Theaters during Renaissance

The English Theaters that existed between the Reformation and their shutdown in 1642 is known as the English Renaissance Theater or Early Modern English Theater. In this era Elizabethan Theater under rule of Queen Elizabeth from 1558 - 1603, Jacobean theater, under rule of King James I from 1603-1625, and Caroline theater, under the rule of King Charles I from 1625 till the shutdown in 1642, were operational. Sometimes the Renaissance Theaters are used with reference to Elizabethan Theater due to the reforms brought up by the theater during that period. Great Playwrights like William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe were a part of this era.

The Renaissance Theaters were inspired by the medieval theaters. Its religious traditions, biblical stories, morality and mystery play have the essence of comedy and tragedy from the Greek theater. Theater actors from noble families were in practice before the reign of Elizabeth I, so in the Elizabethan theater there were professional performers acting on stage. They were later replaced by young aspiring actors who were more involved in morality and mystery kind of plays. To get them back, a ruling was announced in 1572 to close all theaters which lacked formal patronage. The noble professionals came back into act and flourished during that era. But the poor performers opened new theaters in the suburbs. They got permission by saying that they were rehearsing for the plays that were being performed in front of the queen. But these theaters were the actual income provider for the artists rather than the noble theaters.

The plays that were being played at first were same in the royal theaters and the public theaters. But later on the royal theaters developed a taste for plays written on the upper class and the royal family. The public theaters were open to new ideas and stories revolved around many subjects. But during Caroline Theater era plays had storyline of the yester years; nothing new was created at that time. Plays were written on history such as on lives of kings like Henry V, Richard III, Edward I and Edward III. Tragic plays like The Jew of Malta and Dr. Faustus were very famous with the crowd.

It was a trend to not to repeat the story for two continuous shows. On very rare occasion a play was staged twice in a week. Only exception was Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess which was performed nine times continuously. This was a challenge for the actors which always kept them on their toes. The plays written by the writers once being sold to the company remained the property of the company. They couldn’t even interfere with the casting, revisions or publications. Women weren’t a part of theater at that time. They couldn’t write plays and nor could they act. The female character was played by adolescent boys wearing feminine garment and makeup.

The theaters were made out of timber and plaster with thatched roofs. As they were more prone to catching fire these structures were later replaced with a brick structure with tiled roofs. Theaters were three storied building with open air stage in the middle. The stage was surrounded from three sides by seating arrangement on the three stories; it was either elliptical or square. There were doors at the back of the stage that were used by the performers. The third level behind the stage was used as a balcony to interact with the audience. Some of the renowned theaters having such structures were Curtain Theater, The Globe, The Fortune, The Rose, The Swan and The Red Bull. Later on theaters of relatively small size with indoor stage started getting popular for privacy sake. It started with the Blackfriars Theater. Other theaters that followed the path were Whitefriars, Cockpit and Salisbury Court Theater.

The Puritan movement was the cause of closure of theaters in 1642. According to the Puritans the theaters were staging indecent stuff like men dressing up as female and also aroused opposing political thoughts. Most of the theaters were located in places where brothels dwelled. So at the beginning of the English Civil War all the theaters were closed.

Word Count 692


Theater Arts: Various Dance Forms of India

The Indians have created various dance forms to celebrate occasions, express joy and most importantly as a means of worshiping their gods and goddesses. The famous Ajanta and Ellora caves and many other monuments reflect this culture through the sculptures inscribed in the walls. God Nataraja is the god of dance whose sculptures depicts him dancing and getting triumph over the evil. There is a huge variety of different dance forms in India based on geographic location and socio-economical condition of carious states and regions.

Bharata Natyam flourished in the royal courts and temples of ancient India. Finally in the 19th century it was codified and certified as performing arts. The Tanjore Quartet made a great contribution to this dance form by making great musical compositions. Bharata Natyam was also practiced by Devadasi who were women who dedicated their life to the temple and used to dance to please god and goddesses as part of religious rituals. Bharata Natyam gives a chance for both the male and female to bring out their talents as dancers. As time passed by people began recognizing the talent and presenting it on a bigger platform. Rukmini Devi Arundale and E Krishna Iyer were the prominent figures who were responsible in the upbringing of this classical art. Many universities award degree in graduation and post graduation in Bharata Natyam. The field is very elaborate because of the wide extent of movement, postures, facial expressions and stylized mime.

Kathak is the form of dance nurtured by the nomads of the northern India. The word “Kathak” means story teller as its performer depicts the storyline with the help of facial expressions and hand gestures. Dancers wear bells or “Ghungru” on their feet and with their footwork used to synchronize with the accompanying Indian classical instruments such as Pakhawaj or Tabla at a lightning speed. The shows were hosted in temple and village squares. The themes of these dances were stories from moral and mythological epics. Song and instrumental music added to the realistic illusion of the story. During the Mogul era this form of art gained recognition and dancers were encouraged to perform in royal palaces. To please the art loving rulers more effort was put in to refine the art and more dramatic aspects and rhythms were added. Banaras, Jaipur and Luckhnow are the breeding grounds of this refined art.

Kuchipudi nourished in a village Kuchelapuram of the state of Andhra Pradesh which is located in the South. This dance form is famous for its fast footwork and “sculpturesque” body gyrations. It is one kind of dance form where the dancer speaks some dialogues and at other times uses facial expressions and hand gestures.

Being honored by UNESCO as the “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” Koodiyattam is the oldest form of Indian Classical dance. It is the traditional dance of the Sanskrit theater of Kerala. The prominent Sanskrit dramatists who dedicated their life to this art form are Bhasa, Kalidaas, Harsha, and Saktibhadra. The attire of the artist is really attractive and outstanding. They stick on artificial beard and huge hips and the makeup, too, which is very loud and the whole face is painted.

The most graceful dance form of India is Manipuri. It flourished in the northeastern state of India, Manipur which means a jewel of the land. According to folklore the gods emptied a lake to make a place to dance and due to this Manipuri dance has become an integral part of the day to day life as well as important occasions like birthdays, wedding, and holy ceremonies. The dancers wear long flared skirts with beautiful embellishments and the main lead who enacts the role of God Krishna wears tall peacock crown playing a flute to whose tune the beautiful girls dance gracefully. Another version of this art form involves Pung Cholam or drum dance, where dancers dance to the tune of drums or pung with fast gyrations taking thrilling leaps.

Odissi originated in Orissa, a state geographically located in the middle of India. The two important facets of this dance form are Abhinaya, a stylized mime involving facial expressions and hand gestures and the other is Nritta or non-representational dance, where ornamental patters are depicted using the body movements.

India is a rich country in heritage and culture. Other than the above mentioned variety of theater arts, the others are Chhau, Kathakali, Mohiniattam, and Satriya. Along with these dance forms instruments such as Flute, Pakhawaj, Sitar, Santoor, Sarangi, Sarod, Shehnai, Tabla, and Vina have been deployed to reach great heights of perfection.

Word Count 771


Places and People Famous for Influencing Theater Arts

The Ancient Greek civilization was responsible for the origin of Theater and evolving arts in that field. One of the most prominent play writers of that time was Aristophanes who was considered to be the best comic dramatist of his times. All his plays revolved around issues like morality, politics, and had an abundance of literature. His storyline dealt with the everyday life of the people of Athens. After the Peloponnesian War Aristophanes was so deeply effected by the bloodshed of his fellow beings, that he wrote four plays revolving around it. One of the plays “Lysistrata” was the most prominent work of all, which was aimed to bring peace and harmony in the society but with a light note.

After the World War II the whole world was shattered and inhabitants all over the world baldy needed something that would relieve their mind of all the massive destruction and bloodshed. People were so desperate to drift from the harsh reality that some sect of people nicknamed as “Absurdists” gave birth to a different genre of theater known as the Theater of the Absurd. This term was brought into existence by Martin Esslin to name the new kind of plays sprouting in Europe and America. The goal of such plays was to deviate peoples’ mind, although the storyline had some preposterous elements embedded in it. Some of the common “Absurdists” were Eugиne Lonesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet and Harold Pinter. Later on this kind of thinking lead to the development of Philosophy of existentialism according to which more emphasis is paid to individual existence and total freedom. But this philosophy has much wider spectrum and cannot be described in few words.

Meta theaters are that classification of theaters, which blurred the gap between the actors and the audience. The actors are obviously the dynamic part of the play but the onlookers, too, are expected to be participating in the proceedings of the play. Schemes are developed on the spur of the moment so its no longer vivid to the audience what is actual part of the storyline and what patches have been added. This practice was developed during the Elizabethan Era, which is more commonly known as the Renaissance Period and it is still popular in the modern times.

Richard Wagner was the brainchild behind the Theaters known as Gasamtkuntswerk or more commonly referred to as Total Art Work. These brands of theaters are known to have all the flavoring elements that one can think of within its radius. Drama, music, dances and Greek Theater extract work in harmony to bring out the essence of the story being enacted. Steven Berkoff took this concept a step further by introducing actors who could be characters and presented depending on the theme at different times. Props were also used to bring in more realism. With all these elements sometimes the plays reached a level of superficiality and exaggeration.

