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Encyclopedia of Theatre Styles and Genres: 300+ Fascinating Entries

This encyclopedia includes entries for over 300 theatre styles and genres from a range of historical periods, cultures and traditions. From Expressionism to Eclectic Theatre, from Participatory Theatre to Performance Art, from Naturalism to the Nativity Play, it should prove useful for students, teachers, and theatre artists, alike.

Theatre Styles and Genres

Absurdism

See Theatre of the Absurd.

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African American Theatre

African American theatre refers to theatrical productions created by and featuring African American people. It has a rich and complex history that dates back to the early 19th century when African American actors first began performing on stage in the United States.

Theatre played an important role in the African American community during the period of slavery, as it was one of the few forms of entertainment and self-expression available to enslaved people. In the decades following the Civil War, African American theatre flourished, with black-owned and operated theatre companies springing up in major cities across the United States.

During the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, African American theatre experienced a resurgence, with playwrights and performers exploring issues of race, identity, and culture in their work. Since then, African American theatre has continued to thrive, with productions ranging from classic plays by August Wilson and Lorraine Hansberry to contemporary works that explore a wide range of themes and issues affecting the black community.

Agitprop Theatre

Agitprop theatre, originating in the early 20th century, is a form of political propaganda theatre that emerged in the Soviet Union, specifically designed to agitate and propagate the ideals of communism. The term itself is a portmanteau of “agitation” and “propaganda,” reflecting its dual purpose of rousing the audience to a specific political cause while educating them about the ideology behind it. This genre of theatre was developed during a tumultuous period marked by the Russian Revolution of 1917, serving as a tool for the Bolsheviks to communicate and promote their revolutionary ideas to the masses. Agitprop theatre groups, often mobile, utilised simple and direct messages, engaging with audiences in public spaces such as streets, factories, and farms, aiming to make political messages as accessible and influential as possible.

The characteristics of agitprop theatre are distinct in their simplicity, directness, and integration of various performance elements. Performances are typically short, precise in their message, and designed to be easily understandable to people of all educational backgrounds. Humour and satire are typical, making the content relatable and engaging. Visually, agitprop theatre relies on minimalistic sets and costumes, emphasising the message over theatrical aesthetics. Music and songs often reinforce the themes and messages, making them memorable to the audience. The participatory nature of agitprop performances encourages the audience to engage actively with the content, blurring the lines between performers and spectators and fostering a sense of community and collective action towards the promoted cause.

Examples of agitprop theatre can be found globally, adapting to the political and social contexts of different times and places. In the Soviet Union, the Blue Blouse troupes were among the most famous, performing sketches and scenes that depicted socialist achievements and criticised capitalist systems. Beyond the Soviet borders, agitprop theatre found resonance in various social movements throughout the 20th century, including in the United States during the Great Depression, with groups like the Federal Theatre Project incorporating elements of agitprop into their productions to address social and economic injustices. In more recent times, agitprop theatre has evolved to include digital media, but its essence remains the same: to use performance as a means of political engagement, education, and transformation.

Allegorical Drama

Commonplace during the Middle Ages, allegorical dramas used symbolic characters such as Faith, Hope, Charity, Pride, Envy, or Sloth, to represent abstract concepts, virtues, or vices, in the process conveying moral and religious messages to the audience. They were often performed in cycles, consisting of a series of plays. Performers included the guilds of craftsmen and tradesmen, who would each be responsible for staging one or more plays in the cycle.

The allegorical play was an important form of drama in the Middle Ages because it allowed the Church to communicate moral and religious messages to the largely illiterate population. Through the use of allegory, these plays could convey complex theological concepts in a way that was accessible and entertaining for the audience. The most famous example of an allegorical drama is the anonymously written play Everyman (c.1510).

Alternative Theatre

Alternative theatre refers to any form of theatrical production that falls outside of the mainstream, commercial theatre industry. It typically refers to smaller, more experimental, and often more politically or socially engaged productions that challenge the conventions of traditional theatre.

Alternative theatre can take many forms, including performance art, physical theatre, puppetry, devised theatre, and site-specific theatre. These productions may be performed in non-traditional venues, such as warehouses, galleries, or public spaces, and sometimes involve audience participation or interaction. Alternative theatre often explores different forms of expression and challenges the status quo.

Amateur Theatre

See Community Theatre.

American Realism

American Realism in theatre emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, diverging sharply from the melodramatic productions of its time. This movement, aligning with realism in literature and art, sought to accurately portray everyday life and society’s issues, influenced by significant social changes, industrialisation, and urbanisation in the United States.

Playwrights and practitioners of American Realism aimed to present human behaviour without embellishment. They provided audiences with a reflective look at their own lives and environments. The works of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen were notably influential, prompting American playwrights to pursue similarly realistic narratives.

The defining characteristics of American Realism include detailed sets, authentic dialogue, and complex characters accurately mirroring real life on stage. Authenticity in acting was prioritised, focusing on genuine emotion rather than exaggerated theatrics. The themes often revolved around family dynamics, social issues, and moral dilemmas, urging audiences to reflect on their own values. This movement spotlighted the struggles of everyday individuals, especially the working class, addressing poverty, race, and gender inequality and making theatre a medium for social critique.

Examples of American Realism abound with works from renowned playwrights like Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams, and Arthur Miller. O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” delves into family and despair, setting a benchmark for realism in American drama. Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” and Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” highlight character depth and social critique, becoming cornerstones of American theatre.

Applied Theatre

Applied Theatre is a form of theatre that seeks to use techniques and principles to address social, cultural, and political issues and effect positive change in individuals, communities, and society. It is a practice-oriented field that applies theatrical approaches and methods to non-theatrical settings, such as schools, prisons, hospitals, community centres, and other public spaces.

Applied theatre can include community theatre, theatre in education, theatre for development, and participatory theatre. It can involve various techniques, such as role-play, improvisation, forum theatre, and storytelling. The primary goal of applied theatre is to engage participants in an active and reflective process that leads to personal and social transformation.

Applied theatre can address various issues, including social justice, health, education, environment, and human rights. It can facilitate dialogue and understanding among diverse groups, promote empowerment and agency, and create spaces for marginalized voices to be heard.

Aqua Drama

Aqua Drama was a form of theatrical entertainment that became popular in the 19th century. It was a type of spectacle that combined drama, music, and water effects, usually performed in a large tank or pool on stage. The performers would act out scenes (which were often naval battles) and perform music while splashing, diving, and swimming in the water.

Aqua Drama originated in France in the 1820s and soon became popular in other European countries, particularly in Germany, where it was known as Wasserspiele (water plays). The genre reached its peak of popularity in the mid-19th century, but it gradually declined in the latter half of the century as other forms of entertainment became more popular.

Atellan Farce

Atellan Farce was a form of ancient Roman comedy that originated in the town of Atella, near Naples, Italy, around the 4th century BCE. Atellan Farce was a popular theatrical genre that often involved slapstick humour, physical comedy, and satirical commentary on contemporary society and politics.

The performances usually featured stock characters such as Maccus, the cunning and mischievous slave; Bucco, the greedy and gluttonous fool; Pappus, the bumbling old man; and Dossennus, the boastful soldier. These characters wore masks and costumes that emphasized their distinguishing traits and provided opportunities for exaggerated gestures and physical comedy.

Atellan Farce often included improvised elements, and actors might use their own experiences and observations to create topical jokes and satirical commentary. The genre was influential in the development of later forms of comedy, including commedia dell’arte in Italy and medieval farce in Europe.

Today, few examples of Atellan Farce survive, but its influence can still be seen in the comedic traditions of theatre and performance around the world.

Autobiographical Play

An autobiographical play is a theatrical production that tells the story of the playwright’s own life or experiences. It is a genre of theatre that allows playwrights to explore their personal stories, memories, and experiences on stage.

Autobiographical plays often feature the playwright as a character in the story, and they may also include other characters based on real people from the playwright’s life. These plays can range from humorous and lighthearted to serious and emotionally intense, depending on the subject matter and tone of the playwright’s story.

The use of autobiographical material in theatre can create a powerful connection between the audience and the playwright, as the story being told is often deeply personal and relatable to the audience’s own experiences. Autobiographical plays can also be a powerful tool for social and political commentary, as they can shed light on issues and experiences that may not otherwise be represented in mainstream theatre.

Auto Sacramental

Auto sacramental theatre is a type of Spanish religious drama that originated in the 17th century. It consists of a one-act play that is usually performed during the Corpus Christi celebrations, which commemorate the Catholic belief in the transubstantiation of the Eucharist.

Auto sacramentals typically feature allegorical characters that represent theological concepts, such as Grace, Faith, and Sin. The plays often centre around a conflict between these characters, with the outcome ultimately illustrating a lesson or moral message.

Auto sacramental theatre was popular in Spain during the Baroque period and continued to be performed in Spanish-speaking countries for centuries. The plays were often accompanied by music and dance, and the elaborate costumes and sets were meant to dazzle the audience and enhance the religious experience.

Some of the most famous Spanish playwrights of the auto sacramental genre include Pedro Calderón de la Barca and Lope de Vega.

Avant-Garde Theatre

Avant-garde theatre is a form of experimental theatre that pushes the boundaries of traditional theatrical styles, often in terms of conventions, structure, content, and performance techniques. It emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century as a response to the perceived limitations of naturalistic and realistic theatre.

Avant-garde theatre often seeks to challenge the audience’s expectations and assumptions about theatre, by incorporating unconventional elements such as non-linear narratives, fragmented dialogue, abstract imagery, surrealism, and minimalism. It may also incorporate unconventional performance techniques such as improvisation, audience participation, and multimedia elements.

Examples of avant-garde theatre include the works of playwrights and directors such as Samuel Beckett, Antonin Artaud, Jerzy Grotowski, and Robert Wilson, among others.

Ballad Opera

Ballad operas were a type of musical play that combined spoken dialogue with songs that were often borrowed from popular folk tunes and given new lyrics to fit the story being told. They typically satirised social and political issues of the day and were known for their comedic and often bawdy nature. One of the most famous examples of a ballad opera is The Beggar’s Opera by John Gay, which premiered in 1728. Bertolt Brecht’s play The Threepenny Opera (1928) is based on this work.

Beijing Opera

Beijing Opera, also known as Peking Opera, is a traditional Chinese theatrical art form that combines music, vocal performance, mime, dance, and acrobatics. It originated in the late 18th century in the capital city of Peking and quickly became one of China’s most popular forms of entertainment.

Beijing Opera tells stories from Chinese history, folklore, and literature, and features a distinctive style of singing and acting that emphasises the performer’s skill and artistry. The music in Beijing Opera is typically performed on traditional Chinese instruments, such as the erhu, pipa, and bamboo flute, and includes a variety of melodies and rhythms.

The performers in Beijing Opera wear elaborate costumes and makeup, with different colours and patterns used to indicate the character’s gender, age, and social status. The movements and gestures used in Beijing Opera are highly stylised and symbolic, with each action representing a particular emotion or meaning.

Biographical Play

A biographical play is a form of theatre that tells the story of a person’s life. It usually dramatises key events, experiences, and relationships from the person’s life, and aims to provide a deeper understanding of their character, motivations, and impact on history or society.

Biographical plays can be based on famous individuals, such as political figures, artists, writers, musicians, or scientists, or on less well-known individuals who have made important contributions to their communities or fields of endeavour.

Examples of biographical works include “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which tells the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton, and “The Lion in Winter” by James Goldman, which focuses on the complex relationship between King Henry II of England and his family.

Biomechanics

Biomechanics for the theatre was spearheaded by Russian theatre director and actor Vsevolod Meyerhold, who studied under the renowned Russian theatre practitioner Constantin Stanislavski.

Meyerhold was heavily influenced by Stanislavski’s ideas on physical expression and movement. He believed that the body was the primary tool for an actor and that an actor’s movement on stage was essential in conveying the character’s emotions and intentions to the audience. He believed that an actor’s physical movements should be deliberate, precise, and expressive and that the body could be trained to perform these movements with greater ease and grace.

Meyerhold developed a series of exercises and techniques, known as biomechanics, designed to train actors in precise and expressive movements, focusing on body control, balance, coordination, and flexibility. They included movements such as jumps, rolls, and falls, as well as more complex movements such as acrobatics and lifts. Biomechanics has been influential in the development of modern physical theatre.

Blackface Theatre

Blackface theatre was a form of entertainment popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States, in which white performers would darken their faces with makeup and caricature stereotypical depictions of Black people. The performances typically included singing, dancing, and comedic sketches, often portraying Black people as lazy, ignorant, and overly emotional.

The use of blackface in theatre was deeply offensive and harmful to Black people, perpetuating negative stereotypes and reinforcing racial hierarchies. It was also part of a broader cultural trend of racial segregation and discrimination in the United States. Blackface performances have largely disappeared from mainstream entertainment.

Black Box Theatre

See Chamber Theatre.

Black Comedy

A black comedy is a type of comedy that often deals with dark or taboo subject matter such as death, violence, or disease. It is characterised by a humourous or satirical approach to these topics, often using irony, sarcasm, or other forms of dark humour. Black comedies can be found in literature, film, television, and theatre, and they are often used to challenge traditional norms and values or to critique society and its institutions.

Black Light Theatre

Black light theatre is a form of theatrical performance that originated in the 1950s in Prague, Czech Republic. It is a type of visual theatre that uses black curtains, a darkened stage, and special UV lighting to create an illusion of objects and performers moving in space without visible support or manipulation.

In a black light theatre performance, the performers dress in black clothing and use fluorescent props and puppets that glow in the dark under UV light. The UV light makes the props and puppets appear to float and move by themselves, while the performers, who are dressed in black, remain invisible to the audience.

The performance is accompanied by music, narration, and sound effects to create a magical and surreal atmosphere. Black light theatre is often used to create visual spectacles that are impossible to achieve in traditional theatre and can be used to convey a range of themes, from comedic to serious.

Black Theatre

Black theatre refers to the theatrical productions, performances, and plays that are created by and for the Black community, often dealing with themes of Black culture, identity, and experiences. Black theatre emerged as a response to the underrepresentation of Black voices in mainstream theatre and the need for a space where Black artists could tell their own stories.

Black theatre encompasses a range of styles and genres, from traditional African storytelling and music to contemporary works that incorporate elements of hip-hop, spoken word, and multimedia. It also includes plays and musicals that explore historical events, social issues, and political struggles related to the Black experience.

Black theatre has played an important role in promoting cultural awareness, social justice, and community building among Black audiences. It has also contributed to the diversity and richness of American theatre.

Book Musical

A book musical is a type of musical theatre production that tells a story through songs, dialogue, and dance. It is called a “book” musical because it has a scripted story or book that forms the basis of the production.

The songs in a book musical are not standalone pieces but are written specifically for the show and serve to advance the plot or reveal character. A book musical typically consists of well-developed characters with clear motivations and desires. The music, dance, and production design are all integrated to create a cohesive theatrical experience that aims to engage the audience emotionally.

Examples of well-known book musicals include West Side Story, The Sound of Music, Les Misérables, and Hamilton.

Theatre Styles Musical West Side Story

Boulevard Drama

The boulevard drama was a type of theatrical genre that emerged in the 19th century, particularly in France. It was characterized by a highly structured plot that relied on a series of carefully orchestrated revelations and twists, as well as a focus on creating a believable illusion of reality through detailed sets, costumes, and dialogue.

The term “boulevard” refers to the wide, tree-lined avenues in Paris where many of these plays were first performed. Boulevard dramas were often set in the fashionable, upper-class world of Parisian society, and the plot typically revolved around a central secret or scandal that threatened to disrupt the characters’ lives. The plays often featured a surprise twist at the end, which was designed to provide a satisfying resolution to the story.

Some of the most famous examples of boulevard drama include The Corsican Brothers by Alexandre Dumas, Frou-Frou by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy, and The Lady From Maxims by Georges Feydeau. Although the genre was popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it eventually fell out of fashion as audiences began to favour more experimental and avant-garde forms of theatre.

Bourgeois Drama

Bourgeois drama is a type of theatrical genre that emerged in the 19th century and reflects the lives, values, and conflicts of the middle class or bourgeoisie. This form of drama often focuses on interpersonal relationships, family dynamics, and the pursuit of material success and social status.

Bourgeois drama typically features characters who are concerned with their social standing and economic well-being. The plays explore the tensions and contradictions that arise when individuals are forced to choose between their personal desires and their obligations to society and their families. Often, the characters in bourgeois dramas struggle with issues such as infidelity, divorce, and social conformity.

Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House” and Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” are excellent examples of bourgeois drama.

Boutique Theatre

See Intimate Theatre.

Broadway Theatre

While not a theatrical genre or style, Broadway theatre refers to theatrical productions that are staged in the commercial theatres located in the Theatre District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Manhattan, New York City.

Broadway theatre is often associated with musicals, but it also encompasses non-musical plays, one-person shows, and other types of performances. Broadway shows are known for their high production values, elaborate sets and costumes, and top-notch performers.

To be considered a Broadway production, a show must be presented in a theatre with a seating capacity of at least 500 and run for a minimum of 8 performances a week for at least 1 week. These productions are typically funded by investors, with the goal of earning a profit by attracting large audiences.

Broadway theatre has a rich history, with its origins dating back to the late 19th century. It has become a cultural institution and a symbol of American theatre, attracting audiences from all over the world.

Bunraku

Bunraku is a traditional form of Japanese puppet theatre that has been performed for over 400 years.

Bunraku puppets are large, about half the size of a human, and are operated by three puppeteers. One puppeteer manipulates the head and right arm, another manipulates the left arm, and a third operates the legs and feet. The puppeteers are dressed in black, and are visible on stage, moving the puppets in unison with the music and the narrator.

Bunraku performances typically tell historical or legendary stories, often with themes of love and tragedy. The narration is undertaken by a single person, who speaks all the parts, while a shamisen player provides musical accompaniment.

Burlesque

Burlesque is a form of theatrical entertainment that originated in the 19th century and has undergone several transformations over time. At its core, burlesque is a type of comedy that exaggerates, parodies, or satirises different aspects of popular culture, such as music, dance, theatre, or politics.

In its early years, burlesque shows were considered somewhat risqué and often featured bawdy humour, scantily clad performers, and sexually suggestive themes. These shows were typically performed in theatres or vaudeville venues and were often accompanied by live music.

Butoh

Butoh is a type of avant-garde dance and theatre that originated in Japan in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It was developed by a group of Japanese artists who were interested in creating a new, experimental form of dance and theatre that rejected traditional forms and techniques.

Butoh is characterised by slow, controlled movements, often performed with a hunched or contorted posture. Performers in butoh often wear white body paint or other types of body makeup, which emphasizes their movements and expressions.

The themes explored in Butoh are often dark and taboo, including death, decay, and other aspects of the human experience that are typically considered uncomfortable or unsettling. Butoh is often described as a way of exploring the depths of the human psyche and expressing emotions that are difficult to put into words.

Butoh is a highly improvisational and experimental art form, and its performers often draw on a wide range of influences, including Japanese dance and theatre traditions, as well as contemporary art and culture.

Cabaret

A cabaret is a form of live entertainment that features a combination of music, dance, comedy, and drama. It is typically performed in a nightclub or restaurant setting, and the performances are usually intimate, interactive, and often provocative.

Cabaret shows often include a variety of acts, such as singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, and other performers. The performances are usually presented in a sequence of short pieces, with each act providing a different type of entertainment.

The origins of cabaret can be traced back to 19th-century Paris, where it was originally a form of entertainment for wealthy patrons. Over time, cabaret evolved to include a wider range of performers and became popular in other cities around the world.

Cabaret Voltaire

Cabaret Voltaire was a pioneering artistic movement that emerged in Zurich, Switzerland in 1916, during World War I. It was founded by a group of avant-garde artists, including Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Tristan Tzara, and Marcel Janco, who sought to challenge traditional cultural norms and express their opposition to the war.

Hugo Ball - Karawane

Cabaret Voltaire quickly became a hub of artistic experimentation, where artists, writers, poets, and musicians would gather to exchange ideas, perform and collaborate on new works. The performances at the Cabaret Voltaire often included poetry readings, music, dance, and experimental theatre, which were designed to provoke and challenge the audience’s perceptions.

Cape-and-Sword Play

A cape and sword play, also known as a swashbuckler, is a type of play that typically features heroic and romantic characters engaged in adventurous and daring feats. The term “cape and sword” refers to the costume of the main characters.

Cape and sword plays were especially popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, particularly in France and Spain. These plays typically featured chivalrous knights, daring pirates, and adventurous noblemen engaged in sword fights, rescuing damsels in distress, and performing other daring feats.

Chamber Play

A chamber play is a type of play that typically involves a small cast of characters and a relatively small and intimate setting such as a single room or a few interconnected rooms. The term “chamber” refers to the idea of a private space, typically a room within a larger building.

In a chamber play, the focus is usually on the relationships and interactions between the characters, rather than on elaborate sets or costumes. Because the setting is often limited, the character’s actions and words take on greater importance.

Chamber plays have been popular since the early 20th century, particularly in Europe. Some well-known examples of chamber plays include August Strindberg’s Miss Julie, Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull, and Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie.

Chamber Theatre

Chamber Theatre is a form of theatrical performance that takes place in a small, intimate space, often a room or chamber, rather than a large stage. This type of theatre is characterised by its simplicity, minimalism, and focus on character and dialogue.

Chamber Theatre is also sometimes called “black box theatre” or “studio theatre,” as it typically takes place in a simple, unadorned black box or studio space with a few basic props and set pieces. This allows the audience to focus on the actors and their performances, as well as the dialogue and story being presented.

The performances in Chamber Theatre are often highly engaging and immersive, as the close proximity of the audience to the actors creates a sense of intimacy and immediacy. This form of theatre can be used to stage a wide range of productions, from classic plays to experimental works, and can be an effective way to showcase emerging artists and new works in a more intimate setting.

Children’s Theatre

Children’s theatre is a form of live theatre that is specifically created and performed for young audiences, typically ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers. The content and style of children’s theatre productions are often tailored to the developmental needs and interests of children, using storytelling, songs, puppetry, and other interactive elements to engage and entertain young viewers.

Children’s theatre can take many forms, from adaptations of classic fairy tales and children’s books to original works that explore contemporary issues and themes. Productions may be performed in traditional theatre spaces or in alternative venues such as schools, community centres, or parks. Some children’s theatre productions may also incorporate educational elements, such as lessons on history, science, or social skills.

Chronicle Play

A chronicle play is a type of historical drama that was popular in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. It typically presents a dramatised version of a historical event or a series of events, often using verse and prose. The name “chronicle play” comes from the fact that the source material for these plays was often taken from chronicles, or historical accounts, of the period.

Chronicle plays were typically characterised by their emphasis on historical accuracy, their use of multiple plotlines, and their incorporation of real-life historical figures into the action. Many chronicle plays also included elements of spectacle, such as elaborate stage effects and large-scale battles.

Some well-known examples of chronicle plays include Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” and “Henry V,” Marlowe’s “Edward II,” and Middleton’s “A Game at Chess.”

Christmas Pageant

See Nativity Play.

Chuanqi

Chuanqi is a genre of Chinese theatrical drama that was popular during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The term “chuanqi” means “transmitted tale” or “marvellous tale,” and it refers to plays that were characterized by their complex plots, multiple subplots, and intricate characters.

Chuanqi plays often involved themes of love, revenge, and political intrigue, and they were known for their poetic language, colourful imagery, and dramatic action. The stories were usually based on historical events, legends, or folk tales, and they were intended to entertain and educate the audience.

One of the most famous chuanqi plays is “The Peony Pavilion” by Tang Xianzu, which tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a scholar in a dream and dies of lovesickness. The play is notable for its lyrical poetry, vivid imagery, and use of dream imagery to explore the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

Chuanqi plays were performed on elaborate stages with intricate sets, costumes, and props, and they often incorporated music, dance, acrobatics, and martial arts.

Church Drama

Church drama is a type of theatrical performance that is typically staged in a religious context, often as part of a church service or other religious event. It can be a powerful way to convey messages or stories from the Bible or other religious texts and to inspire and engage the audience.

Church drama can take many different forms, from short skits or vignettes to longer plays or musicals. It can be performed by members of the congregation or by professional actors and may involve music, dance, or other performance elements.

The content of church drama can vary widely depending on the message or theme being conveyed. It might explore topics such as forgiveness, redemption, or faith, or it might tell a specific story from the Bible or other religious texts.

City Comedy

City Comedy refers to a genre of English drama that was popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. This type of comedy was mainly performed in London and other urban areas, and it typically featured characters who were from the middle and lower classes of society.

City Comedy often depicted the bustling life of London, with its crowds, noise, and various social classes. The plays typically included lively and colourful characters, witty dialogue, and often featured elements of satire, poking fun at the follies and pretensions of the city’s inhabitants.

City comedies were an important form of entertainment during the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras, and many of the great playwrights of the time, such as Ben Jonson and Thomas Middleton, wrote plays in this genre. The plays were often performed at the city’s many public theatres, such as the Globe and the Rose, and were popular with audiences of all social classes.

Classical Drama

Classical drama refers to a type of theatre that originated in ancient Greece in the 5th century BC and was later adopted by the Romans. It typically involves a performance in which actors portray characters who engage in dialogue, often in verse or poetry, and enact a plot that follows a strict structure and set of conventions.

Classical drama is characterised by its adherence to formalized rules and techniques, including the use of a chorus, a group of actors who provide commentary on the action, and the strict observance of the three unities: time, place, and action. These unities dictate that the action of the play should take place in a single location, over a short period of time, and should have a single, unified plot.

Classical drama often deals with themes that are universal and timeless, such as love, power, revenge, and tragedy. Some of the most famous works of classical drama include plays by playwrights such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides in Greece and by writers such as Plautus and Terence in Rome.

Closet Drama

Closet drama is a type of play that is not intended to be performed on stage but is meant to be read privately. “Closet” in this context refers to a private room, often a study or a small room, where people would go to read or write in solitude. Closet dramas were popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, particularly in England and France.

Unlike stage plays, closet dramas are written primarily for the reader, not the audience. They often contain long soliloquies, philosophical reflections, and complex language that would be difficult to convey on stage. Closet dramas also tend to have a more literary style, with elaborate imagery and metaphors.

Famous examples of closet dramas include John Milton’s Samson Agonistes, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, and Lord Byron’s Manfred. While these plays were not originally intended for performance, some have been adapted for the stage in modern times.

Clown Theatre

Clown theatre is a genre of theatrical performance that emphasizes physical comedy, absurdity, and audience engagement. It typically features one or more performers, known as clowns, who use a range of theatrical techniques to entertain and engage the audience.

