historians disagree as to which scenes they were.

      Properties were occasionally carried onto the platform stage, but from extant lists it is obvious that they were few in number. Some properties were so cumbersome that they remained onstage throughout a performance. Smaller properties were probably revealed in the discovery space, and servants carried some properties on and off. It appears that the audience was not concerned by the scenic inconsistencies.

 All of the theatre buildings were round, square, or octagonal, with thatched roofs covering the structure surrounding an open courtyard. Spectators, depending on how much money they had, could either stand in the yard, which may have sloped toward the stage, sit on benches in the galleries that went around the greater part of the walls, sit in one of the private boxes, or sit on a stool on the stage proper.

      The importance of this type of theatre was its flexibility. In some ways it was similar to earlier attempts to reconstruct the scaenae frons of the Romans; it had the facade and the entrance doors. The Elizabethan theatre differed in that it had a main platform, an inner stage, and an upper stage level that made movement possible in all directions instead of simply along the length of a narrow stage.

Spain's (Spain) Golden Age
      Religious drama developed in Spain during the Middle Ages only in the northeast because the Moors occupied the remainder of the peninsula. During the 16th century, as Spain became the most powerful country in Europe, it started to develop a sophisticated theatre. Following a period of interest in classical drama and the introduction of printing, in the late 15th century there appeared Juan del Encina (Encina, Juan del), the founder of modern Spanish drama. Although the origin of professional status among players is obscure, it is known that actors in Spain were being paid as early as 1454. The popularity of the theatre mushroomed in the 1570s, and among the playwrights of this era were such masters as Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and Calderón de la Barca.

      During this Golden Age in Spain, the theatre assumed a form more flexible than that of the Italian or French stages. The model was that of the corrales (courtyard theatre)—courtyards enclosed by the backs of several houses—in which the earliest troupes had performed. The staging arrangements were almost identical to those in contemporary London. The stage itself was a raised platform, without a front curtain or a proscenium arch but with a permanent facade at the back. Stages were about 28 feet long and 23 to 30 feet deep. The open platform was usually backed by a facade of two levels, with pillars dividing the lower level into three openings. The second level, basically a gallery, usually represented towers, city walls, or hills.

      Spanish staging conventions, like those of the Elizabethan theatre, tended to be simple. To denote a change of location, an actor merely exited and reentered. Occasionally, a curtain might have been used to augment the scenic effect, being drawn aside to permit upstage action. As with Shakespeare, however, locale was suggested by poetic discourse rather than by visual symbolism. The stage probably derived directly from the medieval wagon platform that had been used in the public square. Backstage were the actors' dressing rooms and stage property rooms. A shallow roof, supported by the primary backstage structure, extended partway over the platform, though probably not far enough to require any additional support. Three kinds of scenic background were utilized: the facade; the curtains concealing the facade, which were used when the location was not particularly important; and medieval-type mansions, which were sometimes erected on the main stage. As spectacle increased after 1650, painted flats with doors and windows were set into the facade in place of curtains. After a period of time, awnings were rigged over the seating, and, eventually, the addition of a permanent roof made it an indoor theatre. Sevilla (Seville) at one time boasted seven permanent theatres; the most important in Madrid was the Corral de la Cruz, opened in 1579. The corrales themselves, enclosing a square or rectangular courtyard, were unroofed until the 18th century; when roofs were added, a row of windows was added under the eaves. Seating consisted of benches on the ground level and balconies set in the containing walls for wealthier patrons. A special boxlike gallery, called the cazuela, the “stewpot,” was assigned to women spectators. Above the cazuela were galleries for members of the city government, the clergy, and the aristocracy.

Baroque (Baroque period) theatres and staging
      The combination of two artistic innovations—the formulation of the laws of perspective in the 15th century and the production of the first opera in 1597—provided the foundation for the Baroque theatre, which was to last until the 19th century. During this era all countries were brought into the same orbit, although Italy remained the primary inspiration. The classically inspired drama of the 16th century gave way to a variety of entertainments—intermezzi, ballet, masques, and opera. The invention of new means of presenting spectacular visual effects encouraged the installation of more and more elaborate machinery in theatre buildings. The result was that spectacle dominated all other aspects of production.

Howard Bay Clive Barker

Court theatres
      The Baroque architectural style, beginning in Italy and spreading across Europe, dominated theatre building between about 1650 and 1790. Its chief characteristics are refinement in detail of the proscenium stage and of the Renaissance horseshoe-shaped auditorium and seating plan. The innovations of the period were introduced in the private court theatres. As many as five shallow balconies were stacked vertically in the auditorium. For the first time there appeared an orchestra pit in front of the stage, sunk below ground level. The stage floor, which previously had extended only a few yards back from the proscenium arch, was now deepened to accommodate scenery, equipment, and dancing.

 With the rise of grand opera and ballet, inventors and designers were called upon to provide increasingly elaborate, portable, perspective scenery and complicated stage machinery, both above and below stage, to effect scene changes (nearly always carried out in full sight of the audience). Famous names of this period include the Italians Giacomo Torelli and the Bibiena family (Bibiena, Galli da, family), whose ingenious settings were unrivaled for originality. A rigid court etiquette dictated that the lines of perspective should provide a perfect stage picture from the point of view of the royal box, which directly faced the stage. Since, moreover, the building of theatres was controlled by the ducal or imperial purse, a rigid architectural formalism, varying only in detail, became the fashion, not to be broken until late in the 19th century. The auditorium was planned in tiers, a vertical stratification that reflected the ordering of society by class (social class). A good example is the French court theatre at Versailles (Versailles, Palace of) (1769), designed by King Louis XV's architect, Jacques-Ange Gabriel (Gabriel, Ange-Jacques). For a court theatre, its stage is exceptionally well equipped, mechanized in the manner of the Bibiena family, with an overhead pulley system for flying drops and borders, while the flat wings and shutters making up the elaborate scene were mounted on frames attached to carriages that ran on rails beneath the stage and so could easily be changed. Engravings of the time indicate that the court theatres were used for balls, concerts, and the like, as well as for stage performance. Though small, these costly court theatres witnessed the first productions of many operas by composers such as Haydn and Mozart, and they also played an important part in fostering the development of classical ballet.

Public theatres
The opera house
 There were two kinds of public theatre in the 18th century. One was a logical development of the earlier private court theatres, reflecting a sophisticated, urban, aristocratic demand for theatre as entertainment. The Teatro alla Scala (1776–78) in Milan is a good example of the numerous theatres erected by 18th-century nobility in the capitals of Europe. Public theatres such as La Scala differ from private court theatres only in the size of the auditorium and stage. Whereas Versailles had seated fewer than 700 in the auditorium, La Scala could accommodate more than 2,000. Opera, generally including a ballet, was by this time the most popular form of entertainment, especially in Italy.

The Restoration playhouse
      The other kind of public theatre, peculiar to England, was the Restoration playhouse. The Baroque horseshoe-shaped auditorium, with its deep stage and orchestra pit, was generally in favour all over western Europe, fixing the design and style of opera houses in particular. In it the actor played in front of elaborately painted scenery and behind the proscenium arch. The Restoration playhouse, however, while borrowing the fully rigged stage of the Baroque theatre, provided, in addition, a deep apron stage thrusting out from the proscenium, upon which most of the action took place. Thus, the actor played, as it were, in the auditorium and away from the scenic backing; the English, with their Shakespearean tradition, were loath to abandon the intimate contact between actor and audience that the Elizabethan theatre had allowed. At either side of the forestage were doors by which actors entered; above these doors were additional boxes, for spectators, stacked one above the other in the Baroque manner.

Influence of technical achievements
      Theatre lighting in this period was provided by wick-fed illuminants concealed behind the wings and proscenium arch and at the edge of the stage apron. In the auditorium either a large, single, central fixture, as at La Scala, or a number of smaller ceiling fixtures, as at Versailles, was the custom. All were kept burning during performance, and the habit of lighting the auditorium persisted until late in the 19th century.

George C. Izenour
      The court masques (masque) served to introduce Italian staging to England. The masques were allegories designed to honour a particular person or occasion by comparing them favourably with mythological characters or situations. Inigo Jones (Jones, Inigo), the foremost English architect of his time, produced masques and other entertainments at the English court from 1605 to 1640. He had visited Italy between 1596 and 1604 and was the individual most responsible for acceptance of Italian stage design in England. From his sketches it is known that Jones went through several phases in his designs, starting in 1604 with the décor simultané, mentioned above, in which different localities were represented on different portions of the stage. In 1605 he introduced simple perspective settings—two painted representations of houses with a painted back shutter. The same year he experimented with periaktoi, creating a globe, with no visible axle, that revolved to reveal eight dancers sitting inside.

 His masques all had painted proscenium arches, into which he set a falling curtain. By 1635 Jones designed a setting that utilized four angled wings, like Serlio's, and four shutters at the rear, three of which could be drawn to the sides in two parts. Jones' design for a masque in 1640 is considered the first design of the Baroque theatre in England. Four sets of side wings were placed on each side of the stage, each wing consisting of two flats. There were four shutters at the rear, with each dividing into two parts for easy removal. Each wing had either a header (i.e., a horizontal unit that joins two upright wings, to form a flat arch) or a sky border (a horizontal piece of scenery, designed to look like the sky, which masks the space above the set). To give the illusion of distance, the side wings were made in exaggerated perspective, with each succeeding wing in significantly smaller scale than the one preceding. The disadvantage of using smaller sized flats toward the back of the stage was that if the actors stood too close to them the illusion would be destroyed. The actors were therefore restricted to the front of the stage. In successive decades, attempts were made to give the stage area greater depth by multiplying the number of flats on each side. In sum, with the exception of the chariot-and-pole system of scene changing, Jones introduced all of the major Italian developments into England.

      After Inigo Jones, English scenery practices and stage conventions were similar to those of Italy. Sets were changed by sliding them in grooves in the stage floor and overhead. Since the curtain was raised after the prologue and remained up throughout the performance, all scene shifting was in view of the audience. It was not until 1750 that an “act drop” was used; previously, even intermezzi were performed in front of a full stage setting.

      As interest in spectacle increased, the scene painter became more important, and by the late 18th century each theatre had two or more permanent scene painters. The best known designer around the end of the 18th century was Philip James de Loutherbourg (Loutherbourg, Philip James de), a painter; from 1771 he worked for the actor-manager David Garrick as scenic designer at the Drury Lane Theatre in London, and he is credited with changing the orientation of design from the architectural to the landscape era, thus marking the end of the Baroque in England. He was one of the pioneers of the cut cloth, a double back cloth in which there was an opening in the one nearer the audience that revealed a vista painted on the back one. He also utilized transparent scenery; in one production he cut the moon out of the canvas back cloth, replaced it with gauze, and lit it from behind. The importance that Loutherbourg's landscape painting of the back cloth assumed is shown by the fact that the Drury Lane pantomime of 1779 was specially written for the scenery he had designed while on a trip to Derbyshire. His depiction of actual places in England started a vogue for “local colour.” Loutherbourg's single most important contribution, however, was that he achieved a unity of design because he directed both the scenery and the lighting and effects of a single production.

Scenic design
      Significant changes in scenic design were made by Italy's Bibiena family, of whom the best known members were Ferdinando, Francesco, Giuseppe, Antonio, and Carlo. Around 1703, at Bologna, Ferdinando introduced angled perspective. Previously, stage design was based on one-point perspective (perspective scenery) using a single vanishing point, in which all lines appear to recede with distance toward one point at the centre of the background. Bibiena, however, used perspective with two vanishing points; if this technique were used to render a large, flat building as seen from one corner of it, for example, the base and roof lines of one side extended into the distance would appear to meet at some point off to the right and those of the other side at another point off to the left. Furthermore, by locating these points quite low, Bibiena gave the structures the effect of immense size. Buildings, walls, or courtyards were placed in the centre of the set and vistas at the sides, and the scale of settings, which had previously been designed to make the scenery an extension of the auditorium, was altered. The front wings were painted as though they were only the lower part of a building. The result of these innovations was that Bibiena's sets seemed so large that they created a feeling of fantasy. Despite its apparent size, though, an angled-perspective setting required less stage space than one with a central alley. Many of the settings divided the stage into a foreground, for the actors, and a background, for distant objects. A drop, designed to resemble a series of arches or columns, often marked the rear of the acting area.

      Another designer who developed the angled scene independently of Bibiena was Filippo Juvarra (Juvarra, Filippo), a major Italian architect of the early 18th century, who began his work, as did many artists of the period, with the decoration of court entertainments. Some of his most intriguing scenic designs, in terms of architectural fantasy, were executed for a marionette theatre owned by his patron. These designs are of particular interest to theatre historians because Juvarra usually included plans of the stage settings showing exactly how the wings were placed. Juvarra's sets were basically curvilinear, leading the audience's eye to the foreground instead of the sides. In several sketches he designed a permanent set with a large archway opening up to a series of vistas, which varied from a landscape to a perspective corridor. His designs foreshadowed the interest in landscape that was not to find its complete development until almost a century later.

      In the second half of the 18th century, several new directions in thinking led to stylistic changes in scenery. One was the increased interest in history, spurred by the rediscovery of Pompeii in 1748. Scenery of classical ruins overgrown with vines became popular. Plays based on folk literature were produced with Gothic architectural settings. The most important new direction was that scenic designers introduced “mood”; they started to emphasize light and shadow to create an atmosphere. The best known artist of this period was the Italian engraver Giambattista Piranesi (Piranesi, Giovanni Battista), who executed more than 1,000 engravings of Roman ruins and prisons. He did not particularly apply himself to the theatre, yet his designs were inspired by contemporary stage settings and were in turn themselves an inspiration for other designers.

Developments in France and Spain
      Although Italian-style scenery was introduced to the French court before, it was not popular until after 1640. The first theatre in France with a permanent proscenium arch and a stage designed for flat wings was constructed in 1641 for Cardinal de Richelieu (Richelieu, Armand-Jean du Plessis, cardinal et duc de). In 1645 an Italian designer, Giacomo Torelli (Torelli, Giacomo), popularly called “the great sorcerer,” was imported by Richelieu's successor, Jules Cardinal Mazarin (Mazarin, Jules, Cardinal), to design for the new theatre, the Palais-Royal (Palais-Royal Theatre). In 1646–47 Torelli remodeled the Palais-Royal to accommodate his invention of the chariot-and-pole system of scene shifting. Pierre Corneille (Corneille, Pierre), the founder of French classical tragedy, was commissioned to write Andromède for the remodeled theatre. Although the play progressed through spoken episodes, each act provided an excuse for Torelli to introduce elaborate machinery, including the revolving stage. Until Torelli, the changing of scenery had marked a structural break in the dramatic presentation. Torelli put aside all previous methods, which were so distracting to the audience, and introduced set changes within, rather than at the ends of, the scenes. The audience was mesmerized by the scenery mysteriously changing while the action of an opera or ballet proceeded without interruption.

      For the wedding of Louis XIV, in 1660, Gaspare Vigarani went to France from Italy to build the Salle des Machines, the largest theatre in Europe. It was 226 feet long, only 94 feet of which was occupied by the auditorium. Its stage, 132 feet deep, had a proscenium arch only 32 feet wide. One of Vigarani's machines, 60 feet deep itself, was used to fly the entire royal family and their attendants on stage for the finale. Vigarani was succeeded by his son, who was in turn followed by the Jean Berains (Berain, Jean, the Elder), father and son. The Berains established a distinctly French style of design, emphasizing heavy lines, curves, and encrusted ornamentation. They usually designed only one set for each act but used many machines and special effects. This combination of static scenery and dynamic machinery was to remain in vogue in French opera through the 18th century. After 1682 the influence of the court on public theatre declined. After 1690 the King became so puritanical that plays were no longer encouraged.

      In contrast to court opulence was the Comédie-Française, for which a theatre was built in 1689 from a converted tennis court. The stage was equipped for flat wings and shutters, but since scene changes were few, the machinery was minimal. The typical background for tragedies was the palais à volonté (literally “palace to order”), a neutral setting without particularized details. For comedy the typical scene was chambre à quatre portes (“room with four doors”), an informal interior. By 1700 Paris had two types of theatres, epitomized by the Opéra, with its Baroque scenery and machines, and the Comédie-Française, which did not rely on spectacle.

      The first true spectacle in a public theatre was the 1755 production of Voltaire's Orphelin de la Chine (Orphan of China), with its supposedly accurate Chinese scenery and costumes. Subsequently the Comédie-Italienne, permanently performing in Paris, introduced local colour and increased the use of spectacle. Giovanni Nicolò Servandoni (Servandoni, Giovanni Niccolò), originally a Florentine who lived in Paris from 1724 to 1746, translated Italian styles to French taste. His use of perspective gave the illusion of space without falling back on the obvious geometry that characterized the High Baroque. He took over as director of the Salle de Machines, where his work in its turn influenced the designers of Italy and Germany. At the Opéra, as opposed to public theatres, spectacle was used throughout the 18th century. Its best known designers included the painter François Boucher. And although many famous painters designed settings, there is still no comparison with the works of the Italians of this period. The financial problems of the theatres did much to prevent a forward thrust in French design. Ironically, the most sumptuous spectacle of the latter part of the 18th century occurred in France in 1794, after the Revolution: the National Convention decreed “The Festival of the Supreme Being,” designed by the painter Jacques-Louis David (David, Jacques-Louis) and conducted by the revolutionary government leader Robespierre (Robespierre, Maximilien de)—Neoclassicism in the service of the Republic.