Jerzy Grotowski gave rise to a different type of Theater, which was targeted, for people of the lower sectors of the society. In Poland, while working with his troupe, Jerzy recognized the needs of the poor people there and understood their inability to shell out money for big theaters. These concepts got popular especially during the 1960s’ and 70s’. In such theaters there wasn’t a separate stage of performing rather the artists and the audience occupied the same space. Since rich people didn’t finance these theaters there was a lack of props, detailed costumes, adequate lightning proper sets, and other technical features. The performers were outstanding and vivid so as to overcome the lack of good costumes. The actors were made to go through rigorous training involving months of practicing and rehearsing. Physical workout was also a part of it. Many acting troupes and aspiring actors go by this method to gain popularity the easier way. Grand Guignol is coined from the Theatre du Grand Guignol of Paris, France, is a kind of theater class, which encompasses a lot of gruesome violence. This term is used till date to refer to bloodshed melodramas.

Word Count 687


Noh – A Japanese Musical Drama

Developed in the fourteenth century, Nogaku, Noh or No, is a type of Japanese musical dramas. Its roots can be traced to the Sarugaku, the Chinese Nuo Theater. The actors and musicians of Noh never practice or rehearse together. Each of them practices the movement, dances and songs separately under a senior tutor.

The traditional kagura stages are the inspiration of the traditional Noh Theater stages. Hinoki or Japanese cypress wood is the architecture material used commonly. There are four pillars to support the roof. They are placed according to some directions and each have a particular name. Shite-bashira is the back left pillar and is the point for shite to sit or stand. Waki-bashira is the front right pillar used by Waki as the point of performance. Fue-bashira is the back right corner and used by the flute player. Metsuke-bashira is the pillar which Shite faces and is also known as the looking-pillar.

Shite, waki, kyogen and hayashi are the four categories that Noh performers can be divided into. Shite or the doers are the original character of the drama. He is first a human being or Maeshite and then plays the role of a ghost or Nochijite. Tsure is the friend acquaintance of Shite. Waki is the villain and obstructs the path of Shite. Wakizure is the friend of Waki. Kyogen performs Aikyogen during the breaks in the play. Hayashis plays the four instruments of Noh, which are flute or Fue, stick drum or Taiko, hip drum or Okawa Otsuzumi and shoulder drum or Kotsuzumi. The chorus comprises of nearly eight people and is known as Jiutai. The helpers are known as Koken.

The stories of Noh drama can be divided into five categories broadly, although there are different types of division. They are Kami Mono, Shura Mono, Katsura Mono, Kiri No and miscellaneous plays. The timing of these plays can range between thirty minutes to two hours. Kami mono also known as Waki No depicts the Shite as a human in the beginning and later on taking the form of deity and usually has some mythological story based on some god. Shura mono or Asura No, shows the Shite playing the character of ghost first and then later playing the role of warrior and recreating the scene of his death. In katsura mono or Onna Mono, a woman plays the Shite character that dances and sings very beautifully. Kiri No or Oni Mono shows Shite in the form of a devil, monster or goblin. Under the miscellaneous plays, Onryo Mono or mischievous ghosts plays Genzai Mono or everyday plays, and Kyoran Mono or madness plays are included.

The styles can be divided into Geki Noh style and Furyu Noh style. Geki Noh are plays involving acting and along with which action is involved. Fruyu Noh are the plays involving dancing and singing only. There are different types of mood in Noh theater art. Mugen Noh involve supernatural characters such as ghosts, demons, and deities. Story keeps juggling between the past, present, and future. Genzai Noh portrays the travails of day to day life.

The costumes are very heavily worked and are designed according to the role played by the actor wearing it. Like serpents have consecutive triangles like the scales. The costume of the Shite is made up of expensive work of silk or brocade. The chorus and instrumentalists wear the formal Montsuki Kimono with the Hakama or shirt. The helpers wear completely black outfits. Masks are worn while playing characters of gods, demons, animals, or even a female played by a man. Shite wears a mask usually. All the characters have a hand fan while on stage. They either carry it in hand or in their pocket. The drama is still very popular in Japan and continues to attract more and more people towards it mainly due it’s interesting style and characterization.

Word Count 651


Puppet Art in Asia

Puppet Art is popular in many countries of Asia. Indonesian Puppet shadow play was known as Wayang Kulit which originated from Bali and Java. The term Wayang Kulit has been derived from the words “Warang” meaning ghost or shadow and “Kulit” meaning leather and when put together meant shadow from leather. They used two-dimensional figures, flat and round and were made with the hide of a buffalo. The sticks attached to these figures were planted in the banana stems which were placed beneath a cloth screen onto which the shadow of the puppet was casted. The right side of the stage was occupied by the good characters; where as the left side was occupied by the wrong doers. They are maneuvered by puppeteers know as “Dalang”. Puppet art was very exhausting at that time, the show used to go on for nine hours in the night with the puppeteer sitting cross-legged without a wink. He was even expected to play Rebab, the two-stringed violin, with one hand and handle the Chempala or the strings of the puppet with another hand. The themes of these shows were the Javanese versions of the two hundred stories from Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharata which are referred to as Rama cycle and Pandawa cycle respectively. The puppet show involving three-dimensional puppets were known as Wayang Golek.

Shadow puppetry took its full form in Tang Dynasty. That era was known as “The Age of 1000 Entertainments”. The two different kinds of puppetry are Cantonese and Pekingese. They differ in the production of the puppets and the way by which these puppets are being positioned with the help of rods, though the theme is same in both the techniques, that is, they revolve around stories with elements of adventurous fiction. Thick leather was used in the manufacturing of Cantonese puppets, so as to create a good shadow. The colors were used to represent different characters. A brave man had a red facial color where as an honest character had a black face. The rod was attached perpendicularly to the head of the puppet to make them less visible during the shadow performance. The puppets were bigger than Pekingese puppets. On the other hand the Pekingese puppets were more petite and were made out of thin and translucent leather which made them more fragile. They were equally good for the shadow performance as they were colored very vividly. Thin rods were attached to the neck of the figure and weren’t visible during the performance. The Chinese puppeteers had a superstition that the puppets will come to life at night if the head was kept intact with the body. So the head was separated from the body and the body was stored in a box. With respect to time, shadow puppetry started flourishing and reached its prime in the eleventh century.

Puppetry blossomed in the Indian villages and became an integral part of the folk culture. The puppets of India can be broadly classified as rod, thread, shadow and glove puppets which are made out of material like leather, wood, wool or cloth. Usually these puppets have a small body with an outstanding head with large eyes to add charm and personality. The villain has characteristic dark goggle eyes; the hero of the story has light eyes. Hands are made out of cloth bags stuffed with hands and most of the puppets have no legs which are substituted by a long robe. Exceptions are the ones who have to ride horses. The male puppets are made to wear turbans and chase the bad guy, fight and even fall dead and the female puppets have braided ponytails and hold their skirts in their hand while dancing. The head-puppeteer moves the puppets with the help of strings or rods and usually provides the voice and the female voices and songs are provided by his wife and kids. Denizens of the states Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka,

Kerala, Orissa and Rajasthan are well known to have mastered the art of puppetry. The drawback of puppetry is that it lacks facial expression. Exaggeration and distortion should be provided to achieve the best results. But the humor provided is incomparable which make this irreplaceable art unique in itself.

Word Count 707


Theater Arts – History of Opera

In the 1600s Opera started to flourish in Italy. French opera was popular for adding the element of dancing to opera other than the already existing elements such as singing and music. In Italian, opera means works and in Latin it means the plural of labor. This means that there can be duet, trio, and group singing. It also utilizes various aspects of the spoken theater, like costume and backdrop.

Greek were the first known theater artists especially people from Athens. Their theater plays included all the elements like acting, dialogues, singing, scene, dancing, chorus and music. This art was cultivated by different civilizations having few or all the elements. One of them was the opera. The western classical theater arts which involves conveyance through singing and dancing and not through dialogues, is known as Opera. Composition by Jacopo Peri, Dafne, was written in 1597 and was the first known composition specifically meant for opera although it was inspired by Greek theater arts, but it no longer exists. Euridice composition by Peri written in 1600s was the first recorded composition which is available till this date.

The performances are most of the times accompanied by chorus and instrumental music. Libretto is the word in opera and there have been great composers who have written famous libretti like Richard Wagner. Handel was the famous German composer who wrote for theaters in England. Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte are famous for the great musical works which were played during the opera performances.

There are two types of singing in opera. The first is recitative in which the story is being narrated in a non-melodies style and the second is aria, where the performers were more melodious. Chorus is used as a commentator and sometimes as a narrator. Subcategories of recitative are secco or dry recitative and Accompagnato or Stromentato in which orchestra accompanies the performance. Opera can be further classified as singspiel, operetta, semi-opera and opera comique. In these types of opera, dialogues are used on the contrary, instead of recitative. Arioso too is replaced by semi-melodic passages.

Opera started with court performances and then shifted to royal theaters. In 1637 this performance was open to public when the idea of opera festival in Venice was brought up by Monteverdi. It was then known as Baroque opera which had a mixture of both the tragic and comic elements along with some education. This started a reform which was promoted by Venice’s Arcadian Academy. Metastasio was a part of this academy and his libertti became famous till the end of the eighteenth century in Italian opera. And this mixed with baroque opera was known as opera buffa.