In clown theatre, the performers often wear brightly coloured costumes, exaggerated makeup, and other visual elements that accentuate their physicality and presence on stage. They may use props, music, and other elements of physical comedy to create a lively and engaging performance that combines humour, spectacle, and improvisation.

One of the defining features of clown theatre is its focus on direct audience interaction. The performers may address the audience directly, involve audience members in the performance, or even invite them onto the stage to participate in the show. This creates a sense of intimacy and connection between the performers and the audience, and can make for a highly memorable and engaging theatrical experience.

Collage Drama

Collage drama is a type of theatre that uses a montage or collage of different elements, such as dialogue, music, movement, and visual imagery, to create a theatrical experience. This form of theatre typically employs non-linear storytelling and often incorporates multimedia elements, such as video projections or audio recordings.

In collage drama, the various elements are juxtaposed and overlaid to create a larger thematic whole. This can involve the integration of different historical or cultural perspectives, as well as the exploration of multiple viewpoints on a particular topic or issue.

Collage drama is often associated with experimental theatre and is used by playwrights and directors as a way to challenge traditional notions of narrative structure and character development. It can be a powerful tool for exploring complex or controversial topics, as it allows for a more free-flowing and non-prescriptive approach to storytelling.

Comedia Nueva

Comedia nueva, also known as the “New Comedy,” was a theatrical genre that emerged in Spain in the late 18th century. It was characterized by a focus on realism, everyday characters, and contemporary themes, in contrast to the more formal and stylized dramas that had dominated Spanish theatre in the preceding centuries.

The origins of comedia nueva can be traced back to the Enlightenment, which emphasized reason, science, and empirical observation. The playwrights of this period sought to create works that reflected the changing social and political landscape of Spain, as well as the new ideas and values of the Enlightenment.

One of the most important figures in the development of comedia nueva was Leandro Fernández de Moratín, who wrote plays such as “El sí de las niñas” (“The Maiden’s Consent”) and “La comedia nueva” (“The New Comedy”). These works were notable for their wit, humour, and realistic portrayal of everyday life.

Comedia nueva was also characterised by a focus on language and dialogue, with playwrights seeking to create naturalistic and authentic speech patterns for their characters. This often involved incorporating colloquialisms and regional dialects into the dialogue, as well as exploring the nuances of social interaction and interpersonal relationships.

Comedy

Comedy in the context of theatre refers to a type of performance that is intended to make the audience laugh or find humour in the situation or dialogue presented on stage. Comedy is a genre of dramatic art that typically features amusing or ridiculous situations, humorous dialogue, and exaggerated characters.

Comedy can take many forms, from slapstick and physical humour to witty wordplay and satire. Some comedies are structured as farces or comedies of errors, where misunderstandings and miscommunications lead to chaotic and humorous situations. Other comedies may focus on social or political satire, using humour to comment on contemporary issues and critique societal norms and values.

In theatre, comedy often involves the use of exaggerated gestures, facial expressions, and vocal inflections to enhance the comedic effect. Actors may also use improvisation and audience interaction to further engage the audience and create a lively and entertaining atmosphere.

Comedy of Character

A comedy of character, also known as a character comedy, is a type of theatrical comedy that relies on the unique personalities, traits, and quirks of the characters to create humour. In this type of comedy, the characters’ individual flaws, behaviours, and mannerisms are exaggerated for comedic effect. Comedy is often derived from the clash of different characters with conflicting personalities, or the absurdity of certain traits or actions.

Comedies of character were particularly popular in the 17th and 18th centuries, especially in French theatre, where the genre was known as “comédie de mœurs” or “comédie de caractère.” Famous examples include Molière’s “The Misanthrope” and “Tartuffe,” which feature exaggerated, larger-than-life characters that are both comical and satirical.

Comedy of Humours

A comedy of humours was a popular form of comedy in the theatre in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, particularly in Elizabethan and Jacobean England. It was a type of character-driven comedy that focused on the absurd and exaggerated behaviours of characters, who were defined by their particular “humour” or personality trait.

The idea of the four humours, or bodily fluids (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile), was a popular concept in medieval and Renaissance medicine. According to this theory, each person had a unique balance of the four humours that determined their physical and mental characteristics.

In a comedy of humours, the characters were often caricatures, with exaggerated and sometimes ridiculous personalities that were determined by their dominant humour. For example, a character with an excess of black bile might be melancholy and morose, while a character with an excess of yellow bile might be hot-tempered and rash.

The humour-based characters in a comedy of humours were often involved in intricate plots and subplots that led to misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and other comedic situations. These plays were popular with audiences of the time and were written by playwrights such as Ben Jonson and George Chapman.

Comedy of Ideas

A comedy of ideas is a genre of theatre that focuses on exploring and satirizing intellectual or philosophical concepts through humour. The term is often associated with the works of the playwrights of the 18th-century Enlightenment era, such as Moliere, Voltaire, and Beaumarchais.

In a comedy of ideas, the humour often comes from characters who embody different intellectual positions or beliefs and who engage in witty dialogue, debate, and repartee. These plays often take on weighty subjects such as politics, morality, religion, and society, but do so in a lighthearted and entertaining way.

For example, Moliere’s play “Tartuffe” satirizes religious hypocrisy and the dangers of blindly following religious leaders, while Voltaire’s “Candide” skewers philosophical optimism and the idea that we live in the “best of all possible worlds.”

Comedy of Intrigue

The Comedy of Intrigue, also known as the Comedy of Machiavellianism, was a popular form of comedy in theatre that emerged in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. This genre of comedy is characterized by its focus on political power struggles, cunning scheming, and deceitful manipulation.

In a Comedy of Intrigue, the plot often revolves around the schemes of a cunning and manipulative character who is trying to gain power or achieve their goals through deceitful means. These characters are usually aristocrats, politicians, or other figures of authority who use their social status and influence to manipulate the other characters in the play.

The dialogue in a Comedy of Intrigue is often witty and fast-paced, with characters engaging in verbal sparring and clever wordplay to outmaneuver their opponents. The humour in these plays often comes from the absurdity of the situations that arise from the characters’ schemes and the irony of their ultimate failure or comeuppance.

Famous examples of Comedy of Intrigue include William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and “All’s Well That Ends Well”, as well as works by French playwrights Molière and Pierre de Marivaux.

Comedy of Manners

Comedy of manners (sometimes known as comedy of morals) is a genre of theatrical comedy that became popular in the late 17th century in England. It is characterized by witty dialogue, social satire, and a focus on the manners, social norms, and behaviour of the upper classes. It highlights the absurdity and superficiality of high society while entertaining audiences with clever wit and satire.

Comedy of manners often involves a romantic plot and typically features characters who are members of the aristocracy or upper middle class. The humour often arises from the characters’ preoccupation with status, reputation, and etiquette, and their tendency to judge others based on these factors. The characters may also engage in clever wordplay, irony, and sarcasm.

One of the most famous examples of a comedy of manners is Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest.” In this play, the character’s preoccupation with social status and the conventions of courtship lead to a series of misunderstandings and comic situations.

Commedia dell’Arte

Commedia dell’arte is a form of improvised theatre that originated in Italy during the 16th century and was popular throughout Europe until the 18th century. The term “commedia dell’arte” literally means “comedy of art,” which reflects the high level of skill and creativity required of the performers.

The origins of commedia dell’arte are somewhat uncertain, but it is believed to have emerged from a variety of popular theatrical traditions in Italy, including the masked comedies of ancient Rome and the travelling bands of improvisational actors who performed in the piazzas and marketplaces of medieval Italy.

The first recorded performances of commedia dell’arte date back to the 16th century, when troupes of actors began to perform in the courts of Italian nobles. These early performances were characterized by their use of stock characters, or archetypes, who were recognizable to audiences across Italy. The most famous of these characters include Arlecchino (Harlequin), Pantalone (an old miser), and Pulcinella (a hunchbacked clown).

Commedia dell’arte quickly spread throughout Europe, with troupes of Italian actors touring France, Spain, England, and other countries. As the art form evolved, it became more sophisticated, with actors developing elaborate scenarios and improvising dialogue to suit their characters.

Community Theatre

Community theatre refers to theatrical performances and productions that are created and performed by members of a community, often for the entertainment and enjoyment of the community itself. Unlike professional theatre, which is typically produced by trained actors and artists for commercial purposes, community theatre is often created by amateur performers who have a passion for theatre and want to share their love of the art form with others in their community.

Community theatre productions can range from small-scale productions put on by local schools or community groups to larger productions staged in professional theatres. They may include musicals, plays, and other forms of performance art, and can be adapted to suit the interests and abilities of the community members involved.

In addition to providing entertainment for the community, community theatre can also serve as a valuable outlet for artistic expression and creativity, as well as an opportunity for individuals to develop their skills in theatre production and performance. It can also foster a sense of community spirit and bring people together in a shared experience of creativity and entertainment.

Concept Musical

A concept musical is a type of musical theatre in which the central theme or idea is more important than the plot or character development. The concept is usually a social or political issue, a philosophical or psychological idea, or a visual or musical motif.

In a concept musical, the storyline is structured around the concept, with the characters and their relationships serving to illustrate or explore it. The music, lyrics, and choreography are often unconventional and experimental, with the aim of enhancing the audience’s emotional and intellectual engagement with the concept.

Some examples of concept musicals include “Hair,” which explores the counterculture and anti-war movement of the 1960s; “A Chorus Line,” which examines the lives of Broadway performers and the struggle to succeed in show business; and “Hamilton,” which uses hip-hop and other musical styles to tell the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and explore themes of immigration, identity, and political power.

Contemporary Theatre

Contemporary theatre refers to the current state of theatre that reflects the social, cultural, and political issues of our time. It encompasses a wide range of genres, styles, and techniques, and often experiments with new forms of storytelling and performance.

Contemporary theatre often seeks to challenge the traditional notions of theatre and audience engagement and may incorporate multimedia elements, physical theatre, and audience participation into performances. It may also explore unconventional topics or perspectives and address taboo or controversial subjects. Contemporary theatre is constantly evolving and adapting to the changing world around it.

Crime Drama

A crime drama is a type of theatrical performance that focuses on criminal activity and investigations. It usually involves a crime being committed, followed by an investigation, and then a resolution or verdict. Crime dramas often include elements of suspense, intrigue, and mystery, and may involve a range of criminal activities, from theft and fraud to murder and other violent crimes.

The characters in crime dramas may include detectives, police officers, lawyers, judges, witnesses, and suspects, among others. They may be portrayed as complex, flawed individuals who are struggling to uncover the truth and bring criminals to justice.

Crime dramas may be performed on stage in a variety of formats, including plays, musicals, and operas. They are often popular with audiences because they provide a thrilling and engaging story that keeps them on the edge of their seats.

Culinary Theatre

See Dinner Theatre.

Cup and Saucer Drama

In 19th-century theatre, “cup and saucer drama” referred to a type of domestic drama that focused on the lives and concerns of the middle and upper classes, particularly their social customs and rituals. The term derived from the fact that these dramas often depicted characters engaging in tea-drinking ceremonies, which were associated with the genteel and refined aspects of Victorian society.

Cup and saucer dramas were known for their emphasis on dialogue and character development, rather than action or plot. They often portrayed complex social dynamics, including romantic entanglements, family conflicts, and struggles for social status or acceptance. The dramas were usually set in middle-class homes or other domestic environments, and the characters were often portrayed as struggling to maintain their social position or reputation.

Cup and saucer dramas were a popular genre in the late 19th century, particularly in the UK and the US. They appealed to middle-class audiences who could relate to the characters and their concerns, and who enjoyed the opportunity to see their own lives reflected on stage. Some notable examples of cup and saucer dramas from this period include Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest “and Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House”.

Dance Drama

Dance drama is a form of theatrical performance that combines elements of dance, music, and drama to tell a story. In this genre, the story is conveyed through movement, facial expressions, and gestures, as well as through spoken dialogue or song.

The performers in a dance drama typically use choreography to express emotions, actions, and relationships between characters, rather than relying solely on spoken words. The dance movements may be based on a particular style or technique, such as ballet, contemporary dance, or traditional folk dance, depending on the cultural context of the performance.

Dance drama can also incorporate other elements such as costumes, props, and lighting to enhance the visual impact of the performance. The music used in dance drama can be original or pre-existing and may include live musicians or pre-recorded tracks.

Dance drama has a long history in many cultures around the world, and can be found in forms such as classical Indian dance-drama, Chinese opera, and Western musical theatre. It is a unique form of artistic expression that requires a high level of technical skill, creativity, and collaboration between performers, choreographers, composers, and designers.

Dance Musical

A dance musical is a type of theatrical performance that combines singing, acting, and dancing to tell a story. Unlike traditional musicals, which feature mainly spoken dialogue interspersed with songs, dance musicals place a greater emphasis on choreography and movement as a way of conveying emotions and advancing the plot.

Dance musicals can encompass a wide variety of styles, from classic Broadway productions like “West Side Story” and “A Chorus Line” to more contemporary shows like “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” They often feature elaborate dance numbers, with performers executing complex choreography set to a range of musical genres, including pop, jazz, hip-hop, and more.

Dance Musical

Dance theatre is a form of performance art that combines elements of dance and theatre. It is a genre that has evolved over time and can include a wide range of styles and techniques.

At its core, dance theatre is about telling stories through movement and using dance as a means of expressing emotions and ideas. The movement in dance theatre can be highly choreographed or improvised, and often incorporates other elements such as music, spoken word, and visual design.

Dance theatre can be performed in a variety of settings, from traditional theatres to more unconventional spaces such as galleries, warehouses, or outdoor locations. The genre has gained popularity in recent years as a way to explore and experiment with new forms of expression and storytelling.

Devised Theatre

Devised theatre, also known as collective creation, is a collaborative form of theatre-making where the content is generated by the ensemble without a pre-written script. Originating in the 20th century, it emphasises a democratic approach, often addressing contemporary social and political themes.

The process includes research, exploration through improvisation and movement, development, rehearsal, and performance. Unlike traditional theatre, roles such as playwright, director, and performer are often blurred, emphasising collective authorship.

Devised theatre can cover various subjects, reflecting the interests of the participating artists. It has influenced theatre-making practices worldwide, embraced by educational institutions and professional theatre companies like Complicité in the UK.

Devised theatre fosters creativity, teamwork, and critical thinking, offering an alternative that prioritises process and collaboration, making it a vital and evolving form of theatrical expression.

Didactic Theatre

Didactic theatre is a type of theatre that aims to educate or instruct the audience on a particular social, political, or moral issue. The plays in this genre usually have a clear message or moral lesson that the playwright wants to convey to the audience. Didactic theatre is often used as a tool for social and political activism and is frequently associated with movements for social justice, human rights, and environmentalism.

The performances in didactic theatre are often characterised by a straightforward style of storytelling, with dialogue, monologues, and scenes that demonstrate the intended message. Didactic plays may also use other techniques to convey their messages, such as direct addresses to the audience, multimedia elements, or interactive elements that engage the audience in the action of the play.

While didactic theatre can be an effective tool for raising awareness and promoting social change, it can also be criticised for being heavy-handed. Some contemporary playwrights and theatre practitioners use subtler methods to convey their messages, such as symbolism, metaphor, or character development, rather than relying solely on didactic techniques.

Didacticism

See Didactic Theatre.

Digital Theatre

Digital theatre refers to theatrical performances that are created and delivered using digital technology. This can include live streaming of performances, pre-recorded productions that are distributed online, and immersive experiences that incorporate virtual reality or augmented reality.

Digital theatre has become increasingly popular in recent years, particularly as a way for theatre companies to reach new audiences and expand their reach beyond traditional physical theatre spaces. Digital theatre can also offer unique opportunities for experimentation and innovation, allowing creators to incorporate interactive elements, special effects, and other digital tools into their productions.

While digital theatre has its own set of challenges and limitations, it has also opened up exciting new possibilities for theatre makers and audiences alike, making theatre more accessible, flexible, and inclusive than ever before.

Dinner Theatre

Dinner theatre is a form of live entertainment that combines a theatrical performance with a meal or refreshments. Typically, patrons purchase tickets for a dinner theatre performance that includes a sit-down meal or buffet, followed by a stage production. The meal is usually served before the performance begins or during intermission, and the show itself may be a musical, comedy, drama, or another theatrical genre.

Diverse Theatre

Diverse theatre is a term that refers to theatre productions that feature a range of performers, creators, and stories that represent a variety of cultural backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences. The goal of diverse theatre is to promote inclusion, equity, and representation in the performing arts and to provide a platform for underrepresented voices to be heard.

Diversity in theatre can encompass a range of factors, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability, age, and socio-economic background. It can also involve the use of diverse artistic styles, forms, and techniques.

Diverse theatre can take many forms, from small-scale community productions to large-scale professional productions. It can also include devised theatre, which involves collaborative and improvisational processes to create new works, as well as traditional scripted plays that have been reinterpreted through a diverse lens.

Ultimately, diverse theatre aims to challenge traditional notions of what theatre can be and who it can represent, and to create more inclusive and representative cultural experiences for audiences.

Documentary Drama

Documentary drama is a theatrical genre that combines elements of documentary and drama to create a work that is based on real events and people but is presented in a dramatic form on stage. This genre seeks to bring factual reporting and artistic interpretation together to create a compelling narrative that educates and entertains audiences.

In documentary drama, the script is usually derived from interviews, transcripts, or other primary source materials such as newspaper articles, court records, or historical documents. The dialogue and actions of the characters are based on these sources and are meant to accurately represent the events and people depicted.

The goal of documentary drama in theatre is to provide a truthful representation of real events and people while also engaging audiences emotionally and intellectually. It can be a powerful way to explore important social, political, and historical issues and to provoke discussions and debates about them.

Documentary dramas are often staged in a more minimalist style, with an emphasis on the text and the actors’ performances. The use of multimedia, such as video projections or audio recordings, is also common in documentary dramas to enhance the factual accuracy of the story.

Examples of documentary dramas in theatre include “The Exonerated,” a play that tells the stories of six wrongfully convicted death row inmates in their own words, and “The Laramie Project,” a play based on interviews with people in the town of Laramie, Wyoming, following the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Domestic Comedy

A domestic comedy is a type of play that typically focuses on the everyday life and experiences of middle-class families, often set within the confines of their homes. The genre emerged in the late 19th century and became increasingly popular in the early 20th century, particularly in the United States and England.

One of the most famous examples of a domestic comedy is Oscar Wilde’s play “The Importance of Being Earnest,” which was first performed in 1895. The play is a witty and satirical portrayal of the upper-middle-class society in Victorian England, and centres around the relationships and romantic entanglements of a group of characters.

Other examples of domestic comedies include “The Philadelphia Story” by Philip Barry, “The Man Who Came to Dinner” by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and “You Can’t Take It with You” by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. These plays often deal with themes of family, love, and social status, and are known for their sharp humour and relatable characters.

Domestic Tragedy

A domestic tragedy is a genre of theatre that focuses on the tragic events and conflicts that occur within a family or household. Domestic tragedies typically deal with the intimate and personal struggles of everyday people, rather than the grand themes of epic tragedies.

In a domestic tragedy, the characters are often from the middle or lower classes, and the setting is usually a domestic space such as a home or a workplace. The plot may involve themes such as infidelity, betrayal, domestic violence, addiction, or financial difficulties. The conflicts are usually driven by the relationships and emotions between family members or close acquaintances.

Domestic tragedies often have a realistic style of writing, with dialogue and situations that are believable and relatable to the audience. Some famous examples of domestic tragedies in theatre include Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” and Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire”.

Droll

Droll was a type of comedy popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in England and France. The droll was a short comic play or skit performed as part of a longer program, typically between acts of more serious plays and was often bawdy and irreverent. Droll comedy was characterised by its rough, irreverent humour, and often featured exaggerated or absurd characters and situations.

Dystopian Theatre

Dystopian theatre refers to theatrical works that depict a future society that is undesirable or frightening, often characterised by a totalitarian government, environmental or technological disasters, social decay, and loss of individual freedom. These works typically explore themes of power, control, oppression, and resistance.

Dystopian theatre often employs exaggerated or surrealistic elements to convey a sense of the absurdity or horror of the depicted world. It may also incorporate elements of science fiction or fantasy, using speculative elements to create a vision of a potential future world.

Examples of dystopian theatre include plays like George Orwell’s “1984”, Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World”. These works have been adapted for the stage, and many contemporary plays also explore dystopian themes in a variety of ways.

Ecclesiastical Drama

See Liturgical Drama.

Eclecticism

See Eclectic Theatre.

Eclectic Theatre

Eclectic theatre is a type of theatre that draws on a variety of styles, techniques, and sources to create a unique theatrical experience. It often challenges the traditional boundaries of theatre, experimenting with different forms and styles to create a new and innovative performance. Eclectic theatre is not limited by any one style or convention but is free to explore and incorporate different theatrical techniques, influences, and inspirations.

In many cases, eclectic theatre also seeks to challenge conventional theatre conventions. By using an eclectic approach with styles, theatre practitioners can create performances that are both entertaining and thought-provoking, offering audiences a fresh and exciting perspective on theatre as an art form.

Educational Theatre

Educational theatre, also known as theatre in education (TIE), refers to the use of theatrical performances and activities to educate and engage audiences, particularly young people. The primary goal of educational theatre is to promote learning and raise awareness about various social, cultural, and educational issues.

Educational theatre often involves interactive performances that allow the audience to participate in the performance, such as role-playing, group discussions, and other activities. The performances are usually designed to be both entertaining and informative, and they may cover a wide range of topics, including history, literature, science, social issues, and more.

Theatre companies that specialise in educational theatre often perform in schools, community centres, and other venues where young people are likely to gather. These performances are often tailored to specific age groups and educational levels, and they may be accompanied by educational materials such as study guides, lesson plans, and activity books.

In addition to performances, educational theatre may also include workshops and other educational activities that help young people develop their creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills. These workshops may be led by professional actors and theatre educators who are experienced in working with young people.

Elitist Theatre

Elitist theatre refers to theatrical productions that are designed for and marketed towards a narrow, affluent audience with a preference for high culture and refinement. These productions often prioritize aesthetic and technical sophistication over accessibility and audience engagement.

Elitist theatre can be seen as exclusionary and can perpetuate social and economic inequalities by limiting access to the arts. It is often criticized for its lack of diversity and for prioritizing the tastes of a privileged few over the needs and interests of a broader public.

In recent years, there has been a push towards more inclusive and diverse theatre, with a focus on making the arts accessible to a wider range of people. This includes efforts to create theatre that speaks to a broader range of experiences and perspectives, as well as initiatives to make theatre more affordable and accessible to people from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Elizabethan Drama

Elizabethan drama refers to the plays written and performed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England, which lasted from 1558 to 1603. This period is also sometimes referred to as the English Renaissance or the Early Modern era.

The Elizabethan era saw the flourishing of the English theatre, with playwrights such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and John Webster producing some of the greatest works of Western literature. These playwrights wrote both comedies and tragedies, with themes ranging from love and romance to politics and social commentary.

Elizabethan drama was characterized by a number of distinctive features. The plays were performed in open-air theatres, such as the Globe, which had a circular stage surrounded by standing room for the audience. The plays were often highly theatrical, with elaborate costumes, music, and dance, and the actors frequently addressed the audience directly.

The language of Elizabethan drama was also highly poetic and stylized, with a particular emphasis on iambic pentameter verse. The plays often featured complex plots, with multiple storylines and subplots, and were typically populated by a large and diverse cast of characters.

Ensemble Theatre

Ensemble Theatre is a type of theatre that emphasizes collaboration among the actors and other members of the production team. In an ensemble production, the actors work together to create a cohesive and unified performance, rather than focusing on individual performances.

Ensemble theatre is often associated with experimental and avant-garde theatre, where the focus is on creating a unique and innovative performance that challenges traditional notions of theatre. It can also be used in more mainstream productions, where the emphasis is on creating a cohesive and polished performance.

Ensemble theatre has its roots in the early 20th century, with the emergence of experimental theatre groups such as the Moscow Art Theatre and the Berliner Ensemble.

Entremé

The entremé is a short comedic or farcical play that was popular in Spain during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The entremés was typically performed between the acts of a longer play, and its purpose was to provide a humourous interlude and to entertain the audience while the stagehands were changing the scenery.

Entremeses usually featured exaggerated and comical characters, often from lower classes, and were known for their slapstick humour, satire, and social commentary. Some of the most famous Spanish writers who wrote entremeses include Miguel de Cervantes and Lope de Vega.

Environmental Theatre

Environmental theatre is a type of theatrical performance that takes place outside of the traditional theatre space and often involves audience participation and interaction. The goal of environmental theatre is to create a unique and immersive experience for the audience by transforming a non-theatrical space, such as a park or a warehouse, into a theatrical environment.

In environmental theatre, the performance space is often used in unconventional ways, with performers interacting with the audience and the environment in a fluid and dynamic manner. The audience is encouraged to move around and explore the space, and may even be called upon to participate in the performance itself.

Environmental theatre often incorporates elements of site-specific theatre, which is a type of theatre that is designed to be performed in a specific location. However, while site-specific theatre focuses on the unique qualities of a specific location, environmental theatre is more concerned with creating an immersive experience that transforms the space into a theatrical environment.

Epic Theatre

Epic theatre is a style of theatre developed by Erwin Piscator and Bertolt Brecht in the 1920s and 1930s. It aimed to use the stage as a platform for social and political commentary, often challenging the audience’s assumptions and beliefs.

One of the key features of epic theatre is the use of techniques that create a sense of distancing, between the audience and the characters on stage. These techniques include breaking the fourth wall, using music and songs to comment on the action, and presenting scenes out of chronological order. By interrupting the natural flow of the play and making the audience aware of the theatrical artifice, epic theatre sought to create a critical and reflective distance that would allow viewers to engage with the performance intellectually rather than emotionally.

Brecht’s epic theatre also frequently employed montage, a technique derived from film editing, in which short, rapid scenes were juxtaposed to create meaning through association. This approach helped to break down the traditional narrative structure of theatre and highlight the social and political forces that shape individual lives.

Equestrian Drama

Equestrian drama is a genre of theatrical performance that involves horses and horse riding as a prominent element of the production. It was popular in the 19th century, particularly in Europe and America, and often featured elaborate stunts and displays of horsemanship.

Equestrian dramas typically featured live horses and riders, who would perform intricate choreography, stunts, and acrobatics on stage. The productions often included colourful costumes, music, and special effects to enhance the spectacle. The stories in equestrian dramas ranged from historical and mythological themes to contemporary tales of adventure and romance.

One of the most famous equestrian dramas was “The Corsican Brothers,” which premiered in London in 1852. It was based on a novella by Alexandre Dumas and featured a climactic horseback chase scene. Other notable equestrian dramas include “Mazeppa,” “The Black Crook,” and “The Two Orphans.”