      After the 1760s, theatres were built in the Italian style, with ovoid auditoriums and enlarged stages. By the 1780s, when the standing pit fell into disuse, all of the spectators were finally seated, off the stage. The seated pit was not to become accepted in France until the 19th century.

      In Spain during this period, theatre began to decline. Although Italian-style scenery was used occasionally, it was not common until brought from Florence in 1626 by Cosimo Lotti, who staged many outdoor productions on the grounds of the Buen Retiro palace in Madrid. For one, he built a floating stage on a lake, and the special effects included a shipwreck, a water chariot drawn by dolphins, and the destruction of Circé's palace. This production was lit by 3,000 lanterns, and the spectators watched from gondolas. In 1640 Lotti built a permanent theatre in Madrid, the Coliseo, which probably had the first proscenium arch in Spain. The next decade saw a decline in both court and public theatres. By 1650 the Coliseo was reopened, but its popularity had diminished by 1700. By the late 1600s Spain had lost most of its economic and political power, and its theatre through most of the Baroque was a watered-down version of Italian concepts.

Developments in northern Europe
      One country outside the Italian influence during this period exhibited an interesting theatre plan. In 1638 Jacob van Campen (Campen, Jacob van), an architect, designed a theatre in Amsterdam (Netherlands, The) that had no counterpart elsewhere in Europe. The auditorium was elliptical, with two tiers of boxes on one side opposite a stage facade with open balconies over the sides. The facade itself consisted primarily of pillars with cornices above them, and painted panels, representing different localities rather than a unified setting, were set between the pillars. The whole concept of the panels was probably directly derived from the simultaneous stage of the Middle Ages.

      The constantly shifting politics of northern Europe, and particularly of Germany, in the 16th and 17th centuries was the primary cause for the late development of professional theatre in this region. Theatre in Germany owes its impetus to the English troupes (Englische Komödianten) that started touring the country in the early 17th century. At first, the English performed in courts, and by 1650 they were traveling across the country regularly. To attract the non-English-speaking audience, the troupes gradually inserted German phrases, speeches, and then whole scenes. As early as 1626, German actors were joining the troupes, and by 1680 English actors had been completely displaced. Because Germany was politically divided and there were no large cities, the troupes had to travel constantly to find new audiences. To attract the disparate spectators, a company might have as many as 100 plays in its repertoire. These conditions combined to make it impossible to rehearse and mount plays with any great professionalism.

      Between the mid-17th and the late 18th century the aristocracy ignored public theatre in favour of opera. The first Viennese (Vienna) opera house was built in 1652 by Giovanni Burnacini and is similar to the courtyards of Italian Renaissance palaces in the two levels of its auditorium, framed by a double arcade of rounded arches. Italians played an important part in every aspect of theatre at the imperial court until the late 18th century. The first performance at the Viennese opera house was of an Italian opera.

      In the public theatre, the work of the manager Johann Friedrich Schönemann (Schönemann, Johann Friedrich) led to the establishment in 1767 of the Hamburg National Theatre, the first noncommercial public theatre, subsidized by a group of rich citizens. This marked the beginning of a movement that gained force during the next decade and can be found even today in East German theatre. The prevailing attitude was that theatre is a cultural institution that, like museums, should be available to all citizens.

      This movement toward permanence greatly influenced the evolution of staging in the 18th century. As audiences grew larger, and as cities developed, a troupe was able to reduce the number of plays in a repertoire, and this in turn led to better productions. And as the theatre building grew in size and substance, the chariot-and-pole system of scene shifting was introduced. Interest in historical accuracy of sets and costumes was stimulated by the chivalric plays popular in the 1770s. During the next two decades dramatists were writing plays that relied on complex set pieces, including bridges and walls. Doors and windows were set up between the wings, marking the first development toward the box set—a set representing three walls of a room, the fourth being the plane of the proscenium.

Early Russian (Russia) staging
      Russian theatre can be traced back to the pagan rituals of the ancient Slavs, the later Christian festivals, and, in the Middle Ages, the mixed rituals of these two influences. As early as the 10th century there were mummers, called skomorokhi, probably itinerant comedians who performed in small towns and villages. Suffering the same fate as the actors of western Europe during the early Middle Ages, the mummers were the victims of measures taken by the princes as well as the church. Their specialties were trained-animal acts, usually with bears, and puppet shows. The Greek Orthodox Church (Greece, Church of) introduced some morality plays in Russia, but they were limited in scope and number. Since the mass was celebrated in the vernacular, the church did not need the aid of morality plays for the dissemination of its message. At the beginning of the 17th century, the only theatre using a literary text and a trained company was the drama brought from Poland to the Ukraine.

      In 1672 the first public performance of a play was offered in Moscow. A special theatre was built in the Tsar's residence; there seems to have been no scenery outside a fir tree on either side of the stage, although there was a sliding curtain. The Tsar ( Alexis), who was so excited that he sat in the theatre for 10 hours on the day of the first performance, paid for the founding of a theatrical school. The problem with the theatre during the next 80 years was precisely that it had been founded on the Tsar's order: it was attached to the court and subsidized by the aristocracy (who chose German directors); it assumed political overtones and aimed at pleasing only the monarchy.

      The beginning of change came in 1730, when an Italian group brought the commedia dell'arte, elaborate sets, and machinery to Moscow. During the next 10 years, Italian opera and ballet were also introduced to Russia. Despite the success of foreign companies, the significant event was the birth of the national theatre in 1749. This enterprise was open to the public, and, although it was popular, lack of funds made it a weak rival to court theatre. Its impact lay in the fact that it introduced the concept of theatre to a large audience.

      By the end of the 18th century, companies were touring the major cities, and privately owned theatres were being opened. In general, only the aristocracy patronized the theatre, and nobles established their own serf (serfdom) troupes. One prince, who owned 21,000 serfs, established his own ballet, opera, and dramatic companies. Owners occasionally rented their troupes for public performances, until the abolition of serfdom in 1861. Little is known of the staging of their productions beyond the fact that it was imitative of French and Italian (Italy) theatre.

Developments in the 19th century

Theatre in France after the Revolution
      Under Napoleon, French theatre was little different from that of the 1780s, specializing in Neoclassical drama. Popular drama, as performed by what were known as “boulevard theatres,” introduced melodrama, a form that was to dominate theatre in the 19th century. Melodrama, in turn, by popularizing departures from Neoclassicism and capturing the interest of large audiences, paved the way for Romantic drama.

      The dramatic debut of Romanticism is dated at 1830, when public pressure forced the Comédie-Française to produce Victor Hugo's (Hugo, Victor) Hernani. After a spirited opening at which Hugo's Bohemian claque overwhelmed the staid regular theatregoers, Romanticism was victorious and ruled the Parisian stage for 50 years. The grandiose bombast of Romanticism did not overturn the Baroque, it merely diluted it; the formal artificial structure was broken into sentimental, melodramatic episodes depicting the distraught hero buffeted by an unfeeling world and the awesome elements. The melodramas introduced natural disasters that were significant to the plot, so that emphasis could be placed on special effects and spectacle. Dramatists also deliberately included exotic locales or examples of local colour, so that a variety of historical periods and fantastic sets would hold the attention of the audience. Throughout the 19th century, architectural perspective was replaced by neo-Gothic sentimentalization of nature. Painted Romantic scenery, in the style of Loutherbourg, was the rage in France.

      The two important designers of this period were Jacques Daguerre (Daguerre, Louis-Jacques-Mandé), who was also the inventor of the daguerreotype, an early photographic technique, and Pierre-Luc-Charles Ciceri, the most important designer of this period. The panorama, a major scenic innovation, was invented in 1787 and first used on the London stage in 1792. The panorama was set up in a circular building in which the audience, sitting on a central platform, was totally surrounded by a continuous painting. Daguerre started his career as one of the first panorama painters. He went on to invent the diorama, in which the audience sat on a platform that revolved to show paintings on proscenium-like stages. Although the scenery remained stationary, Daguerre created the illusion of constant change by controlling the light on the semitransparent sets. The panorama was more popular than the diorama because it did not depend on the ability to alter stage lighting. Its shape, though, was altered to resemble the diorama. The next development in spectacle was the moving panorama, in which a continuous scene was painted on a long cloth, hung from an overhead track, and attached at both ends to spools. When the spools were turned, the cloth moved across the stage so that the actors with their carriages and other props could move from one location to another without changing wings and drops. The sky borders were dispensed with, and flats of architectural units or natural objects forming an arch were placed at the front of the stage, through which was seen a distant view painted on a curved panorama stretching across the back and sides of the stage.

      Ciceri's importance arose from his abilities to depict local colour, ruins, and historical backgrounds. He founded the first scenic studio in Paris independent of a theatre, with specialists in various types of design. After the opening of the new Opéra in 1822, interest in spectacle was so great that promptbooks were published, describing scenery and special effects and how they could be adapted for theatres with less equipment.

      By the end of the 19th century, the process of scenic design and construction had become standardized. The director gave the requirements to the scenic designer, who made cardboard models. The scenery was constructed by the theatre's carpenters and then sent to a scenic studio for painting.

Howard Bay

German Romanticism and naturalism
      The 19th century in Germany was a study in contrasts. The beginning decades saw the rise of Romanticism, which, 50 years later, was still strong, primarily in the figure of the composer Richard Wagner (Wagner, Richard). The century's middle decades of political and economic disillusionment before the unification of Germany were conducive to the emerging Naturalist school, the philosophy of which was first embodied in the Meiningen Players, organized in 1866 by George II, duke of Saxe-Meiningen.

      By the middle 1820s, after the defeat of Napoleon, the political turbulence in Germany led to municipal control over the theatre and strict censorship. Repertoires consisted of “safe” classics and insipid new plays, resulting in competent but uninspired theatre. This competence was reflected in the staging. One of the few important designers of this period was Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Schinkel, Karl Friedrich), who had been trained in both Italy and Germany. He introduced the diorama in Berlin in 1827.

      One true innovator during the first half of the 19th century was Ludwig Tieck (Tieck, Ludwig), who advocated realistic acting on a platform stage. With the help of an architect, he tried to reconstruct an Elizabethan public stage. He also championed the open stage in the belief that pictorial realism destroys the true illusion of the theatre. Invited by William IV of Prussia to stage Antigone at the court theatre in Potsdam in 1841, Tieck extended the apron in a semicircle over the orchestra pit and built a skēnē as the only background for the drama. In 1843 he adopted Elizabethan conventions to the proscenium theatre for a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Using the front part of the stage as a large open space, he built a unit in the rear consisting of two stairs leading to an acting area eight feet above stage level. The stairs framed an inner stage below the platform. He then hung tapestries at right angles to the proscenium, thus masking the sides of the stage. Although Tieck was universally respected, it was not until the 1870s that his innovations received widespread support. The works of Wagner and Saxe-Meiningen were responsible for this change in the public's attitude.

      Wagner's works were the dramatic culmination of Romanticism and the contribution it was destined to make to modern theatre practices. German Romanticism was in great part a protest movement against the dominance of French Neoclassicism. Instead of structuring dramatic action according to fixed patterns of logical progression, the Romantics wanted dramatic structures born of human experience. This stress on what was to be called “organic form (organic unity)” was a protest against the received tradition of dramatic theory and staging practices. German Romanticism, also known as Sturm und Drang (“Storm and Stress”), a movement generally attributed to the influence of the young Goethe at the end of the 18th century, turned to a revival of the Gothic style of the Middle Ages to escape Neoclassicism. The new middle-class audiences identified with the lonely soul against the world—a sentimental world of windswept mountain crags and gloomy, mouldering castles.

      Romanticism later broke into two camps. The first of these, called historical Romanticism, held that history (history, philosophy of) is continuous, and that once its import has been grasped, the present can be recognized to be as “historical” as anything that occurred in the past. The second Romantic group, with which Wagner was associated, was concerned only with the use of history to reach absolute truths. Wagner believed that the study of history leads ultimately to prehistory and thus to transhistorical mythology, the realm of absolute truths. What is particularly interesting is that the first type, historical Romanticism, eventually found its home in the theatre in the realist school. Wagner's myth-Romanticism (myth) faded by the late 1800s, although Romantic contributions to staging exerted their influence well into the 20th century.

      Wagner wanted to use myth to reunite modern man with the passion from which rationalism, the industrial process, and capitalism had separated him. For him, the theatrical manifestation of the myth was the music drama, and he hoped to combine music, acting, stage space, design, and lighting to establish the primeval mood of myth. To house his music drama, Wagner designed the Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, which opened in 1876, marking a rejection of the Baroque stratified auditorium and a return to classical, democratic principles of theatre design. The seating is fan-shaped, a belated acknowledgment of the fact that good lateral sight lines are essential for the enjoyment of performances on a proscenium stage. Wagner did away with the box seats, from which the wealthier theatregoers had watched each other instead of the stage for hundreds of years. Another striking feature is the absence of any radial or parallel aisles. Side aisles and two vomitory exits provide the only access to seating, thus further concentrating and compressing the main body of seats in front of the proscenium. Wagner had the orchestra lowered into a pit (the “mystic gulf”), so that it became the hidden source of an enveloping sound.

      The stage itself was raked upward toward the rear, and the scenery was shifted by using the chariot-and-pole system. Wagner introduced a system of steam vents to make a steam curtain to hide scene changes. For him the theatre could no longer be the aggregate of the parts contributed by various hands. The ideal was the Gesamtkunstwerk (“total work of art”), in which all the elements of performance would be integrated. Nothing could be left to chance; all must be directed toward the same end.

      At the time Wagner was introducing his music drama, George II, duke of Saxe-Meiningen, began to take an interest in the theatre of his court. The theatre itself, built by his father in classical-revival style in 1831, had a facade decorated with pillars crowned by a Greek pediment. The building contained not only the auditorium and stage house but also an assembly hall for balls, banquets, and other nontheatrical festivities. Saxe-Meiningen (Meiningen Company) tried to create the illusion of reality with accurate spectacle and lifelike acting. He studied the distinctions between nations within the same historical period; the result was unprecedented historical accuracy. Saxe-Meiningen also insisted on using authentic period furniture, and the success of his troupe led to the opening of theatrical supply houses. The Duke designed all scenery, properties, and costumes for his troupe. Costumes were made of authentic materials. Characters appearing in chain mail wore chain mail and not some lighter substitute. Swords were of authentic weight. In this way, it was reasoned, the actor's physical sensation of wearing the costumes induced empathetic feelings for the character, and these feelings formed the basis of “lifelike” acting. Saxe-Meiningen viewed scene design as similar to architectural design in that it shapes whatever activity it shelters. He insisted on the continuous and direct relation between the design of a set and the actors' movements within it. Among his innovations is the abandonment of the practice of using only pastel colours for scenery; instead of sky borders as overhead masking, he used richly coloured banners, foliage, and other devices. Saxe-Meiningen was one of the first designers to break the surface of the stage floor into different levels.

      From 1866 to 1874 the troupe performed only in Meiningen; for the following 16 years it toured 38 cities in nine countries. It had enormous impact on the history of the theatre, as it achieved complete illusion in every facet of its productions. Saxe-Meiningen is considered the single most important influence on the directors who inaugurated 20th-century stagecraft; he introduced the pictorial massing of crowds. He coordinated and controlled the work of his actors and established the ensemble as the basis for creative work in the theatre. There were no stars in the Meiningen Players. Casting policy required that actors play leading roles in some productions, subordinate roles in others. The supernumeraries were subjected to the same discipline, and the crowd was sectionalized under the leadership of actors. Actors were required to learn practical skills appropriate to their roles. The Saxe-Meiningen movement toward unified productions influenced other major figures such as André Antoinein France and Konstantin Stanislavsky in Russia, great apostles of realism and the founders of modern theatre.

      However disparate the aims of Saxe-Meiningen and Wagner were, they had a great deal in common. Between them they established the principle that a production should be subordinated to the will of one individual who directs and integrates all aspects of the preparation. The profession of theatre director came into being with their vision of theatre.

Russian imperial theatre
      Russian drama in the 19th century also got off to a slow start because of strict government censorship, particularly after 1825. This atmosphere was conducive, as in Germany, to the flowering of Romanticism, especially as manifest in patriotic spectacles. Melodrama, Shakespeare, and musical plays were the backbone of Russian repertory until the 1830s. The best known plays of the new realistic school were those of Aleksandr Ostrovsky, Nikolay Gogol, and Ivan Turgenev.

      Until 1883 the imperial theatres, under strict government controls, had a monopoly on productions in Russia's two major cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg. It was not until the monopolies were rescinded that public theatre was able to expand, although the state troupes, such as the Bolshoi in Moscow, continued to offer the most professional productions.

      Through the 1850s each theatre had its own few stock settings. The box set had been introduced in the 1830s, but it was to take several decades to become popular. Realism began to dominate scenic design by the 1850s, particularly at the Maly Theatre in Moscow. Historically accurate settings began to appear in the 1860s, when one theatre hired a historian to help the designer of Aleksey Tolstoy's Death of Ivan the Terrible. Previously, settings had followed the neutral style of the German designer Alfred Roller, whose pupils were the major designers for the state theatres. The unified production techniques of Meiningen were not seen in Russia until the Moscow Art Theatre flourished at the beginning of the 20th century.

British theatre and stage design
      In 19th-century Britain (United Kingdom) the audiences shaped both the theatres and the dramas played within them. The upper class favoured opera, while the working class, whose population in London alone tripled between 1810 and 1850, wanted broadly acted theatre with scenic wonders and machinery. And as the audience grew in number, the Georgian theatre building, which was small and intimate, began to disappear.

