The Theater reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Apr-2004
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Theater

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Theater (American English) or Theatre (British English and widespread usage among theatre professionals in the US) is that branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, music, dance, sound and spectacle - indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to the standard narrative dialog style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, Chinese opera, mummers' plays and pantomime. Here is a list of acting terms.

Table of contents
1 Overview of theater
2 Theater building
3 Other Topics
4 External Links

Overview of theater

"Drama" is that branch of theatre in which speech, either from written text (plays or "dramatic literature") or improvised, is paramount. "Musical theatre" is a form of theatre combining music, songs, dance routines, and spoken dialogue. There is a particularly long tradition of political theatre, intended to educate audiences on contemporary issues and encourage social change. Various creeds, Catholicism for instance, have built upon the entertainment value of theatre and created (for example) mystery plays and morality plays.

There is an enormous variety of philosophies, artistic processes, and theatrical approaches to creating plays and drama. Some are connected to political or spiritual ideologies, and some are based on purely "artistic" concerns. Some processes focus on story, some on theatre as an event, some on theatre as a catalyst for social change. According to Aristotle's seminal theatrical critique Poetics, there are six elements necessary for theatre. They are Plot, Character, Idea, Language, Music, and Spectacle. The 17th-century Spanish writer Lope de Vega wrote that for theatre one needs "three boards, two actors, and one passion." Others notable for their contribution to theatrical philosophy are Konstantin Stanislavski, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Orson Welles, Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski.

The most recognizable figures in theatre are the playwrights and actors, but theatre is a highly collaborative endeavor. Plays are usually produced by a production team that commonly includes a director, scenic designer, lighting designer, costume designer, dramaturge, stage manager, and production manager. The artistic staff are assisted by technical theatre personnel who handle the creation and execution of the production.

Theater building

A theater is also the building in which works and plays are performed. There are as many styles of performance space as there are styles of performance, but most theaters include a designated "stage" or playing space, a designated audience area or "house," and some sort of off-stage area for preparation and storage, called "backstage," which is typically concealed from the audience. Theaters range from ornate, cathedral-like structures to simple undecorated rooms or black box theatres. Theatre may also occur in uncontrolled outdoor environments, in the form of Street Theatre or Environmental theater.

Some of these buildings are masterpieces of architecture. Others, often those known for opera, have become major cultural references and symbols.

The original Greek theatre was semicircular in form and was normally built on a hillside, often overlooking the sea. These theaters also typically included a "raked" or sloped stage, with the back of the stage being higher than the front. Such theatres were often constructed with excellent acoustics, so that a player standing centre stage could be clearly heard throughout the auditorium. The Romanss copied this style of building, but tended not to be so concerned about the location, being prepared to build walls and terraces instead of looking for a naturally-occurring site.

During the Elizabethan era in England, theatres were constructed of wood and were circular in form, like the Globe Theatre in London, home to William Shakespeare's troupe of actors. The Globe has now been rebuilt as a fully working and producing theatre near its original site (largely thanks to the efforts of film director Sam Wanamaker) to give modern audiences an idea of the environment for which Shakespeare and other playwrights of the period were writing.

Contemporary theaters are often non-traditional, such as very adaptable spaces, or theaters where audience and performers are not separated. A major example of this is the modular theater, (see for example the Walt Disney Modular Theater). This large theater has floors and walls divided into small movable sections, with the floor sections on adjustable hydraulic pylons, so that the space may be adjusted into any configuration for each individual play. As new styles of theatre performance have evolved, so has the desire to improve or recreate performance venues. This applies equally to artistic and presentation techniques, such as stage lighting.

Specific designs of contemporary live theaters include proscenium, thrust, black box theater, theater in the round, amphitheater, and arena.

Theatrical performances can also take place in venues adapted from other purposes, such as train carriages. In recent years the Edinburgh Fringe has seen performances in a lift and a taxi.

Other Topics

Kinds of Theatre

Awards in Theatre

External Links

Theatre or theater?

See also: history of theatre, list of playwrights, list of theatre directors, dramatist, stagecraft, suspension of disbelief, theater techniques, opera house, Irish theatre, movie theater, puppet theater.