Esoteric Theatre

Esoteric theatre is a form of theatre that explores spiritual, mystical, or occult themes and often employs symbolism and metaphor to convey its message. It typically involves performances that are designed to elicit a deeper understanding of the self and the world around us, often incorporating elements of ritual and ceremonial practices.

Esoteric theatre can take many forms, including experimental theatre, performance art, and even traditional theatre productions that incorporate esoteric themes and symbolism. It is often associated with esoteric traditions such as Hermeticism, alchemy, and Gnosticism, as well as with contemporary spiritual movements such as New Age and neo-paganism.

Esoteric theatre can be challenging for audiences who are not familiar with the traditions and symbols being used, as it often requires a degree of prior knowledge and understanding to fully appreciate. However, for those who are interested in exploring deeper spiritual themes and ideas through the medium of the theatre, esoteric theatre can be a powerful and transformative experience.

Ethnic Theatre

Ethnic theatre refers to theatrical performances, plays, and productions that are created and performed by members of a specific ethnic group or community. The term encompasses a wide range of performances, from traditional folk plays to contemporary productions that explore the experiences and perspectives of different ethnic groups.

Ethnic theatre is often used as a means of cultural expression, allowing members of a community to explore and celebrate their cultural identity, history, and traditions. It can also serve as a way to educate others about different cultures and promote cultural understanding and tolerance.

Ethnic theatre has a long history, with many traditions and forms of performance originating in specific ethnic communities. For example, the Noh theatre of Japan, the puppet theatre of Indonesia, and the musical theatre of Broadway are all examples of ethnic theatre.

Ethnographic Theatre

Ethnographic theatre is a form of theatre that seeks to represent and interpret the customs, beliefs, and practices of a particular culture or community. It is a type of performance art that often involves the use of storytelling, music, dance, and other traditional art forms to create a rich and immersive experience for the audience.

Ethnographic theatre emerged in the mid-20th century as a way to bridge the gap between cultures and promote cross-cultural understanding. It is often associated with the work of anthropologists and other social scientists who seek to document and analyze the cultural practices of different groups.

In ethnographic theatre, performers may draw on their own personal experiences or those of members of the community they are representing to create a narrative that reflects the beliefs and values of that culture. They may also work closely with members of that community to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of their portrayal.

One of the key features of ethnographic theatre is its focus on the experiential, rather than simply the intellectual, aspects of culture. This can be seen in the use of music, dance, and other sensory elements to create a more immersive and emotional experience for the audience.

Experimental Theatre

Experimental theatre is a form of theatre that focuses on exploring new and innovative styles of performance, often pushing the boundaries of traditional theatre. It is characterized by a willingness to experiment with unconventional staging techniques, non-linear narratives, abstract themes, and non-traditional casting.

The primary goal of experimental theatre is to challenge the audience’s preconceptions and assumptions about theatre by presenting them with something unexpected and unique. This can involve breaking down the fourth wall, using multimedia elements like video and sound, or incorporating performance art, dance, and music into the production.

Experimental theatre often emphasizes the process of creating theatre over the final product. It encourages collaboration between actors, directors, designers, and writers to explore new ideas and push the limits of what can be achieved on stage.

Expressionism

Expressionism is a style of theatre that emerged in Germany in the early 20th century, characterized by the distortion of reality and an emphasis on expressing inner emotions and thoughts. In Expressionist theatre, the external world is often depicted as nightmarish or surreal, reflecting the inner turmoil and psychological states of the characters.

Some common features of Expressionist theatre include exaggerated movements and gestures, distorted scenery and props, stylized makeup and costumes, and the use of heightened language or non-realistic dialogue. Expressionist plays often focus on themes of isolation, alienation, and the struggle to find meaning in a chaotic and oppressive world.

One of the most famous examples of Expressionist theatre is the play “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” by Carl Mayer and Hans Janowitz, which was adapted into a silent film in 1920. The play and the film use distorted sets and costumes to create a sense of unease and disorientation, reflecting the psychological states of the characters.

Other notable Expressionist playwrights include Georg Kaiser, Ernst Toller, and Bertolt Brecht. While Expressionist theatre was most popular in Germany in the early 20th century, its influence can be seen in later movements such as Surrealism and Absurdism, as well as in contemporary experimental theatre.

Fabula

Historically, “fabula” referred to the plot or story of a play in ancient Greek and Roman theatre. In these early forms of theatre, plays were often based on myths, legends, or historical events, and the fabula was an important element in conveying the message and meaning of the play.

In Greek theatre, the fabula was known as the “mythos,” and it was typically structured around the traditional three-act structure. The plot was developed through the use of dialogue, choral odes, and action on stage. The fabula was often designed to convey a moral or philosophical message to the audience, and it was considered an essential element of the theatrical experience.

In Roman theatre, the fabula was similarly important and plays often featured complex plots and intricate character development. Roman playwrights such as Terence and Plautus were known for their mastery of the fabula, and their plays often included elements of comedy, satire, and social commentary.

Fantasy

The fantasy genre in theatre involves creating a fictional world with magical or supernatural elements that do not exist in our reality. In a fantasy play, the characters, settings, and plots often involve mythical creatures, magical powers, and enchanting worlds that are not constrained by the laws of physics or reality.

Fantasy plays can be set in any time period or location, and may include characters such as dragons, wizards, fairies, and other magical beings. These characters often have supernatural abilities and powers, and the plots often revolve around quests, battles, and struggles between good and evil.

Fantasy plays can be comedic or dramatic, and can explore a wide range of themes and ideas. Some common themes in fantasy plays include the struggle between good and evil, the power of love and friendship, the consequences of greed and ambition, and the importance of courage and perseverance.

In addition to traditional stage productions, the fantasy genre has also been explored through musicals, puppet shows, and other forms of theatre. A well-known example of a fantasy play is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Farce

A farce is a type of comedy that emerged in the late 16th century and was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries. In the theatre, a farce is a light, humorous play characterized by exaggerated, improbable situations, physical humour, and broadly-drawn characters. Farces often involve mistaken identity, misunderstandings, and absurd situations that lead to chaotic and comic consequences.

In a farce, the characters are usually caricatures of real people, and their actions are often exaggerated for comedic effect. Farces often involve rapid dialogue, frantic physical action, and slapstick comedy, with characters running in and out of doors, hiding in closets, and engaging in other forms of physical comedy.

Some famous examples of farces in theatre include Georges Feydeau’s “A Flea in Her Ear,” Michael Frayn’s “Noises Off,” and Richard Bean’s “One Man, Two Guvnors.”

Fate Drama

Fate drama typically refers to a type of tragedy that explores the role of fate or destiny in human affairs. These dramas often feature characters who are subject to powerful forces beyond their control, such as the gods, supernatural powers, or the workings of fate itself. The outcome of the story is often predetermined, with characters unable to escape their fate despite their efforts to do so.

Some famous examples of fate dramas in theatre include the plays of Sophocles, such as “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone,” which explore the tragic consequences of human actions in the face of fate. Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” and “Hamlet” also contain elements of fate, with the characters ultimately succumbing to their predetermined destinies despite their efforts to change their paths.

Feminist Theatre

Feminist theatre is a type of theatre that emerged during the second wave of feminism in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a form of political theatre that seeks to challenge and critique the patriarchal society and the systemic oppression of women.

Feminist theatre aims to give voice to women’s experiences and to raise awareness of issues such as gender inequality, sexism, misogyny, violence against women, and other forms of oppression. It often features female characters in lead roles, and female playwrights, directors, and actors are prominently involved in its creation.

Feminist theatre is characterised by its use of non-traditional performance styles, such as guerrilla theatre, street theatre, and performance art. It often employs experimental techniques such as breaking the fourth wall, using multimedia elements, and incorporating music and dance.

Some notable examples of feminist theatre include works by playwrights such as Caryl Churchill, Eve Ensler, and Maria Irene Fornes. The play “The Vagina Monologues” by Eve Ensler is a particularly well-known example of feminist theatre that has been performed in many countries around the world.

Folk Theatre

Folk theatre, also known as traditional theatre, is a form of theatre that originates from the culture and traditions of a specific region or community. It encompasses a variety of performances including plays, musicals, dance, and puppetry that are based on the customs, beliefs, and values of a particular group of people.

Folk theatre has a long history and can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome, where it was used as a means of entertainment and education. In more recent times, folk theatre has been used as a way to preserve cultural heritage and promote community bonding.

Some examples of folk theatre from around the world include Japanese Kabuki, Indian Kathakali, Chinese Opera, Italian Commedia dell’Arte, and African Drumming and Dance. These forms of theatre often feature colourful costumes, lively music, and stylized movements that are characteristic of the region or culture they originate from.

Formalism

Formalism in theatre refers to a style or approach to creating and experiencing theatre that places a high emphasis on form, structure, and technique. In the context of theatre, formalism is often associated with the work of 20th-century avant-garde artists and movements such as the Russian Formalists.

One of the key principles of formalism in theatre is the idea that the form or structure of a play is just as important, if not more so, than its content or narrative. Formalists often sought to break down traditional narrative structures and explore new ways of organizing and presenting theatrical material. They were also interested in using techniques such as repetition, abstraction, and fragmentation to create a sense of disorientation and challenge audiences to actively engage with the work.

Formalist theatre also tends to be highly self-conscious, drawing attention to the theatricality of the performance and emphasizing the role of the audience as active participants in the creation of meaning.

Formalism in theatre can be seen as a rejection of traditional storytelling conventions and a commitment to exploring new forms and structures that challenge both artists and audiences to think differently about the possibilities of theatre as an art form.

Forum Theatre

Forum Theatre is a type of interactive theatre developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal in the 1960s. It is a form of theatre that invites the audience to actively participate in the performance, with the aim of promoting social and political change through dialogue and action.

In Forum Theatre, the actors perform a short play or scene, usually depicting a social or political issue or injustice. The play ends at a crucial point, where the protagonist faces an obstacle or a dilemma. At this point, the audience is invited to suggest different ways in which the story could be continued or resolved.

The actors then perform the play again, incorporating the audience’s suggestions, and continue until a satisfactory resolution is reached. This process is called “intervention,” and it allows the audience to actively engage with the performance, experimenting with different solutions to the problems presented in the play.

The goal of Forum Theatre is not only to entertain, but also to provoke critical thinking, discussion, and social action. Through this process, the audience becomes aware of their own agency and the possibility of change, and they are encouraged to take action in their own lives and communities.

Forum Theatre is a powerful tool for social and political transformation, as it encourages dialogue, critical thinking, and collective action towards a more just and equitable society.

French Farce

French farce was a genre of comedic theatre that originated in France in the 16th century and became popular throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is characterized by its use of exaggerated, improbable, and often absurd situations to create humour.

French farce typically features a fast-paced plot, with characters engaging in physical comedy, slapstick, and other forms of humour. Mistaken identities, sexual innuendo, and social satire are also common elements of French farce.

One of the most famous French farce playwrights was Molière, who wrote plays such as “Tartuffe,” “The Misanthrope,” and “The Imaginary Invalid.” His plays often featured exaggerated characters and situations, as well as social commentary on the French aristocracy and religious hypocrisy.

French farce continued to be popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, with playwrights such as Georges Feydeau and Jean Anouilh continuing to develop the genre.

Fringe Theatre

Fringe theatre refers to a type of experimental and alternative theatre that is typically produced outside of mainstream commercial theatre circuits. It is often characterized by its low-budget, avant-garde approach and its willingness to take creative risks and push boundaries.

The term “fringe” originally referred to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which was established in 1947 as an alternative to the more traditional Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe quickly became a platform for new and emerging artists to showcase their work, and it has since inspired the development of similar festivals and movements around the world.

Fringe theatre often challenges conventional theatrical forms and conventions, and it may incorporate elements of performance art, improvisation, and audience participation. It may also address controversial or taboo subjects and explore social and political issues in unconventional ways.

Fringe productions are typically produced on a shoestring budget and may be staged in unconventional performance spaces such as warehouses, pubs, and parks. The focus is often on creativity and experimentation rather than commercial success, and fringe artists may use the platform to develop their skills and gain exposure to new audiences.

Futurist Theatre

Futurism was an artistic and social movement that originated in Italy in the early 20th century. It was characterized by a focus on technology, speed, and modernity, and a rejection of traditional forms of art and culture. In the realm of theatre, futurism sought to break away from the established conventions of realism and naturalism and instead embraced experimentation, abstraction, and the use of new technology.

Futurist theatre was marked by its use of new and innovative stage designs, lighting effects, and soundscapes. Performances often featured rapid, fragmented scenes that were meant to reflect the fast-paced nature of modern life. Actors were encouraged to break free from traditional styles of performance and instead embrace a more physical, non-naturalistic approach.

Futurism in theatre also embraced a highly political and socially engaged approach. Many futurist plays were overtly political, exploring issues such as nationalism, war, and the role of the individual in society.

Despite its radical nature, futurism in theatre had a significant influence on the development of modern theatre and performance. Its emphasis on experimentation and innovation helped to pave the way for later avant-garde movements such as surrealism and absurdism.

Gay and Lesbian Theatre

Gay and lesbian theatre refers specifically to theatrical works that explore the experiences and perspectives of gay and lesbian individuals. It emerged as a significant theatrical genre in the 1960s and 1970s, as gay and lesbian people began to assert their visibility and demand representation in the arts.

Gay and lesbian theatre is a subset of LGBTQ+ theatre, the latter includes a broader spectrum of identities and experiences. LGBTQ+ theatre may also address issues related to gender identity, sexual orientation, and other aspects of the LGBTQ+ community.

Genteel Comedy

A genteel comedy is a type of theatrical play that originated in the 18th century and was popular in the 19th century. It typically features upper-class characters and focuses on their manners, etiquette, and social norms.

Genteel comedies often centre around the pursuit of love and marriage, with themes of courtship, romance, and social status. They usually involve a series of witty and humorous misunderstandings and miscommunications between characters, as they navigate the intricacies of polite society.

The humour in genteel comedies often relies on wordplay, irony, and satire, and the language used is typically elegant and refined. The tone is generally light-hearted and cheerful, and the conflicts and obstacles faced by the characters are usually resolved in a happy and satisfying manner.

Some notable examples of genteel comedies include plays like Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s “The Rivals.”

Golek Puppetry

Golek puppetry, also known as wayang golek, is a traditional form of puppetry that originated from the Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia. The word “golek” means “to turn” or “to spin” in the Sundanese language, which refers to the way the puppeteer manipulates the puppets during the performance.

Golek puppets are typically made of wood, with movable joints and features, and are adorned with colourful costumes and accessories. The puppeteer called a dalang, sits behind a screen and operates the puppets using rods or strings attached to the limbs of the puppets.

The stories depicted in golek puppetry often draw from Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as local folklore and mythology. The performances usually take place during special occasions and celebrations, such as weddings and religious festivals.

Gothic Theatre

Gothic theatre is a style of theatre that emerged in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as a part of the Gothic Revival movement. It is characterised by its dark and mysterious themes, melodramatic plots, and emphasis on emotions and atmosphere.

Gothic theatre often features supernatural or horror elements, such as ghosts, vampires, and haunted houses. It also frequently explores themes of death, decay, and the darker aspects of human nature.

Some notable examples of Gothic theatre include the plays “The Castle Spectre” by Matthew Lewis, “The Monk” by Matthew Gregory Lewis, and “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.

Greek Comedy

Greek comedy refers to a theatrical genre that originated in ancient Greece, and was performed in Athens as part of the Athenian festivals, particularly during the 5th century BCE.

Greek comedy was characterised by its humorous and satirical portrayal of social and political issues, often featuring a cast of eccentric and larger-than-life characters, such as politicians, philosophers, and ordinary citizens.

There were two main types of Greek comedy: Old Comedy and New Comedy. Old Comedy, which was popular in the 5th century BCE, was a more biting and subversive form of comedy, often making fun of prominent figures in Athenian society and mocking social and political institutions. Famous examples of Old Comedy include Aristophanes’ plays such as “The Clouds” and “Lysistrata”.

New Comedy, which emerged in the 4th century BCE, was a more refined and gentle form of comedy that focused on everyday life and romantic themes, rather than political satire. Famous examples of New Comedy include plays by Menander such as “The Grouch” and “The Girl from Samos”.

Greek Theatre

Greek theatre refers to the theatrical performances and traditions that originated in ancient Greece in the 5th century BCE. Greek theatre is considered the birthplace of Western theatre and had a significant impact on drama and performance in the Western world.

Greek theatre was performed in outdoor amphitheatres, with large audiences seated on tiered stone seats. The performances consisted of plays that were written and performed by Greek playwrights, such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These plays dealt with various themes, including Greek mythology, history, and social issues.

The actors in Greek theatre were all men, and they wore masks and costumes to portray different characters. The plays were typically performed in a poetic form, with a chorus of performers who would comment on the action and provide context for the audience.

Greek theatre had a significant influence on the development of theatre in the Western world, including the use of masks, the development of tragedy and comedy as distinct genres, and the use of theatre as a means of exploring philosophical and social issues.

Greek Tragedy

A Greek tragedy is a type of play that originated in ancient Greece and was performed during religious festivals. The plays typically depicted the downfall of a heroic figure or characters, often due to a flaw in their character or actions. The tragedies were usually based on mythological or historical events and focused on themes such as fate, morality, and the power of the gods.

Greek tragedies typically followed a specific structure, including a prologue, where the background and context of the story were established, followed by several episodes in which the main characters interacted and faced challenges. The climax of the play, known as the peripeteia, was a turning point that often involved a sudden reversal of fortune for the main character. Finally, the play ended with the exodus, where the aftermath of the tragedy was explored and moral lessons were drawn.

Some famous examples of Greek tragedies include Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, Medea by Euripides, and Antigone by Sophocles.

Guerrilla Theatre

Guerrilla theatre, also known as street theatre or protest theatre, is a form of theatrical performance that emerged in the 1960s as a means of political activism and social commentary. It involves the use of improvised and often impromptu performances in public spaces, such as streets, parks, or public squares, to communicate a political message or to draw attention to a particular issue.

The term “guerrilla” refers to the unconventional and often spontaneous nature of the performances, which are typically staged without the permission of authorities or traditional theatrical institutions. Performances may include skits, monologues, music, and dance, and often involve interaction with the audience.

Guerrilla theatre often seeks to challenge the status quo and to provoke public debate about issues such as social justice, civil rights, and environmentalism. By performing in public spaces, guerrilla theatre seeks to engage a wider audience than traditional theatrical performances, and to create a sense of immediacy and urgency around the issues being addressed.

Guerrilla theatre can be seen as a form of creative resistance, using theatre as a means of social and political action.

Happening

Happening is an avant-garde theatre movement that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s, primarily in the United States, under the influence of artists such as Allan Kaprow, who is often credited with coining the term. Happenings were a radical departure from traditional theatre, blurring the distinctions between art and life, performer and audience, and script and improvisation. This movement sought to create an art form that was immediate, interactive, and engaged directly with the realities of the world around it.

The defining characteristic of a Happening is its emphasis on the experiential aspect of performance, often taking place in unconventional settings like streets, homes, and abandoned buildings rather than traditional theatre spaces. These performances were not meant to be watched passively but experienced actively, with the audience being an integral part of the event. The fluidity of the narrative, the absence of a clear beginning or end, and the incorporation of everyday activities into the performance underscored the Happening’s aim to break down the barriers between art and life.

Happenings were inherently ephemeral and unique, designed to occur only once and never to be replicated in the same way again. This emphasis on impermanence highlighted the movement’s challenge to conventional notions of art as a commodity. The performances often included multimedia elements such as visual art, music, dance, and technology, reflecting the movement’s interdisciplinary nature.

Allan Kaprow’s works, such as “18 Happenings in 6 Parts” (1959), illustrate this movement’s experimental and participatory nature. Other artists associated with the Happening movement include Claes Oldenburg, whose mock store “The Store” (1961) blurred the line between art exhibition and commercial space, and Carolee Schneemann, whose performances explored the body, gender, and sexuality in bold and innovative ways.

Harlequinade

Harlequinade is a theatrical genre rooted in the Italian Commedia dell’arte, flourishing in England from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Originating from the character Harlequin, a nimble and cunning servant, this genre is marked by its silent mime, slapstick comedy, and elaborate, magical transformations. The essence of Harlequinade lies in the chase and escape antics of Harlequin, often pursuing love with his counterpart, Columbine, while evading the obstacles placed by characters such as Pantaloon and Clown.

The defining characteristics of Harlequinade include a specific set of characters drawn from Commedia dell’arte, with Harlequin at the centre of the narrative, adorned in a distinctive checkered costume. The genre is notable for its lack of spoken dialogue, relying instead on physical comedy, acrobatics, and visual spectacle to tell its story. This performance style heavily influenced the development of pantomime in Britain, integrating with it to form the ‘panto’ tradition, particularly in its Christmas season performances.

Harlequinade’s popularity peaked in the Victorian era, when it became a significant part of the British theatre scene, often presented as a part of a night’s entertainment that included a pantomime followed by the Harlequinade. John Rich, a prominent figure in 18th-century theatre, is credited with transforming the character of Harlequin into the magical, romantic hero central to the genre. This era saw innovations such as the introduction of the ‘slapstick’—a device that produced a loud slapping noise, symbolising the physical comedy and chaotic energy of the performances.

Examples of works that incorporate elements of Harlequinade include the 19th-century pantomimes and fairy extravaganzas, where magical transformations and mischievous escapades were a staple. Theatre companies specialising in pantomime and traditional British theatre often revive elements of Harlequinade, ensuring its conventions and characters continue to entertain audiences. While the pure form of Harlequinade has declined in modern times, its influence persists in slapstick comedy and whimsical narratives in contemporary theatre and cinema.

Heritage Theatre

Heritage theatre is a type of theatre that seeks to preserve and celebrate the cultural heritage of a particular community or region. It typically involves performances that highlight the history, traditions, and customs of a specific cultural group or location.

Heritage theatre can take many forms, including historical reenactments, traditional dances and music performances, and plays that explore the stories and myths of a particular culture. It is often used as a means of promoting cultural understanding and preserving cultural traditions for future generations.

Some examples of heritage theatre include Native American ceremonial dances, traditional Chinese opera, and historical plays about the founding of a particular city or region. Heritage theatre can be found all over the world, as many cultures have unique performance traditions that reflect their heritage and history.

Heroic Drama

A heroic drama, also known as a heroic tragedy, was a popular genre of theatre during the Restoration period (1660-1688) in England. It typically depicted stories of noble, heroic figures who faced great challenges and tragic endings.

The plays were characterized by their grandeur, elevated language, and highly emotional scenes. They often featured larger-than-life characters such as kings, queens, princes, and knights, and were set in ancient or exotic locations. The plots usually revolved around themes of love, honour, duty, and sacrifice.

One of the most famous examples of a heroic drama is John Dryden’s play “The Conquest of Granada” (1670), which tells the story of the fall of the Muslim kingdom of Granada to the Christian forces of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. Other notable examples include Thomas Otway’s “Venice Preserved” (1682) and Nathaniel Lee’s “The Rival Queens” (1677).

The genre fell out of favour in the 18th century, as audiences began to prefer more realistic and less melodramatic plays.

Heroic Tragedy

See Heroic Drama.

High Comedy

High comedy is a type of theatrical comedy that is characterized by sophisticated wit, clever wordplay, and intellectual humour. It is often associated with the upper classes and uses elevated language, elaborate metaphors, and references to literature and culture.

High comedy is different from low comedy, which relies on physical humour, crude jokes, and slapstick. Instead, high comedy focuses on clever banter and clever repartee between characters, often involving social commentary or satire.

Examples of high comedy in the theatre include plays by Oscar Wilde, such as “The Importance of Being Earnest” and “An Ideal Husband,” as well as works by George Bernard Shaw, such as “Pygmalion” and “Arms and the Man.” These plays use clever wordplay and satire to comment on social norms and expectations and are often performed with a sense of elegance and refinement.

Hilarotragedy

A hilarotragedy is a genre of ancient Greek theatre that combines elements of both tragedy and comedy. The term is derived from the Greek words “hilaros” (meaning “cheerful” or “amusing”) and “tragedy” (meaning “goat-song”).

Hilarotragedies were typically shorter than full-length tragedies and often had a happy ending. They featured serious themes and characters, but also included comedic elements such as satire and parody. The genre was popular during the 4th century BCE in Athens and was often performed at festivals.

One of the most famous examples of a hilarotragedy is the play “The Birds” by Aristophanes, which combines serious political and social commentary with whimsical, fantastical elements and comedic dialogue.

Hippodrama

A hippodrama was a type of theatrical performance in ancient Greece that combined elements of drama and horse racing. It was a popular form of entertainment in the ancient world, especially in Athens during the 5th century BCE.

In a hippodrama, the stage was often designed to resemble a racetrack, with chariots and horses racing around it. The actors would perform scenes and interact with the horses and chariots as they raced by, often incorporating stunts and physical feats into their performances.

The most famous example of a hippodrama is the play “The Persians” by Aeschylus, which was performed in 472 BCE and depicted the Persian defeat at the Battle of Salamis. The play featured a large cast of actors, chariots, and horses, and was performed in the Theater of Dionysus in Athens.

Historical Theatre

Historical theatre is a theatrical genre that involves the presentation of plays or performances that are based on historical events, figures, or periods. In historical theatre, the focus is on bringing the past to life on stage and providing audiences with a deeper understanding and appreciation of history. This can involve a wide range of styles and techniques, including scripted dramas, historical reenactments, musicals, and experimental performances.

One of the key goals of historical theatre is to create a sense of immersion and authenticity for audiences. This can involve careful attention to historical detail, such as costumes, sets, and props, as well as accurate portrayals of historical figures and events. Historical theatre can also explore complex historical themes and ideas, such as power, conflict, and social change, and offer insights into how the past continues to shape the present.

History Play

A history play is a type of play that portrays events and characters from history, often focusing on significant political or social events. History plays are typically set in the past and are based on real historical figures and events, although the playwright may take some artistic license in interpreting the events and characters for dramatic effect.

One of the most famous history plays is William Shakespeare’s “Henry V,” which dramatizes the events surrounding the English king’s victory over the French at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415. Other notable examples include Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” which portrays the Machiavellian rise to power of the eponymous king, and Friedrich Schiller’s “William Tell,” which depicts the Swiss hero’s resistance against Austrian rule. History plays continue to be a popular form of drama in modern theatre, with many contemporary playwrights producing works that explore themes of power, politics, and identity through the lens of historical events.

Hun Lakhon Lek

Hun Lakhon Lek puppetry is a traditional form of puppetry from Thailand, which involves the use of small, carved wooden puppets. The puppets are typically dressed in colourful and intricate costumes that represent different characters, and they are manipulated by puppeteers using strings attached to various parts of the puppet’s body.