      In the early 19th century an important designer was William Capon, who utilized pieces set at various raked angles and elaborate back cloths as an alternative to flats and wings. His sets were also large enough not to be overpowered by the larger theatres. One of Capon's sets, depicting a 14th-century cathedral, was 56 feet wide and 52 feet deep. His sets were historically accurate even though the practice of having several designers work independently on the same production was still in effect.

      The productions of John Philip Kemble (Kemble, John Philip), the manager of first the Drury Lane and then the Covent Garden, marked the shift from Neoclassicism to Romanticism in English stage design. He valued theatricality over historical accuracy, as the audience demanded an increased use of spectacle with each passing year. As melodrama became more popular, the effects multiplied until, in an 1820 production of King Lear, the storm noises were so realistic that Lear could not be heard. In 1823 Kemble began to reverse this trend and started to use accurate sets and costumes for Shakespeare, and within 15 years historical accuracy was dominant.

      Another important contributor to the history of staging was Lucia Vestris (Vestris, Madame), an actress and manager at the Olympic Theatre. She controlled all the elements of a production and combined them into a single, integrated unit. She also was enamoured of spectacle and is credited with introducing the box set on the London stage in 1832, although there is some evidence pointing to its use as early as 1794. In this new set, the sidewalls of rooms were built solidly from front to back so that the actors, instead of entering as usual between side wings set parallel to the footlights, came in through doors set on hinges. She treated the box set realistically, attaching knobs to doors, for example.

 By the 1840s, because of political conditions, many theatres were bankrupt. The next 20 years saw a gradual recovery, with few dramatic innovations in design. One important manager of this era was Charles Kean (Kean, Charles), a pictorial realist, whose first major attempt to ensure accuracy in every production detail was made in 1852 with King John. In the following year, Kean gave the audience a printed list of authorities consulted with regard to the authenticity of each production. In mounting Shakespeare as lavishly as possible while at the same time emphasizing historical accuracy, Kean practically buried his actors in historical costume, settings, and pageantry.

      In the second half of the 19th century, burlesque, extravaganza, and musical drama held the largest audience appeal. The music hall also came into prominence, as incidental entertainment was separated from drama. In the period from 1860 to 1880, the theatre continued to expand, and the number of buildings alone increased 50 percent in the first 10 years. The first manager of significance was Charles Fechter, who revived interest in the box set. He also discontinued entrances from the wings, heretofore a standard practice of actors even when the wings represented solid walls. Fechter also used a stage that sank by hydraulic mechanism, later perfected by the Germans, which allowed scenery to be shifted in the basement (see below Development of stage equipment (theatre)).

 The most important management team was that of Sir Squire Bancroft (Bancroft, Sir Squire) and his wife, Marie Wilton, at the Prince of Wales Theatre. Producing plays by Thomas W. Robertson, they succeeded in melding character and stage business. Spectacle was no longer embellishment but an emphasizing of realistic (realism) visual details. The Bancrofts' productions also finally won general acceptance for the box set; they were as accurate in modern plays as in Shakespeare; and they firmly anchored the acting behind the proscenium arch. Theatre boxes had been replaced by open balconies, which no longer extended to the proscenium wall. This made it possible for the Bancrofts and others to lower the proscenium arch. In 1880 they even extended the arch downward on either side and across the floor of the stage to emphasize the analogy of the picture frame. Modern, realistic interior settings were constantly used, and the acting was keyed to the settings. Although Fechter had employed realistic stage business as early as 1860, the Bancrofts were the first to standardize it and make it a tradition.

      The greatest of the actor-managers was Sir Henry Irving (Irving, Sir Henry), the manager of the Lyceum Theatre from 1878 to 1901. The best known designers of the period, Hawes Craven and Joseph Harker, worked for Irving. He hired historians to advise on the accuracy of productions and enlisted easel painters such as Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema to design scenery for Cymbeline and Coriolanus and Sir Edward Burne-Jones for King Arthur. After Irving saw the Meiningen performances in London in 1881, he modeled his Shakespearean productions on what he had seen. Irving was also the first manager to use the front curtain to hide major scene changes, and he completely darkened the auditorium during performance, as Wagner had done.

      The widespread changes in staging methods during the 19th century were possible because of changes in architecture and the development of machinery (stage machinery). The complex scenery of the Victorian theatre required increased flying around the stage, with a complicated counterweight system, and this in turn fostered one of the most popular features of the staging of this period—the flying of actors as well as scenery.

      During this period the arrangement of the stage floor also changed to fit the requirements of spectacle. After 1850 the stage floor was usually constructed so that floorboards could be removed for raising and lowering machinery between the joists. Sometimes a vertical panorama would run from overhead through a groove in the floor. The changes in stage floors made possible new scenic effects to meet the audience demand. The traps (trap) of the Elizabethan and Georgian eras, for instance, were greatly elaborated. The most famous trap was a “ghost glide,” a sort of dumbwaiter that made actors appear to rise from the earth and glide through space.

      As stage lighting improved with the introduction of gaslight, the deficiencies of two-dimensional scenery in terms of realism became increasingly apparent. The taste for verisimilitude led Edward Godwin (Godwin, Edward), the father of Edward Gordon Craig, frequently to commission three-dimensional scenic elements for his productions. Since the groove system of scene-changing was unsuitable for such pieces, he dispensed with it and hired a crew of 135 stage hands. The new trend also rendered the naked stage obsolete, for reasons of gravity. Irving, who was instrumental in accepting new developments in lighting, also introduced black masking pieces at the front of the stage to prevent light spill. Irving's importance to theatre is comparable to that of Saxe-Meiningen. His emphasis on pictorial realism marks the high point of British theatre before World War I.

Theatre and stage design in America (United States)
      The first recorded performance of a play written by an American was in 1690 at Harvard (Harvard University) College. The first permanent American theatre was built in Philadelphia in 1766; it was made of brick and imitated English buildings in arrangement and general architecture. In 1752 Lewis Hallam (Hallam family), a member of a distinguished theatrical family, arrived with a troupe from England, thus marking the beginning of professional theatre in America. The theatre in America for the next 40 years was similar to British provincial theatre, with simple sets for easy traveling; few cities could yet afford theatre buildings. By the 1790s, however, troupes were based in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, and Charleston, S.C., and many permanent theatres were being erected.

      The first decades of the 19th century brought not only multiplication of playhouses in the larger Eastern cities but also the extension of theatre to interior regions. The frontier spirit was embodied by Samuel Drake, who took the first company west (to Kentucky) in 1815. Drake designed an adjustable proscenium that could be set up in any large room. The front curtain was a roll drop (lowered from behind the proscenium arch), and three sets of wings (one each for exteriors, ornate interiors, and simple interiors) and six roll drops (including a garden, a street, and a wood) completed his scenic repertoire.

      After 1825, New York City had higher standards of theatrical production and more theatre buildings than any other city in America. Although decoration and furnishings created an impression of luxury, the early urban theatres were in fact filthy and rat-infested. They had little or no fire protection, and between 1820 and 1845, no fewer than 25 theatre buildings burned down. Although most productions used stock sets and props, occasionally an elaborate or specific set was added. Interest in historical accuracy was not a major production concern until 1830, when Charles Kean visited with his Shakespeare troupe from England.

      During the latter third of the 19th century, the general scenic trend was toward greater naturalism, with particular emphasis on local colour. The major design innovations came from the managers of troupes permanently based at a theatre. One such manager was Edwin Booth (Booth, Edwin), whose new theatre, opened in 1869, introduced several new concepts in the United States. The most important innovation was that the stage floor was flat and had no grooves; elevators raised set pieces from the 50 feet of working space below the stage, and flying machines moved other pieces into the 76 feet of overhead space. In Booth's new theatre he abandoned the apron and used box sets almost exclusively.

      Another important manager was Augustin Daly (Daly, (John) Augustin), who furthered the trend of realism. While the members of his troupe changed considerably during its three-decade history, it was the best example of the permanent stock company in the history of the American theatre. Daly stressed the unity of every production and controlled each element himself. His first success, Saratoga, by Bronson Howard, in 1870, was the first play to give a realistic picture of American life of the day.

      Steele MacKaye (MacKaye, Steele), also active during this period, holds a unique place in theatre as an actor, manager, playwright, inventor, and designer. In an age of mechanical inventions, producers were seeking a means of effecting scene changes that would not require an intermission. In 1879, MacKaye filed a patent for a “double stage,” a feature he subsequently introduced in the Madison Square Theatre in New York City. He built an elevator platform on which one scene might be set while an earlier scene was being played below. The new scene was then merely lowered, with its own stage floor, to the appropriate level, while the previous scene rolled back behind it.

      Among MacKaye's other mechanical innovations were a folding theatre chair with coatrack attached, a sliding stage, a theatre ventilation system, the first installation of an electric lighting system in a theatre (1885), devices to produce cloud, ocean wave, and rainbow effects, the substitution of overhead lighting for footlights (which had been in use since the early Baroque period), and a process for fireproofing scenery. For financial reasons, some of his more grandiose schemes were never executed. For the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, for example, he designed a “Spectatorium” for musico-spectacle-dramas; it called for a sky dome that encircled the stage, a curtain made of light, a sliding stage for scene changes, and an auditorium seating 10,000 people.

 In 1896 six men formed the Theatrical Syndicate, which acquired almost complete control over American theatre. They were interested only in commercially profitable works, such as productions featuring performers with large followings. The major opposition to the syndicate came from David Belasco (Belasco, David), a producer and playwright. Belasco's aim as a producer was to bring complete realism to the stage, and it is difficult today to appreciate how spectacularly far he carried this pursuit. In 1879, in his production of The Passion Play (Passion play), the story of Jesus Christ from birth to Resurrection, he arranged for a live flock of sheep to be herded onstage. When the actor James O'Neill (O'Neill, James) (father of playwright Eugene O'Neill), who played Christ, was dragged before Pontius Pilate and crowned with thorns, members of the audience fainted. And after the performance, when O'Neill walked around the city, people sank to their knees and prayed to him. The play aroused such religious frenzy that Jews were assaulted on the street outside the theatre, and a court injunction forbade further performances.

      The power of the Theatrical Syndicate was so great that in 1904 Belasco was forced to rent Convention Hall, a leaky building in New York City, for his productions. During the first performance there was a violent rainstorm, and the audience had to sit through the last act holding umbrellas. Belasco's productions became so popular that the syndicate was finally forced to compromise with him, thus breaking their stranglehold on the American theatre.

Howard Bay George C. Izenour Clive Barker

The evolution of modern theatrical production
      Underlying the theatrical developments of the 19th century, and in many cases inspiring them, were the social upheavals that followed the French Revolution. Throughout Europe the middle class took over the theatres and effected changes in repertoire, style, and decorum. In those countries that experienced revolutionary change or failure, national theatres were founded to give expression to the views and values of the middle class, whose aspirations in these cases coincided with a more general movement of national liberation. In western Europe a different pattern of development emerged, varying considerably in each country but having the unified features of a demand for “realism” on the stage, which meant a faithful reflection of the life-style and domestic surroundings of the rising class in both its tragic and its comic aspects; an adjunct to this development was the demand for increased decorum and cleanliness in the auditorium.

      In England, where the Industrial Revolution was more advanced than in the other European countries, the middle class had to struggle for its own theatres against the entrenched power of the two patent houses (licensed by the Crown), Drury Lane and Covent Garden, which had enjoyed an almost total monopoly of dramatic theatre since 1660. As early as 1789, attempts were made to evade the legal restrictions on building new theatres. The Reform Bill of 1832, which enfranchised the propertied middle class and established its political power, led to the Theatres Act of 1843, which gave London a “free theatre.” The expected flood of new theatre buildings did not occur, and no major building took place for 16 years. This is probably because there were already sufficient illegal theatres in operation when the act was passed. The boulevard theatres of Paris experienced less trouble in establishing themselves. The rise of the middle-class theatres caused the decline of both the patent houses in London and the Comédie-Française—the national theatre of France. After much political struggle, centring particularly around censorship, the Comédie-Française, unable to compete with the boulevard theatres, capitulated and presented the plays of the new school for the new audiences.

      As the new class came into the theatres, the theatres were cleaned up. Samuel Phelps (Phelps, Samuel) at The Sadler's Wells Theatre instituted audience controls that drove out the old audience and paved the way for respectability. The Bancrofts (Bancroft, Sir Squire), as representative as any of the new movement, took over the run-down Prince of Wales' Theatre, cleaned up the auditorium, and placed antimacassars on the seats. They also dropped the melodrama and attracted a wide audience with the social comedies of Tom Robertson, making a considerable fortune in the process.

      Throughout the 19th century, cities throughout Europe and North America exploded in size, and industrial centres attracted labour to their factories and mills. The working-class suburbs of cities and the industrial towns created their own demand for entertainment, which led to the construction of large theatres.

      Accelerating this change was the growth of the railways (railroad). The pattern of theatre was disrupted in England as productions were mounted in London and sent on tour. The old provincial stock companies folded and theatres became touring venues rather than producing houses. A breed of managers arose who made money from the possession of the bricks and mortar property rather than by presenting their own productions. In the United States the Theatrical Syndicate established great fortunes from the New York theatres and the almost unlimited touring circuit that the railways opened up. The change in status from enterprise to industry gave rise to the commercial theatre systems of the West End in London and Broadway in New York City. Improvement in travel in general made it possible to increase the links between the two systems early in the 20th century, and the exchange of productions further extended the possibilities of profitable exploitation.

      Modern theatre began around 1885 with the revolt of the younger generation against the material injustices of society. Those in revolt founded so-called independent theatres to present a more critical or scientific view of the workings of society or so-called art theatres to rise above vulgar materialism with the establishment of aesthetic standards. The independent theatres took the Meiningen Players as their starting point. The art theatres looked to Wagner for inspiration.

The new naturalism
      The first of the independent theatres was the Théâtre-Libre (“Free Theatre”) founded in 1887 by André Antoine (Antoine, André), who made his living as a clerk for the Paris (France) Gas Company. The Théâtre-Libre was an amateur theatre with no home of its own. It hired rooms or theatres where they were available and sold tickets for its performances to a closed membership. In this way it avoided censorship. Antoine's original intention was to present plays that had been rejected by the Comédie-Française, and thus the repertoire was eclectic. The major impact the group made was with a number of naturalistic plays. The theatre was at this time lagging behind literature, and, although Émile Zola (Zola, Émile) had written an essay entitled “Naturalism in the Theatre” in 1881 and had produced what is seen as the first Naturalist play, Thérèse Raquin, in 1873, no theatre devoted itself to a Naturalist policy until Antoine founded the Théâtre-Libre.

      Following on the scientific developments and the philosophical skepticism of the 19th century, the social reformers of the last two decades of the century probed into the causes of human behaviour and postulated that the meaning of human character was to be found in its interaction with the physical, social, and economic environment. The new theatre demanded “truthfulness” not only in the writing but also in the acting and stage setting. The actors were expected to ignore the audience and to behave and speak as though they were at home. Antoine is normally credited with being the first to require an actor to turn his back on the audience; from this style of acting arose the concept of the “fourth wall” separating the stage from the audience. Behind this “wall”—invisible to the audience, opaque to the actors—the environment portrayed was to be as authentic as possible. Antoine himself designed rooms and then decided which wall would be “removed.” In The Butchers, he hung animal carcasses on the stage.

      It is possible, however, to overestimate Antoine's commitment to Naturalism, since a great deal of his repertoire was not naturalistic and the descriptions of several of the Théâtre-Libre presentations show an imaginative experimentation with lighting effects that goes well beyond creating realistic temporal and atmospheric conditions. The first production of the Théâtre-Libre had no scenery at all but only a few pieces of furniture borrowed from Antoine's mother, yet it was this production that set the Naturalist style. Zola, the philosopher of the movement, had deplored the fact that the Naturalist theatre began by creating an external representation of the world instead of concentrating on the inner state of the characters. Strindberg showed that a few carefully selected properties could suggest an entire room. With the ideas of Antoine and Strindberg, the days of flapping canvas doors and kitchen shelves painted on the walls of the set came to be numbered. The more natural and detailed the acting became, the more it clashed with a painted background.

      Antoine's innovations did much to establish the principle that each play requires its own distinct setting. In 1906, as director of the state-subsidized Théâtre de l'Odéon, he produced classical plays in which he strove for realism not by means of period decor and costume but by re-creating theatrical conventions of the 1600s.

      The new pattern of theatre set in France was imitated in Germany during the same period. Otto Brahm (Brahm, Otto) modeled his theatrical society, the Freie Bühne, founded in Berlin in 1889, after Antoine's Théâtre-Libre. Its first production was Ibsen's Ghosts. On the basis of this and other examples, it could be said that Ibsen pioneered the repertoire, Saxe-Meiningen the staging methods, and Antoine the organizational form for a range of small, independent theatres springing up throughout Europe.

      With both ideological aims and theatrical tastes in mind, members of the German middle-class theatre audience formed an organization called the Freie Volksbühne in 1890 for the purpose of buying blocks of tickets and commissioning performances and even productions for its membership, which included a large working-class element. Early in its history the organization split between the Freie Volksbühne, who were attempting to make theatre available to a wider audience, and the Neue Freie Volksbühne, who had specific Socialist attachments and policies. Eventually the two arms recombined and were able not only to subsidize performances but also to build their own theatre and mount their own productions.

      During the 1890s in France, a similar program of democratization was attempted. One of the prime movers in this was Romain Rolland (Rolland, Romain), whose book The People's Theatre (Le Théâtre du peuple, 1903), inspired similar movements in other countries.

