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An Online Guide to the History of Theater

The History of Theater Header

The terminology ‘theater’, meaning ‘a place for viewing’, originated in Ancient Greece some 5000 years back. Theater is a branch of performing arts that focuses on live performances by actors, which creates a self-contained drama. Since its inception, theater has taken many forms that involve dance, gestures, and pantomime combined with various other performing arts to portray a single artistic form. Based on the type of performance, theater has broadly been classified into 3 categories, which are drama, musical theater and comedy. They emerged at different times in the history of theater and slowly progressed to the technically advanced modern day theater. The various categories have been shared here with discussion on different types of theater right from their origin.

Origin of Theater

History of Theater-Theater emerged from myths, ceremony and ritual which took place in daily life. This educational link sheds light on the historical background of theater.

Major Stages of Theater- Theater has seen different stages from the time it originated. The document sweeps through time discussing each stage in great detail.

History of Drama- The history of drama can be traced back to celebratory music of the 6th century which transformed over the years.

The First Play- The first play staged in Athens was centered on the protagonist of the play ‘The Persians’, which was first performed in 472 B.C. Other details of the play mentioned in detail in the excerpt.

Ancient Theater

Greek Statue Representing Theater

Origin of Ancient Theater-Ancient theater can be very well associated with Greece, where it first originated 5000 years back. Learn about the structure and types of theater in Ancient Greece.

Ancient Theater Archives- This is an online archive that has several links to the different types of theaters of the ancient world with the description.

More on Greek Theaters-The timeline of Greek theater is traced back in time and also information is provided on types of drama that were staged in those times.

Costumes in Ancient Greek Theater- Different types of costumes were used on stage in the Ancient theaters. Minute details have been mentioned about the texture and types of fabric that were used in making the costumes.

Medieval Theater

Overview of Medieval Theater- An introduction is provided to the medieval theaters, shedding light on its history and growth.

Types of Drama in Medieval Theater- Various types of drama have been explained, which were staged during the medieval times.

Medieval English Theater- Medieval English theater is an internationally referred journal which publishes material on medieval theater that can be used as a constant source of information.

Italian Theater

Italian Drama in the 18th Century- The 17th century marked a time of political and military strife. A change took place with the emergence of the 18th century which has been discussed in detail.

Books on Italian Theater- Major books on Italian theater and works are mentioned which are available in the library of the educational institution.

Major Works in Italian Theater- information can be found on major works of great artists, which have been a masterpiece in the history of Italian theater.

British Theater

British Theater-Art and Culture- The British theater is an arena of numerous possibilities. The British council provides information about the various aspects of British theater and the inspiration it takes from art and culture.

British Musical Theater- British musical theater existed in the 20th century. This is an informative resource on British musical theater discussing great play writers like Gilbert and Sullivan.

Society of British Theater Designers- The theater designers work to create various costumes, light and effect which play an important role in the portrayal of the drama. The link explains about the Society of designers of British theater in detail.

British Theater Dance Association- Theater plays can be enacted through dances sequences. The association of dancers has been formed to support dancer in British theater.

Spanish Theater

Introduction to Spanish Theater-The article discusses the Spanish theater’s history along with the major types of drama and the play writes.

A Study Analyzes Science Fiction in Spanish Theater- Science fiction was taken as basis of Spanish theater in the 20th century. The study by Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) researcher concentrates on the presence of this genre.

French Theater

Theater in France 1500 to 1700- Prior to 1567, theater was only meant for aristocrat and wasn’t found of must interest. Though after this period the situation changed and a number of companies came up that shaped the present day French theater.

France-A Festival of Theater- It is specially meant for travelers to France, as it guides them to the various types of theater festivals going on in France.

Modern French Theaters- The document focuses on the change in the theater from the earlier times and how it shows a sign of harmony and unity contrary to the ancient times.

Learn About French Theater- The link is specially meant for theater student, who can gain an in depth study on topics related to theater and theater arts.

Asian Theater

Actor in Full Kabuki Makeup

History of Performing Arts in Asia- A historical perspective has been presented on performing arts in Asia.

Youth for Asian Theater-Youth for Asian theater is a San-Francisco based organization, which promotes Asian heritage through its theater works focusing youth issues.

Performing Arts in Japan- Read details about the origin of kabuki, Japanese Puppet Theater and other forms of performing arts in Japan

East Asia Arts- The document brings to light East Asian nations like China, Korea and Japan and the prevalence of theater and it growth.

American Theater

American Theater History- The resource goes back in time to trace the roots of the theater and how it grew.

American Theater Organ Society-Robert Hope-Jones created a whole new system of theater organ with a new electrical control system, which is explained in detail.

American Drama History- find various resources and history which led to different type of American dramas and what it has become today.

Contemporary American Theater Festival- The contemporary American theater festival is playing a major role in putting West Virginia on a national stage. The document also explains theater in America.


Modern Theater

Background of Modern Theater- The history of Modern theater saw an increase in the commercialization of arts, use of better technologies and change in the type of staged plays. These changes have been highlighted in the link.

The Theater of Today- The Theater today has immensely changed from what it was hundreds of years back, which has been focused here.

Stage Types- The different types of stages used for performances in modern day have been explained in details in this educational resource.

Timeline of Theater- The link goes through time bringing to light each and every phase of theater and its story from inception.


Modern Auditorium Seats and Stage
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