The characteristic of Opera Seria is that it had a high tone along with secco kind of recitative. It was greatly liked due to it highly stylized form and the singers at that time were very popular and Opera Seria was in great demand all over Europe except France. The hero had the castrato voice such as Farinelli and Senesino and the heroines had the soprano’s voice such as Faustina Bordoni. Alessandro Scarlatti, Porpora and Vivaldi were some of the great Opera Seria composers.

But Opera Seria had few loopholes. It concentrated more on drama and left music, singing and ballet behind. It was Francesco Algarotti who brought all this elements back with his composition Essay on the Opera. He was then followed by other great composers such as Niccolo Jommelli, Tommaso Traetta and the most successful, Gluck. He used rich orchestra and vocal lines and brought a reform in Opera Seria.

Word Count 601


Chinese Theater Arts

The Chinese theater art dates back to as early as the Shang Dynasty in 1500 BC. Now there are so many subcategories in the Chinese theater such as Beijing Opera, Acrobats, Clowning, Shadow puppetry, etc. Music and acrobatics evolved in the Shang Dynasty with many plays having these elements. Theater arts further flourished during Yuan Dynasty. The structure began evolving and gaining recognition throughout whole of China. The Yuan style is reflected in Beijing Opera which is alive till this date.

Chinese theater arts involve primarily four skills. They are voice, dance, song and acrobats. Dancing is done along with acting and combat is a part of the acrobats. In all these the basic emphasis is on the beauty of the movement and the actors are supposed to master all four of them as they are the part and parcel of the Chinese theater arts. Certain actions are a code and can be interpreted about some happening. Like when an actor walks in a circular motion, that means he is travelling over a long distance, on other instances if the actors on stage straighten their cloths and head gear means that the leading character is going to say something important.

The Tang Dynasty witnessed the rise in shadow puppetry. It reached such great heights that an acting school named The Pear Garden was started by Ming Huang which produced musical drama and the actors of this school were known as The Children of the Pear Garden. There two subcategories of shadow puppetry, Cantonese and Pekingese. The difference was in the making of the puppet. The Cantonese puppets were larger with the characters having symbolic colors according to the roles they are depicting. They were made out of thick leather and the rods were attached perpendicular to the head of the puppet. The Pekingese puppets were more delicate and small and brightly colored. They were made out of thin and translucent leather and the rods were attached to the neck of the puppet which were bent at ninety degree and ran parallel to the body of the puppet. The storyline was usually same for both Cantonese and Pekingese. The Chinese puppeteers believed in an age-old superstition that the puppets come alive at night if the head of the puppet was left intact with the body. So the head and the body were detached and stored in two different boxes.

The shows are usually being presented on rectangular platforms with the audience surrounding it from three sides. Shoujiu is an embellished curtain which divides the curtain into two. The stage is sparsely decorated with more emphasis on the actors who wear bright clothes and makeup and thus less number of props are used during the performance. The attire differs according to the role being played. King and his family wear yellow costumes where as a highly ranked warrior wears a purple outfit. Mang or python robe is the name given to this class of costumes. A character of high rank wears red garment with rich embellishments often in the shape of a dragon and other characters of lower rank wear blue robe. A young character wears white clothes, an older personality wears white, olive or brown and the rest of the supporting actors wear black robes.

The music is played on instruments such as jinghu, a small two strings, high pitched spike fiddle and Ruan, a plucked lute with circular body. The performance begins with the stern beating of drums known as Xiaoluo and Daluo. There are three classifications of the melodies being played. Aria is the first class with two subcategories, Erhuang and Xipi. Xipi is used to express more loud expressions. Qupai is the second class which basically consists of instrumental tunes depicting the happening of a big event like a festival or feast or the entree of an important character. Percussion pattern is the third class which includes fixed tune music.

The theme of most of the plays are illusionistic and nor realistic mostly involving Chinese folk tales. Later on plays were also written on history and the dramas today encompass the Chinese version of international plays such as A Midsummer Nights’ Dream and King Lear.

Word Count 700


Indian Theater Arts

The theater arts of India can be divided into Yakshagana, puppetry and dance. Yakshagana depicts a religious story with the help of dialogue delivery and music. A puppeteer used painted figures made out of deer or goatskin, usually, which are moved by the threads and string attached to them. Dances have actors expressing a situation with facial expression in sync with a singer narrating the tale along with music using instruments such as veena and tabla. Since expressions play a vital role, eyes are being highlighted, as they are the key in this type of theater art.

“Yakshagana” is a Sanskrit word for Celebration of the celestials. This theater art includes drama, song and dance. It basically started as a folk art. The actors usually lead a nomadic life, traveling from one village to another with their baggage. They used to halt in temples at night and setting their stage for the performance the next day. Villagers gather the next day to watch this group of 15-20 male actors performing. Epics of Hindu mythology are enacted using makeup and colorful costumes. Since no females are a part of this pack, the male attire wearing female attire, too enacts feminine roles. The performers are expected to perform throughout the day and sometimes throughout the night, for which they should require lots of stamina for the preceding of the play through the night. The mythological figures are known as “Kimpurushas”, lead actor known as “Kattu-veshas” and the so-called villains are known as “Kiratas”. The audiences aren’t expected to pay anything for this entertainment; the actors are provided money with the temple funds for a living.

The Yakshagana artists were also the ones to introduce people to puppetry. Painted figures made from leather were made to move with sticks and strings. The stage was made with a white translucent cloth on which the dancing images of the puppets were projected with the help of lighted oil lamps. Stories from the sacred Hindu scriptures, Ramayan and Mahabharata are presented to the audience. The puppeteer usually gives the voice; his wife and kids to provide voice for other characters of the puppet show also join him. Background music too is mingled with the story with the help of Indian instruments such as harmonium or a Mukha-veena. Puppeteers also are invited to perform on special occasions like birth, marriage and death. The storyline of their play depends on the occasion, like on birthdays they enact “Krishna Leela” or the antics of Krishna, on weddings they perform “Girija Kalyana” or the wedding of Girija and on funerals they perform “Swargarohana” or ascent to heaven.

These performances not only have an entertainment value but also have ritualistic significance. Some actors take a vow of performing these plays to get a return favor from their deities like good harvest, abundant rain, or end to their miseries.

There are varieties of dances in India alone. Every state of this country has its own unique style in expression, gestures, makeup style and attire. In fact, they have a god named Nataraja, who is believed to be one of the forms of Lord Shiva, as the supreme creator of Indian dance. The famous dance forms of Indian peninsula are Odissi, Bharatnatiyam, Katthakali, Kuchipudi, and Mohini Attam that are performed in different regions of the country.

Word Count 556


Theater Arts – Beijing Opera

During the 18th-19th century Peking opera or more commonly known as Beijing Opera flourished in the Qing Dynasty. It had attained such levels that it was specifically being performed in the royal court and later was made accessible to public. Native to the Anhui and Hubei province this art later became the cultural jewel of Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai. Over the period of time its fame crossed the Great Wall of China and spread to countries like Taiwan, Japan and America.

The movements of the dancers are very graceful. Dialogues, music, song, dance and combat are used to the fullest extent to depict the storyline which majorly revolves around Chinese age old folklore and history. The Beijing opera performers wear bright colored outfits to be the center of attraction on sparingly decorated stage. The dialect used in dialogue delivery is archaic dialect. Since it has a great historical value the actors really worked hard in order to respect and carry on the tradition. The training was started at a very tender age which lasted for seven years on permission from the parents. The student was expected to pay back to the teacher by the future performances. Daily routine consisted of early rise followed by training in acting, acrobatics, and combat. The senior students perform in the evening theaters. Upon committing a mistake the whole bunch of students were punished with bamboo cane but training became milder during the 1900s. These schools were shut down during the Japanese invasion in 1931 but again reestablished in 1952. The renowned schools popular in this art are the Ma Lianliang school, the Qi Lintong school and the Cheng Yanqiu school. The repository of this opera includes about one thousand and four hundred works.

The Four Anhui Troupes was responsible for the birth of Beijing opera in the late 1700s. They were joined by the Hubei tropes in the early 1800s and came to its complete form in mid 1800s. This form of art is actually a mixture of various dance forms and music with a unique twist. There are four leading characters in Beijing opera. The Sheng is the male lead role with subtype Laosheng, old and wise version, Xiaosheng, the younger version and Wusheng, the warrior version. This character is gentle and sophisticated and the costumes worn by them are more subtle. The Laosheng character is further categorized as Guan Gong, God of War and Zhao Kuang-yin, the first emperor of the Song Dynasty. Xiaosheng sings in a loud and shrill voice.

In the later years, the male actors began painting their faces. These characters were known as Jing. They were usually supporting characters and were forceful so they had to have a heavy voice and exaggerated expression. Dan is the female lead and is divided into five types. Laodan was played by aged ladies, Wudan was played by middle aged women depicting married women, Daomadan were brave female warriors, Qingyi were righteous women and Huadan were young and innocent girls. The role Qingyi and Huadan together is known as Huashan.

The male clown role was known as Chou. It was a minor role to add some humor to serious scenes. The character of Chou hardly got a chance to sing when compared to the Kunqu opera which was its inspiration. On the whole this art form cut down on the voice and singing. Acrobatics came to its full form in Beijing opera. So actors who couldn’t sing much but knew acrobatics well were easily taken into the performing troupe.