      In England the works of Ibsen aroused great interest and attracted the attention of the censors. The first English independent theatre was organized by Jack Thomas Grein (Grein, Jack Thomas), and its first production in 1891 was Ibsen's Ghosts. Grein's intention of finding British writers of the new drama was frustrated until the arrival of George Bernard Shaw (Shaw, George Bernard), the most famous Ibsenite of them all, in 1892, with his first play, Widowers' Houses. Shaw remained the mainstay of the independent theatre movement in Britain. His preeminence in the independent theatre in England coupled with the success of Arthur Wing Pinero (Pinero, Sir Arthur Wing) in the commercial realist theatre led to a major innovation in staging in England. Both playwrights participated in the casting of their plays, which in Pinero's case led to a break away from the old stock company casting and the institution of casting to type. Shaw was able to impose his own interpretation and stage direction on the production of his plays.

      Russia also followed the pattern of the independent theatre movement that developed in France, Germany, and England (see below Developments in Russia and the Soviet Union (theatre)).

Reactions to Naturalism
      The Théâtre-Libre had scarcely been established when the reaction against Naturalism got under way. Symbolism developed out of a total opposition to the philosophy that lay behind Naturalism. It sought an intuitive and spiritual form of knowledge, regarded by its proponents as higher than that which science could provide. If Naturalism attacked the materialist values of society from a critical and reformist standpoint, Symbolism rejected them altogether. In their manifesto of 1886 the Symbolists (Symbolist movement) suggested that subjectivity, spirituality, and mysterious internal forces represented a higher form of truth than the objective observation of appearances. The Belgian Maurice Maeterlinck (Maeterlinck, Maurice), the most successful Symbolist playwright, gave as his opinion that an old man sitting at his table, surrounded by silence, was more dramatic and true-to-life than the lover who strangles his mistress in a tirade of jealousy. The Symbolists drew for example and inspiration on Wagner and on the later plays of Ibsen. They were influenced by the poets Mallarmé and Baudelaire, and the latter's poem Correspondences, which finds comparative values in colours and musical notes, is often seen as the first manifesto of the movement. The expressive paintings of Gauguin were also influential.

      The first of the Symbolist theatres was the Théâtre d'Art (Oeuvre, Théâtre de l') started by the French poet Paul Fort (Fort, Paul) in 1890. Fort was principally concerned with the power of the poetic text but nevertheless made some ingenious contributions to staging. In his production of the Frenchman Pierre Quillard's play The Girl with the Cut-off Hands (1891), the actors intoned their lines behind a gauze curtain, backed by a gold cloth framed with red hangings. In front of the gauze, a girl in a long blue tunic repeated the actors' lines and commented on their feelings. This is the first instance in which the setting of a play derives entirely from the ideas of the director and the designer rather than from tradition or from direct evidence in the text of the play itself. The setting for The Girl with the Cut-off Hands is a visual image, suggested by the play but not dictated by it. It is a poetic vision and does not place the play in a specific context.

      In 1893, Aurélien Lugné-Poë (Lugné-Poë, Aurélien) founded the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre. Guided by the belief that the spoken word creates the scenery, Lugné-Poë attempted unity of style instead of illusion of place and employed such painters as Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Maurice Denis, Odilon Redon, Édouard Vuillard, and Pierre Bonnard. Lugné-Poë's production of Maeterlinck's play Pelléas and Mélisande typified his technique—no furniture or props were used; the stage was lit from overhead, most of the time to a level of semidarkness;a gauze curtain created the illusion of mist; and backdrops painted in gray tones conveyed a general air of mystery. The one production of the Théâtre de l'Oeuvre that has had the greatest historical significance was not seen as anything more than a scandalous, schoolboy joke in its own time. Alfred Jarry's (Jarry, Alfred) Ubu roi (“King Ubu”) was produced in 1896, with nonrealistic settings and costumes. All the scene settings were displayed simultaneously on a backdrop, and the costumes and makeup were deliberately grotesque, as was the acting style, an amalgam of buffoonery, the horror of Grand Guignol, and extravagant mock-tragedy.

      Far from posing an alternative to the materialist values of the bourgeois audience, the first line of Ubu roi attacked the audience's values head on. When Firmin Gémier, in the title role, advanced to face the audience, looked directly into their eyes, and uttered the first scandalous word of the text, “merdre” (“excrement”), a pattern was set that has been followed by many avant-garde theatre companies throughout the 20th century. The dialectics of conflict had shifted from being contained within the stage area to being opened between the stage and the auditorium. If an attack on the audience were to be mounted effectively, however, the separation of stage and auditorium had to be diminished. Various attempts were subsequently made either to contain stage and auditorium in a single unified spatial area or to adapt existing spaces in order to break through the barrier imposed by the proscenium arch.

The influence of Appia and Craig
      The two most important theoreticians and designers of the non-illusionist movement were the Swiss Adolphe Appia (Appia, Adolphe) and the Englishman Edward Gordon Craig (Craig, Edward Gordon). Appia began with the assumption posited by Wagner that the fundamental goal of a theatrical production was artistic unity. Appia felt, however, that the incongruity of placing three-dimensional actors in front of two-dimensional settings, which many of the stage reformers rejected, was intensified by the mythic, symbolic nature of the Wagner operas. He concluded that there were three conflicting elements in production—the moving three-dimensional actor, the stationary vertical scenery, and the horizontal floor. He categorized stage lighting under three headings: a general or acting light, which gave diffused illumination; formative light, which cast shadows; and imitated lighting effects painted on the scenery. He saw the illusionist theatre as employing only the first and last of these types. Appia proposed replacing illusory scene painting with three-dimensional structures that could be altered in appearance by varying the colour, intensity, and direction of lighting. The solid structures, according to Appia, would serve to create a bond between the horizontal floor and the vertical scenery and enhance the actor's movements, which were rhythmically controlled by the music of the score. The lights, too, would change in response to the musical score, thus reflecting or eliciting changes in emotion, mood, and action. In creating a scene, Appia conceived of light as visual music with an equal range of expression and intensity.

      Appia elaborated his theory through a series of proposed designs and mise-en-scènes (complete production plans) for Wagner's operas. He was brutally rebuffed by Wagner's widow, who considered his projects the work of a madman. Intensely shy, he created only a few designs and realized even fewer productions. His influence spread largely through his three books on staging and lighting design published from 1899 onward, one exemplary performance in a private theatre in Paris in 1905, and his collaboration with Émile Jaques-Dalcroze (Jaques-Dalcroze, Émile). Jaques-Dalcroze was a fellow Swiss who developed, and published in 1906, a system of physical exercises that he called eurythmics, intended to inculcate in the student a sense of rhythm and control over it. The exercises made liberal use of space and grew into an expressive dance movement. For Appia, eurythmics became a part of his integrated system of production. In 1912, at Hellerau on the outskirts of Dresden, as part of one of the first garden city developments in Europe, a large hall was built to the design of Appia and Jaques-Dalcroze. Stage and auditorium were united as a single rectangular hall without proscenium or separate lighting. The walls and ceiling were hung with translucent silk through which beams of light filtered. The lighting equipment comprised 10,000 lamps, all controlled by a gigantic console capable of fine gradations of intensity. Appia designed an abstract scenic architecture of platforms and steps that could be arranged in a variety of combinations. Every trace of illusionistic scenery was dispensed with, and the setting served only as a structural foundation for the rhythmic, gymnastic movements of the players. The few performances, which were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I, were attended by many of the leading innovative directors in Europe at that time.

      The use of diffuse light solved one of the most vexatious problems of electric lighting—how to blend the individual beams. This problem was equally trying in the illusionist theatre, where the consciousness of separate lightbeams coming from distinct mechanical sources ruined the naturalistic effect. The backdrop remained as a large, finite, painted expanse that any reasonable amount of light revealed to be of a different order than the three-dimensional pieces in front of it. It also necessitated, because of the critical rising sight lines from the stall seats, a series of hanging borders to mask the top limits of the cloth. As lanterns began to be hung on bars above the stage, the number of borders increased. The Austrian producer Max Reinhardt is credited with the frustrated cry, “Will no one rid me of this dirty washing?”

      To address this problem the lighting designer Mariano Fortuny y Madrazo (Fortuny, Mariano) constructed a dome that backed the stage area with a gentle curve and overhung the stage. At first he covered the dome with white translucent cloth, an extension of an earlier experiment in which he hung strips of cloth from the ceiling of the stage and diffused light through them. Later the dome had a plaster surface and the lights were diffused by reflection, playing on its inside surface. Instead of a flat, restricted backdrop there was now a spacious vault that created an impression of indeterminate distance. The dome was expensive and very cumbersome to maneuver and was soon replaced by a cyclorama (horizon or sky-cloth), which is still used today. This consists of a cloth stretched over a semicircular framework to mask the rear wall and corners of the stage. Some modern theatres have been built with a permanent plaster cyclorama.

      The Fortuny dome and the cyclorama became essential tools of the scenic illusionists, but their invention served the anti-illusionists equally well, as they gave a sense of space beyond the finite limits of the stage, gave solidity to the stylized decor, and silhouetted the rhythmic action of the players against a background of diffused light. Edward Gordon Craig, the son of the designer Edward Godwin and the actress Ellen Terry, began his career as an actor in Irving's company and became a designer at the turn of the century, just before the publication of the first of his many books on the theatre. Craig and Appia met in 1914 and shared a deep admiration for each other's work and a great deal of agreement on conceptual matters. There were, however, certain crucial differences. The most fundamental of these arose out of their differing backgrounds. Appia began his work with Wagner, and for him the music dominated and controlled the work. Craig was an actor before becoming a designer and director, and for him all the elements of production were of equal value. Appia had no apparent interest in theatre history, whereas Craig had an abiding interest in it. Appia was a retiring, contemplative thinker; Craig was a polemicist.

      Whereas Appia's work followed a continuous developing line, Craig's was characterized by a restless experimentation. His early productions of Purcell and Handel operas at the start of the century explored the use of the “frieze” or “relief” stage—a wide, shallow stage surrounded by drapes, structures in geometric shapes, and a lighting system that dispensed entirely with footlights and side lighting and used only overhead sources. In order to facilitate this and make colour changes possible, Craig devised an overhead bridge accessible from both sides. Although Craig's designs stressed vertical planes as against Appia's horizontal ones, in the operas he utilized a series of levels for the action. His designs for Purcell's Dido and Aeneas used no wings or borders. The back drape ascended to the flies (space over the stage from which scenery and lights can be hung), and the proscenium was very low in contrast to the great width of the stage. The sides of the setting were enclosed by curtains hung at right angles to the proscenium arch. What impressed many of those who were present was the use of colour symbolism in the costumes, settings, and lighting and the extraordinary consistency with which Craig manipulated all of the elements of the mise-en-scène.

      One of Craig's most interesting scenic innovations was a flexible structure made of hinged screens, which permitted a fluid readjustment of space during performance. He experimented with movable proscenium arches for adjusting the stage opening to suit the play or scene. His experiments with all sorts of materials and the effects of coloured light upon them greatly increased the resources of the stage. He proposed placing the lighting control booth at the rear of the auditorium, which is the current practice, to allow the lighting engineer to coordinate the lighting to the actors' movements.

      Perhaps Craig's main contributions to the development of staging were his advocacy of the need for one artist to control the production and his insistence upon the study of theatre history. The controlling artist for Craig, unlike Wagner and Appia, was to be the director. If the theatre was ever to become a mature art form in its own right, rather than a haphazard conglomeration of bits and pieces of other art forms, it needed a controlling genius to discipline and coordinate the interaction. Craig's own productions bear out his ability to realize this scheme, and he encouraged the work of a group of gifted directors who followed him.

      In the process of working out his thesis, Craig addressed himself to the question of the actor. The actors of Craig's day (like the theatres and their machinery) were ill-equipped for carrying out his production schemes. For the Purcell productions, he used a high percentage of amateurs who could be taught to carry out his instructions. The professional actors of the conventional late-19th-century theatres were not very sophisticated in their technique. Craig was not alone in complaining of the inadequacy of the established actors in light of the new theatre. The French Symbolists debated whether the actor would have to be banished from the stage before any serious theatre could be created. Even Eleonora Duse (Duse, Eleonora), the great Italian actress, declared that for the theatre to be saved all actors would have to die of the plague. Craig's writings were virulent in his scorn for the actor whose idiosyncrasies constantly imposed themselves between the work and the audience, whose wayward, fickle emotions and feelings constantly sentimentalized and diminished the theatrical effect. He was not opposed in principle to all actors; his admiration of Irving, his mother Ellen Terry, and Duse was profound, and he considered Isadora Duncan a supreme artist, but he did promote the concept that he called the Übermarionette (“Superpuppet”). Craig's intention is not fully clear—whether he envisioned mechanical figures (marionette) that would defy the physical restrictions of the human body or, as seems more likely, puppets (puppetry) that would be controlled from inside by human beings, children, or dwarfs. Nevertheless, he joined a growing chorus of people calling for the elimination of individual actors' idiosyncrasies and the “dematerializing” of the stage and propelled these demands into public debate.

      Although the Übermarionetten were never realized, the principle was accepted. Later directors such as Meyerhold, Reinhardt, and Copeau recognized the necessity of a studio-school attached to their theatres and of regular training for the actors in advanced techniques, if they were to be able to realize their concepts on stage and eliminate the interference of actors' own egos and emotions. From this flows the present acceptance in the West of a long and intense period of training as necessary for all actors entering the profession. The Eastern theatre, which Craig and those following him have continually returned to study, has always understood this necessity.

      Craig's understanding of theatre history was linked to a revival throughout Europe of the study of theatre history. Craig's opinion was that it would be impossible to create a new theatre without making a serious study of previous theatres. He ascribed the short life of some innovative theatres to the fact that they had not adequately studied their predecessors. The study of theatre history spread widely enough to embrace the long-established Oriental theatre forms. Craig's own productions drew on Japanese theatre, the Greeks, and the Baroque and Romantic periods. The most important effect of this research and use of theatre history was to liberate stage production from the narrow confines of contemporary style and fashion. If the past could be incorporated into the present, an almost limitless range of production possibilities was opened up. This liberation, in turn, increased the demands made upon the actors.

Other developments in the study of movement
      The Frenchman François Delsarte laid stress on a connection between mental attitude and physical posture and discovered that one's emotional state is communicated through one's physical appearance. Eventually Delsarte codified his observations in a chart of gestures, which was used as a guide for expression and characterization by many amateur theatre companies in the middle years of the 20th century. The further elaborated discipline of reflexology, which seeks to analyze mind–body interaction, was developed by a variety of philosophers and psychologists and was very influential in the early years of the Soviet Union (see below Developments in Russia and the Soviet Union (theatre)).

      Another theorist of movement, the American-born dancer Isadora Duncan (Duncan, Isadora), was the daughter of a disciple of Delsarte, and reflexology was at the heart of Duncan's dancing. It is not surprising that, in addition to Dalcroze's eurythmics, Duncan should have inspired the development of educational dance. Reflexology is also the root from which spring the contemporary areas of drama therapy and the use of games and improvisation in actor training.

      Duncan rejected the narrow and inhibiting classicism of the Russian ballet and returned to the Greeks for inspiration. Her dances were realizations of “soul-states,” which she regarded as emanating from the solar plexus. By using her feelings and physical responses to the music as the impulse for movement, she removed dance from the domain of the highly trained ballet dancer and demonstrated its wider potential.

      Duncan's work was important to those searching for answers to the problems posed for the actor by non-Naturalist theatre, since it showed a way to gain direct access to deep feelings without resorting to psychological analysis. Unfortunately, though, Duncan offered no systematic prescription for accomplishing this. Duncan herself was a sufficiently disciplined artist to impress Edward Gordon Craig as a solo performer. What her approach lacked, however, was a disciplined framework by which other performers could be trained and an extension of the movement vocabulary that might widen the range of theatrical purposes to which it could be put.

Development of stage equipment
      From a technical point of view, the harnessing of electric (electricity) power exerted a greater influence on stage design and production techniques than any other single invention. Stage lighting, as opposed to mere stage illumination, became raised to the status of an art form and revolutionized stage decoration, stage design, and stage form in that order. For the first time since the theatre moved indoors during the Renaissance, adequate and safe illumination became possible. But beyond mere function and safety there was inherent in the medium a flexibility and subtlety that has allowed it to become an integral part of scenic effect and to heighten visual expression for artistic purposes.

      Beyond the development of stage lighting and the theories and techniques pioneered by Appia and Craig, electricity provided the solution to many of the problems that were arising with respect to scene changing. The demand for rapid changes of cumbersome naturalistic sets coincided with demands for a dematerialized stage that could flow smoothly from one symbolic vision to another. In addition, those seeking to “retheatricalize the theatre” wanted an open stage on which scene changes could be accomplished simply and rapidly. New inventions and instrumentation made practical many of the theoretician's ideas, and these were adapted by designers, directors, and stage engineers on both sides of the Atlantic, with the greatest centre of innovation being Germany.

      In 1896 Karl Lautenschläger introduced a revolving stage at the Residenz Theater in Munich. Elevator stages permitted new settings to be assembled below stage and then lifted to the height of the stage as the existing setting was withdrawn to the rear and dropped to below-stage level. Slip stages allowed large trucks to be stored in the wings or rear stage and then slid into view. New systems for flying were developed. Hydraulic stages made it possible to raise sections of the stage, tilt them or even rock them to simulate, for example, the motion of a ship. All of these mechanisms required larger backstage facilities, higher flying towers, greater depth and width of stages, and increased understage space.

