Theatre History from the Middle Ages to the English Renaissance
Ms. Aixa B. RodriguezHigh School for World CulturesArt in Literature Class, Fall 2009
ReferencesPrince, Nancy & Jackson, Jeanie. Exploring Theatre. Columbus: McGraw Hill, 2009."William Shakespeare." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 13 Dec 2009, 15:45 UTC. 14 Dec 2009 . "Commedia dell'arte." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 11 Dec 2009, 18:15 UTC. 14 Dec 2009 .
What characterized the theater of the middle ages ?500- 1500 AD.Different than theatrical performances in Rome.No powerful monarch or government.Church was in charge of most leadership.Few people were literate .Theater used to communicate religious messages to the general public.Plays told stories from the Bible.
How were the mystery plays performed?Several stories were performed right after each other in what was called a cycle.Ex. Wakefield cycle-32 plays back to back13th the second shepherds playCycle plays also called mystery plays as they focused on the mysterious nature of Gods power.From creation in Genesis to the last judgment in Revelation.
What were morality plays?Modifications introduced in the content led to morality plays, those used to teach a moral lesson using allegorical or symbolic characters.One character called everyman/or mankind would represent all mankind or a virtue such as greed/anger/mercy in which the character was tempted by evil but returned to the side of good in the end.
Elements of Drama- stagingUnlike the Greek amphitheaters and Roman arenas these plays were put on in the church in the church yard or in the street.Settings could be a series of temporary hut like houses called mansions decorated to represent different localesEven movable floats upon which the action was acted. Audience followed action /scene changes based on the mansion from which the actors entered.
The Italian Renaissance (late 1300s-1600s )Cultural center of Europe was Italy.Renaissance means rebirthThis theme reflected renewed interest in classics and Greece and Roman cultureAdvancement in all Arts, Science and learning during this timeTheatre gets closer to our modern styles Merchants sponsored artistsSystem of financial support was called patronageTopics/subjects from the religious to human activity rather than divine.A change in philosophy called humanism.
Neo-classical ideasRenaissance rules of writing drama influences drama for 200 years. Rules came from a mistaken understanding of what was meant by the rediscovered Greek & Roman playwrights (Aristotle).Renaissance writers created plays and copied stories and themes from the Greek and Roman plays.Verisimilitude- being true to life.
IdealsRenaissance philosophy demanded all characters be recognizable and verifiable from real lifeUnity of time- action doesnt over more than 24 hours of time.Unity of place- all action takes place in one location.Unity of action- plot has only one story line (no subplots).This wasnt followed universally.Particularly and England and Spain, these ideals were ignored
What changed in terms of space and styles of theatre decoration? 1. Visual arts had developed during this time, having a major effect on imagery in theatreIllusion of depth /perspective painting.Images were no longer flat.Architecture, theatre building changed.
What was the Proscenium arch?Proscenium arches or picture from opening around stage spaces Oldest example is in Vicenza, Italy the Teatro Olimpico completed 3000 people stage has a permanent facadeDoorways build into wall w/deep hallways giving the illusion of deep interior spaces.
Permanent facades were not flexible.Painted scenery could be shifted to reveal new sets behind them.Painted flats/canvases allowed for changes.1st theater with proscenium stage was Teatro Farnes in Parma, Italy in 1618.
What changed when scenery was introduced?Multiple settings behind each other for changes requires that there be more backstage space for scenery and equipment. Renaissance stages therefore became deeper.
What were the standard settings in these plays?Reuse of standard styles of settings Tragedies (streets of a wealthy neighborhood)Comedies (streets of a lower-class homes)Pastoral plays (Countryside cottages)
What is Commedia dellarte? A form of improvisational theater that began during the renaissance in Italy.Troupes of actors toured the Italian country-sides.They performed using stock characters. Dialogue was improvised following a basic outline there was no script.
