Objectives of Unit I, Lecture 2: What is Theatre?
1. What is theatre? Drama?
Theatre is the place of performance, such as Aberdeen's Capitol Theatre (L) or the performance of a theatrical work, such as the 2008 Broadway musical: Legally Blonde (R).
A performance, according to Robert Cohen, is "an action, or series of actions, taken for the benefit of someone else. We call that 'someone else' the audience.'" (Cohen & Sherman, pg 14.)
Drama is the script or the text of a play. As one writer put it: "drama is on the page and theatre is on the stage."
2. What is the original source language of these two terms?
3. What is the rough English translation?
Theatre: To see.
Drama: To do.
4. Is there a difference, besides the spelling, between "theatre" and "theater"?
No. Theatre is the British spelling and theater is the American spelling. In the 1830's, Noah Webster (1758-1843), of dictionary fame, created an American spelling for a number of British words. Colour became color, centre became center, and theatre became theater. Most of those in the acting profession, many of whom were originally British, continued to use the re spelling. Today, both spellings are used in the United States. Those in the profession still generally use the re spelling, the rest of America uses the er spelling.
5. What is Robert Cohen's definition of theatre?
Robert Cohen Robert Cohen (1938- ), the lead author of our text, defines the theatre as "the live performance...of a scripted and rehearsed event" (Cohen & Sherman, pg 16). Obviously the three key words are live, performance and scripted. Scripted means the work is repeatable.
6. Who was Aristotle?
Aristotle (384-322 BCE) was a Greek critic who in The Poetics (335 BCE), (1) outlines the beginnings of drama, (2) develops a structured approach to dramatic analysis and (3) presents a definition of drama.
What is his definition of drama?
Drama is "an imitation of men in action". Three key words-- Imitation: It's not real, it's make believe. Men: Drama deals with people, men and women. Action: Something happenes. There is movement; a beginning, middle and an end.
7. According to Eric Bentley, what are the three essentials for a theatrical performance?
Eric Bentley, (1916- ), a British born drama critic, playwright, editor and translator, declares that all you need for a theatrical experience is an actor, a character (developed by the playwright in the script), and an audience.
8. According to Edwin Wilson and Alvin Goldfarb, what is the "heart of the theatre experience?"
Edwin Wilson and Alvin Goldfarb, the authors of a commonly used Introduction to Theatre text, believe that the "heart of the theatre experience" is the live relationship between the performer and the audience. "During a stage performance the actress and actors can hear laughter, can sense silence, and can feel tension in the audience. In short, the audience can affect, and in subtle ways change, the performance." (Wilson & Goldfarb, Theatre, The Lively Art, 7th ed, pg 7)
9. What are the three categories of art?
Literary (poetry, drama, fiction), visual (painting, sculpture, architecture), and performing.
10. What are the four performing arts?
Theatre, dance, opera and music.
11. What characteristics do all the performing arts have in common?
They all require a creator (playwright, composer), an interpreter (actor, dancer, singer, musician), and an audience. They also require that the interpreter and audience occupy the same space (the theatre) at the same time.
12. What are the six major elements of theatre?
Audience, script, actors, director, the theatrical space (the theatre) and the technical elements of scenery, lights, costumes and sound
13. Is theatre a pure art?
No. Theatre, in performance, is produced by the collaboration of many theatrical artists: writers, actors, directors, designers, producers, managers,... Each of these collaborators considers himself an artist.
14. What are the responsibilities of these collaborators?
at Memphsis, The Musical
Be sure to read "Photo Essay: Broadway Stage Manager Lisa Iacucci" starting on page 139 of the text.
Why does the Stage Manager call the cues? In many commercial theatres, the crew can not see or hear the actors on stage so the Stage Manager becomes their eyes and ears. Also in the commercial world, especially "on the road", the crew generally does not attend rehearsals. (It's just too expensive.) The first time they "see" the show is at the first performance. They are told, "When the Stage Manager gives you the GO, grab this rope and pull."
Why is it the Stage Manager's job to maintain the "integrity" of the show? Once the show opens, the director's job is done. From this point on, it will be the Stage Manager who will rehearse the understudy and cast replacements and give notes to the actors each night after the show.