The Futurism movement began in Italy in 1909 with Filippo Marinetti and The Futurist Synthetic Theatre Manifesto. Futurist performance evenings, known as ‘serate’, were a mixture of poetry readings, visual art displays, performed plays and most important of all, manifesto readings. The Futurist play was often frighteningly short (sometimes only a moment or two in duration).
Atellan farce, or Atellanae fabulae, was improvisational comic drama in Roman times originating in the town of Atella. As with its modern counterpart, this was a form of low comedy aimed at entertaining the masses. The characters in Atellan farce each had their own mask and costume, similar to the stock characters of the Commedia dell’Arte centuries later. Atellan farce existed for over 500 years, eventually losing popularity around 200 A.D.
Vaudeville arrived in America in the 1880s and became a hugely popular form of cultural entertainment for the next fifty years. Consisting of a series of short, non-related acts on a single bill, vaudeville’s eclectic list of variety performances involved anything from live animals, jugglers, magicians and singers to comedians, dancers, clowns, and female and male impersonators. The form gradually died out due to the competing medium of motion pictures. This page contains a collection of curated resources on the history and characteristics of vaudeville.
Melodrama, derived from the Greek “melos” (music) and the French “drame” (drama), was a form of theatrical entertainment popular in Europe and America from the late 1700s to the early 1900s. While melodramatic plots were often romantic depictions of everyday life showcasing heightened emotions (stemming from earlier sentimental dramas), the staging of these was nothing short of spectacular. Characters were usually archetypal figures such as villains, victims and heroes.