The performances often involve a mix of storytelling, music, and dance, and are usually based on classical Thai literature or folklore. The puppeteers use their skills to bring the puppets to life, moving them in a way that conveys a range of emotions and actions.

Hun Lakhon Lek puppetry has a long and rich history in Thailand, dating back to the Ayutthaya period (1351-1767). The performances were originally created as a form of entertainment for the royal court and were later popularized and performed in public spaces for all to enjoy.

Hyper Drama

A hyper drama is a type of play written in hypertext, which is a form of electronic text that includes hyperlinks. In a hyper drama, the audience can choose their own path through the story, clicking on hyperlinks to follow different characters or plot lines. This allows for a more interactive and personalized experience than traditional linear plays.

Hyper drama can be performed on stage, but it is often presented as an online or multimedia experience. The use of hypertext allows for non-linear storytelling, enabling the audience to explore different aspects of the story in their own way.

Hyper drama is a relatively new form of theatre, and its use of technology has opened up exciting new possibilities for storytelling and audience engagement.

Hyper-Realism

Hyper-realism in theatre refers to a style of performance that emphasizes a detailed and naturalistic portrayal of everyday life. This style is characterized by meticulous attention to detail, both in the physical setting and in the behaviour and dialogue of the actors.

Hyper-realistic theatre often aims to create a sense of intense realism, with the goal of making the audience feel as though they are observing real life rather than a performance. This can involve the use of realistic props and costumes, as well as highly naturalistic acting and dialogue.

Hyper-realism in theatre has been used to explore a wide range of themes and subject matter, from the mundane and every day to the highly emotional and dramatic. Some of the key features of hyper-realistic theatre include a focus on the intricacies of human behaviour, an emphasis on the power of small details to convey meaning, and a desire to create an immersive and highly believable theatrical experience for the audience.

Image Theatre

Image theatre is a form of physical theatre that uses the body and movement to create and communicate visual images or metaphors. In image theatre, actors use their bodies to create static or dynamic images that represent ideas, emotions, or relationships.

The technique was developed by Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal as a part of his Theatre of the Oppressed methodology. The goal of image theatre is to encourage participants to explore and express their emotions and experiences through the creation of physical images.

In image theatre, participants might be asked to create images in response to prompts or questions, such as “what does joy look like?” or “what does oppression feel like?” Participants might work in pairs or groups to create these images, which might be static or involve movement.

Image theatre can be used as a tool for self-expression, personal growth, and group reflection. It is often used in educational and community settings to explore social issues, promote empathy and understanding, and facilitate dialogue.

Immersive Theatre

Immersive theatre is a type of live performance that blurs the line between performer and audience, creating a highly interactive and immersive experience for the viewers. Unlike traditional theatre styles, where the audience sits and watches a performance on a stage, immersive theatre usually takes place in non-traditional settings, such as abandoned buildings, warehouses, or even outdoor spaces.

In immersive theatre, the audience is often encouraged to explore the performance space, interact with the performers, and even become a part of the performance themselves. This can include being guided through different rooms or spaces, participating in conversations with characters, or being given tasks to complete.

Immersive theatre often involves the use of multimedia, such as soundscapes, lighting, and projections, to create a fully immersive environment. The aim is to create a unique and immersive experience for the audience, blurring the lines between fiction and reality, and challenging traditional theatre conventions.

Impressionism

Impressionism in the theatre was a movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was inspired by the Impressionist art movement, which sought to capture the fleeting moments of daily life and the effects of light and colour in nature. Similarly, Impressionist theatre aimed to convey the atmosphere and mood of a scene rather than a detailed and realistic representation.

Impressionist theatre was characterized by a focus on sensory experience, particularly visual and auditory sensations. It often used lighting, sound, and music to create mood and atmosphere, and employed fragmented scenes and non-linear plots to capture the fleeting nature of human experience.

The movement was influenced by the work of playwrights such as Maurice Maeterlinck, who emphasized the use of symbolism and the subconscious in his plays. The French playwright Jean Giraudoux was also associated with Impressionist theatre, particularly in his use of language to convey mood and impression

Impressionist theatre was a reaction against the realism and naturalism that dominated the theatre of the time and sought to capture the essence of human experience through sensory impressions and subjective interpretation.

Improvised Theatre

Improvised theatre, also known as improv theatre or simply improv, is a type of live performance where the actors create a play, scene, or story spontaneously without a script or pre-planned dialogue. Instead, the performers rely on their creativity, quick thinking, and collaborative skills to develop the storyline, characters, and dialogue on the spot, often based on audience suggestions.

In improv theatre, the performers may use various games, exercises, and techniques to generate ideas and build the narrative. The result is a unique and unpredictable performance that can vary widely in tone, style, and content from one show to the next.

Improvised theatre can be found in various forms, including short-form improv, which consists of several quick scenes or games, and long-form improv, which involves a more extended, connected narrative. It is a popular form of entertainment and is often performed in comedy clubs, theatres, and festivals around the world.

In-Yer-Face Theatre

In-Yer-Face Theatre is a term used to describe a style of contemporary British drama that emerged in the 1990s. It is characterized by its provocative and confrontational content, which often deals with taboo subjects such as violence, sex, drug use, and social inequality. In-Yer-Face plays often use shocking language and imagery to challenge audiences and provoke strong emotional reactions.

The term “In-Yer-Face” was coined by critic Aleks Sierz to describe a new generation of British playwrights, including Mark Ravenhill, Sarah Kane, and Martin McDonagh, whose work was characterized by its boldness and directness. These playwrights rejected the polite, well-mannered conventions of earlier British drama and instead sought to shock and challenge audiences.

In-Yer-Face Theatre was a major influence on British theatre in the 1990s and early 2000s, and its impact can still be felt today. While some critics have criticized the style for its gratuitousness and sensationalism, others have praised it for its raw energy and willingness to confront difficult subjects.

Intercultural Theatre

Intercultural theatre refers to theatre productions that involve the collaboration and exchange of ideas and artistic practices between artists from different cultural backgrounds. It involves the exploration and celebration of diverse cultural perspectives and experiences through theatre, and it often aims to challenge dominant cultural narratives and promote cultural understanding and empathy.

Intercultural theatre can take many forms, ranging from traditional theatre productions that incorporate elements of different cultures, to more experimental and collaborative works that blend different artistic traditions and practices. It can also involve the use of different languages, movement styles, music, and other forms of expression

Intercultural theatre seeks to promote dialogue and exchange between different cultural groups and to foster a more inclusive and diverse approach to theatre and the arts.

Interlude

In medieval theatre, an interlude was a short play or performance, typically performed between the acts of a longer play or as part of a larger festival or event. These interludes were often comedic and performed in the vernacular language of the audience, as opposed to the Latin of the religious plays that dominated the era.

In the Renaissance period, the term “interlude” referred to a type of short play that was performed between the acts of a longer play, or as a standalone entertainment. These interludes were often light-hearted and comedic, with themes such as love, marriage, and human folly.

Intermedio

See Intermezzo.

Intermezzo

In theatre, an intermezzo is a short musical or dramatic performance that is presented between acts of a larger theatrical work. Intermezzi were particularly popular in 17th and 18th-century Italian and French opera, but can also refer to a short comedic or musical performance presented during a play or other theatrical performance.

Intermezzi were often used as a way to provide a break from the main performance, and they typically featured lighter subject matter and a more playful tone than the rest of the show. They could also serve to introduce new characters or themes that would be further developed later in the performance

Intimate Theatre

Intimate theatre, also known as small-scale theatre or boutique theatre, typically refers to productions that are performed in smaller venues, often with a limited audience capacity, creating a more intimate and immersive experience for the audience.

Intimate theatre can be seen as more of a style or approach to producing theatre, rather than a distinct genre of theatre. It is often characterised by its focus on creating an intimate and immersive environment for the audience, with a greater emphasis on the actors’ performances and the emotional depth of the production.

Intimate theatre can encompass a wide range of genres and styles, from drama and comedy to experimental and avant-garde productions. What sets intimate theatre apart from other forms of theatre is its emphasis on creating a close and personal connection between the audience and the performers.

In recent years, intimate theatre has become increasingly popular, as audiences seek more immersive and engaging theatrical experiences. Many small theatre companies and independent producers specialize in producing intimate theatre productions, often in non-traditional spaces such as cafes, galleries, and warehouses.

Invisible Theatre

Invisible theatre is a form of theatrical performance in which the audience is unaware that they are watching a play. The aim of invisible theatre is to create a situation that appears real, but is in fact a staged event. The actors perform their roles in a public place, often a busy street or public square, and interact with each other and with members of the public in a way that appears to be spontaneous and unscripted.

The purpose of invisible theatre is often to draw attention to social or political issues, and to provoke a reaction or spark a conversation among the public. The actors may engage in provocative or controversial actions or discussions, or they may simply perform everyday activities in an unusual or unexpected way.

Invisible theatre was first developed in the 1960s by the Argentinean theatre director Augusto Boal, who was a proponent of the Theatre of the Oppressed movement. Boal believed that theatre should be used as a tool for social and political change, and that by bringing theatre out of traditional performance spaces and into the public realm, it could engage a wider audience and have a greater impact.

Jatra

Jatra is a traditional form of theatre that is popular in some parts of India, particularly in the states of West Bengal and Odisha. In these regions, Jatra is known as “jatra pala” or simply “pala.”

Jatra performances in India usually take place in a large open space, such as a village square, where a temporary stage is erected. The performances are often held during festivals or other cultural events and can last several hours or even days.

The stories depicted in Jatra performances are usually based on mythology, folklore, or historical events, and are performed by a group of actors who portray various characters. The performances incorporate music, dance, and other forms of performance art to create a colourful and entertaining spectacle.

In Jatra performances, actors often wear elaborate costumes and makeup, and use props and special effects to create a visually stunning production. The music used in Jatra performances is usually traditional folk music, which adds to the cultural significance of the performances.

Jesuit Theatre

Jesuit drama, also known as Jesuit theatre, refers to the theatrical plays and performances produced by members of the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic religious order. Jesuit drama was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, particularly in countries with strong Jesuit presence such as Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France.

The Jesuits used drama as a means of spreading their religious beliefs and values, and to teach moral lessons to their followers. Jesuit plays were often performed in schools and universities, and were designed to be educational and didactic. They often featured allegorical characters and moral themes and were intended to instil in the audience a sense of piety and devotion to the Catholic Church.

Jesuit drama was also used as a tool for evangelization, particularly in countries where Catholicism was not the dominant religion. Jesuit missionaries would often use theatre as a way to reach out to local populations and to spread the Catholic message. This was particularly effective in countries such as China and Japan, where the Jesuits were able to use drama to bridge cultural and linguistic divides and to gain the trust of local populations.

Jukebox Musical

A jukebox musical is a type of theatrical production that uses pre-existing popular songs as its musical score. The songs used in the show are often from a particular artist or era, and the story of the musical is usually constructed around the lyrics and themes of these songs.

Jukebox musicals have become increasingly popular in recent years, as they allow producers to tap into an already established fanbase of the music and make it more appealing to a wider audience. Some popular examples of jukebox musicals include “Mamma Mia!” (featuring the music of ABBA), “Jersey Boys” (featuring the music of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons), and “Rock of Ages” (featuring classic rock songs from the 1980s).

While some jukebox musicals have been criticized for sacrificing story and character development in favour of showcasing popular music, others have successfully blended the music with a compelling story, resulting in a truly enjoyable theatrical experience.

Kabuki

Kabuki is a form of traditional Japanese theatre that originated in the Edo period (1603-1868). It is known for its elaborate costumes, makeup, and exaggerated movements and expressions, as well as its use of music and dance to tell stories.

Kabuki plays typically feature historical or mythological themes, and are performed by an all-male cast, including actors who specialize in female roles called “onnagata.” The performers use a unique style of speech and gesture called “mie,” which involves striking a pose and freezing in place to emphasize a dramatic moment.

Kabuki has a rich history and is considered an important part of Japanese culture.

Karagoz

Karagöz is a traditional Turkish puppet theatre that has been performed for centuries in Turkey and other parts of the Ottoman Empire. The name “Karagöz” means “black eye” in Turkish, and it refers to the main character of the show, who is a mischievous and witty character with a distinctive black eye.

The Karagöz puppet show features a set of colourful puppets that are operated by puppeteers who stand behind a white screen. The puppeteers use their hands to manipulate the puppets and make them move, while at the same time using their voices to bring the characters to life.

The stories in the Karagöz puppet show often involve humorous and satirical depictions of Turkish society and culture, and they are typically performed in a casual and improvisational style. The shows often incorporate music, dance, and other elements of traditional Turkish culture.

Karagozi

Karagozi is a traditional form of puppetry that involves live performance, storytelling, and the use of puppets as actors. Like other forms of theatre, karagozi has a script or story that is performed by the puppeteers, and it often includes music, dance, and other elements of performance.

Karagozi puppetry has a long history in East Africa, and it is often used to convey important cultural and social messages. The stories told through karagozi are often based on local folklore, legends, and historical events, and they can be humorous, educational, or entertaining. The puppeteers who perform karagozi are highly skilled and respected members of their communities, and their performances are often attended by large crowds.

Kathakali

Kathakali is a classical dance-drama form that originated in the southern state of Kerala, India. It is known for its elaborate costumes, intricate makeup, and exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures. The word “Kathakali” is derived from two Malayalam words, “Katha” meaning story and “Kali” meaning performance. The dance-drama typically portrays stories from Indian epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as from other Indian myths and legends.

Kathakali performers use a range of movements and expressions to convey emotions and tell a story. The dance form is characterized by its elaborate makeup and costumes, with performers often wearing large headdresses and brightly coloured face paint. The movements are accompanied by music, which is typically played on traditional Indian instruments such as the mridangam and the chenda.

Kathakali is a highly stylised and traditional art form, and performers often undergo years of rigorous training before they can become professionals. The dance-drama is considered to be one of the most complex and sophisticated art forms in India and is recognized around the world for its beauty and cultural significance.

Khon

Khon is a traditional dance drama that originated in Thailand. It is a highly stylized form of theatre that combines dance, music, and drama to tell stories from Thai mythology and history.

The performers wear elaborate costumes and masks, and the dance movements are precise and graceful. The masks are an essential element of the performance, and each character has a unique mask that reflects their personality and role in the story.

The stories told in Khon often involve battles between good and evil, and the characters are usually gods, demons, and heroes. The performers use intricate hand gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to convey the emotions and actions of their characters.

Kitchen Sink Drama

Kitchen sink drama” is a term used to describe a type of theatrical genre that emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s in Britain. It is characterized by its focus on working-class characters and their everyday lives, often set in a kitchen or other domestic setting.

The term “kitchen sink” refers to the idea of domestic realism, where the drama portrays the struggles and hardships faced by ordinary people, as well as the social and economic realities of their lives. It usually deals with issues such as poverty, unemployment, social inequality, and class struggle.

Some of the most notable examples of kitchen sink drama in theatre include John Osborne’s “Look Back in Anger” and Arnold Wesker’s “Chicken Soup with Barley.” The movement is also associated with the Royal Court Theatre in London, which became a hub for experimental and politically engaged theatre in the 1950s and 1960s.

Kitchen sink drama is often considered a reaction against the more traditional and stylized forms of theatre that had dominated British drama before World War II. The genre’s naturalistic style and focus on social issues paved the way for a new generation of playwrights, directors, and actors who were interested in exploring contemporary social and political issues on stage.

Khayal Al-Zill

Khayal al-zill, also known as “shadow play” or “shadow puppets”, is a traditional form of storytelling that originated in the Middle East and has since spread to other parts of the world.

In this art form, the stories are told using puppets made of leather or other materials, which are manipulated by puppeteers behind a screen, with a light source casting the shadow of the puppets onto the screen for the audience to see. The puppets are typically flat, two-dimensional figures that are intricately cut and decorated to represent various characters and objects.

The stories told in Khayal al-zill performances often draw on traditional folk tales, epics, and legends. The puppeteers use their voices, music, and sound effects to create an immersive experience for the audience, bringing the stories to life in a unique and captivating way.

Kudiyattam

Kudiyattam is a traditional form of Sanskrit theatre that originated in the Indian state of Kerala. It is considered to be one of the oldest surviving theatre art forms in the world, with a history of more than 2,000 years.

Kudiyattam is characterized by its highly stylized and ritualistic performances, elaborate costumes, and the use of Sanskrit language. The performances are usually based on Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, and involve a combination of dance, music, and acting.

The art form is traditionally performed by members of the Chakyar community, who are believed to be descendants of ancient Sanskrit scholars. Kudiyattam was initially performed in the temples of Kerala as part of religious rituals, and it continues to be performed in temples and other venues to this day.

Kyogen

Kyogen is a form of traditional Japanese comic theatre that originated in the 14th century. It is often performed as a companion piece to Noh theatre, which is a more serious form of theatre.

Kyogen is known for its humorous and often absurd plotlines, as well as its use of physical comedy and exaggerated facial expressions. The plays usually feature ordinary people or supernatural beings in everyday situations and often involve misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and miscommunications.

Kyogen is performed by a small cast of actors, usually just two or three, who wear elaborate costumes and masks to portray their characters. The plays are typically short, lasting only 15-30 minutes each, and are performed in a simple, spare style with minimal props or scenery.

Lakhon Basac

Lakhon Basac is a traditional dance-drama form that originated in Cambodia. It is a type of classical dance that combines drama, music, and dance to tell stories from Khmer mythology and history.

The term “Lakhon” refers to the dance-drama performance, and “Basac” means “masked dance.” In Lakhon Basac, performers wear intricate masks and costumes that represent various characters from the story being told. The dance movements and gestures are also highly stylized and symbolic, often conveying emotions and actions in a subtle and nuanced manner.

Lakhon Basac performances are typically accompanied by a live orchestra that plays traditional Khmer music. The music includes a variety of instruments, such as xylophones, gongs, flutes, and drums, and is characterized by its intricate rhythms and melodies.

Latino Theatre

Latino theatre in America refers to the theatrical productions, performances, and artistic expressions created by people of Latin American or Hispanic descent. This genre of theatre encompasses a wide range of cultural and artistic expressions, including plays, musicals, dance performances, and spoken word performances, among others.

Latino theatre in America has a rich history that dates back to the early 20th century when Latin American immigrants began arriving in large numbers in the United States. These immigrants brought with them their own cultural traditions and artistic expressions, which began to influence the American theatre scene.

Over time, Latino theatre in America has evolved and diversified, reflecting the diversity of the Latin American and Hispanic communities in the United States. It has become a vibrant and dynamic art form that often explores issues related to identity, immigration, race, and social justice.

Latino theatre in America has also played a significant role in the broader cultural landscape of the United States, helping to shape and define American theatre as a whole.

Lecture-Performance

A lecture-performance in theatre is a hybrid form of theatre that combines elements of a traditional lecture with those of a performance. It is a theatrical presentation where the performer or performer’s lecture on a specific topic and simultaneously demonstrate it to the audience using various theatrical techniques.

In a lecture-performance, the performer is usually an expert on the subject matter and uses their knowledge to engage and educate the audience. They may use storytelling, humor, multimedia, and other theatrical techniques to illustrate their ideas and make the presentation more engaging.

The lecture-performance format has become increasingly popular in contemporary theatre, as it allows performers to explore complex ideas and issues in an accessible and engaging way. It also blurs the boundaries between traditional theatre and other forms of presentation, such as academic lectures and TED Talks.

Legal Drama

See Proecedural Drama.

Legislative Theatre

Legislative theatre is a form of political theatre that was developed by Brazilian theatre director and activist Augusto Boal in the 1990s. The concept of legislative theatre is based on the idea that theatre can be used as a tool for social and political change, by engaging people in dialogue and encouraging them to participate in the decision-making process.

In legislative theatre, members of the audience are invited to participate in a play or performance, which explores social or political issues that are relevant to their lives. The play typically includes a scene in which a problem or conflict is presented, followed by a scene in which the audience is invited to suggest possible solutions to the problem.

After the play, the audience is then given the opportunity to engage in a facilitated discussion or debate, during which they can propose and vote on legislative solutions to the problems presented in the play. The aim of legislative theatre is to use the power of theatre to create a space for democratic dialogue and to encourage people to engage in the political process.

Legitimate Theatre

Legitimate theatre is a term used to describe professional, mainstream theatre productions that are performed in theatres and venues that are considered respectable and of high quality. This type of theatre typically involves productions of classic plays, new works by established playwrights, or musicals that have been carefully crafted and produced with high production values.

The term “legitimate theatre” can be contrasted with other forms of theatre, such as experimental or avant-garde theatre, which are often characterized by unconventional or challenging subject matter and techniques. Legitimate theatre productions are generally seen as more accessible and popular, appealing to a broader audience that is looking for high-quality entertainment.

Ultimately, what constitutes legitimate theatre can be subjective, and opinions can vary widely depending on cultural and social contexts. However, in general, legitimate theatre is recognized as being well-produced, well-performed, and culturally significant.

Lehrstücke

Lehrstücke is a German term that can be translated as “learning plays” or “teaching pieces.” The term was popularized by the German playwright and theatre director Bertolt Brecht, who used Lehrstücke as a form of didactic theatre intended to educate audiences about social and political issues.

Lehrstücke were short, didactic plays that were meant to be performed by amateur actors and intended to provoke discussion and debate. They were designed to be easy to learn and perform, with simple staging and minimal props. The emphasis was on the ideas and messages conveyed by the play, rather than on complex characters or plot developments.

Brecht believed that Lehrstücke could be used to educate people about social and political issues and to inspire them to take action to improve their communities. He believed that theatre should not only entertain, but also challenge and educate its audience, and he saw Lehrstücke as a way to accomplish this goal.

LGBTQ+ Theatre

LGBTQ+ theatre refers to theatrical productions that explore the experiences, perspectives, and identities of individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other non-heterosexual and/or non-cisgender identities. These productions may address topics such as same-sex relationships, gender identity, and discrimination and marginalization faced by LGBTQ+ individuals.

LGBTQ+ theatre may be performed by LGBTQ+ individuals, or it may be created and produced by allies or those outside of the LGBTQ+ community. The genre includes plays, musicals, and other theatrical productions that explore LGBTQ+ themes and stories.

LGBTQ+ theatre has played an important role in promoting LGBTQ+ visibility and acceptance, providing a platform for LGBTQ+ artists and performers, and creating a sense of community among LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies. Many notable LGBTQ+ playwrights and theatre artists have contributed to the genre, including Tony Kushner, Harvey Fierstein, and Mart Crowley, among many others.

Life Story

The term “life story” in theatre typically refers to a dramatic production that tells the story of a real-life person or event. This type of play is also known as a biographical or autobiographical play, and it typically focuses on a significant moment or period in the life of the subject.

Life stories in theatre can take many forms, from solo performances to large-scale productions with a full cast and elaborate sets. They can also vary in style, from more traditional plays with dialogue and action to experimental pieces that incorporate multimedia elements or other forms of performance art.

Some famous examples of life story plays include “Hamilton,” which tells the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton, and “The Diary of Anne Frank,” which is based on the real-life diary of a Jewish girl who hid with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.

Liturgical Drama

Liturgical drama, also known as church drama, was a form of religious theatre that originated in medieval Europe and was performed during religious services, particularly during the liturgical calendar events such as Easter and Christmas.

These dramas were performed in Latin and were often based on biblical stories and teachings, featuring characters such as prophets, angels, and the Devil. The dramas were performed by priests, members of the clergy, and sometimes by members of the laity.

The earliest examples of liturgical drama date back to the 10th century, and they continued to be popular until the 16th century when the Protestant Reformation led to a decline in the practice in some parts of Europe. The dramas were performed inside the church or in the churchyard, and they were designed to educate and edify the congregation.

Liturgical drama played an important role in the development of theatre in Europe, and it paved the way for the emergence of other forms of theatre, such as mystery plays and morality plays that were performed during the Renaissance.

Live Art

Live art in theatre refers to a type of performance art that is created in front of a live audience, often incorporating elements of visual art, music, dance, and spoken word. It can be experimental and avant-garde, and often challenges traditional notions of what theatre is supposed to be.

Live art performances may be scripted or improvisational and can be presented in a variety of formats, including solo performances, duets, and ensemble pieces. The focus is on the creative process, and often the performers themselves are part of the artistic expression.

Live art in theatre can take many forms, including physical theatre, performance art, immersive theatre, and more. It often involves breaking down the boundaries between performer and audience and may incorporate interactive elements that allow the audience to participate in the performance.

Live art in theatre is a dynamic and constantly evolving form of expression that celebrates the power of live performance and the creative possibilities that emerge when artists are given the freedom to explore and experiment.

Living Newspaper

The Living Newspaper was a theatrical genre that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was a form of political theatre that sought to educate and engage audiences about current events and social issues through the use of news articles, editorials, and other media sources.

The Living Newspaper was inspired by the newspaper industry and sought to recreate the format and style of the newspaper on stage. It typically consisted of a series of short, interconnected scenes or vignettes that addressed a variety of social and political issues, such as unemployment, poverty, labour struggles, and racial discrimination.

The genre was developed as part of the Federal Theatre Project, a New Deal program that provided funding for theatre productions and employed thousands of theatre professionals during the Great Depression. The Living Newspaper was seen as a way to use theatre to address the pressing social and political issues of the day, and to create a new form of public engagement with current events.

Some of the most notable Living Newspaper productions included “One-Third of a Nation” (1938), which focused on housing and urban poverty, and “Triple-A Plowed Under” (1936), which addressed the impact of agricultural policies on farmers during the Depression.

While the Living Newspaper genre was short-lived, lasting only a few years in the 1930s, it had a significant impact on American theatre and paved the way for more socially and politically engaged forms of theatre in the decades that followed.

Low Comedy

Low comedy is a type of comedy in theatre that relies on physical humour, slapstick, and crude or vulgar jokes to elicit laughter from the audience. It often involves exaggerated actions, ridiculous situations, and bawdy language.

Low comedy is typically associated with farce, burlesque, and slapstick comedy. It often involves characters who are foolish, bumbling, or clumsy, and who engage in outrageous behaviour for comedic effect. Low comedy can also involve parody and satire, often targeting social conventions, institutions, and people in positions of authority.

Low comedy has a long history in theatre and has been used to entertain audiences across cultures and time periods. While some critics view low comedy as simplistic and unsophisticated, others argue that it serves an important role in providing relief from the stresses of everyday life and in highlighting the absurdities of human behaviour.

