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Theatre through the Ages. Greek theatre had a religious significance and an offering was always made to the gods before each performance. Plays started.

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Presentation on theme: "Theatre through the Ages. Greek theatre had a religious significance and an offering was always made to the gods before each performance. Plays started."— Presentation transcript:

1 Theatre through the Ages

2 Greek theatre had a religious significance and an offering was always made to the gods before each performance. Plays started at day break – when it was still cool. Only men could attend performances or be actors.

3 Beginning of Trojan Women by Euripedes Lo! From the depths of salt Aegean floods I, Poseidon, come, where choirs of Nereids trip in the mazes of the graceful dance

4 Elizabethan Theatre

5 Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

6 Queen Elizabeth 1 st (played by Judy Dench)

7 The new built Globe Theatre in London – Based on the original as accurately as possible.

8 Theatres were built on the north bank of the Thames – in a rather lawless area of London.

9 The flag was raised & a trumpet played to announce the play was about to start

10 The theatre was a fashionable place to go – which encourages pickpockets & other criminals to try their luck!

11 The audience was a mixture of the very rich and the very poor

12 Ladies had to beware of thieves

13 Actors were all male and many were the sons & grandsons of actors

14 A few theatres were indoors – as shown in the film ‘Shakespeare in Love’. Allowing actors to work in the winter months

15 Audiences of the time liked to join in…

16 Actors wore contemporary costume some of it donated by their wealthy patrons


18 The modern globe – showing the apron stage, balconies & modern ‘groundlings’.

19 Balcony scene from Romeo & Juliet - Shakespeare ROMEO He jests at scars that never felt a wound. JULIET appears above at a window But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun… …See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand! O, that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek! JULIET Ay me!

20 Restoration Theatre

21 Charles 2 nd was ‘restored’ to the throne after the Civil War. His father had been executed and he had spent most of his youth abroad.

22 During the rule of Thomas Cromwell all theatres had been shut – as they were ‘ungodly’ and thought to encourage vice and sin.

23 During the Commonwealth (when there had been no king) theatre, music and dance had been forbidden as sinful.

24 King Charles loved all the things that the Puritans thought sinful and ungodly. He reopened the theatres & allowed actresses for the 1 st time in Britain.

25 Restoration theatre was often wild and daring! So were the audiences

26 Nell Gwyn – one of the king’s mistresses, started off as an orange seller at the theatre

27 Plays were performed in the afternoon – in dimly lit theatres. The actors had to fight to be heard over the audience and it was not unusual for the audience to riot if they disliked the play.

28 If a play was set in the past, the actors might wear something vaguely historic on top of their ordinary dress. This is meant to be a Roman heroine…

29 The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. The stage jutted out right into the audience. There were seats but the poor still sat downstairs

30 The audience loved love stories and tragedies, but the style of acting was very exaggerated. Actors (especially actresses) had a bad reputation.

31 Actors still wore contemporary fashions – often competing with the audience for outrageousness

32 The Country Wife - Wychelry Alith. Did he not carry you yesterday to a play? Mrs. Pinch. Ay; but we sat amongst ugly people. He would not let me come near the gentry, who sat under us, so that I could not see ’em. He told me, none but naughty women sat there, whom they toused and moused. But I would have ventured, for all that. Alith. But how did you like the play? Mrs. Pinch. Indeed I was weary of the play; but I liked hugeously the actors. They are the goodliest, properest men, sister! Alith. O, but you must not like the actors, sister. Mrs. Pinch. Ay, how should I help it, sister?

33 18 th century (Georgian theatre) David Garrick playing the part of Hamlet

34 The biggest influence on Georgian theatre was David Garrick. He was an actor and a manager – so he had lots of control.