The drama was being accompanied with music. The two different styles of music being played are Xipi, created by the Anhui tropes and Erhuang, created by the Hubei tropes. Based on this music, the earliest name of Beijing opera was Pihuang which changed according to geographical location and time. The melodies can be classified as arias, fixed and percussion. It was known as Guoju in Taiwan.

The Anhui troupe gained name and fame after forming Beijing opera and were invited to various kingdoms to perform. Empress Dowager Cixi encouraged this art and became a great admirer of it. The performing troupes consisted of only males at first as the Qianlong Emperor had banned female actors. But in the 1870s, a former Beijing opera performer, Li Maoer started a female troupe, which persuaded others to take the lead and finally the ban was lifted in 1912.

Word Count 736


Classification of Theater Arts based on different Themes

Writers, directors and producers play a vital role in the building of the storyline of a play. The script modeled by them encompasses various kinds of arts to be taken into consideration to bring out the true essence of the story. The various factors considered helps to classify the genre of theater into various subcategories like comedy, tragedy, musical, drama, and action.

In a musical theater the story is narrated by signing, which can be accompanied by dialog delivery or dance or both. This type of conveyance of art was adopted especially during the Greek times. Later on background instrumental music was also added to it.

The word comedy originated from the Greek word “Komos” meaning celebration or merrymaking. Comedy plays may not actually go by the literal meaning of comedy that is the whole play can be funny or there can be plays with some adversities to start with but at the end could have a joyous finishing. Comedy too can be further classified as pantomime, comedy of situation, romantic comedy, black comedy and comedy of manners.

The type of theater dedicated entirely to entertain the children is known as pantomime. Usually a musical drama accompanied with dance and comedy is brought during the holiday season exclusively for the kids.

Comedy of situation as the name suggests begins with a messy situation which leads to a problem which they concentrate to resolve on throughout the rest of the play.

Comedy can also be flavored with romance to give a nice feeling to the spectators and to take them into dreams of fascination. The focus is on the love story between the leading actor and actress which is sparked with canny plots, calculated coincidences which ultimately results in them getting together and living happily ever after.

Although morally acceptable, black comedy has ghastly experiences with some comical elements in contrast with it.

Comedy of manners is dependant on a serious note but with a light outlook. Dramatic comedy is made a part of the play which revolves around the social standards and mannerism which is expected to be respected by the actors during the play.

Commedia dell'arte, native to Italy, includes an array of comical events which are created on the spur of the moment.

Melodrama is the typical stereotype dramas where there is a hero and a heroine who suffer at the hands of a villain and in the end they gain triumph over the evil-doer.

Play comprising of bitter events and which result in sorrowful consequences is know as tragedy. The word tragedy has been derived from the Greek word “Tragos” which means goat. It has been derived from this word because the blood of goat is used as a replacement to bring a real feeling to the bloodshed during the play.

A blend of comedy and tragedy is known as tragicomedy which has elements of tragedy and comedy within it.

Theaters targeting real life social issues play a vital role in opening the eyes of the audience and make them aware of the wrongdoings in the society. By doing so it encourages the spectators to address a change in their way of living or on a large scale a change in the whole society.

Morality play have theme with more spirituality and morality.

Play that focuses on the nick-nacks of the daily life and relationships between common people is known as domestic drama.

The type of theater having implausible situations, high exaggeration, and violence and with some spice of comedy to relieve the audience of the pressure is known as farce.

In the Indian peninsula, the Natya and Nautanki form of theater arts evolved. The Natya is a sacred classical version of musical theater. Folklores are enacted by dancing to Indian classical music known as nritta and facial expressions or mime known as Natya proper. The other theater art Nautanki, is usually staged in streets. The storyline of these street plays are usually mythological dramas which also include folk songs and dances.

Opera is a more musical experience with emotions being expressed with songs and music.

Rock opera is more like the usual opera only that the music played along with the songs is rock oriented.

Fantasy is that genre where the hero enacts a fictitious story usually a happy one. Sometimes the characters have proxy supernatural powers.

Plays where the story is being explained using body movement, gestures, dance, mime, and puppetry is known as physical theater.

Word Count 749


Shakespearian Plays

The works of William Shakespeare bears no comparison in the history of arts. He was a versatile English poet, play writer and actor. He has written nearly 38 plays, 154 sonnets and countless poems between the years 1582–1612, which are remembered even to this day. They had great impact on English literature and western theater. All his works have been translated into all known languages and they have been performed around over the world over a million times.

Although most of his works were written for English audience the appeal was universal. His writing style was greatly influenced by Christopher Marlowe. In 1594, Shakespeare became part-owner of Lord Chamberlain’s Men, a drama company. By then he had even started acting, along with writing plays. Under his presence the company became so famous which made King James I buy the company and then it was named as King’s men.

His plays revolved around tragedy, comedy, romance and history. He started his career reworking on other writers work which was common at that time. Since then he helped the playwrights to finish their work fast. Like Hamlet was the new adaptation of a lost play named Ur-Hamlet and King Lear was the new version of King Leir. His plays on history were inspired by the Greek, Roman and English history. Plays like Plutarch’s Parallel Lives and Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicle of England inspired plays like Macbeth and King Lear. Tempest was his original work.

Shakespeare’s early works of 1590s were based on romantic comedies and historic nostalgia which were the storyline of works like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Henry IV, Part I. After the plague, he began including rhymed couplets and dramatic dialogues in his work. His middle period works revolved around betrayal, murder, egoism, power, ambition, lust, tragedy and comedy. Plays like Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Troilus and Cressida were based on them. His later works were mostly romantic and fantasies such as The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. His works were also published in press as a series of quartos. Two actors named John Heminges and Henry Condell started First Folio to honor and publish Shakespeare’s work exclusively in 1623. Categories such as comedies, tragedies and histories were made in First Folio. Modern critics have added categories like problem-play and tragic-comedies.

The exact order of plays is unknown and has always been the subject of an argument as at his time, plays weren’t authoritatively printed. Many of his plays had many different blueprints due to the textual corruption like printer’s error and compositor’s misreading, so the recognition of his original work is a problem. Many words and spellings were invented by Shakespeare. He had a habit of writing his plays number of time using those different words and spellings. After his death, speculations have risen about the authenticity of Shakespeare’s work. There have been very little record about the events that happened in his life and nor does his will gives an account on any of his plays, poems, sonnets and ownership of the Globe theater. It has been rumored that they might be works of Francis Bacon or Christopher Marlowe.

The works that have been lost are Love’s Labour’ Won, Cardenio and Quixote. Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, King Lear, As You Like It, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Othello, Julius Caesar, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Macbeth and Richard III are some the critically acclaimed works of William Shakespeare.

Word Count 582


Theater Arts – Classical Ballet

Classical ballet is a type of ballet. Training in Classical Ballet requires dedication for strenuous workouts and a strong lower body. The styles of classical ballet training can be divided into seven types. The most famous ones are Vaganova or Russian method, Balanchine or American method, Royal or English method, Cecchetti or Italian method, Royal Academy of Dance method.

Dancers usually wear white, black, pink and flesh colored tights and a leotard. The styles and colors of the leotard can vary according to the storyline. The leotard garment has been named after the French acrobat Jules Leotard who made it famous. The shoes worn by dancers are very important as they will have a direct impact on the feet of the dancer and can also cause harm to them. During the course of time different kinds of shoes have been made for ballet dancers. At first the dancers are made to work on soft technique shoes rather known as flat shoes. Once the bones are no longer fragile and have become strong and mature enough the dancers are made to practice on Pointe shoes. The tutu is not a must though it can be used to bring in royalty with crochet sequenced wrap skirt.

Pointe shoes, if not worn properly and on proper time can cause intense damage and sometimes disability to the dancer especially if high impact dancing is done. Before starting to wear them, it’s very essential to get a thorough bone structure diagnosis done by the doctors. Although the ballet trainers might be of some help but they cannot outdo the doctors who are more familiar with the anatomy of the body. The hardness of the bones of not only ankles, but also knees, hips, arms and back should be checked along with the check of muscle density. It’s advised that you should start wearing the Pointe shoes after sixteen. After starting their use the dancers should practice vigorously for long hours to build their strength. If compared to all other kinds of sports football is the only game which requires more strength than ballet.

Nearly eighty percent of ballet dancers get injured at some point of time while performing. Some movements are so out of the natural range that it can lead to unhealthy stress on the body and if not done correctly can result in serious consequences. Many beginners get knee injuries and shin splits if they don’t do the plying, which is deeply bending the knees in a correct way. Warm up exercises should be done before starting the practice or performance. Other surrounding conditions should be taken care of and things like hard floor, cold temperature and uncomfortable clothes should always be avoided.

Another major issue with the ballet dancers is that they are expected to have a slim figure and should be on the lighter side because some dances require the dancers to create an illusion of floating. So as to maintain a beautiful body, the dancers start dieting and sometimes develop eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia or nervosa. Sometimes to keep away from eating and to control their weight many dancers switch to smoking. They find this method less stressful and that’s the reason why forty percent of the ballet dancers both men as well as women are smoker. This is a serious health issue which has serious consequences later on in life. If the dances control their diets to the farthest extent they are also on the danger of risking the strength required.

But when done correctly and according to the rules, it can act as a great strength training program. Many athletes take ballet part time classes to make their bones and muscles more strong and body more flexible. But the ballet dancers have very tough competition and job security is also very low. This adds to their stress.