      German theatres began as early as 1890 to incorporate mechanized orchestra pit apron lifts, which provided a means for altering the point of contact between stage and auditorium (actor and spectator). Confrontations between actor and audience were the prime concern of Georg Fuchs, who founded the Künstler Theatre in Munich in 1907. He held that, in order to be relevant, the theatre must reject the picture-frame stage and the Italianate auditorium. He proposed an indoor amphitheatre in which, on a projecting stage, the action could be thrown forward into the audience space. According to Fuchs, the stage designer should not try to produce an illusion of depth since depth is part of the theatre architecture and cannot be added by scenery. Fuchs's view was the culmination of the search for three-dimensionality that had passed through five essential stages since the 18th century. At first, an illusion of depth was achieved by painting perspective scenery on canvas; then the ground plan of the set was rearranged to envelop the actor with the set. The third phase was the introduction of objects for the actor to touch. With Appia and Craig there came the realization that an actor's movement manifests itself in contrast to inanimate objects, such as platforms and other masses. Fuchs introduced the final phase joining the playing space to the area in which the audience is situated. In Fuchs's theatre, designed by Max Littman, the acting area could be extended forward by covering the orchestra pit, and the size of the stage opening could be changed by adjusting the inner proscenium, which had a door at stage level and a balcony above. The floor of the stage was divided into sections, each of which was mounted on an elevator so that it could easily become a platform. Four cycloramas, surrounding the stage, could be changed electrically.

The influence of Reinhardt (Reinhardt, Max)
      The director who was best placed to utilize the freedom afforded by the study of theatre history and the new mechanization was Max Reinhardt. Reinhardt began as an actor at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin, as part of the Naturalist Freie Bühne company, in 1893. In 1900 he joined a small cabaret theatre and began introducing plays into the entertainment. Later, he returned to control the Deutsches Theater, to which he added the smaller Kammerspiele next door. In these theatres and elsewhere he initiated a series of productions that made Berlin one of the outstanding theatrical centres of Europe. Not only did Reinhardt feel at home in two theatres—one small and intimate, the other a medium-size house—he actually preferred the alternation of size and styles. In 1910 he staged Oedipus Rex in the Zirkus Schumann, an amphitheatre, in an attempt to recapture the union of actors and audience that had existed in classical Greek theatre. From 1915 to 1918 Reinhardt directed the Volksbühne, and in 1919 he opened his own theatre, the Grosses Schauspielhaus, which had an open stage and the full complement of stage machinery. This theatre was obviously derived from the Dionysian theatre at Athens, and he hoped that it would embody modern life as the arena had embodied the Greek community.

      Reinhardt was not a traditionalist, however (he showed a completely different approach when he converted a ballroom in Vienna into a formally designed intimate theatre); rather, he was a true eclectic whose more than 500 productions represented virtually every style. He believed that theatre, which had become shackled to literature, must be offered instead for its own sake. He reexamined the physical layout of the theatre building and the spatial relationship between the actors and the audience. Believing that the director must control every facet of a production, Reinhardt worked closely with his designers, Ernest Stern, Alfred Roller, Oscar Strnad, Emil Orlik, and the Norwegian Expressionist painter Edvard Munch. His productions usually featured a particular motif or the staging conventions of a historical period. After beginning with a three-dimensional, drab naturalism, he adapted the abstract solids that Appia had inspired and later applied surface decoration derived from contemporary art movements such as Art Nouveau, the Vienna Sezession, and Munch's Expressionism. He used unit settings with detachable parts (“plugs”) and revolving stages that revealed different facets of the same construction; he adapted the conventions of Oriental theatre; and he mounted open-air productions of the medieval Everyman in the square outside the cathedral in Salzburg. Reinhardt exerted a strong influence on the designers of the German Expressionist cinema as well as on stage artists. In fact, the first productions of Expressionist plays were mounted under his management. His eclecticism helped to reconcile the differences between conflicting movements by romanticizing the realistic and fleshing out the idealistic with solid structures.

      Reinhardt made one further great contribution to the development of stage production. Although he exerted considerable power and was the controlling genius behind several theatres, his way of working was significantly different from that envisaged by either Craig or Appia. Craig saw the director as the despot exercising rigid control over all aspects of the production, whereas for Appia (and Wagner before him) the poet was the initiator of the production and the figure whose word was law. Reinhardt diplomatically combined the talents of a team of collaborators. He was careful to gather around him gifted colleagues, designers, dramaturges, and engineers. Bertolt Brecht served early in his career as a member of the Reinhardt collective. This process of cooperation rather than direction produced one significant feature that is still the strength of the German theatre on both sides of the border. In order to control the complexity of his productions, to incorporate his research into the rehearsals and later performance, and to coordinate the work of all collaborators into the production plan, Reinhardt's productions required a Regie-buch that went much further than all previous promptbooks. The Regie-buch became a plan for the production, incorporating interpretive ideas as well as staging concepts. This concept was later utilized by Brecht and developed into the Modellbuch (“model book”), a full record of the production that could be used as a pattern for succeeding productions.

British innovations
      While most English productions during this period were in the realistic tradition, several steps were being taken toward nonillusionistic staging. One director, Sir Frank Benson (Benson, Sir Frank), began by mounting plays in the realistic style of Sir Henry Irving but by 1900 had started to simplify his staging. He produced Shakespeare's plays with only a few stock sets, focusing primary attention on the actors. William Poel (Poel, William), also producing Shakespeare, attempted to re-create an Elizabethan theatre. Throughout Europe at this time there was a considerable revival of interest in seeing Shakespeare's plays performed with something approaching the original effect. The various social and theatrical pressures that had resulted in the truncating, rearranging, and rewriting of the plays throughout the 18th and 19th centuries had dissipated. Unfortunately the plays were also in danger of disappearing under the weight of the settings of both the historical Romantic style and the new theatre machinery.

      Between 1912 and 1914 the actor-manager Harley Granville-Barker (Granville-Barker, Harley) staged Shakespeare in such a way that the action could be continuous, an approach influenced by his having worked with Poel. He remodeled the Savoy Theatre by adding an apron, or extension of the stage, and doors in front of the proscenium. He divided the stage into three parts—the apron, a main acting area, and a raised inner stage with curtains. This permitted a continuous flow of action and eliminated the rearrangement of scripts that had previously been necessary for nonillusionistic staging. Norman Wilkinson and Albert Rutherston, artists with reputations outside the theatre, were his principal designers, and their settings typically consisted of brightly painted, draped curtains. Granville-Barker's style and particularly the use of drapes in the settings reflect clearly the influence of Craig's early work for the Purcell Operatic Society.

Influence of the fine arts
      The development of the modern theatre and its staging techniques took place during a period when even more radical changes were taking place within the fine arts. In fact, it would be true to say that many of the developments in staging arose primarily out of innovations in painting. Much of Craig's work is influenced heavily by the work of William Blake and the Pre-Raphaelites. The Symbolist theatres in Paris enlisted many of the innovative painters of the time, such as Denis, Vuillard, Bonnard, Sérusier, and Toulouse-Lautrec.

      Concurrently with developments in the arts, and often underlying them, innovations in technology were radically altering human perception of the world. The advent of photography, and subsequently motion pictures, created new ways of seeing and new perceptions of movement and time. These perceptions were also being altered by the development of motorized transport, through the coming of the railways, the automobile, and the airplane. In a related context, the growth of colonial empires and improvements in transportation brought Europe into contact with many disparate cultures and their aesthetic traditions. Developments in psychology led in the first decades of the 20th century to increased understanding of the communicative power of design and thus to the principles of modern advertising.

      For the theatre, these developments had several profound effects. The first was the new scenography of the Symbolists (Symbolist movement), of Appia, Craig, and others. Scenic art ceased to depict natural settings or specific locales and became more suggestive, seeking to arouse the imagination and the emotions. Along with the experiments in painting that emphasized the sensory, affective properties of the art over its imitative functions, it followed that artists in the theatre would investigate its affective potential.

      The Russian-born artist Wassily Kandinsky (Kandinsky, Wassily), who is credited with producing the first purely abstract painting, created several theatre pieces on his way to full abstraction. These productions employed sound (even an offstage choir), light, moving structures, and human action, but this latter was purely functional and had no narrative or interactive significance. Kandinsky revised the Wagnerian concept of the integrated work of art, pointing out that it was based on the assumption that all the various elements of theatre brought together simultaneously in concert would produce an effect that was greater than the sum of the parts. Kandinsky's thesis was that this was a superficial conglomeration in which, no matter what the theoretical position might be, the elements alternated in supremacy. Appia had criticized Wagner for keeping conventional representational sets, and Craig had criticized Appia for being under the thrall first of the music and then of the dance. Kandinsky went further than even Craig and proposed that the theatre of the future would comprise three elements: musical movement, colour movement, and dance movement—i.e., sound, colour, and mobile forms. All of these elements wereof equal value. In his longer essay “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” (1914), Kandinsky set out in complex intellectual terms how this new theatre, based on spirituality rather than materiality, could be constructed.

      Certain aspects of Kandinsky's theories were capable of rigorous testing. The Bauhaus, a German school of design founded in Weimar by Walter Gropius in 1919, where Kandinsky was a teacher and Oskar Schlemmer was head of the theatre section, conducted a series of experiments on actors' movements in space. Schlemmer and his colleagues devised elaborate costumes that transformed the actor-dancers into “moving architecture.” By treating the stage as a black box, the researchers created a laboratory in which to examine the perception of a wide range of movements. Craig's concept of the Übermarionette became the subject of a series of experiments regarding the geometry of the human figure, the possible limits of the articulation of limbs, the extensions of movements into three-dimensional space, the restrictions placed on human movement by the force of gravity, and the ways in which dancers' movements work against gravity and cooperate with it. A range of dances were conceived and performed under the title of The Triadic Ballet. This work was a fantasy in which the dancers' costumes transformed them into “metaphysical anatomy.” The ballet achieved the dematerialization of the stage as contrasting shapes in contrasting colours appeared to propel themselves along a variety of paths in three-dimensional space. Experiments were also made in rhythmic movement, mechanical theatre, light theatre, and projection. The Bauhaus group laid down no prescriptive plans as to what direction theatre should take but opened up a variety of possibilities, which were then offered for other artists to follow.

      When the Bauhaus was closed at the start of the Nazi period, several members of the staff moved to the United States. Out of seminars and teaching laboratories, a line of work developed, largely instigated by John Cage and Merce Cunningham (Cunningham, Merce), that explored the use of chance in creating works of theatre and broke free from the concept of an integral composition. Cunningham created a range of dance works that favoured the occurrence of chance (or aleatory) correspondences between the elements of the dance over the orchestration of effects by the choreographer. The U.S. choreographer and designer Alwin Nikolais also carried on work derived from the principles of the Bauhaus with his dance company.

      During all this work, in its movement away from the depiction of nature, the position of the artist changed. In the anti-illusionist theatre, the artist became not only the means of putting across a message but to some extent the originator of it. At the heart of the Symbolist theatre was the old romantic concept of the artist as a creative genius with heightened perception and powers. Once this was linked to the idea of the work of art as a vehicle through which the artist could proselytize his views, the result was Expressionism.

Production aspects of Expressionist theatre
      Expressionism in the theatre arose out of the same impulse to rebel against the materialist values of the older middle-class generation that gave rise to both the reformist Naturalist theatre and the aestheticist Symbolist theatre. This opposition was clearly expressed through the themes and often the titles of such plays as Vatermord (“Patricide”). The forerunners of Expressionism are generally accepted to be the German actor and playwright Frank Wedekind (Wedekind, Frank), who criticized the reformist Ibsenite movement for failing to attack the morality of bourgeois society, and Strindberg. Wedekind sought in his plays to expose what lay beneath the surface of gentility and decorum; in the process, he often introduced roles that served more as emblems than as realistic characters.

      Strindberg's early plays are usually included in the Naturalist repertoire. After a period of personal crisis between 1894 and 1897, the form of Strindberg's plays disintegrated into dream visions or confessional monodramas in which everything is seen through the eyes of the single protagonist. The single focus of these plays was taken over by the Expressionists, as was the use of stereotyped characters—the Son, the Stranger, etc.

      In addition to Wedekind and Strindberg, the Austrian painter and writer Oskar Kokoschka (Kokoschka, Oskar) must be mentioned; in fact, some authorities would date Kokoschka's plays as the first truly Expressionist drama. His early plays, Murder Hope of Women (1909), Sphinx and Strawman (1911), and The Burning Bush (1913), seem to take Strindberg's painful depictions of the destructive relationships between the sexes and liberate them from any dependence on articulate speech. The plays are episodic and have no clear narrative. They are constructed out of violent visual images. Kokoschka is not remotely concerned with giving any sign or resemblance of surface reality whatsoever. In his view, the theatre, like painting, should communicate through “a language of images, visible or tangible signs, graspable reflections of experience and knowing . . . .” In this, Kokoschka was the first to break completely with the literary tradition and to assert that the theatre communicates ultimately through a visual language.

      The Expressionist period spanned the period of World War I, which changed the nature of the movement. Before the war Expressionism was largely concerned with screaming protests against rampant materialism and the loss of spirituality. In this period the coming war was seen as a necessary agent of purification for society. Many of the Expressionist dramatists died in the slaughter on the Western Front. Those who survived were transformed, and Expressionism took on a more overtly political complexion. The change from private protest to political argument was what made it possible to develop the techniques of the Expressionist theatre, and to extend them for wider use.

      The major Expressionist theatre was Der Tribune, in Berlin. The Expressionist stage neither simulated reality nor suggested unreality. It existed in its own right as the platform from which direct statements could be made. Settings therefore tended to be abstract or, when specific, highly subjective. Techniques of distortion and incongruous juxtaposition expressed either the ideological position of the director or dramatist or the state of mind of the protagonist, or both. In Expressionist plays the walls of houses might lean at sharp angles, threatening to crush the protagonist; windows might light up like eyes spying on the secret and intimate; trees might take on the shape of the skeleton signifying Death. In this way, instead of simply forming the milieu for the action, the setting became a dramatic force. This aspect of Expressionism has been appropriated to great effect by the cinema (motion picture), in which camera angles and special lenses can render the ordinary expressive. Leopold Jessner (Jessner, Leopold) in his stage production of Richard III (1920) placed Richard at the height of his power at the top of a flight of steps. The steps below Richard were crowded with soldiers in red cloaks with white helmets. The effect when they knelt was of Richard sitting on top of a mound of skulls with a river of blood flowing through them.

      The action of many Expressionist plays was fragmented into a series of small scenes or episodes. This style of theatre was called Stationendrama (“station drama”) and was clearly derived from the principles of the medieval mystery plays. This led to a consideration of the scene in the theatre as being self-contained. Significance and meaning derived from the juxtaposition or accumulation of scenes rather than from a continuous narrative progression from scene to scene, and from this it followed that there need be no consistency of setting. In Ernst Toller's Man and the Masses (1920) the scenes alternated between reality and dream throughout the play.

      The characters in Expressionist drama were often impersonal or nameless. Very often they served to illustrate some aspect of the protagonist's thought or feelings or expressed aspects of the world and society. In Toller's Transfiguration (1918) the soldiers on the battlefield had skeletons painted on their costumes. Characters were frequently presented as fragments of a unified consciousness. Crowds were often not differentiated but were used in mass to express or underline the power of the protagonist's position. Expressionist roles often required actors to express aspects of character through the use of isolated parts of the body. The character of Dr. Strangelove in Stanley Kubrick's film of that name, whose right arm must be restrained from giving the Nazi salute of its own volition, makes comic use of an Expressionist technique.

      Two further developments can be attributed to the Expressionist movement. The director Leopold Jessner capitalized on the earlier innovations in stage design. His use of steps and multiple levels earned his stage the name Treppenbühne (“stepped stage”). He utilized screens in the manner advocated by Craig, and his productions illustrated a plastic concept of stage setting, which allowed the action to flow freely with minimum hindrance. Some of Jessner's productions relied heavily on steps and levels for this plasticity, but in others he used solid three-dimensional setting features standing in three-dimensional space. Jessner reclaimed and utilized the full space of the stage. In his 1921 production of Othello, a central rostrum served a variety of spatial functions. Upon his arrival in Cyprus, Othello and the accompanying crowd flooded out of a trapdoor at the rear of the rostrum and poured over the top of it onto the front stage; Othello, moving no further than the top of the rostrum, appeared to rise from a sea of people, towering above them. In a later scene, this same rostrum supported Desdemona's bed, with drapes towering into the flies, surrounded by space. The isolated solid unit within the total stage space has become a distinctive feature of contemporary set design and staging.

      The second contribution of the Expressionist movement was to bring the mask back into common usage. Initially, the mask signified typical or depersonalized characters; later, it became a device for distancing the audience from the characters altogether, as it was used by Brecht in The Caucasian Chalk Circle (1948) and other plays.

      Expressionism was relatively short-lived, although there was a brief revival of the theatrical mode in the 1960s when casts of actors dressed in black jeans and sweaters sat on boxes on black-curtained stages and intoned their lines as the ego, id, and libido of someone's psychological crisis. Nevertheless, Expressionism contributed to the modern stage a range of techniques that have become the stock in trade of most directors and designers; though in most contemporary cases the influence of Expressionism has been mediated through Brecht (see below The influence of Brecht (theatre)).