Ludi Scaenici

Ludi Scaenici was a type of ancient Roman theatrical performance, which included plays, comedies, tragedies, and other forms of entertainment such as dancing, music, and acrobatics. These performances were usually held as part of religious festivals or public celebrations and were staged in temporary theatres or amphitheatres, as well as in permanent structures such as the Theater of Pompey or the Colosseum.

The Ludi Scaenici were highly popular and important events in ancient Rome, attracting large crowds of spectators from all social classes. They were often funded by wealthy citizens or the government and featured elaborate costumes, sets, and special effects.

The performers in these theatrical productions were usually professional actors, many of whom were slaves or freedmen, but there were also occasional appearances by amateurs or even members of the Roman nobility. The plays themselves were often adaptations of Greek dramas or Roman myths, and were intended to educate and entertain the audience, as well as to convey moral and political messages.

Lunchtime Theatre

Lunchtime theatre is a type of theatrical performance that is typically staged during the lunch hour. These performances are often short in duration, lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, and are designed to be enjoyed by those who are looking for a quick theatrical experience during their lunch break. Lunchtime theatre can be performed in a variety of settings, such as outdoor spaces, community centres, office buildings, or even restaurants.

Lunchtime theatre productions may be original plays, adaptations of existing works, or collections of short pieces, such as monologues or sketches. These productions may be performed by professional actors or by amateurs and may be presented by theatre companies or other organizations.

Machine Play

A machine play, also known as a “mechanical play,” was a type of theatrical production that was popular in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. In a machine play, elaborate mechanical and scenic effects were used to create spectacular visual displays on stage.

The machines in these plays were often complex contraptions that could create illusions of flying, disappearing, and transforming scenery. They were operated by stagehands who would pull ropes, turn cranks, and operate pulleys to create the desired effects.

Machine plays were particularly popular in the Baroque period, where they were used to create grandiose spectacles that would amaze and entertain audiences. They were often performed in large theatres, such as opera houses, and were accompanied by music and singing.

Some famous examples of machine plays include Jean-Baptiste Lully’s “Alceste” and “Armide,” as well as Christoph Gluck’s “Orfeo ed Euridice.”

Magical Realism

Magical realism is a genre of literature and art that blends magical or fantastical elements with realistic details. In theatre, magical realism refers to plays that use surreal or fantastical elements to explore real-world issues and themes.

In magical realism theatre, the boundary between reality and fantasy is often blurred, and the audience is asked to accept supernatural occurrences as a normal part of the world depicted on stage. For example, characters may suddenly start to levitate, animals may speak, or objects may transform into something else. These magical elements are not presented as extraordinary or exceptional, but as ordinary occurrences that are simply part of the world being depicted.

Magical realism in theatre is often used to explore complex themes such as identity, social justice, and the relationship between the individual and society. It can also be used to comment on political or historical events by blending reality with fantasy in a way that challenges the audience’s assumptions and invites them to think critically about the world around them.

The Magical Realism Genre in Movies | Video Essay

Masque

In Elizabethan theatre, a masque was a form of court entertainment that involved music, dance, and elaborate costumes. It was typically performed by members of the court and was a highly stylised and formal affair.

Masques were usually performed in a special setting, such as a hall or a large room in a palace, and were often used to celebrate special occasions, such as a royal wedding or a visit by a foreign dignitary. They were also sometimes used to convey political or social messages and could be highly allegorical in nature.

The performances themselves often featured elaborate sets and costumes, with the performers wearing masks and intricate headdresses. Music and dance were a key part of the masque, with live musicians providing accompaniment and performers executing complex choreography.

Masques were a highly sophisticated and visually stunning form of entertainment that was popular among the nobility in Elizabethan England.

Mechanical Play

See Machine Play.

Melodrama

19th-century melodrama was a popular form of theatre and literature that originated in the 18th century but gained immense popularity during the 19th century. Melodrama is derived from the Greek word “melos” which means music, and “drama” which means action or plot. The genre is characterized by its emotional and exaggerated storytelling, with a focus on heightened drama and intense emotions.

In the 19th century, melodramas often featured a clear division between good and evil, with the hero portrayed as the embodiment of virtue and the villain as the epitome of evil. The stories often revolved around moral conflicts, with the hero facing various obstacles in his quest to overcome the villain and restore order to society.

Melodramas were often accompanied by music and other dramatic effects such as lighting, sound effects, and elaborate stage settings, all of which served to heighten the emotional impact of the story. The genre was immensely popular among audiences of the time, and many famous works such as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and “Les Miserables” were originally written as melodramas.

Meta-Theatre

Meta-theatre is a type of theatre that draws attention to the fact that the audience is watching a play. It involves self-referentiality, where the play within the play becomes a central focus, and the characters in the play acknowledge the fact that they are performers. In other words, meta-theatre is a theatrical technique that breaks the “fourth wall” between the actors and the audience, blurring the line between reality and fiction.

Some examples of meta-theatre include plays like “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, “Six Characters in Search of an Author” by Luigi Pirandello, “The Bald Soprano” by Eugene Ionesco, and “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” by Tom Stoppard.

Meta-theatre can be used to comment on the nature of theatre itself, the role of the audience, the relationship between the actors and the characters they portray, and the conventions of the art form. It can also be used to create a sense of playfulness and self-awareness, challenging the audience’s expectations and assumptions about what they are watching.

Middle Comedy

Middle Comedy is a genre of Greek comedy that emerged in the fourth century BCE, between the Old Comedy and the New Comedy. It was characterized by a shift away from the political and social satire of the Old Comedy towards more domestic and personal themes. Middle Comedy was known for its focus on everyday life, love affairs, and family relationships, and its humour was often more subtle and refined than that of the Old Comedy.

Middle Comedy plays typically featured a chorus and three actors who played multiple roles. The plays were less focused on the use of parody and satire, and instead, relied on witty dialogue and comedic situations to entertain audiences.

Some of the most well-known Middle Comedy playwrights include Antiphanes, Alexis, and Menander. Despite being popular during its time, only a few fragments of Middle Comedy plays have survived to the present day.

Mime

Mime refers to a form of physical theatre or performance art in which the performer conveys a story or idea through gestures, movements, and facial expressions without using spoken words. Mime performances typically involve the use of imaginary objects and the creation of invisible environments or situations.

Mime can be performed as a solo act or as part of a larger theatrical production. The art of mime requires a high degree of physical control and expressiveness, as the performer must rely solely on body language to communicate with the audience.

Mime has a long history in theatre and has been used in a variety of contexts, including comedy, drama, and social commentary. Famous mime performers include Marcel Marceau, Étienne Decroux, and Charlie Chaplin.

Minority Theatre

Minority theatre is a type of theatre that highlights the experiences, perspectives, and cultural traditions of marginalized groups. It includes performances that are created and produced by people of colour, LGBTQ+ communities, people with disabilities, and other groups that have historically been underrepresented in mainstream theatre.

Minority theatre can take many forms, including plays, musicals, dance performances, and spoken word events. It often addresses issues of social justice, identity, and inequality, and aims to provide a platform for diverse voices to be heard.

Examples of minority theatre include the work of playwrights like August Wilson, who wrote plays that explored the African American experience, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created the musicals “In the Heights” and “Hamilton,” which celebrate Latino culture and history.

Overall, minority theatre seeks to challenge dominant narratives and broaden the perspectives of audiences, while also providing a space for artists from marginalized communities to express themselves and showcase their talents.

Minstrel Show

A minstrel show was a form of entertainment popular in the United States during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a stage show in which white performers would dress up in blackface makeup and caricature black people, often portraying them as lazy, ignorant, and comical.

Minstrel shows typically consisted of a variety of acts, including comedy skits, musical performances, and dancing. The performers would use exaggerated dialects and perform songs that were considered to be stereotypical of African American culture.

Although minstrel shows were initially performed by white performers, African Americans eventually began to participate in them as well. However, they were often forced to conform to the negative stereotypes perpetuated by the show.

Minstrel shows were controversial even during their time, and they have been widely criticized for perpetuating racist attitudes and contributing to the systemic oppression of African Americans. They eventually fell out of favour and were largely replaced by other forms of entertainment.

Miracle Play

A miracle play, also known as a saint’s play, was a type of medieval theatre that dramatised the lives of saints and the miracles they performed. It was one of the earliest forms of drama in medieval Europe and was performed in both religious and secular contexts.

Miracle plays were often performed by local guilds, with each guild responsible for putting on a specific play. Miracle plays were an important part of medieval religious culture, serving to reinforce and celebrate Christian beliefs and values. They were typically performed during religious festivals and holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, and were popular throughout Europe from the 10th to the 16th century.

One of the most famous miracle plays is the “York Mystery Plays,” which were performed in the city of York in England. These plays consisted of a cycle of 48 plays, each one telling a story from the Bible, from the creation of the world to the last judgment.

Mixed Media Performance

A mixed media performance refers to a type of artistic presentation that combines different artistic disciplines and mediums to create a cohesive, multi-dimensional experience for the audience.

Mixed media performances can involve elements from various art forms such as music, dance, theatre, film, visual art, and technology. These elements can be combined in a variety of ways, such as through live or recorded music, projected images or videos, dance performances, spoken word, and more.

The goal of mixed media performance is to create a unique and immersive experience for the audience, often challenging traditional artistic boundaries and creating new forms of expression. Mixed media performances can be found in a variety of settings, from art galleries and museums to theatres and outdoor festivals.

Modernist Theatre

Modernist theatre refers to a movement in drama that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which sought to break away from traditional forms of theatre and explore new, experimental approaches to stagecraft and storytelling.

At its core, modernist theatre rejected the conventions of realism and naturalism, which dominated the stage during the 19th century and instead embraced a range of new techniques and styles, including symbolism, expressionism, and surrealism. This resulted in productions that were often highly stylized, abstract, and fragmented, using techniques such as non-linear storytelling, dream sequences, and psychological exploration.

Modernist theatre also often explored themes related to the human condition, such as the fragmentation of the self, the breakdown of society, and the search for identity in a rapidly changing world. Playwrights such as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, and Tennessee Williams were among the leading figures of the modernist theatre movement, which continues to influence contemporary theatre to this day.

Monodrama

A monodrama is a theatrical performance in which a single actor or performer portrays all the characters in a story, often using different voices, gestures, and mannerisms to distinguish between them. Unlike a monologue, where a single character speaks to an audience or another character, in a monodrama, the performer embodies multiple characters and tells a story from multiple perspectives. Monodramas can be performed in a variety of formats, including solo performances, staged readings, or multimedia productions. They can also cover a wide range of themes and genres, from personal narratives to historical dramas to surrealistic explorations of the human psyche.

Moral Interlude

A moral interlude was a type of play that emerged during the medieval period, particularly in England. It was a short play or skit that was performed between the longer, more serious plays of the time.

The moral interlude typically featured allegorical characters that represented virtues or vices, such as Truth, Pride, or Greed. The characters would interact with each other in a way that demonstrated the consequences of certain behaviours or actions. The purpose of the interlude was to teach moral lessons to the audience, often with a religious or ethical message.

These interludes were performed as a way to break up the more serious plays and provide some entertainment and levity. They were also used to convey important moral or religious teachings to the audience in a more accessible and engaging way.

The popularity of moral interludes declined in the 16th century as more secular forms of entertainment, such as drama and comedy, gained popularity. However, their legacy can still be seen in modern theatre, particularly in the use of allegorical characters and themes to convey moral messages.

Morality Play

A morality play was a type of theatre that emerged in medieval Europe, particularly in the 14th and 15th centuries. It was a form of drama that aimed to teach moral lessons to its audience by presenting allegorical characters and situations that symbolized moral virtues and vices.

In a morality play, the characters were typically personifications of abstract concepts such as Good Deeds, Faith, Pride, and Greed. The plot would usually follow a protagonist who was tempted by one or more of these vices and had to overcome them to achieve redemption.

The plays were often performed in public spaces, such as marketplaces or town squares, and were accessible to a wide range of people, including those who were illiterate. They were intended to be both entertaining and instructive and were often used by the Church as a way of reinforcing Christian values and beliefs.

Some of the most famous morality plays from this period include “Everyman,” “The Castle of Perseverance,” and “Mankind.”

Movement Theatre

See Physical Theatre.

Multilingual Theatre

Multilingual theatre is a type of theatrical performance that incorporates more than one language into the production. This can include the use of multiple languages in the script, dialogue, songs, or other elements of the performance.

Multilingual theatre can take many forms and can vary in the way different languages are incorporated into the production. For example, a play might be primarily in one language, but include sections or scenes in another language, or it might be evenly split between multiple languages throughout the entire production.

Multilingual theatre can be used as a way to explore and highlight cultural differences and similarities, as well as to celebrate linguistic diversity. It can also offer opportunities for bilingual or multilingual actors and performers to showcase their talents and connect with audiences in multiple languages.

Multimedia Theatre

Multimedia theatre is a type of theatrical production that incorporates various forms of multimedia technology into the performance, such as video, sound, lighting, and digital imagery.

This type of performance is often referred to as “multimedia performance” or “digital theatre” and is a form of experimental theatre that combines traditional live performance techniques with digital media to create a unique and immersive theatrical experience for the audience.

Multimedia performances can take many different forms, from plays that incorporate projections or live video feeds to dance performances that use soundscapes and digital imagery to create a dynamic visual experience. The use of technology in these performances can enhance storytelling, create new opportunities for audience engagement, and push the boundaries of traditional theatre.

Mummer’s Play

A mummer’s play, also known as a mumming play, is a type of folk play traditionally performed in England, Scotland, and Wales during the Christmas season or on other festive occasions such as Easter or May Day. The play usually involves a group of amateur actors or “mummers” who wear masks or costumes and perform a short play or skit, often involving a battle between characters such as St. George and the Dragon or the Doctor and the Devil.

The mummers’ plays were usually performed outdoors, often in public spaces such as village greens, and were accompanied by music and dancing. They were often improvised and featured a mix of dialogue, songs, and physical comedy. The plays were also known for their use of colourful characters, such as the Fool, the Beelzebub, and the Hobby Horse.

The origins of mumming plays can be traced back to medieval times, and they continued to be performed in many parts of England and Scotland until the early 20th century. Today, mumming plays are still performed in some rural areas as a way of preserving local traditions and customs.

Mumming Play

See Mummer’s Play.

Museum Theatre

Museum theatre is a form of theatrical performance that takes place within the context of a museum or other cultural institution. The performance may be scripted or improvised and can take many different forms, including live performances, audio recordings, or interactive exhibits.

The goal of museum theatre is to enhance the visitor’s experience and engagement with the museum’s collection and exhibits by providing a different perspective or a deeper understanding of the content. Museum theatre can bring historical figures to life, explore important events or ideas, and provide a more immersive and dynamic experience for visitors.

Museum theatre can be used in many different types of museums, including history museums, art museums, science centres, and children’s museums. The performances may be designed for specific audiences, such as school groups or families, or for general visitors.

Music Hall

Music hall was a form of entertainment that emerged in the mid-19th century in Britain and was popular until the early 20th century. It was a type of variety show that typically included a mixture of comedy sketches, songs, dance routines, and other forms of popular entertainment.

Music hall shows were performed in large, purpose-built theatres, and were popular with a wide range of audiences, from working-class to middle-class patrons. The shows often featured a series of different acts, with performers ranging from comedians and singers to acrobats and magicians.

Music hall performances were often characterized by their bawdy and irreverent humour, which could be controversial at times. Many of the songs and comedy routines were satirical or politically charged and often poked fun at the social and cultural norms of the time.

Despite its popularity, music hall began to decline in the early 20th century, as new forms of entertainment such as cinema and radio emerged

Musical

See Musical Theatre.

Musical Theatre

Musical theatre, also known as a musical, is a form of theatre that combines spoken dialogue, acting, singing, and dancing to tell a story through a theatrical performance. Typically, musicals are performed on a stage in front of a live audience, and they often involve elaborate sets, costumes, and lighting effects.

Musical theatre can trace its roots back to the early 19th century when European operettas and vaudeville shows were popular forms of entertainment. In the early 20th century, musical theatre in the United States began to evolve into its own distinct form, with shows like “Show Boat” and “Oklahoma!” becoming hits.

Musical theatre is characterized by the use of musical numbers that advance the plot, as well as the use of recurring themes, motifs, and melodies. The songs in musicals are often catchy and memorable, and they are used to express a character’s emotions or advance the storyline.

Overall, musical theatre is a unique form of storytelling that combines many different art forms to create a memorable and entertaining experience for audiences.

Mystery

The mystery in theatre (sometimes referred to as whodunit) is a genre of plays that focuses on solving a crime or puzzle. It typically involves a detective or an amateur sleuth trying to uncover the truth behind a mysterious event or crime. The genre is characterised by suspense, tension, and unexpected twists and turns.

In mystery plays, the audience is usually presented with a crime or a puzzle at the beginning of the play. The story then follows the detective or amateur sleuth as they gather clues, interrogate suspects, and piece together the events leading up to the crime. Along the way, the audience is introduced to various characters, each with their own motivations and secrets that may be relevant to the mystery.

One of the key elements of the mystery genre is the revelation of the solution or explanation of the mystery at the end of the play. This can be done through a dramatic reveal or a series of revelations that tie together the various clues and plot points introduced throughout the play.

Some famous examples of mystery plays include Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” which holds the record for the longest-running play in history, and Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles,” which is a classic example of a mystery play featuring the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Mystery Play

In medieval times, a mystery play was a form of religious drama that depicted stories from the Bible, particularly those related to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The plays were performed in churches or in public spaces, and they were typically enacted by members of the clergy or by members of guilds or town organizations.

Mystery plays were called such because they presented mysteries, or stories that had divine or spiritual significance. These plays were often performed during religious festivals or celebrations, such as Christmas or Easter, and they were meant to educate and edify the audience by conveying important moral and religious messages.

Mystery plays were typically performed in cycles, with each cycle consisting of several different plays that covered various aspects of Christian history and doctrine. These cycles often spanned several days, with different plays being performed on different days.

Some of the most famous mystery plays from medieval times include the York Mystery Plays, the Chester Mystery Plays, and the Wakefield Mystery Plays. These plays were an important part of medieval culture and helped to reinforce the religious beliefs and values of the time.

Nativity Play

A Nativity play, also known as a Christmas pageant, is a dramatic reenactment of the birth of Jesus Christ. It is a common tradition in many Christian communities around the world, especially during the Christmas season.

The play usually involves a cast of characters representing the biblical figures present at the Nativity, such as Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, the Magi, and various animals. The story is typically narrated and may be accompanied by songs or hymns.

The purpose of a Nativity play is to retell the story of the birth of Jesus Christ in a way that is engaging and accessible to all ages. It is also a way for communities to come together to celebrate the Christmas season and reinforce their faith and values.

Naturalism

Naturalism in theatre was a theatrical movement that emerged in the late 19th century, particularly in Europe, and aimed to create a more truthful and scientific representation of life on stage. It was a reaction against the earlier romantic and melodramatic styles of theatre, which were characterized by heightened emotions, exaggerated acting, and artificial settings.

Naturalistic theatre attempted to depict reality on stage as accurately as possible, with a focus on everyday situations, social issues, and the struggles of ordinary people. Naturalistic plays often dealt with taboo subjects such as poverty, sex, and violence, and were grounded in the idea that people’s lives are shaped by their environment and social circumstances.

The naturalistic movement was heavily influenced by the ideas of French novelist Emile Zola, who argued that literature and theatre should be based on scientific observation and analysis and that the artist’s role was to depict the world objectively, without moralizing or sentimentalising. Zola’s ideas about naturalism were applied to the theatre by writers such as Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, and Anton Chekhov, who created plays that were noted for their psychological depth, complex characters, and unflinching authenticity.

The theatre movement was characterised by a number of specific techniques and practices, including a focus on naturalistic acting, the use of detailed and accurate set design, the incorporation of everyday objects and actions into the performance, and a rejection of traditional theatrical conventions such as soliloquies and asides. Naturalistic theatre had a significant influence on the development of modern drama and continues to be an important influence on theatre today.

Nautanki

Nautanki is a form of folk theatre that originated in the northern region of India, particularly in the Uttar Pradesh and Bihar states. It is a highly entertaining and lively performance art that combines elements of music, dance, drama, and storytelling.

Nautanki performances usually revolve around mythological or historical stories, often incorporating humour, satire, and social commentary. The actors use a mix of dialogue, songs, and dance to convey the plot and emotions of the characters. The music is usually provided by a live orchestra, which consists of traditional instruments such as the dholak, harmonium, and tabla.

The performers, called “nautanki-wallahs,” are highly skilled in singing, acting, and dancing, and the shows often involve elaborate costumes and makeup. Traditionally, nautanki was performed in rural areas and villages, but today it has gained popularity in urban areas as well.

Nautical Drama

A nautical drama is a play whose plot takes place primarily on or around ships and the sea. This type of drama often features themes of adventure, danger, romance, and the struggles of life at sea. Nautical dramas were popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One well-known nautical drama is The Tempest by William Shakespeare, which features a shipwreck and the supernatural on a deserted island. Another example is The Sea Plays by Eugene O’Neill, and Moby Dick by Herman Melville, a classic nautical tale that has been adapted into various forms, including a play.

Neoclassicism

Neoclassicism in theatre refers to a movement in drama that emerged in the 17th and 18th centuries and sought to revive the classical ideals of ancient Greek and Roman theatre. Neoclassical theatre emphasised reason, order, and balance, and sought to convey universal truths through its plays.

The neoclassical theatre movement was a reaction against the excesses of the Baroque period, which featured elaborate sets, costumes, and plots that were often melodramatic and sensational. Neoclassical playwrights believed that drama should be focused on moral lessons and should reflect the values of reason and rationality.

The neoclassical style is characterised by a number of features, including a focus on classical subjects, such as mythological stories or historical events; a preference for verse drama over prose; a strict adherence to the three unities of time, place, and action; and a use of elevated language and formal dialogue.

The neoclassical theatre was an important precursor to the Romantic movement in theatre, which emerged in the late 18th century and emphasized emotion and individualism over reason and order.

Newspaper Theatre

Newspaper Theatre is a form of theatre that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s as a response to the political and social turmoil of the time. It involves using newspapers as a source of material for creating performances that address contemporary issues.

The technique was pioneered by Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal, who developed a method called “Theatre of the Oppressed.” The technique involves using theatre as a means of political and social activism, where performers use their bodies and voices to explore different perspectives and viewpoints on a particular issue.

In Newspaper Theatre, performers would collect newspapers from the day and use the stories as a basis for improvisation and performance. The stories would be transformed into short sketches, monologues, and scenes that would be performed for an audience. This allowed the performers to address current events and issues in a timely and relevant way.

Newspaper Theatre was an effective tool for engaging audiences in political and social issues, as it allowed them to see these issues from multiple perspectives and encouraged them to think critically about the news they consumed. It also gave voice to marginalized communities and provided a platform for their stories to be told.

New Comedy

New Comedy was a style of Greek comedy that emerged in the late 4th century BC and continued to be popular throughout the Hellenistic period. It was characterized by a focus on everyday life, domestic situations, and the romantic escapades of young lovers.

New Comedy was a departure from the earlier style of Greek comedy, known as Old Comedy, which had been political and satirical in nature, often lampooning public figures and institutions.

In New Comedy, the focus was on private life, particularly the lives of the urban middle class. The plays often featured young lovers, their parents, and their servants, and were marked by a light, humorous tone.

One of the most famous playwrights of New Comedy was Menander, whose works were popular throughout the ancient world and influenced later writers such as Plautus and Terence. Menander’s plays often dealt with themes of love and marriage, and his characters were known for their wit and clever wordplay.

Overall, New Comedy represented a shift towards a more lighthearted and escapist form of entertainment, which would go on to influence later forms of comedy in both the Western and Eastern traditions.

New Drama

New drama refers to plays that have been recently written and produced, often featuring contemporary themes and issues that reflect current societal concerns. These plays are usually characterized by their fresh and innovative approach to storytelling, and they may experiment with different forms and styles of theatre.

Noh Theatre

Noh theatre is a traditional Japanese theatrical form that originated in the 14th century. It is a highly stylised and ritualistic form of drama that combines elements of dance, music, and poetry. Noh is performed on a bare stage with a minimal set, and the actors wear elaborate costumes and masks.

The plays in Noh are usually based on Japanese legends and myths, and often involve themes of the supernatural, the afterlife, and the relationship between the living and the dead. The stories are usually told through the use of symbolic gestures, dance movements, and musical accompaniment.

One of the defining characteristics of Noh theatre is its use of masks. The masks are used to represent different characters, and they are designed to convey the character’s age, gender, and emotional state. The masks are also used to conceal the actor’s face, so that the audience can focus on the performance itself, rather than the individual actors.

Noh theatre is known for its slow and deliberate pacing, and its emphasis on understated, subtle gestures and movements. The performances can be quite long, and are often accompanied by traditional Japanese instruments, such as the flute, drums, and stringed instruments.

Non-Naturalism

Non-naturalism in theatre is a style of performance that seeks to break away from traditional forms of realistic representation, in which actors attempt to portray characters and situations in a manner that mimics real life. Non-naturalistic theatre, on the other hand, often employs unconventional approaches to acting, staging, and design, in order to create a more symbolic, metaphorical, or stylized experience for the audience.

Examples of non-naturalistic theatre might include:

  • Expressionism, in which characters and settings are distorted and exaggerated to convey a heightened emotional state or psychological reality.
  • Surrealism, in which dream-like or illogical elements are incorporated into the performance to challenge the audience’s perceptions of reality.
  • Absurdism, in which characters engage in meaningless or irrational actions and dialogue, often illustrating the futility of human existence.
  • Physical theatre, in which movement, gesture, and bodily expression take precedence over dialogue or plot.
  • Performance art, in which the performance itself is the primary focus, may involve a wide range of media, such as sound, video, or installation.

Non-naturalistic theatre can be challenging for audiences who are accustomed to more conventional forms of storytelling, but it can also be a powerful way to explore complex ideas, emotions, and experiences that may be difficult to convey through realistic representation.

Norwegian Folk Theatre

Norwegian folk theatre, also known as “bygdetunsteater” or “bygdespel,” is a form of traditional theatre that emerged in Norway during the early 20th century. The term “bygdetun” refers to a rural community centre where cultural events are held, and “spel” means play or drama.

Norwegian folk theatre typically features plays that are based on local folklore, history, and traditions. These plays often have a strong connection to the local community and are performed in the local dialect. They may also incorporate traditional music, dance, and costumes.

One of the most famous examples of Norwegian folk theatre is the play “Peer Gynt” by Henrik Ibsen, which was first performed in 1867. This play tells the story of a Norwegian peasant and adventurer named Peer Gynt and features a mix of realistic and surrealistic elements.