Other dance forms such as modern ballet, contemporary ballet and hip hop dance are basically inspired works from classical ballets.

Word Count 665


Origin of Theater Arts

The early man as a means of interaction, to express their inner thoughts and a means to recording events, discovered arts. The ancient caves; monuments and scripts preserved in the museums bear witness to that fact. As we evolved, so did art. Art has reached such height that now it can be classified into various categories that further have subcategories. Different regions and civilizations have different forms, which have a deep influence of the culture. Vaguely arts can be distinguished as one depicted by expressing it on a medium like paintings, sculptures, architecture, and crafts and the other having human body involvement like acting, gestures, dialogues and singing. On this basis broad classifications of arts that can be made are visual arts, culinary arts, performing arts and language art.

Ancient Greeks played a major role in the persuasion of art associating with human form, which comes under the category of performing arts. Here the human figure is used as a medium of expressing art rather than materials like stone, metal, clay or paint. But to support the human form of art, clay or metal model more vividly known as props are used to enhance the performance which come under the category of plastic arts. Some of the subcategories of performing arts are theater, dance, music, magic, opera, juggling, film, comedy, acrobatics, martial arts, and marching arts such as brass bands. Accordingly the human performers depicting these sub classes of performing arts are known as actors, dances, musicians, magician, singers, jugglers, comedians and acrobats.

The word theater also originated from the Greek word “Theatron” which means “Place of Seeing”. Plays were held on special events having religious importance, so the main idea revolved around ancient roman gods with the role of male gods being enacted with musculature, elegance and poise where as the female gods being enacted with beauty, grace and anatomically correct magnitude. Singing was also used as a means of enacting other than dialogue delivery. Along with the costumes masks were also a part of the actors’ attire. The stage was set in a realistic landscape backdrop.

During the middle ages storylines of the plays were mostly based on biblical incidences with an influence of the Byzantine and Gothic art. The Eastern art was mostly influenced by the Western medieval art. Not much concentration was paid to the realistic illustration. The costumes too were surface patterning, which means the basic color of the robe was emphasized upon rather than enhancing it by playing with light.

The nineteenth and the twentieth century saw a revolution being effected by the discoveries made during that era by Aristotle, Einstein and Newton. Light was used to modulate the color and to bring about a realistic feeling by creating an environment to absorb the audience into it. As inventions were made, traveling became very easy. This led to the influence of one culture over the other, which also globalized the western taste in theaters around the world.

As time progressed there have been diverse changes in theater arts that depicted different culture and moral values. The themes have revolved around fairytales, fables, religion, folktales, comedy, fiction, tragedy, romance, legend, history, epic, biography, adventure and material truths. The different forms of theater arts are mime, opera, kabuki, ballet, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera, pantomime and mummers’ play. Today Theater Arts are as important form of art as any other arts and attracts all art lovers towards it.

Word Count 576


Theater Arts - Pantomime

Mime is that type of theater art in which the performer gives a silent performance. There are two types of Mime; they are Corporeal Mime and Pantomime. Corporeal mime concentrated on the deployment of the human body to show emotions and thought that are invisible to the spectators. Pantomime utilizes the human body to the maximum level so that the audience with the help of body minus props can imagine even objects. Besides being of traditional importance in various countries, it also plays a vital role to entertain people during the holiday season.

Pantomime art dates back to Greek and Roman Theaters. It saw a great advancement especially during the rule of Roman King, Augustus. It also has a deep connection with the Italian Theater Commedia Dell’arte. This art was spread to other parts of the world from Italy by the troupe of artists travelling from one place to another and performing on their way. Patented characters began to develop later on. Actor John Rich was responsible for bringing this art in Britain by the name Lun, a short form of lunatic this was because his performance were rather wild. But this weird act tickled the ribs of many and soon it became very popular. Other rival troupes began learning and performing this art. Many great Pantomimes were created in this process.

Pantomime is the traditional part of mime. Facial expressions, body language and movements are greatly emphasized upon in this art. Basically the whole human body movements are studied so as to increase its range. The mummer depicts an object with the help of gestures and expressions. Like he can act as if he is sitting on a chair and reading a newspaper although there is no physical chair or a newspaper, only an illusion. The performer can create an illusion of a wall by opening his fist and pretending to touch it, the end of the wall is shown by slapping hard in the air. The performer depicts a rope as if he is tugging on it and trying to pull a heavier object on the other end of the rope. Mummer leans in air to show the presence of a peseta or wall. The most common one is the illusion of a box in which the mummer is trapped. Michael Jackson’s moonwalk is one of the best examples of pantomime.

Pantomime is a favorite with the audience in the holiday seasons. These performances are usually targeted for the kids but also adults aren’t disappointed at the same time. Many folktales, fairytales and even Disneyland’s stories have been enacted using Pantomime. Some of them are Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Mother Goose, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and His Magic Lamp, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and, Jack and the Beanstalk.

Pantomime or Panto has been a very important part of theater arts in countries like Australia, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa and New Zealand. In today’s times, Berwich Kaler is considered to be the master of Pantomime. He is being working at the York Theatre Royal since twenty-seven years. People turn up at three in the night and make a beeline to buy tickets for his show. He is hailed for reviving an old forgotten art and bringing back the memories of a bygone area.

Word Count 555


Theater Arts - Ballet

The ancient Greeks were known to be great warriors and artists. People were known to be blessed with talents

in fields such as theater, painting, sculpturing, and poetry. Theater itself was one field which included

many other arts such as acting, singing, dancing, writing, and poetry. This art was later on reflected in

other countries such as Indian, China and Indonesia. Ballet is a special dance form basically inspired from

Greek and Roman theaters to take its full form in 1400s in Italy and France. Although dance was suppressed by

the churches this art spread to Russia and America with a version of their own. Ballet was driven from the Latin

word “Ballere” which meant dance.

During the renaissance period in Italy, ballet was the product of court pageantry. Domenico da Piacenza was

a well-known artist to have mastered arts. He used to teach the nobles and other people who used to perform in the

court. These court musicians and dancers used to perform on great occasions like weddings. They were later joined

by the ballet De Cour which consisted of dancers who wore elegant costumes and sang beautiful songs. This art was

transferred from Italy to France when Catherine de Medici of France married Henry II of Italy. She made great contribution to

help flourish the art in France.

It was under the rule of Louis XIV, performance art was given great importance as he himself had a liking for it and was responsible to entrench what is known now as Paris Opera Ballet. Jean-Baptiste Lully was the favorite Italian composer of the king. He had a great understanding of the physical movements, musical songs and graceful dance. He made great contribution to ballet which was of utmost importance even after many years. He along with another French writer Moliere created Comedie-ballet. He was responsible to combine Italian and French ballet. French ballet consisted of instrumental music at first and then vocal music was added to it.

In the late 1800s ballet began to be practiced in Russia, America, Denmark, and Paris. Artists who were responsible for this were Marius Petipa, August Bournonville and Jules Perrot. Stories with Middle Eastern touch were also written. Ballets such as The Talisman and Pharaohs’ Daughter became very famous with the people. Many plays of William Shakespeare like Midsummer Night’s Dream, Romeo and Juliet were interpreted through ballets.

The most important feature of ballet is that the thighs rotate in an outward direction from the hips. Performers who are interested in learning this art are expected to undergo very strenuous health workouts. It ends along with getting the high school degree. Some exams are practical and some are theoretical. Ballet incorporates French words which are used to name the movements and steps. The dancers should know French in order to be more familiar. This also means that the terms used for the steps are universal. It’s very important for the artist to have a strong lower body especially the legs and the abs. strong legs are necessary for the en pointe position and strong abs are necessary for turning the body. A dancer can also create an illusion of long or short hands and legs. If the limbs are placed near the back of the body they appear short and when they are brought forward the limbs seem to be longer.

A lot of physics is involved in ballet. The dancer should create an illusion that she or he is opposing gravity. The dancer’s body acts like a parabola or a projectile in the air and gravity works on the center of mass of the body. Like they can act as if they are suspended in air by jumping with their arms and legs suspended and head lowered. But the landing should be carefully done; otherwise the dancer could fall down, hurting one self which would also affect the show. A precaution that can be taken in such cases is to have a shock absorbent floor. Another technique which can be extremely hazardous is the rolling of the foot from toe to heel with knees bend. Such type of training calls for the help of professionals. Despite all these complications involved in performing ballet, it remains one of the most popular performing arts in the world.

Word Count 717


Theater Arts – Italian Opera

Italian opera is the earliest known opera form. Although the Greek and Roman Theater had inspired it, it inspired many countries around the world, including most of Europe. Some say that the word opera has been derived from the Italian words “Opera in Musica” which means work in music. The evidence of the very first opera performed in Italy was at the wedding of Marie de Medici and Henry IV of France. The Italian opera had three stages namely the baroque, the romantic and the modern.

Baroque period is the name of that period of Italian opera that originated in Italy in the beginning of the 17th century. The voice used was very high pitched along with instrumental music. This style was known as monody and was developed by Giulio Caccini and Jacopo Peri. It was reflected in the opera Euridice that was based on the story of Eurydice and Orpheus. When there were no dialogues during the performance, there were songs with music. This type of opera inspired many other writes, on of them was Claudio Monteverdi who wrote La Favola D’Orfeo that had the monody style. It was his first play and it still is famous with the audience today. Monteverdi worked hard on synchronizing instrumental music with the words and showed this effort in Mantua, with large choruses with nearly forty instruments that created a really good effect. He was named as the Maestro Da Cappela in Venice in the year 1613.