The influence of Piscator
      The great German theatrical director Erwin Piscator (Piscator, Erwin) trained as an actor and began his professional career during World War I, running an entertainment theatre for fellow soldiers in Belgium. After the war Piscator set out to create a theatre that had a clear place and function in a world that also contained machine guns and artillery shells. His first such efforts brought him into association with the Dadaists (Dada).

      Dada began as an oppositional movement in Zürich in 1916 at the Cabaret Voltaire. In neutral Switzerland a group of artists that included Hugo Ball (Ball, Hugo), Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara (Tzara, Tristan), and Jean Arp (Arp, Jean) took on the mantle of Alfred Jarry (Jarry, Alfred). Whereas Jarry had assaulted the audience through an unusual play, the Dadaists began the disintegration of form entirely. Songs were written with only sounds for lyrics. Ball wrote verses without words. Tzara shredded manuscripts and recited from pieces reassembled randomly. Nonsensical sketches were performed in outlandish cardboard costumes. The painter Marcel Janko constructed masks that, according to Ball, inspired “passionate gesture, bordering on madness.” For some, Dada was anti-art; for others, it was a new direction in art. Dada was an extension of the Expressionist movement although what was expressed was not passion or the search for spirituality but derision and withering contempt.

      Dada's contribution to staging lay in destroying all accepted notions of what the stage should be and should express and in attacking the cultural values of the audience in particular and society in general. This precedent later gave a powerful lead to many antiestablishment groups and artists after 1968 whose objectives have been described as “offending the audience” or “disrupting the spectacle.” Dada left Zürich and spread through Germany in the postwar period of the 1920s. One art form engendered by Dada was that of photomontage, in which graphics and edited photographic images were combined to convey propagandist images. The principal artist in this field was John Heartfield, who had changed his German name of Helmut Herzfelde during World War I as a gesture of protest, and who contributed many designs for Piscator. In one of his montages, the vapour trails of five airplanes soaring over the ruins of the Spanish town of Guernica were altered to resemble the fingers of a skeletal hand. The principle of montage became important in Piscator's work.

      Piscator later commented that Dada had shown the way forward but was not enough. A more overtly political and direct form of theatre was needed, and this theatre, unlike any of the concepts of the Volksbühne movement, should be allied to the political struggle of the proletariat.

      The proletarian theatre, consisting of both amateurs and professionals, played in workers' halls and established the principle of free admission for the unemployed, which freed the theatre from its bourgeois status as an economic commodity. Piscator further eroded traditional relationships with a number of innovations in staging. In Russlands Tag (“Russia's Day”; 1920) the setting was a map, which established the political, geographical, and economic context for the play. In Konjunctur (“Conjunction”; 1928) this principle was extended to a larger stage. The play dealt with oil speculation, and the setting was a series of oil derricks. As the play progressed, the number and size of the derricks grew. The setting became part of the action and an environment for it, and the growth of the setting became a comment on the action of the play. In the Rote Rummel Revue (“Red Riot Review”; 1924), produced for the German Communist Party, Piscator began the action with a fight in the auditorium. The protagonists came out of the audience to argue their points of view and commented on the action of the various scenes. In Tai Yang Erwacht (“Tai Yang Awakes”; 1931) the setting, designed by John Heartfield, extended from the stage along the walls of the auditorium. A conspicuous feature of Piscator's propagandist productions was the climactic singing of “L'Internationale,” the Socialist and Communist anthem, by both actors and audience.

      Piscator established the political relevance of his work in a number of ways. In a revolutionary production of Schiller's Die Räuber (The Robbers) performed at Jessner's Staatstheater in Berlin, Piscator costumed and made up the minor character Spielberg, a noble character driven by society to crime, to resemble Trotsky. The German theatre in particular has since that time tended to interpret classic plays in a contemporary light. In Piscator's production of Sturm über Gottland (“Storm over Gothland”; 1927), which is set in the 14th century, a filmed prologue showed the major actors moving toward the camera, metamorphosing in the process from historically costumed characters to representations of modern historical figures; the protagonist, for example, turned into Lenin. In Paragraph 218 (1929), which was about abortion reform, a tour was organized that used the performances to initiate discussion. Such associated discussions have since been a strong part of women's theatre and other political forms.

      In several productions, Piscator dramatized or inserted verbatim political documents, news reports, or direct quotations from public figures. In one instance, an injunction was taken out by supporters of the former kaiser to prevent such a use of a direct quote in a 1927 production of Aleksey Tolstoy's Rasputin. Piscator offered the former kaiser a contract to appear in person. When this was rejected, the performance was stopped at the point in the show at which the quote would have been delivered and an actor explained the censorship ban. Direct comment of this kind was used frequently by Joan Littlewood and the Theatre Workshop company in Britain in the 1950s and '60s to comment on political actions and to establish common cause with the audience.

      The most important and advanced scenic device used by Piscator was projected film (motion picture). In Trotz Alledem (“In Spite of Everything”; 1924) the second of his revues for the Communist Party, Piscator acquired through a contact a large quantity of war newsreel footage, which had never been shown because the censor considered that it would adversely affect war morale among the civilian population. The screening of the film as part of the whole stage montage lent an added authenticity to the documentary material presented in front of it and created a sensation. In this instance it established a principle, which has been built on by other political and documentary playwrights and directors, that one function of the political stage should be to make manifest what is concealed in politics.

      Piscator established three distinct uses of film in his productions. What he called didactive film presented objective information and up-to-the-minute facts as well as historical ones; it gave the spectator facts about the subject of the production. Dramatic film contributed to the development of the action and served as a “substitute” for the live scene; where live scenes wasted time with explanations, dialogues, and action, film could illuminate a situation in the play with a few quick shots. Film commentary accompanied the action in the manner of a chorus. It addressed the audience, drew attention to important developments in the action, leveled criticism, made accusations, and provided important facts. Piscator should also be credited with the innovation of the jotter screen, a small, auxiliary screen onto which facts, figures, titles, dates, and other bits of information can be projected.

      Piscator's work veered from the austere proletarian theatre productions to a lavish use of modern machinery in other productions. In Toller's Hoppla, wir leben! (Hurrah! We're Alive; 1927), a multiroomed house structure allowed projection onto a variety of screens in juxtaposition with live action. In The Good Soldier Schweik (1928) the actors performed among cutout caricatures drawn by George Grosz. In this production, Schweik on his travels marched against the direction of a moving treadmill at the front of the stage. Brecht later employed this idea with considerable success in Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder (1941) as Courage and her children pulled her wagon against the direction of the revolving stage.

      There are two other innovations that Piscator added to the repertoire of staging devices. He conceived that the postwar world was too complex in its political and economic operations for any one playwright to comprehend it totally. He took the concept of the dramaturgic collective from Reinhardt and extended it to make it the basis of his production method. Writers, dramaturges, economists, politicos, and statisticians worked together to produce a script. Existing play scripts were subjected to analysis and restructuring by the collective. The second invention was the “stage of destiny.” A great deal of Piscator's life was spent trying to realize a project for staging Tolstoy's novel War and Peace. When he finally accomplished this ambition, the judgments of history were incorporated into the narrative.

      The style of theatre that Piscator propounded, using montage and juxtaposition of short independent scenes to create dialectical and often contradictory effects, he called epic theatre. Brecht, who had served in Reinhardt's dramaturgic collective and played an even greater part in Piscator's, appropriated this term for his own theatre. He also adapted and advanced many of the ideas and methods of Piscator's work.

Futurism in Italy
      Although it produced one major dramatist, Luigi Pirandello, in the period between the two world wars, the Italian (Italy) theatre contributed very little to staging or theatre production. What was important was the work of the Futurists led by Marinetti. This movement predated the Dadaists, but its politics were oppositional only with respect to the liberal democrats. Far from attacking war, the Italian Futurists welcomed it. They embraced and glorified the machine culture of the 20th century. Their theatre presentations were scandalous. On one occasion they smeared the seats with glue so that the audience would stick to them; they sold the same ticket to more than one person and provoked fights in the audience. The content and shape of their presentations were similarly designed to shock, provoke, and antagonize the bourgeois audience. With the accession to power of Mussolini's Fascists, whom they supported, their aggression diminished and they became absorbed into the establishment.

      The Futurists built their performances upon an examination of the techniques and forms of music hall and variety shows. The variety stage clearly held an audience's attention without the use of such stable theatrical elements as plot, characterization, and even dialogue. The Futurists went further, using variety forms and techniques without motivating reason or logical content, and created abstract theatre. Later the Dadaists took over many of their ideas in a different cause. What unified Futurist performances, however, was the concept of attractions. An attraction was whatever element in a particular act held the audience's attention. Variety bills were constructed to produce an effective and contrasting variation of types of acts—acrobats opened the show, a solo juggler concentrated the attention, a singer or whistler capitalized on this concentration, a musical act expanded it further, a chorus line of girls kicked in unison, and a climactic situation raised anticipation for the entry of the solo star comedian. The Italian Futurists never really exploited the full possibilities of this concept, which was taken much further in Russia.

Developments in Russia and the Soviet Union
The great directors
      Until 1883 there were only five state theatres in Russia. When the embargo on non-state theatres was lifted, private initiatives followed. The most important of these was the Moscow Art Theatre (after 1939 the Moscow Academic Art Theatre (Moscow Art Theatre)), formed in 1898 by Konstantin Stanislavsky (Stanislavsky, Konstantin Sergeyevich) and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko (Nemirovich-Danchenko, Vladimir Ivanovich). The repertoire of the Moscow Art Theatre was less contentious than those of the other independent theatres, and it was the first of these theatres to emphasize theatrical production rather than censored or neglected plays. Stanislavsky had been deeply impressed by the work of the Meiningen Company and particularly by the discipline imposed on rehearsals by the Duke's stage manager, Ludwig Chronegk. In order to produce theatre in which all the elements were fully integrated, Stanislavsky decided that an autocratic, if not despotic, director was necessary.

      His first production, Aleksey Tolstoy's Fyodor Ivanovich, which Stanislavsky had rehearsed on a country estate and designed on the basis of detailed research into costumes and historical settings, caused a sensation. Later Stanislavsky came to the opinion that the Meiningen approach was successful in creating an external unity of effect but deficient in transforming the internal techniques of the actors. The actors merely imitated the outward behaviour of the characters. With plays increasingly calling for a deeper understanding of psychological motivation, Stanislavsky saw the necessity for a more complex and subtle technique for transforming the thought processes and emotions of the actor into those of the character. The role of the director was thus transformed from that of despot to a combination of coach, teacher, and psychologist. Stanislavsky (Stanislavsky method) devoted the rest of his career to perfecting his famous “method,” by which actors assumed the “identity” of their characters; it must be stressed that his was a method and not a style—each production was created in its own specific style. His early stage settings were overwhelmingly naturalistic, impressively detailed and accompanied by a vast array of sound effects. Fortunately, at the outset of the Moscow Art Theatre work, the plays of Chekhov (Chekhov, Anton) formed a major part of the repertoire, and Chekhov argued successfully for a more selective style of setting and against the drowning of his plays by choruses of birds and frogs. Stanislavsky is credited with being the first person to produce a systematic study of the actor's craft. His influence and that of his Moscow Art Theatre are still to be seen in much of the theatre produced on the world's stages.

      Vsevolod Meyerhold (Meyerhold, Vsevolod Yemilyevich) was one of the actors in the original Moscow Art Theatre, playing among other roles Konstantin in The Seagull and Tussenbach in Three Sisters. In 1905 Stanislavsky, sensing the difficulties of approaching nonrealistic theatre through the acting methods of the Moscow Art Theatre, asked Meyerhold to open a studio to investigate nonrealistic approaches to acting. Meyerhold's work in the studio appears to have been more imaginative than disciplined, involving painters, poets, musicians, and actors in a series of multimedia experiments. Prior to the Revolution he was director of the imperial theatres in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg). After the Revolution he became head of the Soviet theatre organization. In both these areas, Meyerhold carried on the experimental work begun in the Moscow Art Theatre.

      Meyerhold's early experimental work followed the patterns laid down by Craig, Appia, and Fuchs, committing him to a “theatricalized” theatre and anti-illusionism. In his production of Blok's Fairground Booth (1906) and his subsequent writings on this work, Meyerhold explored the concept of a theatre of the grotesque. A disjointed rather than a uniform style—the contrasting of the comic and the tragic rather than their reconciliation in the tragicomic, the dispelling of illusion by blatant theatrical devices, the use of distorted perspectives—seemed to him the most appropriate style for 20th-century theatre. Other writers, directors, and artists were also concerned with the development of the grotesque at that time, but Meyerhold's productions of the Blok play and of Andreyev's Life of Man (1906) were high points, representative of a line of theatrical work that utilizes mixed forms in the theatre to express the contradictions and inconsistencies of life. The Theatre of the Absurd (Absurd, Theatre of the) of the 1950s and early 1960s took this technique further to demonstrate that life is not merely inconsistent but fundamentally absurd.

      Meyerhold's staging of Molière's Dom Juan (1910) was a key production in the process of “retheatricalizing” the theatre. Meyerhold used his historical research to reproduce many of the features of the early Baroque theatre. He built over the orchestra pit and extended the stage area forward by about 20 feet. He abolished the curtain, so necessary to the theatre of illusion, and conducted set changes in full view of the audience. The stage was lit with hundreds of candles and the auditorium remained lighted during the performance. The intention was to extend the experience of theatregoing beyond the mere watching of a play. The disposition of the auditorium and the circumstances under which people arrived at the theatre were to be part of the experience. Meyerhold believed that bright light inspired a festive mood in the spectators when they arrived at the theatre and that this disposed the actors to respond with equal enjoyment.

      The Russian preoccupation with the physical aspects of performance not unnaturally led to a decline in respect for the written text, which became only one subservient means the theatre had at its disposal for creating enjoyable experiences. Of much greater importance to the Russians, since the text could be cut and reshaped and rewritten at will, was the physical technique of the actor. Throughout his studio period before the Revolution, Meyerhold was exploring circus movements, commedia dell'arte, and Japanese theatre in order to devise a new system of training actors. Both he and his younger contemporary Yevgeny Vakhtangov in their productions placed great emphasis on the rhythmic control of stage action and the physical agility of the actors. After the Revolution the demand for a popular theatre of ideology intensified this research and increased the numbers searching.

      Meyerhold codified his study of movement in a system known as biomechanics. The two roots of this term, in suggesting a living machine, also demonstrate the aim of the system. Meyerhold acknowledges a great debt to Frederick W. Taylor's work in all his writings on the subject.

      Meyerhold constructed a set of 16 études as the basis of biomechanics. These études were chosen from an eclectic range of sources, including the circus, Chinese and Japanese theatre, and sport, and they formed the basis of his extended movement vocabulary. The études were sequences of precise muscular movements intended to evoke particular emotions in the performer. This process attempted to systematize the kinesthetic relationship between outer movement and inner feeling, to enable actors to experience this relationship, and to train them to control it.

      Even after so short a time, it is not easy to reconstruct Meyerhold's biomechanics from the remaining evidence because of his fall from favour under Stalin. But, if the exact form of biomechanics has not survived, many of the underlying principles of Meyerhold's movement studies have, and the example of his training program is embodied in the work of many of the present-day advanced theatre groups. Less well known is the work of Vakhtangov, which is important because of the ways in which he combined the inner techniques of Stanislavsky with the external expressive techniques of Meyerhold. An investigation of the work of Jerzy Grotowski shows the continuation of this process and many of the specific techniques (see below The influence of Grotowski and the Polish Laboratory Theatre (theatre)).

      Like Piscator, Meyerhold experimented with the use of film, projected images, and graphics in his productions, and there has been some largely irrelevant controversy as to who copied whom. The period after the Revolution saw many of the Constructivist (Constructivism) ideas used in architecture and design taken over into the theatre. The settings from Meyerhold's Constructivist period featured complicated stage machinery. All attempts at illusion were stripped away to reveal skeletal frameworks with moving parts. The abstract platforms and steps of Craig, Appia, and Jessner had entered the machine age. The sets, whatever their other origins, are the logical outcome of Meyerhold's study of movement and his efforts to reveal the mechanics of the actors' articulation. But Meyerhold and his designers were not content to provide a neutral acting area. The Constructivist settings were incorporated into the action, and the actors' movement was coordinated with the shape, dimensions, functions, and movements of the setting.

      This emphasis on the rhythms of performance led Meyerhold to conceive of a theatre, designed but never built, in which all the dressing rooms opened directly onto the stage so that the actors could remain constantly aware of the stage proceedings. It has been said of Meyerhold that his rehearsals looked like performances and his performances looked like rehearsals. Against the prevailing approach of Stanislavsky, epitomized in the “building” of a character, Meyerhold instituted a holistic approach whereby the actors did not “mark” the actions but gave prototypical performances in rehearsal. Each rehearsal then produced a more complex prototype, and the process continued into the public performances. This approach is the one accepted now by many advanced theatre groups.

      What unites Meyerhold and Piscator is their concept of an infinitely variable theatre within an oval shell, which would provide the total means to construct the environment and stage–audience relationship best suited for each production. Piscator commissioned plans for such a theatre from Walter Gropius (Gropius, Walter), director of the Bauhaus. The project was called Totaltheatre. A remarkably similar building was designed for Meyerhold. Neither were ever built.

      The Russian theatre during these years produced many other talented and innovative directors. Three who deserve mention are Nikolay Evreinov, Aleksandr Tairov, and Nikolay Okhlopkov.

