Outline of theatre

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Historic Outdoor Forest Theater in Carmel, CA at sunsets.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to theatre:

Theatre (also theater) – branch of the performing arts and a collaborative form of fine art involving live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event (such as a story) through acting before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of speech, gesture, mime, puppets, music, dance, sound and spectacle — indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. Elements of design and stagecraft are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience.[1]

Nature of theatre

Theatre may be described as all of the following:

History of theatre

History of theatre

Western tradition

Chronological movements of the Western tradition include:


African Theatre includes:

  • Ancient Egyptian quasi-theatrical events – earliest recorded quasi-theatrical event dates back to 2000 BCE with the "passion plays" of Ancient Egypt. This story of the god Osiris was performed annually at festivals throughout the civilization.
  • Yoruba theatre – origins are traced back to the masquerade of the Egungun (the "cult of the ancestor").[8] The traditional ceremony culminates in the essence of the masquerade where it is deemed that ancestors return to the world of the living to visit their descendants.[9] In addition to its origin in ritual, Yoruba theatre can be "traced to the 'theatrogenic' nature of a number of the deities in the Yoruba pantheon, such as Obatala the arch divinity, Ogun the divinity of creativeness and Sango the divinity of the storm", whose reverence is imbued "with drama and theatre and the symbolic overall relevance in terms of its relative interpretation."[10]


Asian theatre

Middle Eastern

Types of theatrical productions

Genres of theatre

There are a variety of genres that writers, producers and directors can employ in theatre to suit a variety of tastes:

Styles of theatre

There are a variety of theatrical styles used in theatre and drama. These include

  • Absurdism – presents a perspective that all human attempts at significance are illogical. Ultimate truth is chaos with little certainty. There is no necessity that need drive us.
  • Expressionism – anti-realistic in seeing appearance as distorted and the truth lying within man. The outward appearance on stage can be distorted and unrealistic to portray an eternal truth.
  • Melodrama – sentimental drama with musical underscoring, often with an unlikely plot that concerns the suffering of the good at the hands of evildoers but ends happily with good triumphant. Featuring stock characters such as the noble hero, the long-suffering damsel in distress, and the cold-blooded villain.
  • Modernism – a broad concept that sees art, including theatre, as detached from life in a pure way and able to reflect on life critically.
  • Naturalism – portraying life on stage with close attention to detail, based on observation of real life.
  • Postmodern theatre – originated in Europe in the middle of the 20th century out of the postmodern philosophy as a reaction against modernist theatre. Postmodern theatre raises questions rather than attempting to supply answers or definitive truth.
  • Puppetry– an ancient form where performers/puppeteers manipulate performing objects. Puppetry has many variations and forms.
  • Realism – portraying characters on stage that are close to real life, with realistic settings and staging.


  • Opera housetheatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building. While some venues are constructed specifically for operas, other opera houses are part of larger performing arts centers.
  • Art Deco style theatre

Participants in theatre

General theatre concepts

See also


  1. ^ M. Carlson, Journal of Dramatic Theory and Criticism, [1], 2011
  2. ^ Brockett and Hildy (2003, 293–426).
  3. ^ Christopher Innes, 'West End' in The Cambridge Guide to Theatre (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp.1194?1195, ISBN 0-521-43437-8
  4. ^ Pincus-Roth, Zachary."Ask Playbill.com: Broadway or Off-Broadway—Part I" Playbill.com, February 7, 2008
  5. ^ League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers Inc. & The Association of Theatrical Press Agents and Managers. "Off-Broadway Minimum Basic Agreement" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  6. ^ "Off-Off-Broadway, Way Back When". Retrieved 2007-12-13. 
  7. ^ von Geldern (1993, 27).
  8. ^ Adedeji (1969, 60).
  9. ^ Noret (2008, 26).
  10. ^ Banham, Hill, and Woodyard (2005, 88).
  11. ^ Richmond, Swann, and Zarrilli (1993, 12).
  12. ^ Brandon (1997, 70) and Richmond (1998, 516).
  13. ^ Richmond (1998, 516) and Richmond, Swann, and Zarrilli (1993, 13).
  14. ^ Moreh (1986, 565-601).
  15. ^ Merriam-Webster, Inc (1995) Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of literature, entry black humor, p.144
  16. ^ Weld, John. (1975). "Meaning in Comedy: Studies in Elizabethan Romantic Comedy" SUNY Press. pp. 154-155. ISBN 0-87395-278-2.
  17. ^ Pearson, Jacqueline. (1980). "Tragedy and tragicomedy in the plays of John Webster" Manchester University Press ND. p. 13. ISBN 0-7190-0786-0.
  18. ^ Bill Johnson. The Art of the Romantic Comedy.
  19. ^ Aleks Sierz, In-Yer-Face Theatre: British Drama Today (London: Faber and Faber, 2001).

External links

  • New York Times Theater section Theater reviews.
  • University of Bristol Theatre Collection
  • Theatre Archive Project (UK) British Library & University of Sheffield
  • Music Hall and Theatre History of Britain and Ireland
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