Object Theatre

Object theatre is a form of puppetry that uses found objects or everyday items as the main characters or performers. In object theatre, the objects are often manipulated by human performers or puppeteers to create a performance that combines storytelling, movement, and visual art.

Object theatre often involves the transformation of everyday objects into something else, using them in unexpected ways, or presenting them in a different context to give them new meaning. This can create a surreal and dream-like quality to the performance.

Object theatre can be performed in a variety of settings, from small intimate spaces to large stages. It is often used to explore complex social or political issues, as well as personal and emotional themes. Object theatre is a highly imaginative and creative form of theatre that challenges the audience to see the world in a different way.

Off-Broadway Theatre

Off-Broadway theatre refers to theatrical productions that are staged in smaller, more intimate theatres in New York City, typically located outside the Times Square theatre district. The term “Off-Broadway” was first used in the 1950s to describe productions that were performed in venues with 100 to 499 seats, and which were considered to be more experimental or avant-garde than traditional Broadway shows.

Off-Broadway theatres offer a more diverse range of programming than Broadway theatres and often feature new or emerging playwrights and performers. While Off-Broadway productions may not have the same level of commercial success as Broadway shows, they are often critically acclaimed and have a loyal following among theatre enthusiasts.

Off-Broadway productions are typically less expensive to produce than Broadway shows, which allows for greater artistic freedom and experimentation. In recent years, many Off-Broadway productions have gone on to have successful runs on Broadway or to be adapted into films or television shows.

Off-Off-Broadway Theatre

Off-Off-Broadway theatre refers to theatrical productions that take place in smaller, non-commercial venues in New York City, often with limited budgets and resources. The term “Off-Off-Broadway” was first used in the 1960s to describe these smaller productions, which were typically staged in church basements, community centres, and other non-traditional theatre spaces.

Off-Off-Broadway theatres are known for their experimental and avant-garde productions, as well as for giving a platform to emerging playwrights, directors, and actors. These productions often take risks and push the boundaries of traditional theatre, and may explore controversial or taboo subjects.

Unlike Off-Broadway productions, which are typically staged in theatres with 100-499 seats, Off-Off-Broadway theatres can have as few as 20 seats. The productions are also typically produced on a shoestring budget, with minimal sets, costumes, and technical elements.

Old Comedy

Old Comedy was a form of Greek comedy that developed in the 5th century BCE in Athens, and was performed during festivals such as the Dionysia. It was characterized by its irreverent and satirical tone, and its use of political and social commentary.

The most famous writer of Old Comedy was Aristophanes, who wrote plays such as “The Clouds,” “Lysistrata,” and “The Birds.” His works were known for their biting humour and often included parodies of contemporary political figures and events.

Old Comedy also featured a chorus, which played an important role in the performance. The chorus would often comment on the action of the play, and interact with the actors on stage.

In addition to political and social satire, Old Comedy also included elements of fantasy and the supernatural. The plays often featured gods and mythological creatures and used these characters to comment on contemporary issues and ideas.

One-On-One Performance

In general, one-on-one performance refers to a live performance where one performer interacts directly with one audience member or participant at a time. This type of performance can take many different forms, such as a musical performance, a dance performance, or an interactive theatre experience.

More specifically, one-on-one performance often refers to a type of immersive or participatory performance where the performer(s) create a personalised experience for each individual audience member or participant. This might involve the performer(s) speaking directly to the audience member, incorporating elements of the audience member’s personal story or interests into the performance, or even physically interacting with the audience member.

One-on-one performance can be a powerful way to create a sense of intimacy and connection between performer and audience member and to break down traditional barriers between performer and audience. It can also be challenging for the performer(s), as they must be able to adapt their performance to each individual audience member in real-time.

Pageant Play

Pageant Plays, a theatrical form that blends elements of drama, ceremony, and spectacle, originated in medieval Europe. Initially, these performances were part of religious festivals intended to convey biblical stories to the mostly illiterate population. Over time, Pageant Plays evolved to include secular themes, incorporating local history, folklore, and moral tales, thus broadening their appeal and significance. They were characterised by their grand scale, often featuring elaborate costumes, processions, and staging that transformed public spaces into theatrical venues.

The defining features of Pageant Plays include their community focus and the use of open-air stages or processional routes through towns and cities. These performances typically involve large casts, including both professional actors and community members, which emphasises their role in fostering communal identity and participation. The narrative structure is episodic, allowing for a series of loosely connected scenes that can accommodate various stories and themes. This structure also facilitates the inclusion of music, dance, and visual spectacle, making Pageant Plays a multi-disciplinary form of theatre.

Historically, Pageant Plays have served not only as entertainment but also as a means of education and social cohesion. They provided an opportunity for communities to celebrate their history, cultural heritage, and shared values. In contemporary times, Pageant Plays continue to be performed, often as part of festivals, civic celebrations, and historical commemorations. They adapt to modern sensibilities and technologies, incorporating multimedia elements and contemporary themes while maintaining their traditional emphasis on spectacle and community involvement.

Examples of modern Pageant Plays include the annual performances in York, England, which re-enact medieval plays with a contemporary twist, and the “Ramona” Pageant in California, United States, which is one of the longest-running outdoor plays in North America. These examples illustrate the enduring appeal of Pageant Plays and their ability to connect audiences with their cultural heritage and community identity through the power of theatrical performance.

Pantomime

Pantomime, often referred to as “panto” for short, is a type of musical comedy theatrical production that is typically performed during the Christmas season in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries.

Pantomime combines elements of song, dance, comedy, and audience participation, and often includes references to popular culture and contemporary events. Pantomimes are often based on well-known fairy tales, such as Cinderella, Aladdin, and Jack and the Beanstalk, and feature a cast of colourful characters, including a principal boy, a principal girl, a dame (a man dressed in drag), and a villain.

Pantomime is known for using exaggerated physical gestures, or “mime,” which is where the name comes from. Actors often use facial expressions, body language, and exaggerated movements to convey meaning and emotion, often without speaking. The audience is encouraged to participate by cheering the heroes, booing the villains, and shouting out responses to the performers.

Parade

Medieval theatre was a type of theatre that was popular during the Middle Ages, roughly between the 5th and 15th centuries. Parades were often an important part of medieval theatre, especially during pageants and religious festivals.

In medieval theatre, a parade usually referred to as a procession of characters or actors moving through the streets or performing space. The parade might feature actors dressed in costumes or carrying props, and it often included music, dancing, and other types of entertainment.

Parades in medieval theatre served a variety of purposes. They were used to introduce characters, provide exposition, and create a sense of spectacle and excitement. They also helped to draw attention to the performance and attract audiences.

Parody

A parody in theatre is a comedic imitation of another work, typically a play or musical, that pokes fun at the original work by exaggerating or distorting its style, characters, plot, or themes. Parodies can be a form of satire, social commentary, or just pure entertainment.

Parodies often rely on the audience’s familiarity with the original work, and the success of the parody depends on how well the creators are able to capture the essence of the original while adding their own humorous twist. They can be created for various reasons such as to mock the original work or to pay homage to it.

In theatre, parodies can be standalone productions or part of larger productions, such as sketch comedy shows or revues. Some well-known examples of theatre parodies include “The Book of Mormon,” which parodies organized religion, and “Spamalot,” which parodies the Arthurian legend and the genre of musical theatre itself.

Participatory Theatre

Participatory theatre is a form of theatre that actively engages its audience members in the creative process of the production. In participatory theatre, audience members are not just passive viewers, but active participants who have the opportunity to shape the content, direction, and outcomes of the performance.

There are many different forms of participatory theatre, including forum theatre, immersive theatre, and interactive theatre. In forum theatre, for example, audience members are invited to intervene in the performance by suggesting alternative actions or solutions to the problems presented on stage. In immersive theatre, audience members become fully immersed in the performance and are encouraged to interact with the actors and the environment. In interactive theatre, audience members may be asked to take on roles or participate in improvisations alongside the actors.

Participatory theatre can be a powerful tool for social and political change, as it encourages dialogue and reflection on important issues and invites audiences to become active agents of change. It can also be a transformative experience for participants, as it offers a unique opportunity to step outside of one’s own perspective and engage in collective creative expression.

Passion Play

The Passion Play is a theatrical representation of the Passion of Christ, i.e., the events leading up to and including the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It originated in medieval times and was often performed in open-air settings, usually in connection with the Easter season.

The Passion Play typically consists of a series of scenes depicting events from the life of Christ, including his entry into Jerusalem, the Last Supper, his betrayal by Judas, his trial before Pilate, his crucifixion, and his resurrection. The performances often involved a large cast of actors, elaborate costumes, and sets, and were accompanied by music and choral singing.

The Passion Play was often used as a means of teaching the biblical story to an illiterate audience and inspiring devotion to Christ. Some famous examples of Passion Plays include the Oberammergau Passion Play, which is performed every ten years in the village of Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany, and the York Mystery Plays, which were performed in York, England, from the 14th to the 16th century.

Pathetic Tragedy

A “pathetic tragedy” is a term that refers to a type of tragedy that is characterised by its ability to evoke strong emotions in the audience, particularly feelings of pity and compassion. This type of tragedy often involves a protagonist who is flawed or suffers from a tragic flaw, which leads to their downfall.

Peking Opera

See Beijing Opera.

Performance Art

Performance Art is an avant-garde theatre form that emerged prominently in the mid-20th century, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, as part of a broader cultural movement challenging traditional art forms and conventions. This form of theatre blurs the boundaries between visual art and theatrical performance, focusing on the live presence and actions of the artist rather than a scripted play. Performance Art is characterised by its use of the artist’s body as the primary medium, the incorporation of various art forms including sound, video, and visual arts, and its often unconventional settings outside traditional theatre spaces.

One of the defining aspects of Performance Art is its emphasis on the concept and process over the final product. This art form seeks to engage the audience directly, often breaking the “fourth wall” to involve viewers in the performance. The content and themes of Performance Art are diverse, ranging from personal and autobiographical material to political, social, and cultural critique. This diversity reflects the artists’ use of performance as a tool for exploration and expression, challenging audiences to question their perceptions and assumptions.

Performance Art is also noted for its temporal and ephemeral nature. Unlike paintings or sculptures, performance works cannot be collected or exhibited in the same way as traditional artworks. This ephemerality underscores the importance of the live experience and the transient moment of interaction between the performer and the audience.

Examples of influential Performance Artists include Marina Abramovi?, known for her endurance-based works and explorations of the body and mind; Yoko Ono, who has utilised performance to address themes of peace and feminism; and Chris Burden, whose early works involved extreme physical experiences. These artists, among others, have contributed to the development and recognition of Performance Art as a critical and dynamic component of contemporary art and theatre. Their work demonstrates the vast potential of performance to engage with complex ideas and emotions, offering audiences deeply personal and collective experiences.

Performance-Lecture

See Lecture-Performance.

Performative Theatre

Performative theatre is a type of theatre that emphasizes the physical and visual aspects of performance, often using techniques such as movement, dance, and gesture to convey meaning. Unlike traditional theatre, which is typically focused on dialogue and character development, performative theatre often prioritizes the sensory experience of the audience.

Performative theatre can take many forms, ranging from abstract, non-narrative performances to more traditional plays that incorporate performative elements. Some examples of performative theatre include experimental dance theatre, physical theatre, and avant-garde performance art.

One of the key characteristics of performative theatre is its emphasis on the immediacy of the live performance, and its ability to create an immersive and visceral experience for the audience. Through the use of movement, gesture, and other physical techniques, performers in a performative theatre piece seek to engage the audience on a deeply emotional and sensory level.

Physical Theatre

Physical Theatre represents a dynamic fusion of drama and physical movement, where storytelling is conveyed primarily through the body rather than through dialogue. This theatre style, transcending traditional narrative techniques, draws on methods from various disciplines including dance, mime, and circus skills. Originating in the early 20th century, Physical Theatre emerged as practitioners sought to explore the expressive potential of the actor’s body. The movement sought to challenge the dominance of text in theatre, advocating for a form where physical expression and visual imagery take precedence.

Key characteristics of Physical Theatre include the integration of movement, gesture, and physicality as central to performance. This approach allows for a broad spectrum of expression, from abstract representations of themes and emotions to the enactment of characters and narratives in visually innovative ways. Physical Theatre often incorporates elements such as masks, mime, and acrobatics, enhancing its visual and emotive impact. The style is marked by its flexibility and creativity, enabling performances to adapt to a wide range of spaces and contexts, from conventional stages to unconventional public spaces.

DV8 Physical Theatre | JOHN: Achievements

Physical Theatre practitioners typically undergo rigorous training to develop strength, flexibility, and precise control over their movements, enabling them to execute complex physical sequences that convey meaning and emotion. This emphasis on the physical capabilities of performers distinguishes Physical Theatre from more traditional forms of drama and aligns it closely with dance and performance art.

Prominent companies and practitioners who have contributed significantly to the development and popularity of Physical Theatre include Complicité, founded by Simon McBurney, which is renowned for its innovative use of physicality to create dynamic storytelling; DV8 Physical Theatre, led by Lloyd Newson, known for its exploration of social and political themes through movement; and Pina Bausch, a pioneering choreographer whose work blurred the lines between dance and theatre, influencing the evolution of Physical Theatre.

Examples of Physical Theatre productions often showcase the versatility and breadth of the form. For instance, “The Encounter” by Complicité uses a combination of storytelling, sound design, and physicality to immerse audiences in a narrative experience. Similarly, productions by DV8 Physical Theatre, such as “Can We Talk About This?”, utilise movement to engage with contemporary social issues, demonstrating the power of Physical Theatre to communicate complex ideas and emotions through the language of the body.

Picaresque

“Picaresque” refers to a type of storytelling that features a rogue or an anti-hero who goes on a series of misadventures and typically encounters various characters and situations that reflect the social realities of the time. In theatre, a picaresque play might follow the adventures of a roguish protagonist as they navigate the world around them, often with a mix of humour and social commentary.

Picaresque plays originated in Spain in the 16th century and were popular throughout Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Some famous examples of picaresque plays include Moliere’s “Scapin” and Goldoni’s “The Servant of Two Masters.” These plays often feature a central character who is an outsider, such as a servant or a thief, who is able to expose the flaws of the society in which they live through their misadventures.

A picaresque play is characterized by its episodic structure, its focus on a central anti-hero, and its use of humour and satire to comment on the society in which it is set.

Playback Theatre

Playback theatre is a form of improvisational theatre where actors improvise and re-enact real-life stories and experiences told by audience members. In a typical playback theatre performance, a conductor or facilitator invites audience members to share personal stories, memories, or experiences. The actors then use various techniques to interpret and perform the story, such as movement, sound, and dialogue.

Playback theatre is intended to create a safe and supportive space for individuals to share their experiences and emotions, and to allow them to see their stories played back to them in a creative and empathetic way. The process can be therapeutic, cathartic, and transformative for both the storyteller and the audience.

Playback theatre was developed in the 1970s by Jonathan Fox and Jo Salas, and has since spread to become a worldwide movement with hundreds of playback companies and thousands of performers.

Play of Ideas

See Problem Play.

Police Procedural

See Proecedural Drama.

Political Theatre

Political theatre is a form of theatre that uses drama, performance, and other artistic elements to comment on political issues, current events, and social justice concerns. It is a type of theatre that seeks to engage and inspire audiences to become more aware of political and social issues and to take action.

Political theatre can take many forms, from traditional plays and musicals to performance art, street theatre, and community-based theatre. The performances often have a clear political message and may use satire, irony, and humour to communicate their point.

Political theatre can also serve as a tool for activism and social change, by raising awareness about important issues, mobilizing audiences to take action, and creating a sense of solidarity and community around a cause. It can also be a way for marginalized groups to have their voices heard and challenge the dominant narratives of society.

Poor Theatre

Poor Theatre is a concept in the field of theatre that was popularized by Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski in the 1960s. The term “poor” in this context does not refer to financial poverty, but rather a rejection of traditional theatre conventions and a focus on the performer’s physical and emotional presence.

Poor Theatre emphasizes the actor’s body and voice as the primary means of communication and relies on minimalistic sets and props. The goal is to create an intimate and immersive experience for the audience, with an emphasis on the performer’s raw talent and skill.

Grotowski believed that the essence of theatre is the relationship between the performer and the audience and that by stripping away distractions such as elaborate sets and costumes, the audience can connect more deeply with the performer’s artistry and humanity.

Poor Theatre has influenced many theatre practitioners, and its principles can be seen in various forms of experimental and avant-garde theatre.

Popular Theatre

The term “popular theatre” refers to a type of theatre that is created by and for the common people rather than the elite. It is characterized by its accessibility, affordability, and inclusiveness, and often explores social, political, and cultural issues that are relevant to the everyday lives of the audience.

Popular theatre can take many different forms, including street theatre, puppet shows, community theatre, and other forms of grassroots performance. It often incorporates elements of music, dance, and other popular art forms to engage and entertain its audience.

Popular theatre is often seen as a form of cultural resistance, as it allows marginalized communities to express their perspectives and challenge dominant narratives in a way that is both accessible and empowering. It is also often used as a tool for social change, as it can raise awareness about important issues and mobilize communities to take action.

Overall, popular theatre is an important and dynamic form of cultural expression that reflects the voices and experiences of everyday people and serves as a platform for social and political transformation.

Postdramatic Theatre

Postdramatic theatre is a term coined by German theatre researcher and practitioner Hans-Thies Lehmann in his book “Postdramatic Theatre” (1999). It refers to a type of contemporary theatre that moves beyond the traditional form of drama, with its linear plot, well-defined characters, and clear cause-and-effect relationships.

In postdramatic theatre, the focus shifts away from the text and towards the performance itself, with an emphasis on the sensory and the experiential. The actors may not play specific characters or follow a traditional narrative but instead may use their bodies, voices, and movements to create a more abstract or fragmented performance.

Postdramatic theatre often incorporates elements from other art forms, such as dance, music, video, and installation, and blurs the boundaries between them. The audience may be more actively involved in the performance, with interactive elements or immersive experiences that challenge traditional notions of spectatorship.

Postdramatic theatre aims to disrupt our expectations of what theatre can be, encouraging experimentation, innovation, and new forms of expression.

Postmodern Theatre

Postmodern theatre is a type of performance art that emerged in the late 20th century as a reaction against modernist theatre, which emphasized realism, linear narratives, and the pursuit of objective truth. Postmodern theatre is characterized by a rejection of traditional storytelling and a focus on self-awareness, irony, fragmentation, and the deconstruction of dominant cultural narratives.

Postmodern theatre often uses non-linear narrative structures, intertextuality, and meta-theatrical elements, such as breaking the fourth wall and self-referentiality, to draw attention to the artificiality of the theatrical experience and challenge the audience’s preconceptions about reality.

In postmodern theatre, the boundary between the performer and the audience is often blurred, and the audience is invited to actively participate in the creation of meaning. This can be achieved through techniques such as audience interaction, improvisation, and the use of multimedia elements.

Some key figures in postmodern theatre include Samuel Beckett, Bertolt Brecht, Harold Pinter, and Jean Genet.

Post-Apocalyptic Theatre

Post-apocalyptic theatre refers to theatrical works that depict a world in the aftermath of a catastrophic event such as a nuclear war, a natural disaster, or a pandemic. These works typically explore themes of survival, rebuilding, and human resilience in the face of overwhelming adversity.

Post-apocalyptic theatre often features a setting that is bleak, desolate, and dangerous, with characters struggling to navigate a world that has been drastically altered. It may also incorporate elements of science fiction or fantasy, using speculative elements to create a vision of a potential future world.

Examples of post-apocalyptic theatre include plays like Samuel Beckett’s “Endgame”, Caryl Churchill’s “Far Away”, and Sarah Kane’s “Blasted”. These works have been adapted for the stage, and many contemporary plays also explore post-apocalyptic themes in a variety of ways.

Post-Colonial Drama

Post-colonial drama refers to a genre of plays that deals with the cultural, social, and political issues faced by countries that were formerly colonized by Western powers. These plays typically explore the aftermath of colonization, including issues such as identity, race, power, resistance, and cultural clash.

Post-colonial drama often incorporates elements of traditional and contemporary performance styles from the colonized regions, such as African, Caribbean, Indian, or Southeast Asian theatre, as well as the literary and theatrical traditions of the colonizing countries, such as Britain or France. The fusion of these different styles creates a unique and diverse form of theatre that reflects the complex and multifaceted nature of the post-colonial world.

Some of the prominent post-colonial playwrights include Wole Soyinka, Derek Walcott, Athol Fugard, Caryl Churchill, and Hanif Kureishi. Their works explore the complexities of post-colonial societies, including the tensions between traditional and modern values, the struggle for independence and sovereignty, and the challenges of reconciliation and healing in the aftermath of colonialism.

Problem Play

A problem play is a type of drama that addresses a controversial social or political issue, typically in a realistic and serious manner. These plays are often characterized by their ambiguity, moral complexity, and lack of a clear resolution. The term “problem play” was first coined by the critic F.S. Boas in the early 20th century to describe a group of plays by Shakespeare, including “Measure for Measure,” “Troilus and Cressida,” and “All’s Well That Ends Well.” However, the term has since been used to describe a broader range of plays that deal with social issues, such as Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” and August Wilson’s “Fences.”

Procedural Drama

Procedural dramas typically follow a specific procedure or process in their storytelling, often involving legal or law enforcement systems. In theatre, these types of plays are often referred to as “legal dramas” or “police procedurals.”

Some examples of procedural dramas in theatre include “A Few Good Men” by Aaron Sorkin, which focuses on a military court-martial trial, and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent – The Musical” by Rupert Holmes, which is based on the popular television series and follows a team of detectives as they investigate a murder case.

Process Drama

Process drama is an educational approach that involves creating an immersive and interactive learning experience through drama techniques. It is a type of drama that focuses on the creative and exploratory aspects of drama rather than performance.

In process drama, participants are given a scenario or situation to explore, and they work together to create a story, develop characters, and resolve conflicts. The goal is to engage learners in a holistic way and to promote their critical thinking, creativity, and empathy.

The process drama typically involves a series of structured activities that allow learners to explore different perspectives and develop their understanding of the world. It may also include improvisation, role-play, and other drama techniques that encourage active participation and engagement.

Process drama can be used in a variety of educational settings, including schools, museums, and community centres. It is often used to teach subjects such as history, social studies, and literature, as well as to develop interpersonal and communication skills.

Promenade Theatre

Promenade theatre is a type of theatrical performance in which the audience moves around with the actors, rather than remaining seated in a fixed location. In promenade theatre, the performance takes place in various locations within a specific space, such as a building, a park, or a city street, and the audience follows the action as it unfolds.

This type of theatre often involves interaction between the performers and audience members, blurring the line between the two and creating a more immersive experience. Promenade theatre can be used to tell a wide range of stories, from historical dramas to contemporary plays, and can be staged in a variety of settings, from traditional theatre spaces to unconventional venues.

Propaganda Play

A propaganda play is a type of theatrical production that is specifically designed to promote a particular political or ideological agenda. Propaganda plays are often created by governments or political organizations to shape public opinion and advance their interests.

Propaganda plays can take many forms, including historical dramas, comedies, musicals, and children’s shows. They may feature stereotyped characters and simplistic plotlines that are intended to convey a clear message to the audience. The goal of a propaganda play is to persuade people to adopt a particular point of view or to support a particular cause.

While propaganda plays are often associated with totalitarian regimes, they have been used by governments and political organizations of all stripes throughout history. However, it is important to note that not all plays that deal with political themes are propaganda plays. Many plays can explore complex issues and multiple perspectives without resorting to simplistic propaganda techniques.

Psychological Drama

A psychological drama is a type of theatrical that focuses on the emotional and mental states of its characters. This genre explores the inner thoughts and feelings of the characters and their interactions with each other. Psychological dramas often delve into complex and intense topics such as relationships, trauma, mental illness, and personal struggles. The plot of a psychological drama typically revolves around a character’s psychological conflicts, which may be resolved through self-discovery or confrontation with others. These productions are often characterised by their depth, complexity, and emotional intensity, and they can be both challenging and rewarding for audiences.

Puppet Theatre

Puppet theatre is a form of theatrical performance that involves the use of puppets to tell a story or convey a message. The puppets can be made from a variety of materials such as wood, paper, fabric, or even clay, and are usually controlled by puppeteers who manipulate them from behind a curtain or stage.

Puppet theatre has a long history, with evidence of puppetry dating back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and China. Today, it remains a popular form of entertainment and artistic expression in many cultures around the world.

There are many different styles of puppet theatre, ranging from simple hand puppets to complex marionettes that can be manipulated by strings or wires. Some puppet theatres use live actors to interact with the puppets, while others rely solely on the puppets themselves to tell the story.

Purim Play

The Purim play is a traditional theatrical performance often presented during the Jewish holiday of Purim. The story of Purim is recounted in the Biblical Book of Esther, and the play typically dramatizes the events of the story.

In the play, performers typically take on the roles of characters from the story, such as Esther, Mordecai, Haman, and King Ahasuerus. The play often involves music, dancing, and elaborate costumes, and it may also incorporate comedic elements.

While there is no one “official” version of the Purim play, many communities have their own unique traditions and variations. Some Purim plays may be more serious and sombre, while others may be more lighthearted and comedic. The important thing is that the play helps to bring the story of Purim to life and allows participants to celebrate the holiday in a fun and engaging way.

Pyhlax Play

See Hilarotragedy.

Queer Theatre

See LGBTQ+ Theatre.

Radical Theatre

Radical theatre refers to a type of theatre that seeks to challenge and subvert dominant social, political, and cultural norms through its content and form. It is characterized by its radical and revolutionary nature, which aims to stimulate critical thinking and inspire social change.

Radical theatre can take many forms, including experimental and avant-garde productions, street theatre, guerrilla theatre, and community-based theatre. Its themes may include topics such as oppression, social justice, inequality, and resistance. The aim of radical theatre is to provoke and challenge its audience, often using unconventional methods and techniques to do so.

Examples of radical theatre include the work of playwrights such as Bertolt Brecht, Augusto Boal, and Caryl Churchill, as well as theatre groups like the Living Theatre and the Bread and Puppet Theater. Radical theatre has been an important part of many social and political movements throughout history, including the civil rights movement, the anti-war movement, and the feminist movement.

Radio Drama

A radio drama is a type of audio performance that is produced for broadcast on the radio. It is essentially a play that is designed to be heard rather than seen and relies solely on the use of sound effects and voice actors to tell a story.

In a radio drama, actors use their voices to portray characters, and sound effects are used to create a sense of place and atmosphere. Music may also be used to enhance the mood of the production. The story is often broken up into several episodes, which are broadcast over a period of time, much like a television series.