35 Garrick wasn’t happy that theatre had such a bad reputation and he set about reforming it from within. He insisted that his actors turned up for rehearsals! That they turned up for performances on time and not drunk! He tried to get the prostitutes off the stage and made sure that his actresses were respectable women

36 He also had a go at improving the quality of the audience: He stopped people leaving half way through – and selling their tickets to other people. He improved the stage lighting, so the audience could see what was happening. He provided benches for the ‘pit’ so everyone sat down. He brought Shakespeare’s plays back to the stage. He introduced a more natural way of acting.

37 The theatre became a safer place to go – and it became fashionable again. Many new playwrights started writing for the stage – witty, clever plays, but without the rudeness of the Restoration playwrights. Richard Sheridan – an 18 th century playwright

38 Actresses became more respectable

39 An 18 th century theatre

40 An extract from The Rivals by Sheridan The Rivals is a play about parents trying to arrange the marriages of their children. Neither the man or woman want to marry their parent’s choice because they are already in love with someone else! ( What they don’t realise is that both choices are the same). This is from the scene when Sir Anthony tries to tell his son Captain Absolute that he’s arranged a marriage for him…

41 Sir Anthony : Sir, you shall be master of a large estate in a few weeks. Captain Absolute: Let my future life, sir, speak my gratitude—Yet, sir, I presume you would not wish me to quit the army? Sir Anth. Oh, that shall be as your wife chooses. Abs. My wife, sir! Sir Anth. Ay, a wife—why, did not I mention her before? Abs. Not a word of her, sir. Sir Anth. Odd so!—I mustn’t forget her—Yes, Jack, the independence I was talking of is by marriage—the fortune is saddled with a wife—but I suppose that makes no difference. Abs. Sir! sir!—you amaze me! Sir Anth. Why, what the devil’s the matter with the fool? Just now you were all gratitude and duty. Abs. I was, sir—you talked to me of independence and a fortune, but not a word of a wife. Sir Anth. Why—what difference does that make? Odds life, sir! if you have the estate, you must take it with the live stock on it, as it stands.

42 Victorian Theatre

43 Queen Victoria ruled for over 70 years. During this time there were many social changes

44 Theatre was still popular with the whole population


46 Theatres were still places to meet friends & socialise – especially if you could afford a box

47 The Alhambra Theatre in Bradford was built at the turn of the 20 th century



50 Victorians liked happy fairytale endings and the sets and costumes were often rich and decorative.

51 The Victorians found some of Shakespeare’s plays and language rather rough and vulgar. They censored some of the plays making them more suitable for a Victorian audience.

52 Stages were more set back from the audience

53 Theatre was meant to be ‘improving’ and educational – rather than earthy & real!

54 Romeo and Juliet was performed in a highly sentimental way – often with complex scenery and many ‘extras’.

55 The painting of the time give us an idea of what the scenery, painted backdrops and acting style might have been like.

56 The Victorians found the tragedy in Shakespeare’s plays too savage

57 Some productions actually had Juliet waking up just in time to save Romeo from death!

58 20 th Century British Theatre

59 The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, built in the 1920’s was very modern at the time.

60 Theatre seen from the stage

61 The audience was much closer to the stage

62 20 th century productions tried to relate Shakespeare’s plays to the modern audience – which some theatre goers still find disturbing!


64 The musical ‘West Side Story’ which was made into a major film reinterpreted the play for a modern audience



67 The death scene was changed to Romeo being stabbed in the street – Juliet surviving

68 Franco Zaferelli directed a film version of the play in the 1960s. He used actual Italian locations & believably young actors. The film was a huge hit with a wide audience unfamiliar with Shakespeare.


70 Directors in the 20 th century tried to make the play relevant to modern audiences. Romeo & Juliet were kept apart by racial & cultural barriers – issues that modern audiences can relate to.

71 Baz LuhrmannBaz Luhrmann’s 1996 version starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Leonardo DiCaprioClaire Danes

72 The action was transferred to a modern version of reality, with mafia- style families vying for power. Again, the film was very popular with people who would not normally go to the theatre.

73 Where next?

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