We explain what is the theater and its elements. We summarize its history, from ancient Greece to the changes of the last century.
What is theater?
The term theater comes from Greek θεᾶσθα, which would later be translated into Latin as theātrum. These terms meant looking . Today the concept has acquired at least two new meanings:
- In the first place it is related to those spaces used in order to represent a dramatic play or any type of show that requires the use of the stage.
- Secondly, it is defined in art , as a literary genre written in a dialogic way, created with the idea of being represented.
Some of the basic elements of theater as art are first of all a group of individuals, called actors , who perform a certain show. It is usually written in advance.
These actors are accompanied by the scenography , that is, the scenery of the scene, a relevant costumes and makeup and often even music. The spectators are called public and acquire a passive attitude , that is to say, just observe.
The history of the theater is very rich since since ancient times this art was practiced. It is believed that its origins were given in Greece in the fourth century BC . At first it fulfilled a religious function. Through songs and dances the cults were rendered to their gods.
The meetings between those who would perform the rituals and the spectators were on the slopes of the hills. The actors used a kind of cone to be heard more clearly and wore high shoes so that all the spectators could see them.
The clothes used were very simple, generally only tunics were used . The masks did acquire great importance, as it was the way to represent the mood of the characters . In these spaces only men could act.
Over the years the theater dissociated itself from religious themes and began to create new spaces used for the specific purpose of the performances . In this way the acoustics and vision improved significantly, the first stages appeared and in turn the viewers could find an exclusive place to sit and be more comfortable. Another great advance was the writing of the works prior to the performance. Thus the peoples began to represent themselves and their own characteristics.
The building spaces also known as theaters also underwent major changes. In the beginning some were even transported from city to city . On the contrary, the classic Greek theaters are characterized by their semi-circle shape, where the stage was in the middle and around it they set up the places for the spectators.
These outdoor spaces continue to attract attention for their excellent acoustics. Even the seats that are well above the stage are able to hear with total clarity the sounds that come from the stage. Nowadays it is common for the scenarios to be located frontally to the seats where the spectators are arranged.
During medieval times, in European countries the theater regained great importance. In this case the staging was represented in the streets. Normally three types of theater could be found: the profane, the religious and the liturgical .
These last two are differentiated by the religious represented the passions and mysterious questions, while the liturgical represented life within the church. The Catholic institution played a fundamental and active role in the theater since not only its actors were the priests, but they also delivered money so that such shows could be carried out.
There were other Eastern countries, such as Japan and India that received this art and developed them with particular characteristics. Reference was usually made to historical issues or to mythology itself .
During modernity the theater suffered important mutations again. In the first place being a theocentric art began to give people greater prominence. The story takes on great importance. On the other hand the human figure emerges submerged in a time , in three spatial dimensions. It is also created one of the basic rules of the theater, the three units of each work, time, space and action. Visual effects also arise.
In the Baroque era the theater focused its attention on destiny and tragedies . The scenographies began to have a greater importance and began to possess a greater ornamentation.
During the nineteenth century three important literary subgenres were brought to the scene, first romanticism , second realism and finally the symbolic.
In the twentieth century the styles reach greater diversification thanks to the new currents called avant-garde. The scenery and costumes begin to be one of the most important centers of attention. Also the representations begin to be connected with psychological characters . Another great change that arose during this century was the abandonment of the rule of the three units to give rise to the so-called experimental theater.