Who were the stock characters in Commedia dellarte?Vecchio A category of aged, male characters members of this group arePantalone, Il Dottore Il Capitano. The word means "old one" or simply "old" in Italian.They are overwhelmingly the antagonists, opposing the love of the innamorati
Who were the stock characters in Commedia dellarte?Arlechinno /Harlequin was a clever prankster
Who were the stock characters in Commedia dellarte?Punchinello- was a malicious servantInnamorato, Inamorata- Young hero/heroineFontesca-serving maidZanni- male servantsAll were identified by their half masks or costumes
Why is this important?The stock characters of the Commedia dellarte influenced the archetypes used in other works. Taking Shakespeares Romeo and Juliet as an example:Nurse = FontescaFriar Lawrence, Balthazar, Benvolio = ZanniMercutio= Archelinno/HarlequinTybalt=PunchinelloCapulet= Vecchio- Il PantaloneParis= Vecchio- Il CapitanoRomeo and Juliet= Inamorati
What was different in Elizabethan England?Powerful English Ruler Queen Elizabeth I ruled for 45 years, 1588-1603 language literature and the arts flourished due to her patronage. Acting changed from amateur to professional statusPlaywrights now had a stable experienced group of performers for whom to write more detailed and complicated plays.Permanent theatres builtAll classes could attend performances
What was theatre-going like in Elizabethan England?Previous policy by church viewed all non-religious theater as evil.City of London didnt permit theatre buildings to be erected inside the city limits.Theatres were then built across the Thames river in a suburb of London.Audience members had to take ferry boats to see the play.
Flags flying atop a theatreSignified a play was being givenWhite= comedyBlack= tragedyRed= History
The Globe theatre where Shakespeares plays were presentedElizabethan theatres were circular or octagonal structures of three stories with an open roofTheater had a raised platform stage that would be surrounded by the audience on the three sides
It was closer to a contemporary thrust stage than a proscenium arch stage being used in Italy at the same time
How did plays in England differ from those in Italy at the same time in history?No neoclassical ideals.Dramas structured in a series of scenes. Changes of location.This influence the use of stage space in England .Little use of scenery, entrances and exits signified a change of sceneA piece of furniture suggested the location of the next scentCharacters would speak/announce the change of location called spoken dcor
Noted feature of Elizabethan DramaUse of poetry Iambic pentameter2 syllables to each beat, 5 beats per line10 syllables in each line, stress put on the 2nd beatSonnetsWilliam Shakespeare considered the most important playwright during this period
William ShakespeareAll the worlds a stage and all the men and women meerely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages
-As you like it -William ShakespeareAwareness of human nature
Biographical Infob. 1564 in Stratford upon Avon to John and Mary Shakespeare 1 of 8 children. Married in 1582 to Anne Hathaway Has three children Susanna, Hamnet and Judith.1587- left to go to London, member of Lord Chamberlain's men became a shareholder in the company helped finance/part owner of the Globe theatre1613 Globe theatre burned downShakespeare retired to Stratford d. 1616 @ age 52
What was Shakespeares body of work?154 sonnets38 plays ? (There is some argument here)Tragedies/Comedies/Histories/FantasiesApocryphaLost Plays
List of playsComediesAll's Well That Ends WellAs You Like It The Comedy of Errors Love's Labour's Lost Measure for MeasureThe Merchant of Venice The Merry Wives of Windsor A Midsummer Night's Dream Much Ado About Nothing Pericles, Prince of TyreThe Taming of the Shrew The TempestTwelfth Night The Two Gentlemen of Verona The Two Noble Kinsmen The Winter's Tale
Tragedies Romeo and Juliet Coriolanus Titus AndronicusTimon of Athens Julius Caesar MacbethHamlet Troilus and Cressida King Lear Othello Antony and Cleopatra Cymbeline
HistoriesKing John, Richard II, Henry IV part 1, Henry IV part 2, Henry V, Henry VI part 1, Henry VI part 2, Henry VI part 3, Richard III, Henry VIII
Other Works attributed to ShakespearePoems Shakespeare's Sonnets Venus and Adonis The Rape of Lucrece The Passionate Pilgrim The Phoenix and the Turtle A Lover's Complaint
Lost plays Love's Labour's Won Cardenio
Apocrypha Arden of Faversham The Birth of Merlin Locrine The London Prodigal The Puritan The Second Maiden's Tragedy Sir John Oldcastle Thomas Lord Cromwell A Yorkshire Tragedy Edward III Sir Thomas More
ControversiesDid Shakespeare really write all the plays attributed to him ?It is accepted that he had borrowed stories from source history but made them his own/Shakespeare wrote sonnets to both a man, his patron, and a mysterious Dark Lady.Was Shakespeares identity lifted by a group of collaborators? Or one person whos status would be jeopardized?