The first opera house for public was opened in the year 1637. Monteverdi wrote many compositions for this theater and his works L’Incoronazione di Poppae and I Ritomo d’Ullise in Patria were prominent out of the many. He even brought the Bel Canto and Buffa styles into Italian opera. Bel canto had a more even tone and eased the singing stress. Buffa had more comic touch with amusing and mocking elements. All these acted as the stepping-stone for many other later composers. At the end of the century there were three hundred and fifty opera created for the theaters of Venice alone. Many young artists were inspired to work in these theaters and bring out their talents. People came from outside Italy too.

In the 19th century romantic opera began to rise and Gioacchino Rossini was responsible for it. The romantic opera involved lots of emotions and imagination along with lots of music and arias. This music was so fine that it over shadowed the blunders in the stories. His composures such as La Cenerentola and Barber of Seville are famous till today. Many others such as Vincenzo Bellini, Giuseppe Verdi and Gaetano Donizetti followed him.

Giuseppe Verdi changed the way opera was written at that time. Nabucco was his first work and it was a very big success because of the great choruses along with enormous liveliness in the music. He even wrote Va pensiero, a chorus presentation to inspire the warriors at the time of Italian independence struggle. The works, which followed this had a more patriotic theme and were also based on older romantic works. He began to venture into different musical forms and finally his creation Otello replaced Rossini’s opera. His last work Falstaff finally changed the conventional form of theater and made music and words more free flowing.

Word Count 552


The Golden Age of Greek Theater Arts

The period around 600 BC - 200 BC was known as the Golden age of Greek Theater arts. Athens was the focal point for the flourishing arts. The political and military epicenter gave birth to great emperors, soldiers, philosophers, poets, writers and actors.

Annually plays were staged at Theater of Dionysia. Songs were sung at first in praise of God of wine and fertility, Dionysus. Out of them Aristotle’s poetry was outstanding. Its major element was tragedy which was the inspiration behind the tragic stories. Another poet Arion developed chorus singing which was known as Dithyramb. Later on chorus became an integral part of Greek Theater alongside actors, commentators and narrators who were also a part of the chorus team. In some plays chorus acted as a separately different character. They all synchronized with each other to project the image of a single entity rather than a group. In the beginning chorus comprised of twelve singing and dancing participants known as Choreutai. Later the number was increased to fifteen and two groups of seven, known as Hemichoria, were made with a lead singer known as Koryphaios.

Plays were written by Thespis in the beginning with one actor who enacted different characters by wearing different masks. He interacted with the chorus which narrated some parts of the story and sang when required. His play’s themes were tragedy and God Dionysus. Aeschylus introduced a second actor, followed by Sophocles, who introduced a third actor. This increased the complexity of the story and opened the horizons as other Greek mythological characters were being considered. And this was when the leader of the chorus was also introduced. He was responsible to interact with the actors on stage and with the audience too, for their opinion and for the summarization. Sometimes the interaction was in the form of a song and at other times he spoke directly. The rest of the chorus sang along in the background and illustrated on the main theme.

And thus two masks became the symbol of Greek Theater or Theatron. One had a smile and gleeful expression representing the comic aspect of the play and the other mask bore a sad expression which represented the tragic aspect of the play. By 500s BC, theaters were more dignified and became the pride of Athenian culture. The first renowned theater was the Theater of Dionysus. Annual competitions were held where three tragic plays were performed and the best play was rewarded. Competition between comedy plays started in 430s BC.

In the fourth century BC, King Alexander attacked Athens which led to the Peloponnesian War. It was then when the power of Athens began to deteriorate. In spite of the threat to the theatrical traditions of Greek, it still survived and passed onto the Hellenistic period. It was in this period when Comedy Theater came to its full form which reflected the lives of common man. The storyline of the plays was never mixed, i. e. comedy was never intermingled with tragedy and vice-versa. Menander was the writer who attained fame during this period.

The three main elements of theater became Orchestra, Skene and Audience. The platform on which artists performed and chorus performed was known as orchestra or the dancing place. At other times it was used to conduct religious rites. Skene was a huge rectangular building behind the orchestra. Originally it was a simple hut or tent used as a backstage. Actors changed their costumes here and it was used for religious purposes also. But later it took the form of a firm stone structure with two to three doors which opened into the orchestra. Paintings were done on this structure which was used as the background of the play and that’s how the term Skene came into existence. Later on another structure named as Proskene was also erected in front of the Skene which was exclusively meant for the performance of the actors. The audience sat in round ascending stair-case form of seating. Therefore the shape of the mountain into which the whole structure is being sculptured is important.

The theater arts that emerged during that era are mirrored in the plays of today all over the world. Out of all the plays written at that time plays of tragedians like Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles and plays of comedian Aristophanes became famous in the golden history of Greek arts. Their work was taken one step further by Plautus and Terence.

Word Count 746


German Theater Arts

With unique and diverse style German theater arts are comprises of a different blend of drama and music. At first Germany lacked behind while England and Spain were evolving in their own theater styles. The Germans were always involved in war and religious riots which distracted their attention from the field of arts. There was also a lack of proper capital which could become the epicenter of such progress. The old stories had a very medieval look and weren’t polished enough. But once the interest was developed it became more of a cultural interest which later resulted in an academic interest with various universities providing courses in the various field of arts. The theater was one place in Germany where people were free to express and exchange their ideologies.

In 1767 the first German national theater was established and in the year 1890 Deutsches Buhner-Jahrbuch made its first appearance. Presently, the “Three Category House” is the theater structure responsible to encourage performing arts like opera, music, drama and dance. Every season, five thousand and three hundred productions are performed by this board and on a yearly basis, a total of hundred and twenty thousand. New productions are being created as well as age old musical dramas of Shakespeare like “Romeo and Juliet”,” Midsummer Night’s Dream” is also enacted. The storyline of most of the performances are socio-economic, political and reflects the ups and downs of the society. Directors like Max Reinhard, Erwin Piscator and Berthold Brecht have evolved on these subjects and have created a theoretical analysis called “epic theater”.

The seventeenth and the eighteen centuries were the struggling period of German opera. Opera took its full form later on with composers such as Handel and Gluck. Ferruccio Busoni was a renowned composer although originally he was an Italian. In 1678 the Theater an Gansemarkt was brought up in Hamburg specially meant for opera performances. It was inaugurated with the performance of Johann Theile’s Der erschaffene, Gefallene und Aufgerichtete Mensch which had the storyline of Adam and Eve. It was then followed by operas with religious themes. This was encouraged by the Pietist church to maintain the reputation of the theater as moral regulator. Later it was taken over by composer Reinhard Keiser who composed nearly hundred operas over broader themes which included history and mythology. He brought along many other traditions into the original opera which was the beginning of many more changes.

The country’s fifteen states are controlled by one organization Lander with respect to theater arts by supporting them financially and politically. Every year they spend US $2 billion on opera houses, theaters and orchestra. Every year festivals too are being held to celebrate the spirit of arts. Altogether sixty festivals are the venue for rewarding renowned actors, actresses, writers, plays and encouraging new talent.

But the modern theater of Germany began experimenting with the traditional performances. As times changed so did the society. The writers of today are forcing the audience to come out of the old set mode of linear flow, replacing it with patchworks. The use of contrastive language, impersonalized figuration and destructive illustration has made the audience and critics question about the legitimacy of the post-modern theater and rather refer to the present situation as an artistic crisis. Few directors like Frank Castorf, Thomas Ostermeier, and Falk Richter can be relied upon for good work.

Word Count 565


Malaysian Theater Arts

In the land of Malaysia, theater arts developed in the east Javanese kingdoms. During the eleventh century the capital of Javanese kingdom was shifted from Prambanan located in central Java to Jenggla located in eastern Java. This kingdom was divided into four parts namely Jenggala, Kediri, Ngurawan and Singasari . The four sons of the King Airlangga named King Lembu Amiluhur, King Lembu Amerdadu, King Lembu Mangarang and King Amijaya, respectively, ruled each of them. There are three forms of Malaysian theater arts namely Wayang Orang or performance by human actors, Wayang kulit or shadow puppetry, Wayang golek or three dimentional puppetry and classical court dance known as Karaton. And they flourished separately in each kingdom.

The other name for Wayang Orang is Wayang Wong that involves human actors performing live on stage in a musical dance drama. “Wong” or “Orang” means a man or a woman respectively. It was nurtured in the Kingdom of King Lembu Amiluhur. His son Raden Panji Asmarabangun was a renowned artist in himself. He taught this art to all his relatives. The storyline of the play revolved around the Jenggala Kingdom and Hindu mythologies Mahabharata and Ramayana. Another variety of Wayang Orang is Wayang Topeng or Wayang Gedog where the artists wear mask during the performance. Majapahit Kingdom was another kingdom that played a vital role in the recognition of Wayang wong as the King Hayam Wuruk was a performer of this art himself. There are five categories of the pattern of dance according to build and movements. Alus, which involves graceful and soft movements required performers to have a light physique. Gagah had more sportive moves and the artists were expected to have a slim and tall physique. Kasar was meant for actors with huge build and the movements were rough. Gecul had subcategories Ponokawan and Cantrik. Dengklik involved actors playing the role of monkey warrior. The dresses differ with different gods, kings, ksatrias, princesses, begawans and warriors. According to the role being played forty-five accessories are being used.

