9 September 2013
Theatre vs. Drama
While drama refers to the script, theatre is an event. It is the presentation of the script performed on a
What is Theatre?
Theatre is a reenactment of human action. It is a reenactment because it is not really happening for the
first time. Theatre is action because something must happen during the event, having a plot and
characters, unlike a painting of a sunset or a poem about a lily. Theatre needs human action, of people
Theatre requires more factors than any other art form. If one of these four factors are missing, it will
become a rehearsal, an improvisation, a play reading, a broadcast,or a film, and is not theatre. Four basic
elements for a theater event to occur:
Actors needed for the reenactment; portray characters, deliver dialogue, performing action
Script is the blueprint telling them what to say and do
Audience watching them
Place must be the same as the actors, performers and spectators gathered together, unlike TV
The Word Theatre
There are two accepted spellings of the word, theatre and theater, which is used interchangeably. Many
believe the place, theatre building, should be spelled with an er while the art form should be re. Theatre
comes from Latin and Greek words meaning “to view.” Today most theatres are indoor auditoriums, in
the past the theatre event took place outdoors. Most important thing is that actors and audience are
brought together in one place.
The Theatre Experience
Theatre is a unique experience because it always takes place in the present tense. This does not mean a
play is always set in the present, it means the story unfolds now; said vs. says. Theatre tells a story not by
narrating a tale but by reenacting it. The audience observes, picks up information about past events,
witnesses new events, watches the character in action, and is hopefully involved with the play as it builds
to the climax. Because theatre takes place in the present tense, there is much more immediacy to
watching a play than to reading a story in a book. Theatre is “literature for the illiterate.”
From Page to Stage
Prose fiction tells a story; theatre shows a story.
The Origins of Theatre
Some critics believe that theatre was a natural progression from storytelling. In prehistoric societies
figures ofauthority (IE: Priests, shamans)told storiesaloud atsomesortof gathering. Moving from telling
stories to a handful of actors showing a story is a logical step.
Other scholars argue that theatre grew out of ritual. A ritual is a ceremony of sorts that is planned,
performed, and repeated so that the spectators or participants become familiar with its words and
movements (IE: Sporting events). It is said ritual led to theatre since both involve performers, audience, and story and occur in a specified place. Most rituals are connected with religion, and most religions
require the reenactment of an event from the past or an illustration of a belief.
The first well documented Western theatre production is in ancient Greece.
Theatre as Change
plays, such as Macbeth, have been produced in different ways over the centuries.
Although one does not need education or experience to appreciate a theatre production, there are
unwritten rules and an unspoken agreement between the actors and the audience that are present in
but pretending, but we accept the pretense).
Place convention of s