The Origins of Theater

I believe that theater doesn’t just happen where there is makeup and costumes and a stage, theater is all around. The way that I define theater is A performs B for C. By this definition speeches, sports games, street performers, (etc.…) count as theater. It is so intriguing to see how something can be carried on for years and evolve into many different things in our lives. Without theater we wouldn’t have any of the entertainment that we have now. From way back when theater began to now, it can be argued that there have been a lot of changes, at the same time, it is very similar in so many ways. It is one of those things that has never gone out of style; it just evolved as time went on.


Theater started back in Greek and Roman times,  as early as 534 BC. From then to now, the basics of theater are the same. There is a stage, actors on the stage, and an audience. The first recorded actor’s name was Thespis, which is where we now get the term, “Thespian,” a member of theater. The first kind of theater production was symbolic and religious rituals. In these religious rituals, there were some key things that make them rituals: procession, recession, choral chanting, symbolic props, and a spectacle.      

     
The first kind of theater building was an outdoor theater, an amphitheater. In this kind of theater, the audience is more elevated than the stage so that everyone looks down at the stage. Greek costumes included huge masks with megaphones to help the actors voices reach the audience. The masks would either be happy or sad faces depending on if the production was a comedy or tragedy, and they would be very dramatic so even people sitting far away could see them, like how we use stage makeup now.


The major playwrights of this time were Sophocles, a tragedy playwright, Aristophanes, a comedy play write, and Euripides, another tragedy playwright. Some themes that were big in Greek plays were political corruption and family honor. When plays first started they were all written for a chorus. Then came along one play write that started writing lines for individual characters. From there theater progressed into what it is today.


It was a long road from the start of it all too now, which continues to grow. Theater is constantly changing and that is part of the reason I love it so much. I believe that without theater our lives would be very boring and for me personally, I have no idea what I would be doing without it. Take a look around and see how theater has affected your life, you might be surprised.   






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