      Like Craig in England and Meyerhold in his own country, Nikolay Evreinov looked to the history of theatre as the true basis for freedom and innovation. In 1907–08 he mounted a cycle of medieval plays through which he wished to capture the artistic essence of each kind of stage, unconfined by pedantic reconstruction. A cycle of plays from the Spanish Golden Age was presented in a large hall—each play given an original setting to re-create the atmosphere of the original performances. One play was set on boards and trestles in an innyard, another given a court setting with the full effects of the Baroque theatre.

      Evreinov also began to explore the relationship between theatre and life, particularly how the processes of acting in the theatre related to social strategies. His work has had a considerable influence on the development of psychodrama and the therapeutic process of acting out concealed traumas. He also anticipated the sociological school of theatre analysts and acting coaches of the 1960s and '70s.

      Aleksandr Tairov (Tairov, Aleksandr Yakovlevich) used abstract settings of Cubist design and took the training of his actors so far as to posit the idea of the actor-dancer. The European tours of his Kamerny Theatre in the 1920s aroused special interest in France and sparked off a run of emulators.

      Nikolay Okhlopkov (Okhlopkov, Nikolay Pavlovich), claimed Meyerhold, was the ideal biomechanical actor. His later work as director of the Moscow Realistic Theatre was innovative in the manner in which he planned the shape and relationship of both stage and audience for each individual production. His centre-stage production of Gorky's Mother had subordinate stages and a walkway behind the audience. He experimented with stages in front of, behind, within, and above the audience. His intention was to revive the festival spirit and incorporate the audience into the spectacle, and his methods were not restricted to the spatial. In The Iron Flood, a play about guerrillas in the Russian Civil War, the audience was kept outside the theatre until the Red Army arrived to break open the doors and the audience flooded into the auditorium. The stage in this production was obliterated and replaced by an embankment running along one side of the room with small promontories jutting out into the audience, breaking up any fixed focus in order to make the audience follow the fluid action. The theatre laboratories of Grotowski and Odin Theatre follow the Okhlopkov tradition in their handling of space.

Russian Futurism—Suprematism
      The Russian Futurists, or Suprematists (Suprematism), declared their lineage from Jarry and their affiliation with the Italian Futurists in their first manifesto “A Slap in the Face of Public Taste” (1912). They differed from the Italians in that they were internationalist rather than nationalist in their politics and that their performances developed beyond the early antibourgeois, anti-art cabaret and variety shows that characterized both Italian Futurists and the Dadaists. The early Russian (Russia) Futurist activities consisted of provocative street actions and cabaret performances, but with Victory over the Sun, an “opera” created in 1913 by the writer Alexey Kruchenykh, the composer Mikhail Matyuchin, and the painter Kazimir Malevich, they produced a work that expressed modern machine culture. The piece had affinities with Kandinsky's Expressionist pieces in that the setting consisted of geometric forms, pieces of machinery, and fragments of typography. The text consisted of nonsense syllables and words without syntax. The costumes and masks were designed to eliminate the human element by transforming the actors into machines. An offstage accompaniment of battle noises, cries, and discordant choral and solo singing provided the score. The whole work optimistically predicted a new age when man's mechanical inventions would supplant the Sun as the source of power. Later generations were to be more concerned with the dangers inherent in the realization of that proposition.

      According to the composer Matyuchin, Victory over the Sun represented the first occurrence on a stage of the disintegration of traditional text, staging, and musical harmony. In retrospect, this production and the other Futurist works, including the early works of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, appear as extreme examples of a feverish experimentation concerned with separating analytically the various components of theatrical performance and resynthesizing these elements into new relationships. This analytical investigation and experimentation characterized the work of Kandinsky, Oscar Schlemmer, and the Bauhaus group as well; the work of the Expressionists, Piscator, and later Brecht began the resynthesis.

      The theatre since the advent of Naturalism had been prone to producing manifestos of various kinds. As time went by, these declarations became less concerned with what theatre should be doing and more concerned with defining what theatre was. From Appia, Craig, and Fuchs onward there was a consistent body of theatre theory that had little to do with dramatic theory. The play and the playwright diminished in importance. The old dramatic criticism based on playtexts and how these were interpreted by actors lost relevance in the new world. The concept of genres such as tragedy, comedy, and farce collapsed as more and more theatre productions attempted to cope with experiences that could not be categorized so neatly.

      Film, declared Lenin, was the most important of the media. The availability of resources for films that had an educational purpose rather than a commercial one stimulated filmmaking and the study of film as an art form. The director Dziga Vertov's (Vertov, Dziga) manifesto for Soviet film sets out to free film from intrusive elements such as music, literature, and theatre. The “theatre” that Vertov disclaimed was equally rejected by the theatre makers around him who derived inspiration from the developments in film. Sergey Eisenstein (Eisenstein, Sergey Mikhaylovich), who worked in theatre and film, developed further the Italian Futurist concept of the montage of attractions. The implementation of this theory would eliminate all the random, haphazard nature of theatre, which Craig saw as destructive to any concept of the theatre as art. Whereas Craig put his trust in the intuitive genius of an individual director, the Russians tried to find a generally applicable theory. The artist-genius was replaced by the artist-theorist.

The propagandist theatre
      Political theatre in postrevolutionary Russia combined agitation (the use of catch-phrases and half-truths to exploit popular grievances) with propaganda (the use of historical and scientific arguments for purposes of indoctrination) in a form that came to be called agitprop. This form of theatre is explicitly intended to arouse the audience to action and to propagate the views and values of the sponsoring organization. In practice, the term agitprop is usually reserved for left-wing political theatre, though the form itself does not imply any particular ideology, nor is it restricted to politics. In fact, one of the greatest uses of agitprop techniques today occurs in commercial advertising. The reputation of political agitprop for poor aesthetic quality probably reflects the fact that many of the groups using it have viewed the political message as the raison d'être for the work and any aesthetic considerations have been deeply distrusted as interfering with its political purity.

      Immediately after the Revolution the various arts were enlisted to further the propagandist aims of the Bolsheviks. Ships and trains were decked out with a variety of communicative devices ranging from poster art to poets reading their work. In a country where few could read the newspapers, actors acted out the news stories in a Living Newspaper. In 1921 a group of Moscow actors formed the Blue Blouses, a company named for the workers' overalls its members wore as their basic costume. This group inspired the formation of other professional and amateur factory groups throughout the Soviet Union. Their work and methods set the standard for political theatre groups in other countries between 1921 and 1939.

      The performances of the Blue Blouses were typically around an hour and a half long and began with a parade in which the actors presented themselves to the audience. The aim of this and similar groups was to be able to perform anywhere, and staging demands were extremely simple. The performances were montages comprising dramatic monologues, sketches, dialogues, mass declamations, and movement derived from dance and gymnastics. They frequently made use of animated posters for rapid cartoon characterization—similar to the photographers' dummy boards with cutout faces that permit tourists to be photographed as cowboys or bathing beauties. Music was a prominent element, including instrumental numbers and folk and popular songs, often with satiric lyrics. Film was rarely used, but the Blue Blouses made a specialty of using flickering light on slowly moving actors to create the illusion of silent film. The dance and gymnastic routines seem to have been the most conventional and apolitical forms, but they were in practice the Blue Blouses' greatest strength. In the process of moving scenic pieces, the actors could acrobatically combine to compose pictures, diagrams, and structures. One report of a sketch entitled “Industrialization” describes actors in costumes representing factories and power stations finally coming together to represent the government program for industrialization.

      The Blue Blouses constructed their programs cleverly, juxtaposing the more overtly political pieces with the more entertaining pieces. The organization of a bill in this way was not new, since music hall and variety theatres had used this sort of planning for many years. What was new was the use of these skills for an ideological purpose, rather than simply to extract applause from an audience.

      Ironically, the Blue Blouse movement was suppressed by Stalin in 1928. The reason seems to have been that the Blue Blouses saw satire as a legitimate part of their repertoire and proceeded to attack the inequities that followed the Revolution and the survival of prerevolutionary thought and class distinctions. In 1928 such a program was held to be counterproductive, and a more agreeable line of thought was called for. The doctrine that followed was called Socialist Realism, a political derivative of Naturalism that sought to present typical figures in a typical landscape. With state direction these were always liable to turn into idealized figures in an idealized landscape.

      Just before their disbanding, the original Blue Blouse group made a tour of Germany in 1927 to celebrate 10 years of the Revolution. The visit coincided with the presence in Germany at a Communist-backed congress of representatives from many other countries. As a result, there arose an international movement of workers' theatre groups performing, with varying degrees of skill, agitprop in the Blue Blouse mode. Whereas the Blue Blouses in their heyday could expect official support for their minimal required facilities, the groups in nonsocialist countries could not, and a new resourcefulness resulted. One of the many German groups formed had a furniture pantechnicon in which it toured the working-class tenement courtyards, lowering a side of the van to reveal a ready-made stage that could quickly be folded up and driven away in advance of a police raid. Groups elsewhere took their theatre to public gathering places, often symbolic sites. Groups performed in the streets, on the backs of flat motor trucks, at mass meetings in city squares, as well as on the steps of employment exchanges and government offices. The Korean (Korea) resistance to the Japanese invasion was aided by agitprop groups that stayed one step ahead of the Japanese troops. Troupes of this kind were used later by the North Vietnamese (Vietnam) during the Vietnam War. Agitprop has remained a consistent part of the Chinese government's education program in rural areas. The techniques of the Blue Blouses and other agitprop groups were emulated by the Teatro Campesino, the first of the Chicano theatres in the United States, which was founded in California as part of the farmworkers' union campaign for recognition in the mid-1960s.

Political festivals
      In the years immediately following the Russian Revolution, mass spectacles were mounted in many Soviet cities. The subjects of these spectacles were drawn from events in the Revolution and the subsequent Civil War. They were a conscious attempt to create a new form of social ritual out of the celebratory reenactment of revolutionary events. They also represent an attempt to create a new proletarian art form, and in this they arose naturally from the broader movement to utilize art for social purposes. The former Futurists and Suprematists painted the fronts of buildings and exploited the bustling atmosphere of street markets for their performances. The ideological point of such actions was that the theatres, concert halls, and art galleries had been the preserve of the privileged; proletarian artists proclaimed their allegiance by creating it in the streets.

      It seemed only reasonable that St. Petersburg, which had seen so much of the high drama of the Revolution, should be the city that presented the most memorable mass spectacles. In 1920, five of these were presented, climaxing in The Storming of the Winter Palace, directed by Evreinov, with the help of the directors of the other spectacles. The performers numbered more than 8,000, and the spectators have been estimated at 100,000. A 500-piece orchestra provided accompaniment. The spectacle reenacted the events leading up to the October Revolution in St. Petersburg, on the site at which they actually happened.

      The spectacles corresponded directly with the proposal by Rousseau and Diderot in 18th-century France that the theatre be made the church of the secular state. These productions were almost certainly influenced by the arguments of Romain Rolland (Rolland, Romain) for a people's theatre at the beginning of the century and were the most vivid examples of the large-scale revival of pageant theatre that was very strong in many European countries and North America between the two world wars. A change of Soviet policy in 1921 phased out the mass spectacles, though they did not disappear entirely. The Bicentennial celebrations in the United States in 1976 included reenactments of the Battle of Lexington, among others. During the opening ceremonies of the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, performers presented a “condensed” history of the settling of the United States. In the socialist countries the tradition was continued in more disciplined and less imaginative forms in military parades and the large athletic Spartakiades.

      As Soviet society settled into a more dogmatic and defensive period after 1921 and particularly after 1928, the unrestrained release of emotion sparked by the mass spectacles, the critical satire of the Blue Blouses, and the highly imaginative and often idiosyncratic experimental work of the directors came increasingly to be seen as dangerous to the state. In direct opposition to the direction in which 20th-century art was moving—i.e., away from representation toward abstraction—the Soviet aesthetics branded any tendency toward abstraction as Formalist and established Socialist Realism, which was in effect a reduction of the older forms of Naturalism and psychological realism, as the official mode.

Developments in France
      At the turn of the century, the preeminence of Paris as the centre of avant-garde theatre had declined and the lead had passed to Berlin and later Moscow. The revival in the French theatre produced a theory diametrically opposed to that of Meyerhold and Tairov. Jacques Copeau (Copeau, Jacques) founded the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier (Vieux-Colombier, Theatre of the) in 1913, arguing that the director's job was to translate faithfully a play into a “poetry of the theatre.” Believing the actor to be the only important element in a production, he advocated the return to a bare stage. In the Vieux-Colombier he removed the proscenium arch to create a raised open platform. At the rear of the stage he placed an alcove with a balcony, a structure similar to that of the Elizabethan theatre. In a succession of productions and with great ingenuity this permanent setting could be transformed with minor alterations and adaptations to suit a whole season of varied plays.

      Copeau's reasoning was based on an assessment that the modern theatre had initiated a mass of new staging techniques but had singularly failed to find the new dramatists to maintain the literary standard of the theatre. He founded his theatre in hopes of attracting those new dramatists. This effort largely failed, and Copeau's contribution to the history of the theatre consists almost entirely in his approach to staging. The restriction of scenic means on the bare stage placed great stress upon the actor's ability to play in a variety of styles. In the school attached to the theatre, Copeau pursued a program of actor training very much in line with that of Meyerhold, encompassing exercises drawn from commedia dell'arte, folk theatre, masked theatre, Oriental theatre, and Dalcroze eurythmics. His actors trained with the Fratellini family, the great Italian family of circus clowns and acrobats. Copeau's aim was to equip his actors with a wide cultural understanding and a full range of physical and vocal skills. Rehearsals were improvisational. The discipline and self-denial inherent in Copeau's program provided an example for others to follow not only artistically and administratively but also morally. The line of influence from Copeau, his colleagues Charles Dullin and Louis Jouvet, and their students extends throughout the European theatre. The example of the Théâtre du Vieux-Colombier can be followed through many of the leading postwar European theatres, such as Giorgio Strehler's Piccolo Teatro of Milan and the Old Vic and the Royal Court theatres of London.

Developments in the United States
      The currents of innovative stagecraft eventually reached the United States. The first migration was represented by the Viennese Joseph Urban, who when he went to the Boston Opera before World War I took with him an entire atelier of draftsmen and scenic artists. Urban moved into musical comedy and eliminated the acreage of painted vistas and box sets that had been manufactured by the stock scenic studios.

      The next change grew out of marginal experimental groups, such as the Provincetown Playhouse on Cape Cod in Massachusetts and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City, which fostered designers such as Robert Edmond Jones, Cleon Throckmorton, and Aline Bernstein. By the middle 1920s, their simple, tasteful romanticism had invaded Broadway as the groups had become commercial and as the more artistic theatre managers extended commissions to the freelance designers. The industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes (Geddes, Norman Bel) entered the growing ranks of theatre artists and devised grandiose projects and engineering marvels. With the impetus provided by ecstatic reports from Europe on the work of Reinhardt, Copeau, Meyerhold, and Tairov, American directors such as Arthur Hopkins and Philip Moeller attempted to synthesize the elements of production into a persuasive whole. The imaginative poetry of Robert Edmond Jones (Jones, Robert Edmond) was balanced by the sensible craftsmanship of Lee Simonson (Simonson, Lee) for the Theatre Guild. Simonson as the exponent of “selective realism” was more attuned to the practicalities of the earthbound psychological problems that provided the staple fare of Broadway's “serious” drama.

      By the 1930s, scenery consisted of solid carpentry and tasteful furnishings that were tailored to the mood, atmosphere, and mechanical requirements of the individual play. The Urban style in musical comedy design was replaced by that of Albert Johnson—a style characterized by loose colour and calligraphic line that went well with the sharp revues that prevailed until World War II. In staging musicals, a peculiar division persisted between the direction of the plot and comedy segments and that of the production numbers—the sumptuous song-and-dance displays under the separate supervision of a “stager” who was noted for his taste. Director-producer George Abbott (Abbott, George) surmounted this artificial departmentalization in an important step forward in the development of the rhythmic, lively musical show that became America's contribution to world theatre.

      The importation of Blue Blouse techniques, through direct exposure to German groups or through political theatre groups formed by ethnic immigrants, led to one sensational development in the United States. The Living Newspaper had been a relatively crude form of propaganda elsewhere. Under the Federal Theatre Project (1935) several Living Newspapers were produced, of which Triple-A Ploughed Under (1936) and One Third of a Nation (1938) are probably the best known examples. These productions were articulate documentaries of great sophistication. So impressive were they that the model was reexported into Europe as the basis for many documentary theatre productions. Another refinement of these techniques married to the skill of Broadway-experienced professionals produced the political revue Pins and Needles (1937), which was put on to aid a strike and which ran on Broadway for 1,108 performances.

The influence of Brecht (Brecht, Bertolt)
      By 1936 a wide range of experimentation and innovation had established the parameters of the contemporary theatre. The training of actors in the Western theatre has since become more organized to take in concepts and programs from the earlier innovators. There are few schools today that do not acknowledge the work of Stanislavsky in their training. Less obvious but equally pervasive is the influence of Reinhardt and Copeau, largely by way of their pupils in teaching. And towering above all others (save perhaps Stanislavsky) is the figure of Brecht. It is reasonable to argue that Brecht absorbed, and in turn perpetuated, more influences than any other individual in the modern theatre.