There were separate dance movements for the female actors. The movements made by the females are known as Nggruda that had nine basic movements known as Joged Pokok and additional twelve movements known as Joged Gubahan. These art forms at first were meant only for the royal families. Many kings and their relatives used to perform plays written on their ancestors in order to honor them. Poor people had no access to these plays.

Under reign of King Airlangga, great encouragement was given to various arts forms and that is when puppet art began evolving. Wayang purwa or Wayang kulit involves two-dimensional puppets made from the skin of goat or buffalo. They are flat and usually round in shape. The shadow of these puppets is cast on a translucent cloth screen with the help of lighted lamps. They are controlled by bamboo sticks attached to their body that are planted in banana stems located underneath the screen.

Wayang golek involves three-dimensional puppets that are controlled by the puppeteers from the top. These puppets are usually made out of wood or leather with some kind of stuffing. UNESCO honored the Wayang puppets in the year 2003 as “The Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” saying that it is one of the unique forms of theater arts and thus should be protected.

Karaton is the classical court dance. Karaton can be performed either in-group known as Yogyakarta or it can be also performed as solo. Some of the dances were performed on a daily basis in the court and some were meant only for special occasions like festivals and functions.

Prambanan Ramayana ballet is the special dance involving around two hundred dancers who dance for two whole hours. It is held under a full moon during the spring season. The eight-century Prambanan temple is painted in the background and gamelan music is played.

Word Count 654


Kabuki Theater Art

Kabuki is a traditional theater art of Japan. It was started by Lzumo no Okuni. This new dance style inspired many other troupes after the appreciation of Okuni’s performance in the royal court of Shogunate. Initially it was an all women’s performance but when those women turned to prostitution men, because of the ban levied on them, substituted them. But the handsome youth too caught the fancy of salacious audience and were made to enter prostitution. Then finally it was declared that matured men would only be the part of kabuki to maintain the dignity of the society.

Hanamichi or flower path is the walkway, which is used to for entering and exiting for the performers, and it extends into the spectator’s area. Things like trap doors and rotating steps were added way back in the eighteenth century. The rotating stage was invented in the Kyoho period and was called as Mawari-butai. The technique involved a separate circular stage placed on wheel, in center of the original stage. If the circular stage was rotated in full light, it was known as Akaten or lighted revolve and if the lights of stage were dimmed when the platform is revolved, which was known as Kuraten or darken revolve. The trap doors were known as Seri, which were used to either lower or raise an actor on to stage. This was used to achieve the effect of raising the whole scene on to the stage or declining the whole scene from the stage.

The spectators were made to believe that the actor is flying by attaching wires to the costumes of the actor. This technique was known as Chunori. This technique was made in the nineteenth century. Tricks like this and many other tricks are known as Keren, meaning playing to the gallery. They are used to refer to the sudden appearance and disappearance of the performers. Hiki Dagu was mobile stage place on wagons. They were used to change the scene in between when the actors were still performing on stage and when the curtains weren’t drawn. This technique was taken further and was used on actors. The actors used to perform on wheeled platform and at the end of the performance some men used to push that platform away from the eyes of the spectators. These men were also used to remove or add a scene or prop and were known as Kuroko. To decrease their visibility to the audience they were made to dress in black. Modern theaters have become more and more better when compared to the traditional theaters.

In this modern age Kabuki is still famous and has gained immense traditional importance. A statue of Okuni was erected in 2003 in Pontocho district. There are many renowned Kabuki theaters in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto. The famous performers of Kabuki are given chance to act in movies and television series. Bando Tamasaburo was a very famous kabuki performer as well as an actor who performed in many films especially in the female character or Annagata. Females are also a part of the performance now instead of only men who used to perform the Annagata roles. In fact after the World War II all female groups were also formed which were known as Ichikawa Kabuki-za. Many kabuki troupes perform on international level also like America and Europe. International plays have been rewritten for kabuki performances. Kabuki is also referred to as Anime. In 2005, UNESCO declared kabuki as “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”.

Word Count 593


яюTheater Arts  French Opera

French opera is the traditional opera of France and was spread from Italy. It was Cardinal Mazarin a reagent of King Louis XIV who presented the first opera named  La Finta Pazza in the year 1645. This inspired King Louis XIV and he was the one behind the flourishing of opera in France. The father of French opera was Jean-Baptiste Lully; he presented  Cadmus et Hermione in the king s court. After seeing that performance, the king s interest increased even more. This encouraged Lully to make  Tragedie En Musique , also known as tragedies en musique, along with Philippe Quinault. It was the tragic story of Corneille and Racine and it was a dance musical with choral writing. Lully was famous for composing music for plays meant for court as well as many other theaters. Cadmus et Hermione was the first French opera of Lully in Paris.

This pair was also known for altering the complex and detailed Baroque plot. They made a five-act structure instead. Before the performance praises were sung for King Louis XIV this was inspired from Italy who sung allegorical prologue instead. It then started with an aria which was followed by recitative and a short aria which was elaborately modeled keeping the French taste in mind and was appreciated many times. It then ended with divertissement. It was the most important factor as it involved lots of singing, dancing, and lots of entertainment which was the main attraction for the audience. In the mid of eighteenth century  opera Comique another opera genre caught the fancy of the people in which dialogues and arias music were used. Huge efforts were put in to make the performance a success and especially to win the heart of the king. The stage was set with lots of details and special effects known as machinery in which Olivet did the choreography and Quinault wrote the phrases.

Lully had acquired the whole market by befriending the king. It was only after his death that the other composers got a chance to show their talents. Marc-Antoine Charpentier was one such opera composer who wrote and presented his first  Tragedie en mMusique ,  Medee in the year 1693. As he had some Italian connection this disappointed Lully s fans and hence it received a mixed reaction. Andre Campra and Marin Marais also made their attempts at Tragedie en Musique. Campra later created a new type of opera known as opera ballet. It had more dance and musical element in it. A lot of comedy was also included with a light storyline. This was different from what Lully used to compose and it proved to be a good change for the audience with it s over whelming response. This gave the idea of involving comedy completely into the performance. This was done by Mouret who used this style in his work Les amours de Ragonde.

Another composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau became a very important part of the history of French opera after Lully. His first work Hippolyte et Aricie was at the age of fifty. He used a lot of experimentation which created a stir in the audience. Although Campra appreciated it most of the fans of Lully were shocked. This created a clear line of separation between the audiences. This made Rameau to follow the existing rules. But this time he was opposed by the Italian counterparts who called him old-fashioned. This was when Rameau created a new opera genre known as opera Comique. Theater De I Opera-Comique worked on this idea and became very famous in the eighteenth century. Even in the twentieth century composers such as Reynaldo Hahn and Andre Messager wrote many works in opera Comique.

Even to this day the French Opera is alive and popular in many quarters of the country.


Word Count 630


Types of Theatre and their affect

The history of theatre arts can be dated back to as early as the period of ancient Greek. Since then the various eras witnessed changes in the types of theatre stages, which affected the actors and also gave rise to different forms of acting.

In ancient Greece, plays were staged to mark a religious occasion in theatres where only prestigious men were allowed as at that time women and slaves were looked down upon in the society. Theatres popularly known as amphitheatres housed a large round stage which was encircled three-fourth by audience. This is how a stage would be set in the Greek Era. Amphitheatre could accommodate an audience of 25,000 at a time which made it very difficult to see what’s going on for the audience at the back. To overcome this obstruction the actors would be loud with grandiose voice and enormous gestures and to be more noticeable wore mask and symbolical attires. High pitched chorus was used to as a means of cautioning of an upcoming event or to advice co-actors. To improve the visibility and to give a deception of reality to the plays they were held in daylight and a real landscape acted as the background of the play.

In the medieval era facilities were more commonly available to many of the inhabitants of the community. Theatres too were no longer reserved for the rich. Plays were held on wagons better known as pageants. The wagon would be dragged into the marketplace where the play was decided to be held. Spectators would surround the stage from all sides and would watch the play. The themes of most of the plays at that time were the daily happenings and day to day experiences depicted as an ironic comedy or as a genuine mime depending on the taste of the audience. This created an interaction between the audience and the actors with the audience expressing their views on the theme.

During the Renaissance Period theatre performance took the form of professional performance more than an artistic one. The blueblood of England started investing into performing groups and theatres with an apron stage. The apron stage had a rectangular platform with nearly an audience of 2,000 surrounding the three sides of it and was in close proximity with the actors performing on stage. With the wealthy aristocrats funding the plays the costumes were designed with more details and were elegant. Plays were enacted at daytime which made the creation of illusion of nighttime difficult which was overcome by dispatching the information as a part of an actor’s dialogue which is termed as word scenery. Denizens from all sects of the society attended these plays so an effort was made to please a large array of spectators by taking different storylines into consideration.