Radio dramas were a popular form of entertainment in the early to mid-20th century, before the rise of television. They were often produced in-house by radio stations or by independent production companies and ranged in genre from comedies to mysteries to dramas. Some of the most famous radio dramas include “The War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre, and “The Shadow,” a detective series that ran from the 1930s to the 1950s.

Rainbow of Desire

The Rainbow of Desire is a theatrical technique created by Brazilian director and writer Augusto Boal, who was a proponent of the Theatre of the Oppressed. This technique is used to explore and understand the internal conflicts and desires of a character or individual.

The Rainbow of Desire technique is often used in group settings, where participants take on the roles of various characters and use improvisation and dialogue to explore the different desires, fears, and emotions that drive them. The technique is based on the idea that every individual has a “rainbow” of desires, which represent their deepest hopes and dreams, as well as their fears and anxieties.

Through the exploration of the rainbow of desires, individuals can gain a better understanding of their own emotions and motivations, as well as the emotions and motivations of others. This can help to build empathy and promote understanding and communication between people, ultimately leading to more harmonious and productive relationships.

Rakugo

Rakugo is a form of Japanese comedic storytelling that has been around since the 17th century. It involves a lone storyteller, called a Rakugoka, sitting on stage with only a paper fan and a small cloth as props, and telling a humorous story, typically lasting about 30 minutes.

The Rakugoka begins the performance by introducing themselves and the title of the story they will be telling, then proceeds to act out a dialogue between several characters, using different voices and facial expressions to bring the story to life. The stories are usually based on everyday life and situations and often involve puns and wordplay, as well as physical humour.

Rakugo performances are often held in traditional Japanese theatres called “yose,” and are still popular in Japan today.

Reader’s Theatre

Reader’s theatre is a style of theatre where a group of actors, typically without costumes, sets, or props, read from a script while performing a play or a piece of literature. It is also known as interpretive reading, and it is often used in educational settings to enhance language skills, reading comprehension, and public speaking.

In reader’s theatre, the focus is on the spoken word, and the actors use their voices to bring the characters and story to life. They may use different tones, inflections, and accents to differentiate the characters and convey emotions. The audience is encouraged to use their imagination to visualize the setting and action, as there are no visual aids to guide them.

Reader’s theatre can be performed with various texts, including plays, short stories, poetry, and even nonfiction works. It can also be adapted to any age group, making it a versatile tool for educators and performers.

Realism

Realism in the context of theatre is a theatrical style that aims to create an illusion of reality on stage. It emerged in the late 19th century as a reaction against the artificiality of the earlier theatrical styles such as melodrama and romanticism. Realistic theatre seeks to represent life as it is, with a focus on the everyday experiences of ordinary people.

Realistic plays typically feature characters who are drawn from real life, and who speak in naturalistic dialogue that reflects the way people actually talk. The sets and costumes are designed to be as authentic as possible, and the lighting creates a naturalistic effect. Realistic plays often deal with social issues and explore the complex relationships between people in a way that is intended to be both informative and entertaining.

Some famous examples of realistic plays include Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” Anton Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” and Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” Realism remains a popular theatrical style today, although it has been adapted and modified over the years to reflect changes in society and culture.

Renaissance Theatre

See Elizabethan Theatre.

Repertory Theatre

Repertory theatre is a type of theatre that presents a rotating schedule of plays or productions in which a company of actors perform a different play or production every night or on a regular basis. The plays are usually performed in sequence, with each one being presented for a certain number of performances before the next one is staged.

In a repertory theatre company, the same group of actors often perform in all the productions, and they may play different roles in each play. The company may also have a permanent creative and technical staff, including directors, designers, and stage managers, who work on all the productions.

Repertory theatre allows for a diverse range of productions to be staged, and it provides an opportunity for actors and other theatre professionals to work on a variety of productions and roles. It also allows audiences to see a range of plays and productions in a short period of time, often with discounted tickets or subscription packages.

Restoration Comedy

Restoration Comedy is a genre of plays that emerged in the late 17th century in England during the Restoration era, which lasted from 1660 to 1688. These plays were characterized by their witty dialogue, sexual intrigue, and satirical treatment of contemporary manners and morals.

Restoration Comedy often featured plots involving adultery, deception, and seduction, with characters who were typically wealthy, fashionable, and morally ambiguous. The plays were often bawdy and irreverent, mocking the conventions of courtly love and celebrating the pursuit of pleasure and self-interest.

Some notable examples of Restoration Comedy include William Congreve’s “The Way of the World,” George Etherege’s “The Man of Mode,” and John Vanbrugh’s “The Relapse.” These plays were influential in shaping the development of English theatre, and they continue to be performed and studied today for their historical and literary significance.

Revenge Tragedy

A revenge tragedy is a type of play that was popular in England during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. These plays typically involve a protagonist who seeks revenge for a perceived wrong, usually the murder of a family member or loved one. The protagonist is often consumed by a desire for revenge and is willing to take extreme measures to achieve it.

The genre of revenge tragedy is characterized by a number of common elements, including a soliloquy in which the protagonist expresses his or her desire for revenge, the use of ghosts and supernatural elements, and a high body count.

Some of the most famous examples of revenge tragedy include William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and Thomas Kyd’s “The Spanish Tragedy.” However, the genre was also popular in other European countries, such as France and Spain.

Revue

A revue is a type of theatrical performance that features a series of sketches, songs, and dance routines. It typically includes a mix of comedy, satire, and commentary on current events, popular culture, and social issues. Unlike a traditional play, a revue does not have a plot or a narrative structure, instead, each act is a self-contained performance that is linked together by a common theme or tone.

Revue performances were popular in the early 20th century, particularly in the United States and Europe. They often featured well-known performers, such as comedians, singers, and dancers, and were known for their high energy, rapid-fire pacing, and sharp wit. Today, revues are still performed in some theatres and cabarets around the world, although they are less common than they were in the past.

Ritual Drama

Ritual drama refers to a form of performance that combines elements of ritual and drama. In this type of performance, participants enact a story or myth in a ceremonial or religious context. The aim of the ritual drama is to invoke or embody spiritual or mythic forces and to create a transformative experience for both performers and the audience.

Ritual drama has been practised in many cultures throughout history, from ancient Greek theatre to Native American religious ceremonies to medieval European mystery plays. The performances often involve music, dance, costumes, and props to create a rich sensory experience. The ritual drama may also include symbolic actions or gestures that have a deeper meaning within the cultural or religious context.

The goal of ritual drama is not simply to entertain but to create a sense of participation in a larger cosmic or mythic story. The performance can help to reinforce cultural values, provide a sense of community and identity, and offer a way to connect with the divine or sacred.

Rock Musical

A rock musical is a type of musical theatre production that emphasizes rock music and its sub-genres, such as punk, heavy metal, and glam rock, among others. It usually features a live band and incorporates elements of rock music, such as electric guitar solos, drumming, and powerful vocals, into its songs and score.

Rock musicals first emerged in the 1960s with productions like “Hair” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” and have since become a popular subgenre within musical theatre. They often tackle controversial or socially relevant topics and may include explicit language and adult themes.

Some popular rock musicals include “Rent,” “The Who’s Tommy,” “Spring Awakening,” “American Idiot,” and “Hamilton,” among many others.

Romantic Comedy

A romantic comedy is a genre of play that combines elements of romance and humour to create a light-hearted, entertaining production. These plays typically revolve around a central love story and feature amusing situations and witty dialogue.

In a romantic comedy, the characters often start in a state of confusion or conflict, but through a series of comedic misadventures and misunderstandings, they eventually come together and fall in love. These plays often use mistaken identities, disguises, and other comedic devices to heighten the humour and keep the audience engaged.

Romantic comedies are a popular genre in theatre and have been around for centuries. Some of the most famous examples of romantic comedies include William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest.” However, modern playwrights also continue to create new romantic comedies that reflect contemporary perspectives on love, relationships, and society.

Sacra Rappresentazione

See Miracle Play.

Sainete

Sainete is a type of one-act comedic play that originated in Spain in the 18th century. The term “sainete” comes from the Spanish word “saina,” which means a witty or humorous remark.

Sainetes were usually performed as interludes between acts of a larger play or as separate entertainment. They often featured everyday characters from Spanish society, such as peasants, shopkeepers, and the lower classes. The plays were known for their lively and often irreverent humour, as well as their use of local dialects and slang.

Saints Play

In medieval times, saints were highly revered and played a significant role in the religious life of the people. Many religious plays were written and performed in honour of saints, often as part of church celebrations or festivals.

One common type of saint play was the “miracle play,” which depicted the miracles performed by the saint. These plays often included elaborate stage effects, such as the appearance of angels or demons, and were intended to inspire awe and faith in the audience.

Another type of saint play was the “mystery play,” which depicted biblical stories and the lives of the saints. These plays were often performed in cycles, with each cycle covering a different aspect of Christian history, such as the creation of the world, the life of Christ, or the Last Judgment.

Sanskrit Theatre

Sanskrit theatre, also known as Natyashastra, is an ancient form of theatre that originated in India. It is one of the oldest forms of theatre in the world, dating back to the 1st millennium BCE.

Natyashastra is a Sanskrit word that means “the art of theatre.” It is a comprehensive treatise on dramaturgy, dance, music, and stagecraft, written by the sage Bharata Muni. The text contains detailed descriptions of various aspects of theatre, including the construction of theatres, the training of actors, the use of make-up and costumes, and the performance of plays.

Sanskrit theatre is characterized by its use of elaborate costumes, makeup, and masks, as well as its use of music and dance to enhance the performance. The stories told in Sanskrit theatre are often drawn from Hindu mythology and epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Sanskrit theatre has had a significant influence on the development of theatre in India and beyond.

Satire

Satire in theatre is a form of drama that uses irony, sarcasm, humour, and ridicule to criticize and expose the flaws, vices, and follies of individuals, institutions, and society. It often uses exaggeration and parody to highlight the absurdity of a situation or to provoke a reaction from the audience.

Satirical plays often have a political or social message and aim to challenge the status quo, question authority, and bring about change. They can be used to mock specific individuals or groups, such as politicians, celebrities, or religious leaders, or to target broader social issues like corruption, greed, and injustice.

Some well-known examples of satirical plays include “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, and “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift. Satire in theatre can be an effective tool for social commentary and can be both entertaining and thought-provoking for audiences.

Satyr Play

Satyr play was a form of theatrical entertainment that originated in ancient Greece. It was performed as part of the Dionysian festival, which was a celebration of the god of wine, fertility, and theatre.

Satyr plays were typically performed after the three tragedies that made up a tragic trilogy. These plays featured a chorus of satyrs, mythical creatures who were part human and part goat. The satyrs were known for their overtly sexual behaviour and love of wine, and their appearance in the play provided a contrast to the seriousness of the preceding tragedies.

The plots of Satyr plays were often based on mythological themes but were more light-hearted and humorous in nature than the preceding tragedies. They often included bawdy jokes, sexual innuendo, and physical comedy. The goal of the Satyr play was to provide the audience with a release of tension after the emotional intensity of the preceding tragedies.

Science Theatre

Science theatre is a form of science communication that combines scientific information with theatrical performance. It involves using theatre techniques such as storytelling, character development, and dramatization to convey scientific concepts to a general audience.

Science theatre can take many different forms, from scripted plays to improvisational performances, and can cover a wide range of scientific topics, from physics and chemistry to biology and environmental science.

The aim of science theatre is to engage the audience with science in a way that is entertaining, informative, and thought-provoking. By presenting science in a creative and engaging way, science theatre can help to demystify complex scientific concepts, promote scientific literacy, and inspire a new generation of scientists and science enthusiasts.

Senecan Tragedy

A Senecan tragedy is a type of tragic play that originated in ancient Rome and is named after the playwright, Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Senecan tragedies were modelled after Greek tragedies and were written in Latin.

These plays were characterized by their use of rhetoric, including long speeches and monologues. They often focused on themes of revenge, death, and the consequences of moral wrongdoing. The main characters in Senecan tragedies were often powerful figures such as kings, queens, and emperors who were brought down by their flaws or the actions of others.

Senecan tragedies were influential in the development of Renaissance drama in Europe, and many of their themes and techniques can be seen in the works of Shakespeare and other playwrights of the era. Some examples of Senecan tragedies include “Medea,” “Thyestes,” and “Phaedra.”

Senior Theatre

Senior theatre typically refers to theatrical productions that are performed by senior citizens. This type of theatre can encompass a range of genres and styles, including plays, musicals, and other forms of live performance.

Senior theatre can provide a creative outlet for older adults, as well as a way to stay active and engaged in their communities. It can also be a way to address issues that are particularly relevant to seniors, such as aging, caregiving, and retirement. Additionally, senior theatre can be a way to combat ageism and stereotypes about older adults, by showcasing the talent and vitality of seniors in the performing arts.

Sentimental Comedy

A sentimental comedy was a type of theatre genre that emerged in the 18th century, particularly in England and was popular until the early 19th century. The genre aimed to provoke emotions such as empathy, sympathy, and tenderness from the audience by presenting romantic and moralistic stories with sentimental and idealized characters.

Sentimental comedies typically featured a protagonist who was a virtuous and noble character, often from a lower social class, who overcame obstacles and challenges to achieve happiness, usually through love. The plots often revolved around the conflict between true love and social norms or expectations, and the plays typically had a happy ending with the lovers being united.

The genre often incorporated elements of melodrama, with scenes of intense emotional tension and climactic moments, and emphasized the power of emotion and sentiment over reason and logic. The plays often included sentimental songs and music, and the characters were expected to display a range of emotions, including compassion, love, and sorrow.

Critics of the genre argued that it was overly sentimental, formulaic, and lacked intellectual depth, while supporters argued that it provided an opportunity for the audience to experience powerful emotions and reflect on moral values. Despite its criticisms, sentimental comedy remained popular for several decades and had a significant influence on later theatre genres, such as romantic comedy.

Sentimentalism

Sentimentalism in the theatre refers to a style of dramatic performance that was popular in the 18th century. It was characterized by an emphasis on emotions and feelings, particularly those of sympathy, compassion, and kindness. The aim of sentimental theatre was to evoke strong emotional responses from the audience, often through the use of melodramatic and exaggerated situations.

Sentimentalism was a reaction to the more intellectual and formal styles of theatre that had been popular in previous centuries. It emphasized the individual experience and emotions of characters, rather than their social or political roles. Sentimental plays often depicted virtuous and innocent characters who suffered at the hands of cruel or unfeeling society.

One of the most famous examples of sentimentalism in the theatre is the play “The Sentimental Journey,” written by Laurence Sterne in 1768. This play tells the story of a journey taken by a sentimental traveller, who encounters a series of characters whose stories evoke sympathy and compassion.

Shadow Play

A shadow play is a form of theatrical performance in which puppets or other figures made of translucent materials such as paper or animal hides are used to create shadow images on a screen. The figures are typically placed between a source of light and a white or light-coloured screen, and their movements are manipulated by puppeteers using rods or other devices.

The technique of shadow play has been used for centuries in various cultures around the world, including in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. In some cultures, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, it has developed into a highly sophisticated and revered art form.

Shadow plays can be used to tell stories, convey moral lessons, or entertain audiences. They often involve music, narration, and sound effects to enhance the experience. Shadow play can be performed in a variety of settings, ranging from small-scale performances in homes or community centres to large-scale productions in theatres or outdoor festivals.

She-Tragedy

In the 17th and 18th centuries, “she-tragedy” was a term used to describe a specific genre of tragedy that focused on female protagonists and their experiences. These plays were typically written by male playwrights and were performed by all-female casts.

She-tragedies were characterized by their portrayal of women as tragic heroes who were subjected to societal expectations and oppressive gender roles. These plays often featured themes of love, honour, and duty, as well as the struggles of women in a patriarchal society.

One of the most famous examples of a she-tragedy is “The Mourning Bride” by William Congreve, which was first performed in 1697. The play centres on the character of Zara, a queen who is torn between her love for her captor, Manuel, and her duty to her people. Zara’s tragic fate is ultimately determined by the patriarchal society in which she lives, which forces her to choose between her heart and her obligations.

Another notable example of a she-tragedy is “The Fair Penitent” by Nicholas Rowe, first performed in 1703. The play follows the story of Calista, a woman who is forced to marry a man she does not love and who ultimately becomes embroiled in a scandalous affair. The play explores themes of love, honour, and social norms, as well as the double standards that existed for men and women in 18th-century society.

She-tragedies were an important part of 17th and 18th-century theatre and played a significant role in shaping the way that women were portrayed on stage. While they were often criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes of women, they also provided a platform for female characters to take centre stage and for female playwrights to challenge societal norms and expectations.

Site-Specific Theatre

Site-specific theatre is a form of performance art that takes place in a location other than a traditional theatre space, such as a theatre building or a stage. Instead, the performance is designed to be experienced in a specific location, such as a park, a museum, or a historical site.

Site-specific theatre often takes into account the unique characteristics of the location and incorporates them into the performance. This form of theatre can also involve audience participation, with the audience moving through the location along with the performers or even becoming part of the performance themselves.

Site-specific theatre aims to create a more immersive and interactive experience for the audience by breaking down the traditional boundaries between performer and audience and creating a unique and memorable theatrical experience.

Slapstick

Slapstick is a type of physical comedy that involves exaggerated, often violent, actions performed by the actors on stage. The term “slapstick” comes from the name of a prop that was used in early theatre: a stick with two pieces of wood attached that made a loud slapping noise when struck together. Slapstick comedy often involves characters falling, tripping, and hitting each other with objects, resulting in humorous and often absurd situations.

Slapstick comedy has been used in performance for centuries, from the Commedia dell’Arte of the Renaissance to the silent films of the early 20th century. It continues to be used in modern theatre and film as a way to elicit laughs and entertain audiences with physical humour.

Small-Scale Theatre

See Intimate Theatre.

Soap Opera

In the context of theatre, “soap opera” typically refers to a style of melodramatic play that emphasizes sensational storylines, heightened emotions, and exaggerated characters. These plays are often serialized, with ongoing story arcs that span multiple performances or even entire seasons.

The term “soap opera” originated from radio dramas in the early 20th century that were sponsored by soap companies, as they were often targeted towards housewives who were doing household chores while listening to the radio. These dramas were known for their emotional and dramatic storylines, and the term eventually spread to other forms of media, including theatre, television, and film.

In theatre, soap operas may be performed in traditional theatres or in more unconventional settings, such as storefronts or site-specific locations. They often have a loyal following and can be popular with audiences who enjoy the heightened emotions and dramatic storytelling that the genre is known for.

Social Comedy

A social comedy in theatre is a genre of play that uses humour and satire to comment on social issues, norms, and conventions. It often uses exaggerated characters and situations to expose the foibles and hypocrisy of society.

Social comedies can be used to critique specific social issues such as class, gender, or race, or they can be more general commentaries on society as a whole. They typically use witty dialogue, irony, and sarcasm to entertain the audience while also providing a critique of society.

Examples of social comedies in theatre include Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest,” Molière’s “Tartuffe,” and George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion.”

Social Realism

Social realism in theatre refers to a dramatic genre that emphasises the depiction of social, political, and economic issues in a realistic manner. This theatrical style originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and gained prominence during the 1930s and 1940s, particularly in response to the Great Depression and the social injustices of that time.

The primary aim of social realism in theatre is to raise awareness of societal issues and inspire change by portraying the struggles, hardships, and injustices faced by ordinary people. Playwrights who adopt this style tend to focus on themes such as class conflict, poverty, gender inequality, and race relations.

Some key characteristics of social realist theatre include:

  1. Authenticity: Social realist plays aim to depict life as it is, often drawing on the experiences of real people and communities. The dialogue, settings, and situations are portrayed in a believable and relatable manner.
  2. Character-driven stories: The plotlines of social realist plays are driven by complex, fully-realized characters, who are often shaped by the socio-economic and political circumstances they face.
  3. Social critique: Social realist theatre uses the stage as a platform to examine and critique societal issues, promoting empathy and understanding among the audience.
  4. Political engagement: Many social realist playwrights and directors have a clear political stance, using their work to advocate for social justice and change.

Notable playwrights associated with social realism include Clifford Odets, Arthur Miller, and John Osborne. Examples of social realist plays are “Waiting for Lefty” by Clifford Odets, “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller, and “Look Back in Anger” by John Osborne.

Socialist Realism

Socialist Realism was an artistic and literary movement that emerged in the Soviet Union in the 1930s. It was the official artistic style promoted by the Soviet government, and it was intended to serve as a tool for promoting Communist Party ideals and values.

In Soviet Russian theatre, Socialist Realism was a style of drama that focused on depicting the struggles and triumphs of the working class and the achievements of the Soviet state. The plays were typically highly political and focused on promoting Communist Party values and ideals.

According to the principles of Socialist Realism, art should be accessible to the masses and should promote the goals of the Communist Party. Therefore, Soviet Russian theatre focused on presenting heroic characters who were fighting for the greater good, often in the face of adversity. These characters were meant to inspire the audience and encourage them to work towards building a better society.

The plays were highly didactic, with clear messages about the importance of collective action, the dangers of individualism, and the need for the working class to unite to achieve their goals. The characters in these plays were often portrayed as archetypes rather than fully fleshed-out individuals, with their actions and motivations designed to embody Communist Party values.

Son et Lumière

“Son et Lumière” is a French term that literally translates to “sound and light,” and it refers to a type of theatrical performance that combines both elements to create a sensory experience for the audience. The term was first used to describe a series of open-air shows that took place at the Palace of Versailles in France during the 1950s.

In a Son et Lumière show, actors, dancers, or other performers may act out scenes or narratives, while sound effects and music are played and lighting effects are used to enhance the visual experience. The performances are often held in historical or architectural sites, such as castles, cathedrals, or other landmarks, to create a unique atmosphere and add to the overall spectacle.

The goal of a Son et Lumière show is to create a multisensory experience that engages the audience’s imagination and emotions, as well as providing entertainment and education. It is a popular form of theatrical entertainment in many countries, particularly in Europe, and is often used to celebrate historical events or cultural traditions.

Sotie

A sotie is a form of theatrical entertainment that originated in France during the 15th and 16th centuries. It is a type of comic play that features satire and parody of contemporary social and political issues.

The sotie was typically performed by a group of actors who would dress up in elaborate costumes and masks to play various characters. The plays were often performed in the streets or in public squares, and they were popular among the common people.

Soties were known for their use of puns, wordplay, and clever word twists, and they often included bawdy and irreverent humour. The plays were also notable for their use of music, dance, and physical comedy.

Over time, the sotie evolved into other forms of French theatre, including farce and vaudeville.

Spoken Word Theatre

Spoken word theatre is a form of performance art that combines elements of spoken word poetry with theatre. It typically involves a single performer using spoken word techniques such as rhyme, repetition, and rhythm to convey a story or message to an audience.

In spoken word theatre, the performer may use various techniques such as characterizations, vocal inflections, and physical gestures to convey the emotional and narrative elements of the piece. The performances may also incorporate elements of music, dance, and other forms of visual and sensory art to enhance the overall experience.

Spoken word theatre can be used to address a wide range of themes and issues, from personal experiences to social and political commentary. It is often used as a means of activism and advocacy, as well as a form of artistic expression and entertainment.

Street Theatre

Street theatre is a form of theatrical performance that takes place in public spaces such as streets, parks, or marketplaces, rather than in traditional theatre venues. Street theatre often involves live performances by actors, musicians, and other performers who engage with the audience in an interactive and immersive manner.

Street theatre can take many forms, including puppet shows, physical theatre, mime, and storytelling. It can be used to convey a message, provoke thought and discussion, or simply to entertain and engage audiences. Often, street theatre is used to address social, political, or environmental issues and can be a powerful tool for activism and social change.

Street theatre has a long history and can be traced back to ancient times, where it was used to entertain and educate the masses. Today, street theatre is a vibrant and dynamic art form that continues to evolve and adapt to new audiences and social contexts.

Studio Theatre

See Chamber Theatre.

Sturm und Drang

Sturm und Drang, which translates to “Storm and Stress” in English, was a cultural movement in Germany in the late 18th century. It was a literary and artistic movement that emphasized individualism, emotion, and rebellion against the constraints of traditional authority.

In German theatre, Sturm und Drang was characterised by plays that were highly emotional, often featuring intense conflicts between characters, and exploring themes of freedom, love, and social justice. These plays often focused on the struggles of young people who were trying to find their place in society, and who were frustrated by the limitations placed on them by their elders.

Some of the most famous German playwrights associated with Sturm und Drang include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller. Goethe’s play “Goetz von Berlichingen” and Schiller’s play “The Robbers” are both considered key works of the movement.

Overall, Sturm und Drang was an important precursor to the Romantic movement and had a lasting impact on German culture and theatre.

Suffrage Drama

Suffrage drama is a genre of theatrical performance that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which focused on the struggle for women’s suffrage, or the right to vote. Suffrage drama was a key component of the women’s suffrage movement, as it was used as a means of raising awareness and support for the cause.

Suffrage drama often depicted the injustices and inequalities faced by women in society, particularly in relation to their lack of political representation. Many suffrage plays also explored the social and cultural norms that reinforced gender roles and prevented women from participating in public life.

One of the most famous suffrage plays is “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, which tells the story of a woman who discovers her own identity and agency outside of traditional societal expectations. Other notable suffrage plays include “Votes for Women” by Elizabeth Robins, “How the Vote Was Won” by Cicely Hamilton and Christopher St. John, and “A Chat with Mrs. Chicky” by Beatrice Harraden.

Suffrage drama played an important role in shaping public opinion and ultimately contributed to the women’s suffrage movement’s success.

Summer Stock Theatre

Summer stock theatre is a form of live theatre that typically takes place during the summer months, usually in a rural or suburban location. It typically involves a group of actors, directors, and technicians who come together to produce a series of plays over a period of several weeks or months.

Summer stock theatre originated in the United States in the early 20th century as a way for actors to earn money during the off-season by performing in productions in rural areas. These productions were often staged in barns or other non-traditional venues and were frequently produced on a shoestring budget.

Today, summer stock theatre has evolved into a more professional enterprise, with productions featuring established actors, designers, and directors, often with higher production values and budgets. The shows performed can range from classic plays to musicals, and some summer stock theatres also offer programs for children and aspiring actors.

Sung-through Musical

A sung-through musical is a type of musical theatre where the entire story is conveyed through singing, without spoken dialogue. In a sung-through musical, the characters express their thoughts, feelings, and actions entirely through song, often with little or no spoken dialogue in between.

Some famous examples of sung-through musicals include “Les Misérables,” “Rent,” “Hamilton,” and “Evita.” These shows are known for their powerful, emotional music and their ability to tell complex stories through song.

Sung-through musicals can be challenging for performers, as they require a high level of vocal skill and stamina. They also require careful pacing and attention to detail from the director and creative team, as there are no breaks in the music to allow for scene changes or transitions.