      Of central importance in establishing this argument is Brecht's essay “On Experimental Theatre” (1940), in which he reviews the work of Vakhtangov, Meyerhold, Antoine, Reinhardt, Okhlopkov, Stanislavsky, Jessner, and other Expressionists. Brecht traces through the modern theatre the two lines running from Naturalism and Expressionism. Naturalism he sees as the “assimilation of art to science,” which gave the Naturalistic theatre great social influence, but at the expense of its capacity to arouse aesthetic pleasure. Expressionism (and by implication the other anti-illusionist theatres), he acknowledges, “vastly enriched the theatre's means of expression and brought aesthetic gains that still remain to be exploited.” But it proved incapable of shedding any light on the world as an object of human activity, and the theatre's educational value collapsed. Brecht recognized the great achievements of Piscator's work, in which he himself played a significant role, but proposed a further advance in the development of so-called epic theatre.

      Brecht's Marxist political convictions led him to propose an alternative direction for the theatre that would fuse the two functions of instruction and entertainment. In this way the theatre could project a picture of the world by artistic means and offer models of life that could help the spectators to understand their social environment and to master it both rationally and emotionally. The main concept of Brecht's program was that of Verfremdungseffekt (“alienation”). In order to induce a critical frame of mind in the spectator, Brecht considered it necessary to dispense with the empathetic involvement with the stage that the illusionary theatre sought to induce. Generally, this has been understood as a deadening coldness in the productions, but such an interpretation proceeds from a general ignorance of Brecht's own writings on the subject. Rather, he insisted, as Appia, Craig, and the Symbolists did before him, that the audience must be reminded that it is watching a play.

      Brecht's ideas can be approached through the image presented by the theatre he chose to work in on his return to East Germany in 1947. The auditorium of the Theater am Schiffbauerdamm is lavish to the point of fantasy, decorated with ornate plaster figures. The stage, by complete contrast, is a vast mechanized scenic space in which everything is clearly exposed to view as theatrical and man-made. In the contrast between the comfort of the auditorium and the science of the stage lies the condition of Brecht's theatre. The audience was there to be entertained but also to think scientifically.

      Many of the techniques of Brecht's staging were developments of earlier work. The use of three-dimensional set pieces in a large volume of space clearly derived from Jessner. His delight in the use of machinery and in particular the revolving stage came from Piscator. The insistence on the actors' demonstrating through the physical disposition of the body their gestus (“attitude”) toward what is happening derived from Meyerhold, though with Brecht the gestus was always socially based. The clearest of his alienation devices, the projection of captions preceding the scene so that the audience knows in advance what will happen and therefore can concentrate on how it happens, derived from Piscator's jotter screens and film captions.

      Brecht acknowledged in his work the need for the actor to undergo a process of identification with the part, and he paid tribute to Stanislavsky as the first person to produce a systematic account of the actor's technique. Brecht required his actors to go beyond Stanislavsky and to incorporate a social attitude or judgment into their portrayal. Characterization without a critical judgment was in Brecht's view seductive artifice; conversely, social judgment without the characterization of a rounded human being was arid dogmatism. The theatre of mixed styles and means that Meyerhold and others constructed to cope with the grotesque experience of modern living was transformed by Brecht into a political principle. He used mixed means and styles to expose the contradictions, inconsistencies, and dialectics of situations and characters. Brecht's strongest theatrical effects were created through the juxtaposition of inconsistent attitudes in a character. Although the settings in Brecht's productions were clearly theatrical, the costumes and properties were not. Great care was taken to make each property and its use authentic for the period or character. In Brecht's theatre, if a chicken were to be plucked the actor did not mime or roughly approximate the action—the chicken was plucked. Costumes had to make clear the social class of the persons wearing them. This places Brecht directly in the line with the Meiningen Players, though again the gestus is particularly social rather than historical.

      Brecht's methods of rehearsal were especially innovative. The methods worked out in his own company, the Berliner Ensemble, established a directing collective well advanced beyond those of Reinhardt and Piscator. In Brecht's theatre, the director, dramaturge, designer, and composer had equal authority in the production. The designer had a special function; in addition to designing the sets and costumes, he also produced, for early rehearsal purposes, a series of sketches of key moments in the action. The rehearsals became a process of testing hypotheses about the play and its production. What held the collective together and made the method workable was the story, or fable. All the elements of production were synthesized for telling this story in public. At some points the music conveyed the meaning, at other times the setting, or the actors, or the words did. Brecht often invited observers to the rehearsals in order to test the clarity of the story. The process of testing could continue into the performance period. When the company was satisfied that the staging was correct, the production was photographed and a Modellbuch was prepared with photographs set against the text to show the disposition of the stage at all times and to mark significant changes of position on the part of the actors. The Modellbuch was then available (in a more advanced form than the designer's sketches) as the basis for any subsequent productions.

      The Modellbuch has aroused resentment on the part of directors who prefer to respond freely to the text. Brecht's intention was not to limit but to provide a document as scientific evidence of an experiment that could be used in further research. Since the finished text was, in any case, only one facet of the fable, the model book gave evidence of other aspects of the story and its telling.

      Brecht's influence on the contemporary theatre has been both considerable and problematic. His Marxist views have proved a real stumbling block to his assimilation in the West, and his use of formalist techniques in the service of entertainment has presented difficulties in the socialist countries. There is no doubt that the settings and costumes of his productions are the features that have most influenced the contemporary theatre. Contemporary design exhibits in many ways the influences of his staging.

Howard Bay Clive Barker

Theatre building after World War II
      After World War II, Germany was left with hundreds of bombed-out theatres and opera houses; within 20 years (1950–70) more than 100 of them had been restored to their former state or else had been redesigned and rebuilt along contemporary lines. The chief innovator in stage design and mechanization was Walther Unruh, whose work is exemplified by the Deutsche Oper in West Berlin. There, the stage is cruciform in plan, employing lifts under the main stage, a sliding revolving stage with trapdoors upstage, and sliding stages right and left of the main stage; thus, it completes the process toward mechanization begun at the turn of the century by providing means for shifting fully plastic settings with great speed. The combination of stage engineering with acoustic sophistication and continental seating makes this building arguably the greatest modern opera house.

      Beginning in the late 1950s, the United States and Canada constructed theatres, concert halls, and a variety of multipurpose facilities by the hundreds, in the greatest theatre-building boom ever known in the Western Hemisphere. The two fundamentally opposing conceptions of theatre design—proscenium style and open stage—predominate. The Alley Theatre, in Houston, Texas, is a fine example of the more radical school. In the United Kingdom the director Sir Tyrone Guthrie (Guthrie, Sir Tyrone) advocated a return to the open-stage techniques in his productions of Shakespeare at the Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Dance. Moving to Stratford, in Ontario, Canada, and assisted by stage designer Tanya Moiseyevich, Guthrie designed the Festival Theatre, which represents a fusion of the classical auditorium with the stage of Shakespeare. The experiment, with modifications, was repeated in 1963 at Minneapolis, where the Guthrie Theater was designed to Guthrie's specifications. The Guthrie Theater, while it is reminiscent of his earlier theatre at Stratford, exhibits a studied asymmetry in plan and section in contrast to the older theatre's ordered symmetry. A number of new British theatre buildings have been built in emulation of this design.

George C. Izenour Clive Barker
      Internationalism in the theatre today has erased national and local styles in decor and staging. The great leap in facilities for travel and the network of international festivals throughout the world has greatly facilitated the cross-fertilization of styles and influences. It is not surprising that the resulting eclecticism of taste has imposed certain imperatives on theatre design. This has also been affected by an interaction of economic factors. Theatres occupy prime sites in city centres. In the post-World War II building boom, these sites became targets for property speculators seeking to exploit them for more profitable purposes. The return on investment and capital costs in theatres is very low in comparison with other fields of investment. In Britain a vast number of theatres disappeared completely in the decade following 1945.

      The keynote in the postwar rebuilding of theatres has been flexibility. Eclecticism in style has led to demand for flexible auditoriums. In response to directorial demand, a number of theatres were built in Scandinavia in which the size and relationship of stage and auditorium can be adjusted by mechanical means.

      It has become customary for many contemporary theatres to have a studio theatre attached to a main-house theatre. These studios are usually well-equipped “black boxes” with adaptable seating that allows a limited variety of forms of presentation—usually end-on, half-thrust, full-thrust, and arena staging. The National Theatre in London has three auditoriums (auditorium) of different types. The Royal Shakespeare Company has three auditoriums in Stratford and also uses some improvised areas; the company has two auditoriums in London. This variety of facilities lends flexibility to production planning. Less commercial productions can also be mounted in the studio theatres when the risk is too high to give them main-house runs.

The rise of alternative theatre spaces
      The search for flexibility in designing a multipurpose hall that could be used for theatre, music, exhibitions, and sporting events has rarely been successful. The acoustic needs of theatre and music are widely different, and acoustic shields (suspended or freestanding panels used to alter the acoustic properties of a space) are at best corrective devices. Nevertheless, economic factors have frequently dictated that this is the only possible way in which smaller communities can be provided with performance spaces, and the design of such spaces is becoming more sophisticated and efficient.

      The adverse economics of Broadway has severely restricted the range of productions that can be presented in those theatres. Investment is high and the risk of losing all has led to a policy that favours mass-appeal productions such as the musical, which can at least produce a high box-office return. Experimental productions stand little chance of finding a backer. Since the 1950s the sterility of Broadway has been countered by a growth of small Off-Broadway theatres, and, in turn, so-called Off-Off-Broadway. Nontheatre buildings have been pressed into use—cafés, garages, fire stations, churches, lofts, and shops. The example of the converted theatres in New York City spread to other countries. In many cases these theatres have been the home of innovative companies for many years. Otherwise they have formed the basis of a new touring circuit for small companies. The growth of the study and practice of theatre in educational institutions, starting in the United States in the 1930s and spreading to Europe after World War II, led to the formation of many small experimental and radical theatre groups in the 1960s and '70s. These groups formed the nucleus of the companies adapting and playing the informal theatres.

      One further reason for the development of adaptable, flexible, and multipurpose theatre spaces has been the pattern of decentralization followed by many Western governments since World War II. In France, in particular, there has been a government policy of subsidizing theatre away from Paris through the founding of maisons de la culture (“houses of culture”) and centres dramatiques (“dramatic centres”). The dual policy has been to create the facilities for a range of cultural activities in the towns and cities of the provinces and to establish theatre companies touring in specific areas from a home base. The development of lightweight electronic equipment, particularly lighting control, has greatly facilitated touring.

The influence of Grotowski (Grotowski, Jerzy) and the Polish Laboratory Theatre
      The other major tendency in today's theatre arises from an investigation of the sources of the theatre's uniqueness and strength. The prophet of this search was the French dramatist and poet Antonin Artaud (Artaud, Antonin), with his vision of a total, visceral theatre with the potency and terror of primitive myths. As was the case with Craig and Appia, his actual performances were few, but his writings inspired many directors, such as Peter Brook in England, Gerald Savory in France, and Jerzy Grotowski, whose Polish Laboratory Theatre, a fiercely dedicated acting ensemble, sought to cut through the bonds of the polite literary tradition to rediscover basic human drives and conflicts. The actors in the Laboratory Theatre undergo exhaustive exercises designed to break down the layers of superficial technique and repressions. Each production is conceived as a unique entity, requiring its own playing space and actor–audience relationship; the rectangular hall-theatre is rearranged according to the dictates of each production. Grotowski relies on his own dramaturgical skills in freely molding the texts and on his architect-designer for the carving of the space in which the ritual takes place.

      Grotowski's form of theatre is often called poor theatre on account of the simple circumstances in which it takes place. This characteristic recalls Copeau's idea of “the greatest possible effect from the least possible means.” The internationalism of the theatre is now such that groups modeled on Grotowski's have appeared throughout the world. Eugenio Barba, of Odin Theater in Holstebro, Den., a pupil of Grotowski, has formulated the ideological position of these theatres under the term third theatre. His book The Floating Islands (1979) examines a theatre existing independently that creates from whatever material resources are at hand. Barba has sought to return to theatre as a way of life, seeing this pattern in the origins of the commedia dell'arte, the wandering players, and in Molière's company. The third theatre groups give performances, but they insist that the relationships engendered by their work, inside and outside the company, are the criteria by which they judge it. The members of the Odin Theatre have established a form of bartering in which they exchange their work for some cultural offering from the people of the regions they visit.

      Because the third theatre is a way of life, the actors' “work” is a full-time activity. Actors have their own daily training regimen. The actors' work is enriched by the acquisition of other skills, particularly the techniques of Oriental theatre.

      Because of the crippling expense of mainstream Western theatre and the development of these experimental groups, the theatre in the late 20th century has become highly polarized. On the one hand, there are “rich” commercial productions that rely heavily on technological spectacle; on the other hand are the small “poor” experimental groups exclusively centred on the art of the actor. Consequently, the traditional centres of theatre are losing their potency, except in their power to divert. The sources of real theatrical advance and interest are now dispersed throughout the world, and one is as likely to find exciting work in New Guinea as in New York City and London.

Additional Reading
John Gassner, Producing the Play, rev. ed. (1953), descriptions of standard practices in major aspects of theatrical production until the middle of the 20th century; and Toby Cole and Helen Krich Chinoy (eds.), Actors on Acting, new rev. ed. (1970), and Directors on Directing, 2nd rev. ed. (1963, reprinted 1976), collections of essays by actors and directors, respectively. The insights of prominent persons in the field, with coverage of their working methods, are found in Eugenio Barba, The Floating Islands: Reflections with Odin Teatret, trans. from Danish, Italian, and Norwegian (1979); Jerzy Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre (1968, reissued 1975); and Erwin Piscator, The Political Theatre (1978; originally published in German, 1929). Studies of directing include Edward Braun, The Director and the Stage: From Naturalism to Grotowski (1982).Phyllis Hartnoll (ed.), The Oxford Companion to the Theatre, 4th ed. (1983), is a reference source. For further research, the following bibliographies are recommended: David F. Cheshire, Theatre: History, Criticism, and Reference (1967), a guide to theatre books in English, with emphasis on the British stage; and Claudia Jean Bailey, A Guide to Reference and Bibliography for Theatre Research, 2nd rev. ed. (1983). Studies of theatrical history and philosophy include Oscar G. Brockett, History of the Theatre, 4th ed. (1982); Allardyce Nicoll, The Development of the Theatre: A Study of Theatrical Art from the Beginnings to the Present Day, 5th rev. ed. (1966); Barrett H. Clark, European Theories of the Drama; with a Supplement on American Drama: An Anthology of Dramatic Theory and Criticism from Aristotle to the Present Day, rev. ed., edited by Henry Popkin (1965); George Freedley and John A. Reeves, A History of the Theatre, 3rd rev. ed. (1968); A.M. Nagler, Sources of Theatrical History (1952, reissued 1959); and Keir Elam, The Semiotics of Theatre and Drama (1980). Specific periods and areas are examined in Margarete Bieber, The History of the Greek and Roman Theater, 2nd rev. ed. (1961); E.K. Chambers, The Medieval Stage, 2 vol. (1903, reprinted 1978); A.M. Nagler, Theatre Festivals of the Medici, 1539–1637 (1964, reprinted 1976); A.M. Nagler, Shakespeare's Stage, enlarged ed., trans. from the German (1981); Michael Hattaway, Elizabethan Popular Theatre (1982); Giuliana Ricci, Teatri d'Italia: Dalla Magna Grecia all'Ottocento (1971); Margarete Baur-Heinhold, The Baroque Theatre: A Cultural History of the 17th and 18th Centuries (1967; originally published in German, 1966); Leslie Hotson, The Commonwealth and Restoration Stage (1928, reissued 1962); Michael R. Booth, Victorian Spectacular Theatre, 1850–1910 (1981); Howard Goorney, The Theatre Workshop Story (1981); Gerald M. Berkowitz, New Broadways: Theatre Across America, 1950–1980 (1982); Faubion Bowers, Theatre in the East (1956, reprinted 1980); A.C. Scott, An Introduction to the Chinese Theatre (1958); and Balwant Gargi, Theatre in India (1962). Historical developments are studied in the following works: William Tydeman, The Theatre in the Middle Ages: Western European Stage Conditions, c. 800–1576 (1978); George R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre: Form and Convention in the Renaissance (1944); Barnard Hewitt, The Renaissance Stage: Documents of Serlio, Sabbattini, and Furttenbach (1958); Alan C. Dessen, Elizabethan Stage Conventions and Modern Interpreters (1984); Andrew Curr, The Shakespearean Stage, 1574–1642, 2nd ed. (1980); Ashley Horace Thorndike, Shakespeare's Theater (1916, reprinted 1968); C. Walter Hodges, The Globe Restored (1953, reprinted 1977); Allardyce Nicoll, Stuart Masques and the Renaissance Stage (1938, reprinted 1980); and Per Bjurström, Giacomo Torelli and Baroque Stage Design (1961).Architecture and construction of theatres are examined in Donald C. Mullin, The Development of the Playhouse: A Survey of Theatre Architecture from the Renaissance to the Present (1970); Roberto Aloi, Architetture per lo spettacolo (1958); Maxwell Silverman, Contemporary Theatre Architecture: An Illustrated Survey (1965); Jo Mielziner, The Shapes of Our Theatre (1970); Harold Burris-Meyer and Edward C. Cole, Theatres and Auditoriums, 2nd ed. (1964, reprinted 1975); Oskar Schlemmer, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and Farkas Molnár, The Theater of the Bauhaus (1961, reissued 1979; originally published in German, 1925); Gerhard Graubner, Theaterbau: Aufgabe und Planung (1968); George C. Izenour, Theater Design (1977); and Edwin O. Sachs and Ernest A.E. Woodrow, Modern Opera Houses and Theatres, 3 vol. (1896–98, reprinted 1981).

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Universalium. 2010.

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