The period around the seventeenth and eighteenth century was known as the Restoration period. The theatres around this time were smaller than those of the Renaissance period and held up to 500 spectators at a time. This period gave an end to daylight lit auditoriums replacing them with closed rooms lit completely with man-made light. Stages were bounded with decorated frames but with no curtains like the modern times. Although the audiences weren’t in close vicinity of the stage, a small stage protruded into the auditorium so as to increase the interaction between the audience and the actors. Lack of curtain hindered the privacy of changing of scenes which affected the realistic illusion. Performances by the restoration period were character driven with more emphasis on the perfectionism, social issues, and scenery.

The stage in the later centuries evolved into what is known as the proscenium stage or picture frame stage. It’s designed and named after the technique of how one visualizes a picture. There is a defined separation between the spectators and the actors with the introduction of ramp. Curtains added to this and the same time gave privacy to change scenes thus creating a realistic and elaborated picturization. The auditorium is darkened during the performance there by increasing the concentration of the audience. Modern technologies and aids have made illustration more interesting and realistic and made the art even more interesting and popular.

Word Count 705


Theater Arts – Who are Mummers?

Mime is a kind of theater arts where the performer depicts the whole theme with the help of action and without spelling a single word. Such kinds of performers are known as mummers. Other genre of dances like break dance has many steps inspired from mime, the most famous being Michael Jackson’s moonwalk. Clowns also undergo training in mime.

Like most of the theater arts, the reason behind the birth of this art is the Greek and Roman theaters. The history of the origin of mime can be dated back to the 3rd century BC’s Theater of Dionysus in Athens. At that time the mime wasn’t completely speechless as the modern mimes. Although there was some dialogue delivery, it was minimum and there was chorus, which is the key element of the theaters at that time. Mime artist were known as Phylakes at that time.

The stories were tragic at first with a moral lesson at the end. Some of the well-known mime writers were Epicharmus, Decimus Laberius, Pubilius Syrus, Herodas and Sophron. After the downfall of Roman Empire, the mime artists were part of the court performers all over Europe. They were known as Saltator or Mimus and this was how the word mime was derived. Sword swallowers, short drama actors, acrobats and jugglers were also known by the name Mimus. On the basis of this patented dumb roles were invented as the coward husband, forgetful old man and many others. They further grew as a non-silent comedy in the Italian theaters as the dumb show, British Pantomime, Masque and Italian commedia Dell’arte.

In the modern times there are primarily two categories of Mime. The first type is named Pantomime in which the whole emphasis is on the body as a whole along with facial expressions, gestures and body language. There is hardly any place for props in this kind of mime. Instead the objects are imagined and an illusion is created for the audience. Here the facial expressions and movement of the body is exaggerated.

The second type is Corporeal Mime. It was developed because of the effort of people like Jacques Lecoq and Etienne Decroux. Here the body is used to express something that even words cannot express. Emotions and thoughts were expressed so as to make the invisible visible. This is done not by just over doing the daily gestures but by discovering the range of human body to its fullness. The modernized version also includes elements of other theater arts like dialogues, puppetry and writing.

A mime is always presented with a painted face with more concentration on the lips and eyes, by highlighting them with red and black color, respectively. White gloves are a necessity as it is used to increase the visibility of the movements of the hand. The costumes consist of a black suit with white lining, suspenders and a black hat.

There are many other countries that have their own type of mime depending on their culture. The best example is the Indian classical dance. Mukhabinaya or face and eyes expression was a part of the Indian dance Natya Shastra original to Bharat Muni Theater, which is an Indian version of mime. It includes a vast vocabulary of hand gestures and stylized positions. Illusions are created by Mime that interprets an action, landscape, and living being. Sometimes song and music of the instruments or the lightning movement of the dancer’s feet support the mime performance.

Word Count 579


Greek Theater Arts

The Greeks had denizens excelling in all kinds of trade and they had a habit of excelling in their respective fields irrespective of whatever constraints are presented to them. Although the Greeks were known to be great warriors and athletes they were also good in artistic fields such as theater, pottery and philosophy. Athens was the scholastic epicenter of ancient Greece and was named after the goddess of wisdom, Athena. Theaters of Greece flourished during 500-300 BC which has an effect on theater arts till this date.

Theater was symbolized by two masks which represented the masks worn during comedy and tragedy. They also depicted the dual nature of life. The tragic mask had a painful and mourning expression and the comedy mask had a joyful and smiling expression.

Festivals were held to honor the theater arts. Every year at the Theater of Dionysia named after the Greek god of wine and fertility Dionysus, festival was held for ten days to please the gods. Writers and poets from all over Greek gather to perform. The schedule consisted of plays based on tragedies or comedies which were followed by a short farce. It was from the poetry of Aristotle. He wrote songs, known as dithyrambs, to praise god Dionysus out of which tragic stories began evolved.

In 500 BC, another theater art was discovered by Thespis. It involved a single actor playing various roles by wearing different masks to differentiate between the characters. Other than him there were narrators and commentators on stage with whom the actor used to collaborate. This type of theater arts was recognized as tragedy which meant goat skin in Greek. It was either named after the event of sacrificing goat to gods or after the goad skin worn by the performers. Competitions were being conducted in festival at theater of Dionysia. Thespis was the first known actor of ancient Greek.

Aeshylus, in 471 BC, introduced plays having two actors who interacted with each other using dialogue. A third actor was introduced by Sophocles in 468 BC and thus the plots too became complicated. But each actor was to enact different characters wearing mask accordingly. The masks were so large that it covered the entire face of the actor including his hair. The mask was carved with care because that increased audibility of the actor’s voice. These masks were made out of linen or cork, that’s the reason why the archeologist couldn’t find a trace of them. The sculptured statues and paintings depicted actors wearing mask this was how the information was collected. Props weren’t still were restrained from usage because the size of the theater were so large, it diminished the visibility of the spectators seated on higher levels. To make up for this, Pantomime was used by the actors. This also meant that the actors wore bright dresses and loud makeup to attract the attention of the audience. Along with that the actors wore high heeled boots and large gloves to make them more vividly visible. Stories not only revolved around Dionysus but also were based on other Greek mythological characters.

The structure of the theater at that time was known as Theatron. They were open-aired and were constructed on the slopes as the seating arrangement for the spectators was in the form of ascending circles. The theaters were designed such that the voice of the performers could reach the highest seated audience. In the theater at Epidaurus one can hear the sound of a dropped pin from the highest row. The three essential elements of the theater, in Greece, were orchestra or the platform, on which performance was done, the Skene, was a building which acted as the backstage as well as the background of the play and the last element is the audience.

The audience and performers at all theaters were only men as at that time women were considered to be the downtrodden sect. The actors as well as the chorus could speak dialogue or even sing as required. Detailed costumes and huge mask were worn while enacting the roles and was the trademark of Greek theater.

Word Count 688


Theater Art - Kabuki

Kabuki is a traditional Japanese theater art. The word Kabuki is derived from the Japanese word kabuki which means avant-garde or bizarre theater. Kabukimono were youngsters who were rebellious and used to dress strangely. Because the kanji characters sing and dance, kabuki also means the art of singing and dancing.

This work has been tampered with over a period of time. The kabuki which we witness now isn’t the same what it used to be before. The founder of this art was Okuni, who was a young lady who served a Shinto shrine named Lzumo Taisha. She gained attention by adapting a completely new dance form at the theaters at the dry river beds of Kyoto in the year 1603. Basically it started with only female artist who even did the role of men. The stories were based on the common people with a comedic twist. After the initial success Okuni was invited to show her performance at the royal court. Out of envy other troupes began adopting the same style of dancing and kabuki became a common style. The women involved in kabuki began entering prostitution so they were banned from performing further and men took over their place. The attention shifted from dance to performance. But the performance by the men also became salacious and they too started prostitution as a side profession and worked for both men and women customers. This affected the audiences which attended these performance they became ill-mannered and a fight used to break out over a young and handsome actor. This led to the imposing of ban on young male actors too.

Kabuki then became a field of art for matured men. These men put in more effort to bring up the reputation of kabuki. The men who performed the role of women were known as Oyama or Onnagata. Basically there were two types of role named Aragoto or rough style and Wagoto or Sakata tojuro. Yaro kabuki or men’s kabuki was the stylized version and Kyogen comic theater was a very influential factor as it was very popular then.

The kabuki artists wore detailed makeup. Aragoto character or the reckless warrior character has a pompous role with bright clothing and loud makeup. The style too is loud and exaggerated and involves more action. On the contrary Wagoto is a more cultured role with decent dialogue delivery and gestures.

The Genroku period showed more interest in Kabuki arts. It had started to be performed in formal theaters. Chikamatsu Monzaemon was the first known playwright of kabuki and later on produced many other renowned works. His works revolved around tragic-romances where the lovers used to suicide in the end. Many followed this theme which forced the authorities to put a ban on such kinds of plays known as Shinju Mono. After few years of success kabuki was taken over by Bunraku or Puppetry. This was due to the increase in the number of Bunraku playwrights.

But after the defeat of Tokugawa Shogunate Empire in 1868 kabuki arts returned to it full form. Initially a kabuki performance was made in front of the king Meiji. It caught his interest at the first instance. Many kabuki theaters were brought up during that era.

During the World War II many theaters were lost during the bombing and a ban was levied on kabuki. But in 1947, the kabuki performances started again with the lift of the ban and once again began to flourish across the country.

Word Count 583