Surrealist Theatre

Surrealism was an art movement that originated in the 1920s and sought to explore the subconscious mind and challenge the boundaries of traditional art forms. In the theatre, Surrealism was characterized by the use of dreamlike imagery, irrational and illogical actions, and a rejection of conventional dramatic structure and character development.

Surrealist theatre often relied on the use of unexpected juxtapositions, absurdist humour, and the incorporation of elements from other art forms such as dance and visual art. Playwrights such as Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, and Eugène Ionesco are considered key figures in Surrealist theatre.

One of the key objectives of Surrealist theatre was to create a sense of disorientation and alienation in the audience, challenging their preconceptions and inviting them to engage with the work on a more visceral, emotional level. By rejecting traditional narrative structures and exploring the irrational and subconscious, Surrealist theatre aimed to create a new form of theatre that was both intellectually stimulating and emotionally powerful.

Symbolism

The Symbolist movement was a cultural movement that emerged in the late 19th century in France and soon spread to other parts of Europe. The movement was characterized by its emphasis on subjective experience and the use of symbolic imagery to convey meaning. In the theatre, Symbolism represented a departure from the naturalistic and realistic traditions that had dominated the stage in the preceding decades.

The Symbolist movement in the theatre emphasised the use of symbols and imagery to convey deeper, often mystical meanings. The staging of Symbolist plays was often highly stylized and dreamlike, with a focus on creating a suggestive and immersive atmosphere. The plays often dealt with spiritual and philosophical themes, and the characters and plot were frequently abstract and symbolic.

One of the most famous Symbolist playwrights was Maurice Maeterlinck, whose plays “The Intruder” and “The Blind” were pioneering works in the Symbolist tradition. Other prominent Symbolist playwrights include Paul Claudel, Alfred Jarry, and August Strindberg.

The Symbolist movement in the theatre had a significant influence on the development of modernist theatre in the early 20th century. Its emphasis on subjective experience and the use of symbolism helped pave the way for experimental and avant-garde theatre movements, such as Surrealism, Expressionism, and Absurdism.

Symphonic Drama

A symphonic drama is a musical composition that is similar in form to a symphonic poem but is specifically intended to depict a narrative or dramatic event. The term was coined by the composer Richard Strauss in the early 20th century, and his own works such as “Ein Heldenleben” and “Also sprach Zarathustra” are often cited as prime examples of the genre.

In a symphonic drama, the music is used to convey the story, often in a programmatic way, with different themes and motifs representing different characters or events. The music is usually highly expressive, with a wide range of dynamics and emotions, and is often designed to evoke a strong emotional response in the listener.

Essentially, a symphonic drama is a type of orchestral work that combines music and storytelling in a powerful and evocative way.

Syncretic Theatre

Syncretic theatre refers to a type of performance that combines elements of different cultural traditions, styles, and forms to create a new and unique theatrical experience. This approach to the theatre often involves blending and interweaving different artistic and cultural practices, such as music, dance, storytelling, visual art, and ritual, to create a more holistic and multi-layered performance.

Syncretic theatre may draw on a wide range of cultural and artistic influences, including traditional and contemporary practices, and may incorporate elements from various regions of the world. The goal of syncretic theatre is often to create a sense of unity and harmony between seemingly disparate cultures and to promote cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

Examples of syncretic theatre can be found in various forms of performance, such as contemporary dance, experimental theatre, and multimedia installations. In some cases, syncretic theatre may also be used as a tool for cultural activism, by highlighting social and political issues through artistic expression.

Testimonial Theatre

Testimonial theatre is a specific type of documentary theatre that seeks to give voice to the personal experiences and stories of individuals or communities who have been marginalized or silenced. It is often created through a process of interviews, where performers work with people from a particular community to collect and compile their stories into a script.

Testimonial theatre is rooted in the idea of using theatre as a tool for social and political change. By giving voice to those whose stories are often unheard, testimonial theatre aims to challenge existing power structures and promote social justice.

One of the key features of testimonial theatre is its use of verbatim or direct testimony. This means that the words spoken by the performers on stage are taken directly from the interviews or transcripts of people who have experienced a particular event or situation. This approach emphasizes the authenticity and integrity of the stories being told and seeks to honour the voices of those who have contributed to the creation of the performance.

Testimonial theatre can take many forms, including solo performances, ensemble pieces, and community-based productions. It often involves a high degree of collaboration between performers, writers, and the people whose stories are being told, and may incorporate music, dance, and other forms of performance to create a rich and engaging experience for the audience.

Theatre for Development

Theatre for Development (TfD) is a form of participatory theatre that aims to promote social and political change in communities. TfD is often used as a tool for community development, education, and social transformation. It involves the use of theatre to address social issues and promote positive change in society.

The approach typically involves a group of actors or facilitators working with a community to create a play that addresses a specific issue or challenge. The play is then performed in the community, often in public spaces such as parks, schools, or community centres. The performance is followed by a discussion or debate in which community members can express their opinions, ideas, and concerns about the issue addressed in the play.

TfD is often used in developing countries and in marginalized communities to raise awareness and engage people in social and political issues. It can be used to address a wide range of topics, such as health, education, gender equality, human rights, and environmental issues. The approach is based on the belief that theatre can be a powerful tool for social change, and that by engaging people in a participatory process, it is possible to create meaningful and sustainable change in communities.

Theatre in Education (TIE)

See Educational Theatre.

Theatre of Cruelty

The Theatre of Cruelty is a term coined by the French playwright Antonin Artaud in the mid-20th century. Artaud believed that traditional Western theatre had become too focused on psychological realism and narrative structure, which he felt were limiting to the full expression of the human experience. Instead, he proposed a new type of theatre that would be more primal, visceral, and ritualistic.

Artaud envisioned a theatre that would confront the audience with raw sensations and emotions, rather than just presenting them with a story or characters. He believed that the theatre should shock, unsettle, and provoke the audience, in order to awaken them to a deeper understanding of the human condition.

To achieve this goal, Artaud called for a new form of performance that would utilise non-verbal elements such as movement, sound, and light to create a more immersive and sensory experience. He also believed that the theatre should break down the boundaries between the performer and the audience, creating a more interactive and participatory experience.

Theatre of Disruption

Theatre of disruption is a form of theatre that seeks to challenge and disrupt the audience’s expectations of what theatre should be. It is a type of performance art that often involves breaking down the traditional boundaries between performer and audience, and creating a sense of unpredictability and chaos.

Theatre of disruption can take many forms, but it often involves unconventional performance spaces, non-linear narratives, and immersive experiences that blur the lines between reality and fiction. It may also incorporate elements of social or political activism, using the performance as a platform to challenge dominant narratives and power structures.

One of the key features of theatre of disruption is its use of shock and surprise to engage the audience and challenge their assumptions. This can take many forms, from sudden changes in lighting or sound to unexpected interactions between performers and audience members. The aim is to create a sense of disorientation and discomfort that forces the audience to question their preconceptions and engage with the performance on a deeper level.

Theatre of Fact

See Documentary Drama.

Theatre of Investigation

Theatre of investigation is a form of theatre that seeks to explore and understand complex social issues through a process of research and investigation. It involves a collaborative approach to creating theatre, where the performers work together to gather information, interview people, and study a particular topic or theme.

The goal of the theatre of investigation is to use the power of theatre to shed light on important social issues, raise awareness, and inspire action. The process often involves working with communities, experts, and activists to gain insights into the issue at hand and to create a performance that reflects the complexity of the issue and the diverse perspectives of those involved.

Theatre of investigation can take many forms, including verbatim theatre, documentary theatre, and community-based theatre. It is often characterised by a commitment to authenticity, transparency, and social engagement, and aims to challenge audiences to think critically about the world around them.

Theatre of the Absurd

The Theatre of the Absurd is a theatrical movement that emerged in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily in France but also in other parts of Europe. It was a reflection of the existential crisis that many Europeans experienced after World War II, characterised by a rejection of traditional plot, character development, and language, and its emphasis on the meaninglessness and absurdity of human existence.

The term “absurd” refers to the idea that human life is essentially meaningless, and that attempts to find meaning or purpose in it are doomed to failure. In the Theatre of the Absurd, this idea is explored through the use of non-realistic settings, disjointed dialogue, and characters who are often nameless and lack coherent personality traits.

Some of the most famous works associated with the Theatre of the Absurd include Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” Eugène Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” and Harold Pinter’s “The Birthday Party.” These plays often feature characters engaged in seemingly pointless and repetitive actions, such as waiting for someone who never arrives, or engaging in meaningless conversations that go nowhere.

Theatre of the Grotesque

The theatre of the grotesque is a form of avant-garde theatre that emerged in Europe in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its use of grotesque and absurd elements, such as distorted bodies, deformed characters, and surreal situations, to challenge conventional norms and conventions.

Theatre of the grotesque often explores themes of alienation, existentialism, and the human condition, using exaggerated and distorted imagery to convey a sense of the absurdity of life. It often incorporates elements of satire and social commentary and can be seen as a reaction to the prevailing naturalistic style of theatre that dominated the late 19th century.

Theatre of the Oppressed

The Theatre of the Oppressed is a form of participatory theatre developed by Brazilian theatre director and activist Augusto Boal in the 1960s. The Theatre of the Oppressed aims to use theatre as a means of promoting social and political change by encouraging audience participation and engagement.

In this type of theatre, the audience becomes active participants, rather than passive observers. The actors present a scene or scenario that depicts a situation of oppression or injustice and then invite the audience to intervene and suggest alternative courses of action. Through this process, participants gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand and can explore creative solutions to real-world problems.

The Theatre of the Oppressed has been used in a variety of settings, from community-based theatre projects to political activism and education. It is a powerful tool for raising awareness, promoting dialogue and collaboration, and inspiring social change.

Theatre of the Real

See Documentary Theatre.

Theatricalism

Theatricalism refers to a particular style of theatre that emphasises theatricality over realism, with a focus on the artifice and illusion of the theatrical experience. In general, theatricalism is characterised by an emphasis on visual and sensory elements, as well as a willingness to depart from naturalistic conventions in order to create a more expressive and heightened performance.

Thesis Play

A thesis play is a type of play that aims to present a particular argument or thesis on a social, political, or philosophical issue. The term “thesis play” emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as a way to describe a new type of drama that focused on ideas rather than mere entertainment.

The thesis play typically presents a controversial topic or idea and then explores it through the dialogue and actions of the characters. The playwright’s goal is to convince the audience of the validity of the thesis or argument through the portrayal of the characters and their experiences.

Some examples of thesis plays include Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House,” which explores the issue of women’s rights, and George Bernard Shaw’s “Pygmalion,” which examines social class and education. These plays are not just meant to entertain the audience but also to provoke thought and discussion about important social issues.

Total Theatre

Total theatre is a style of theatre that seeks to engage the audience on multiple levels, using a combination of different theatrical elements such as music, dance, visual arts, and multimedia. It aims to create a fully immersive experience for the audience, blurring the boundaries between performer and spectator.

Total theatre often involves unconventional staging, non-linear narratives, and audience participation. It can also incorporate elements of experimental theatre and performance art, pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally considered “theatre.”

The term “total theatre” was first used in the 1960s by German theatre director and playwright, Erwin Piscator, and has since been used to describe a variety of theatre styles that emphasize a total experience for the audience.

Toy Theatre

Toy theatre is a form of miniature theatre that has its roots in the 19th century. It is a type of theatre that is performed on a small scale, typically using miniature figures, sets, and props that are operated by hand or with simple mechanisms.

Toy theatre was originally created as a form of entertainment for children, but it also became popular with adults as a way of recreating popular plays and operas on a smaller scale. Toy theatre performances often used paper cut-outs or cardboard figures that were mounted on small wooden stages, and were often accompanied by music and sound effects.

One of the distinctive features of toy theatre is its emphasis on visual storytelling. Because the figures and sets are often quite small, the performances rely on a high degree of visual detail and ingenuity to create a compelling and engaging performance. This makes toy theatre a unique and challenging form of theatre that requires a high degree of skill and craftsmanship to create.

Traditional Theatre

See Folk Theatre.

Tragedy

Tragedy, in the context of theatre, refers to a genre of drama that portrays the suffering and downfall of a main character, usually a person of noble birth or high status, due to a tragic flaw or a mistake in judgment. Tragedies typically involve serious and weighty themes such as love, justice, fate, and the human condition, and often explore universal human emotions such as grief, loss, and despair.

Tragedies are usually structured according to a set of conventions established in ancient Greek theatre, which include the use of a chorus to comment on the action and the presence of a cathartic moment of emotional release for the audience. Some of the most famous examples of tragedy in theatre include Shakespeare’s plays such as “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” and “King Lear,” as well as classical Greek tragedies such as “Oedipus Rex” and “Antigone” by Sophocles.

Tragicomedy

A tragicomedy is a literary genre that blends elements of tragedy and comedy. It is a work of art that contains both serious and humorous elements, and the plot typically includes both dramatic and comic events.

Tragicomedy often deals with complex themes and explores the ambiguities of human experience, combining the emotional depth and serious tone of tragedy with the lightheartedness and humour of comedy. The genre can be seen as a reflection of the unpredictability and contradictions of life, where tragic and comic elements are often intertwined.

Examples of famous tragicomedies include Shakespeare’s “The Tempest,” “Measure for Measure,” and “The Winter’s Tale,” as well as Tom Stoppard’s “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.”

Travesty

In theatre, a travesty is a type of play that takes a serious subject matter and treats it in a ridiculous or comedic way, often through the use of parody or satire. It is a form of comedy that exaggerates the flaws and quirks of its characters to create humour.

Travesty can also refer to the act of cross-dressing, where male actors play female roles and vice versa. This is often used for comedic effect and can be seen in productions like Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” or modern drag shows.

Travelling Theatre

See Touring Theatre.

Trope

In medieval theatre, a trope was a short dramatic or musical piece that was inserted into the liturgy of the church service. Tropes were typically performed by the clergy and involved the use of music, chanting, and acting to help illustrate the stories and messages of the Bible to the largely illiterate congregation.

Tropes were often added to the main parts of the church service, such as the Mass, and were used to enhance the religious experience of the congregation. Over time, the use of tropes became more elaborate, with the addition of costumes, props, and other theatrical elements. Eventually, this led to the development of full-scale religious dramas, such as mystery plays and miracle plays, which were performed in churches and public spaces throughout Europe.

Touring Theatre

Touring theatre, also known as touring productions or touring companies, refers to theatrical productions that are taken on tour to different venues and locations rather than being limited to a single theatre. These productions can be plays, musicals, or other types of theatrical performances.

Touring theatre companies typically travel from city to city, performing in a variety of venues such as theatres, community centres, schools, and other cultural institutions. The goal of touring theatre is to bring high-quality live theatre to audiences who might not otherwise have access to it, as well as to reach new audiences and expand the reach of the production.

Touring theatre can be an exciting and challenging experience for actors, directors, and other members of the production team, as they often have to adapt to different performance spaces and audiences on a regular basis. Despite the challenges, touring theatre is an important and valuable part of the theatrical industry, as it helps to bring the magic of live theatre to a wider audience.

Variety

Variety refers to a genre of popular entertainment that emerged in the 19th century and was popular until the mid-20th century. Variety shows were characterized by a mix of different types of acts, including singing, dancing, comedy, magic, acrobatics, and more. They were often performed in large theatres or music halls and were designed to appeal to a broad audience.

Variety shows were known for their fast-paced and eclectic nature, with performers constantly rotating on and off the stage. The acts were often accompanied by live music, and the performers themselves were expected to be versatile and able to perform a variety of different skills.

Famous performers who got their start in variety theatre include Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Laurel and Hardy.

Vaudeville

Vaudeville was a form of live entertainment that was popular in the United States and Canada from the late 19th century until the early 20th century. It consisted of a variety of acts, including comedy, singing, dancing, acrobatics, magic, and animal performances, which were presented in a series of short, unrelated skits.

Vaudeville shows were typically held in theatres, and they often featured a rotating lineup of performers, who would travel from city to city, performing for audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Some of the most famous vaudeville performers included George Burns and Gracie Allen, Buster Keaton, Mae West, and the Marx Brothers.

Vaudeville was a significant cultural force in its time, and it helped to shape American popular culture in the early 20th century. It influenced the development of radio and television, as well as the rise of early film comedy. Although vaudeville declined in popularity after World War I, its legacy can still be seen in modern-day comedy and variety shows.

Verbatim Theatre

Verbatim theatre is a form of theatre that is based on real-life events and actual spoken words. It involves using transcripts of interviews, news reports, court hearings, and other types of recorded material to create a play. Verbatim theatre aims to represent the words and experiences of real people in a truthful and accurate manner, often without any fictionalization or embellishment. The actors performing in verbatim plays usually use the exact words and intonations of the original speakers, thereby creating a sense of authenticity and realism. The genre became popular in the 1990s and has since been used to address a range of political, social, and cultural issues, including human rights, environmentalism, and immigration.

Verismo

Verismo is a style of realistic and naturalistic theatre that emerged in Italy in the late 19th century. The term “verismo” comes from the Italian word for “realism,” and it emphasizes the depiction of ordinary people and their everyday struggles and experiences.

Verismo theatre often focuses on the lives of the working class and explores themes such as poverty, love, and social injustice. It rejects the idealized characters and plot structures of earlier romantic theatre, favouring instead a more gritty and realistic portrayal of life.

One of the most famous examples of verismo theatre is the play “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Italian playwright Giovanni Verga, which premiered in 1890. The play tells the story of a love triangle in a small Sicilian village and is known for its vivid depiction of the local customs and traditions of the region.

Verse Drama

Verse drama is a form of drama that is written in verse or poetry, rather than in prose. It is a type of play in which the dialogue between the characters is written in a metered language, often with a set rhyme scheme or rhythm.

In verse drama, the language is carefully crafted to create a heightened sense of poetic and dramatic effect. The use of verse can also help to emphasize the themes and ideas of the play and can make the dialogue more memorable and impactful for the audience.

Verse drama has a long history, dating back to ancient Greek and Roman theatre, and it has been used in many different cultures and time periods. Examples of famous verse dramas include William Shakespeare’s plays, such as “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet,” as well as works by other playwrights like Christopher Marlowe, John Milton, and T.S. Eliot.

Visual Theatre

See Physical Theatre.

Wayang Golek

Wayang golek is a traditional form of puppet theatre that originated in the Sundanese culture of West Java, Indonesia. The word “wayang” means puppet, while “golek” means to rotate or spin, referring to the puppet’s cylindrical shape.

Wayang golek puppets are carved from wood, with intricate details and painted decorations. The puppets are manipulated by a puppeteer or dalang, who sits behind a screen and voices the characters while also controlling their movements.

The stories told in wayang golek performances are often drawn from ancient Hindu epics, such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as from local legends and folklore. The performances often include music, singing, and humour, and are known for their moral and spiritual themes.

Wayang Klitik

Wayang Klitik is a traditional form of Javanese puppet theatre that originated in Java, Indonesia. “Wayang” means puppet, while “Klitik” refers to the type of wood used to make the puppets.

Wayang Klitik puppets are carved from thin, flat pieces of wood, which are then painted and decorated with intricate designs. The puppets are usually around 25-30 centimetres in height, and are manipulated using thin wooden rods attached to the puppets.

Wayang Klitik performances typically involve a small ensemble of puppets, usually around three to five, and are accompanied by gamelan music and a dalang (puppet master) who narrates and voices the characters. The stories portrayed in Wayang Klitik performances are often drawn from Javanese mythology, folklore, or history.

Wayang Kulit

Wayang Kulit is a traditional form of puppetry that originated in Indonesia and is particularly popular on the islands of Java and Bali. The term “wayang” refers to the puppet itself, while “kulit” means leather, which is the material traditionally used to make the puppets.

Wayang Kulit is performed by a puppeteer, or dalang, who uses the puppets to enact stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, as well as traditional Javanese and Balinese tales. The puppets are made from flat pieces of leather that are intricately cut and decorated to depict characters and scenes from the stories.

During a Wayang Kulit performance, the dalang sits behind a screen or curtain, with a lamp shining behind him to project the shadow of the puppets onto the screen. The dalang uses a combination of voice, movement, and music to bring the characters to life, and often improvises parts of the story to keep the audience engaged.

Wayang Puppetry

Wayang puppetry is a traditional form of puppetry that originated in Java, Indonesia. The term “wayang” means “shadow” or “imagination,” and refers to the flat leather puppets that are used in the performances. The puppets are held up behind a white screen or cloth, and a lamp is placed behind the screen to create shadows on the cloth.

The puppets are operated by puppeteers, who manipulate them with sticks and rods. The puppeteers also provide the voices and sound effects for the characters. Wayang puppetry performances often involve complex storylines and are usually based on Hindu epics or Javanese legends.

There are several types of wayang puppetry, including wayang kulit (shadow puppetry), wayang golek (rod puppetry), and wayang klitik (flat wooden puppetry). Each type has its unique style and characteristics, but all share the common elements of storytelling and puppet manipulation.

Wayang puppetry is not only a form of entertainment but also a cultural tradition in Indonesia. It is often performed at important events such as weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies. The performances are also used as a means of educating people about Javanese culture and mythology.

Well-Made Play

A well-made play is a type of theatrical drama that emerged in the 19th century and is characterised by a specific structure and plot. The term “well-made” refers to the careful construction and tight plotting of these plays, which are designed to keep the audience engaged and guessing until the final climactic moment.

The well-made play typically features a linear plot that follows a clear cause-and-effect structure, with each event leading logically to the next. The action usually takes place in a single location over a short period of time, which creates a sense of urgency and immediacy.

The characters in a well-made play are usually well-drawn and fully realized, with clear motivations and distinctive personalities. The plot often revolves around a central secret or misunderstanding that is gradually revealed through a series of surprise twists and revelations.

Some of the most famous examples of well-made plays include works by playwrights such as Eugène Scribe, Victorien Sardou, and Henrik Ibsen.

West End Theatre

West End theatre is a term used to describe the mainstream commercial theatre scene in London’s West End district. It is known for hosting some of the most popular and successful theatrical productions in the world, with a wide variety of shows including plays, musicals, and other forms of live entertainment. The West End is home to famous theatres such as the Palace Theatre, the Apollo Victoria, the London Palladium, and the Lyceum Theatre. It is also a major tourist attraction, with millions of visitors coming to see West End shows each year.

Whodunit

See Mystery.

Women’s Theatre

See Feminist Theatre.

World Theatre

The term “world theatre” generally refers to theatrical performances and traditions that exist beyond the Western theatrical canon, encompassing diverse forms of performance from various cultures around the world. It recognizes that theatre is not limited to a single cultural tradition or historical era, and that the art form has developed in unique and diverse ways in different regions of the world.

In this context, “world theatre” is often used to describe non-Western forms of performance such as Asian theatre (e.g. Kabuki, Noh, Kathakali), African theatre (e.g. ritualistic performances, storytelling, and dance), and Latin American theatre (e.g. puppetry, street theatre, and community-based theatre). However, it can also refer to contemporary theatrical performances that combine various cultural traditions, or to the work of international theatre companies that collaborate across different cultures and languages.

Yoruba Theatre

Yoruba theatre is a form of performance art that originates from the Yoruba people of Nigeria, West Africa. It encompasses various traditional forms of theatre such as dance, music, poetry, and drama, and is often accompanied by colourful costumes and masks.

Yoruba theatre has a rich history and is deeply rooted in the cultural and spiritual practices of the Yoruba people. It often revolves around themes of mythology, religion, and social commentary, and is performed to entertain, educate, and pass down cultural values from one generation to another.

One of the most popular forms of Yoruba theatre is called “Egungun”, which is a masquerade dance performed to honour the ancestors. Other forms include “Gelede”, a ritual performance that celebrates women, and “Ifa”, which uses divination to predict the future.

In Yoruba theatre, the performers are highly skilled and trained in their respective art forms. They often incorporate improvisation and audience participation into their performances, creating a lively and engaging experience for all involved.

Youth Theatre

Youth theatre refers to theatrical performances, workshops, and programs that are specifically designed for young people. It provides an opportunity for young people to engage in creative expression, explore different forms of art, develop their skills, and gain confidence in themselves.

Youth theatre programs can be found in various settings, such as schools, community centres, and professional theatre companies. They are typically led by trained theatre professionals who work with young people to develop their skills in acting, directing, writing, and stagecraft. These programs often culminate in performances for a live audience, giving young people the opportunity to showcase their talents and creativity.

Youth theatre can be a transformative experience for young people, providing a space for them to express themselves, explore their identities, and connect with their peers. It can also help to foster a lifelong appreciation for the arts and a sense of community and belonging.

Yuan Drama

Yuan drama is a genre of traditional Chinese theatre that emerged during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). It is known for its use of vernacular language, as opposed to the classical Chinese used in earlier dynasties.

Yuan drama covers a wide range of subjects, including historical events, folk tales, and literary adaptations. The plays are often characterized by their use of wit, humour, and satire, and they reflect the social, cultural, and political changes that occurred during the Yuan dynasty.

One of the most famous examples of Yuan drama is “The Romance of the Western Chamber,” which tells the story of a young scholar named Zhang Sheng, who falls in love with a beautiful woman named Cui Yingying. The play is known for its witty dialogue and colourful characters and has been adapted into many different forms over the centuries.

Other notable works of Yuan drama include “The Injustice to Dou E,” which tells the story of a woman who is wrongly accused of a crime, and “The Orphan of Zhao,” which is based on a historical event and tells the story of a family torn apart by revenge and betrayal.

Yuan drama has had a significant influence on Chinese theatre and culture, and its legacy can be seen in later forms of Chinese drama, such as Ming dynasty drama and Beijing opera.

Zaju

Zaju is a type of Chinese drama that originated in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). It was a popular form of entertainment during the medieval period in China and is characterized by a combination of singing, dancing, and acting.

Zaju plays often featured stories of historical figures, legends, or myths, and were performed on a stage with elaborate costumes and props. The plays were usually divided into four acts, each with its own musical score and distinctive style of performance.

The popularity of zaju declined after the Yuan dynasty, but it had a significant influence on later forms of Chinese drama, such as Kunqu and Beijing opera.

Zarzuela

Zarzuela is a type of musical theatre that originated in Spain in the late 17th century. It is a form of operetta that combines spoken dialogue, singing, and dancing, and often incorporates elements of Spanish folklore and culture.

Zarzuela performances typically feature a variety of musical styles, including classical, operatic, and popular music. The performances may be humorous or serious, and they often incorporate elements of social satire and commentary.

In terms of staging and production, zarzuela often involves elaborate costumes and sets, as well as intricate choreography and staging. The performances may also incorporate elements of dance, such as flamenco or regional Spanish dances.

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