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Theater Chapter 7: The Renaissance – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Theater

  • Theater
  • Chapter 7
  • The Renaissance

Italian Theatre
  • divided into 2 types
  • Professional Theatre
  • Theatre for the court

Commedia dellarte
Physical, highly improvisational style of theatre
that originated in Italy in the 1500s. Most
commedia troupes had10-12 members, both male and
female performers, which used colorful costumes
masks. There were a few tragedies, but most are
comedies that didnt rely on scenery, and could
be performed anywhere.
  • (scenarios) plot outlines that served as the
    scripts for commedia plays. The scenario gives a
    summary of the story lines, certain complications
    faced by protagonist(s) and how the story should
    end. The rest, including all of the dialogue, was
    improvised by the actors.

Comedy Tonight!
Improvisation unscripted form of theatre where
the actors make it up as they go, feeding off
of the crowd. Lazzi standardized comic bits
used in a commedia performance. (pronounced
Lot-cee) (example The Three Stooges)
Renaissance Theatre
  • Stock Characters The same familiar characters
    who appear in the various commedia scenarios.
    There were three categories lovers, masters, and

The Lovers
  • didnt wear masks, wore the latest fashions,
    usually the children of the masters who didnt
    want them (the children) to fall in love. Usually
    asked their servants to help them meet or elope.
  • (think Romeo and Juliet)

The Masters
  • There are 3 common types of masters

  • a lawyer or doctor who liked to show off how
    smart he was by speaking in Latin (his
    pronunciation and grammar were usually terrible).

  • an old man with mask that had a large, hooked
    nose and a scraggly grey beard. (This is how
    Uncle Sam and Santa Claus developed.) They
    usually wore red.

  • a braggart who boasted of his prowess in love
    and war but was really coward. He wore a cape,
    sword, and a large, feathered headdress.

The Servants
  • usually called the zanni, from which we get the
    word zany. There were usually 2 servants in
    each company (one clever and one stupid). One of
    the most popular servants was Arlecchino
    (Harlequin) who was a mixture of cunning and
    stupidity. Wore a clown-like suit with a black
    mask and carried a slapstick.

  • a device made out of 2 pieces of wood hinged
    together. When the two pieces came together with
    force it would make a loud slapping sound.
    Commedia characters often beat one another with
    these sticks. It is from this simple prop that we
    get the modern term slapstick comedy.

Comeddia Literature
  • LArte Rappresentativa A book published in 1699,
    this is Andrea Perruccis first hand account of
    how a commedia dellarte troupe operated.
  • Architettura Sebastiano Serlios 1545 account of
    how to create a performance space within an
    existing room.

  • by the early 16th century, the surviving plays of
    the great Greek and Roman playwrights had been
    rediscovered, translated, and published in
    Italian. This movement strove desperately to
    recreate the style, staging, and structure of
    classic Greek and Roman Theatre.

Invented by Italians
  • Perspective Scenery a form of three dimensional
    scenic painting that is still extremely common
  • Raked Stage on a raked stage, the stage floor
    gets higher as it moves away from the audience so
    that the back of the stage is actually taller
    than the front.
  • - Proscenium Arch the most common form of stage.
    The audience faces the stage from only one
    direction and the performance area is framed by a
    large arch (much like a picture frame). Much of
    our modern stage terminology comes from the

Back to Basics
  • Autos Sacramentales Spanish liturgical dramas
    performed on the pageant wagons and platform
    stages popular in medieval times.
  • Iambic Pentameter (blank verse) style of verse
    which Shakespeare wrote in. Blank verse lines
    contain ten syllables, with light and strong
    stresses alternating, five light and five strong.

University Wits
  • A student theatre group that wrote plays in the
    style of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Thomas
    Kyd and Christopher Marlowe were both members of
    this group.

Playing in the Yard
  • Yard in the theatres of Elizabethan England,
    this was a standing room only section on the
    ground in the center of the theatre, where
    approximately 800 people could stand and watch
    the play. (used in the thrust stages)
  • Groundlings notoriously rowdy patrons who watch
    Elizabethan plays from the yard.

Thrust stage
  • in a thrust stage, the audience is seated on
    three sides and tends to be nearer the action
    than in a proscenium staging, but since one wall
    is available for scenic elements, there can be
    more use of spectacle than in the arena. The
    runways used at fashion shows are a type of
    thrust stage.

Elizabethan Theatre
  • The Globe Theatre perhaps the best known
    Elizabethan theatre. It was the original staging
    ground for some of Shakespeares greatest plays.
  • Spoken décor convention of the Elizabethan stage
    where the actors described a plays different
    locations to the audience.

Theatrical Terms
  • Role modern term for the part an actor plays. It
    comes from the Elizabethan Practice of handling
    the actor his lines on a roll of paper.
  • Part a modern term for the character an actor
    plays in a production. It comes from the
    Elizabethan practice of only giving the actor the
    part of the play he was in, rather than an entire

Mardi Gras Predecessor
  • Masques Lavish productions, usually staged in
    banquet halls for the monarch and an invited

Time for Some French
  • French Theatre Cardinal Richelieu, Louis XIIIs
    prime minister wants France as cultural center of
    Europe. They adopt perspective theatre and
    proscenium arch theatre from Italy. Richelieu
    wrote rigid interpretation of Aristotles writing
    on theatre as the neoclassical ideal.

Neoclassical Ideal
  • A series of rigid rules for theatrical writing
    and performance based on the humanist
    interpretation of Aristotles writings on
    theater. The neoclassical ideal came to dominate
    most of European theatres for centuries

Neoclassical rules
  • Only 2 legitimate forms of drama tragedy and
    comedy, never to be mixed together in one play.
  • Tragedy had to be stories about royalty and
  • Comedy should feature the middle and lower
  • All plays must contain five acts.
  • Play must uphold the concept of poetic justice.
    Bad character punished and good rewarded.
  • Misinterpreted Aristotles 3 unities.

Three Unities
  • The neoclassicist believed that all plays should
    adhere to the unities of time (all of the plays
    action should occur within 24 hours), play (all
    of the play should occur in the same place), and
    the action (the play should have only one plot).

Frances Big 3 Playwrights
  • Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) a tragedian, best
    known for his 1637 play, Le Cid. Was later
    attacked by critics for not following the rules
    of French theatre.
  • Jean Racine (1639-1699) wrote many adaptations
    of Sophocles and Euripides. Most popular is
    Phaedra, a tragedy. Strict follower of
    neoclassical rules and unities.

  • Moliere (1622-1673) considered the greatest
    French playwright of all time. Joined a traveling
    theatre troupe at 21. Studied and mastered the
    techniques of Italys commedia dellarte huge
    influence on his writing. Most famous for his
    comedies many of his plays were satire on French
    court society, causing controversy.

French Staging Innovations
  • Both audience and stage sit for the entire
  • Seating of audience on the stage.
  • Women as well as men in acting companies with
    equal rights.
  • Totally indoor theatre experimenting with
    variety of candles oil lamps for lighting the
    stage. Used reflectors for increased