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Theatre

I. Learn the following vocabulary , look up the words you don’t know in a
dictionary. Make up your own situations with them.

Shows

go to the theatre to see a drama performance/play

a puppet show

an opera

a ballet

a musical comedy

a musical

a circus performance

Genres a comedy

a tragedy

a romantic comedy

a farce

Buying to book/to buy tickets at the ticket office

Tickets for an evening performance /a matinee[΄mætΙneΙ]

for a first night /an opening night

an entrance ticket

tickets for/sit in…

Interior the stalls/the orchestra stalls

To sit in the fifth row of the stalls

the boxes

the pit

the balcony

Frequently used Who is in the cast tonight?/that evening


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phrases What is on tonight?
The house is sold out/the house is full
Staging
a performance to stage a performance
written by a certain playwright
to be on stage/to run /to have a long/ a short run
to have rehearsals /a dress rehearsal
The company the artistic director of the theatre
and other the director
people the producer
creating a the leading actors/actresses who star in the performance
performance to act in the leading/supporting role/to perform the role of…/ the
part of..
a costume designer
a make-up designer
a stage manager
a stage hand
a set designer
a prompter
a choreographer
a lightning engineer
a sound engineer
a conductor
a musician
a composer
People a ticket-taker
offering an usher/an attendant
services a cloak-room attendant
In the theatre

At the theatre to be a great theatre-goer


a spectator
to leave one’s clothes and heavy bags in the cloak-room
to get a label
to take opera glasses
to have a snack at a theatre café/refreshment bar
to walk in the lobby
to buy a programme / a booklet
to take one’s seats when the bell rings
the curtain rises/is raised
the curtain falls/is dropped/drops
the interval
to receive several curtain calls
to applaud loudly
There was great applause after each act.
The Settings The scenery was exceptionally beautiful/incredibly realistic
They used the surround volume system to create the effect of
presence and give an emotional colouring to the performance.
To be especially beautiful in the footlights
To stand in the wings
To get ready in the dressing rooms
To appear on the stage
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This performance/ this actress/ is much spoken about


Sharing one’s exciting
Impressions of brilliant
the production striking
and the acting to give a marvelous/magnificent/fantastic/terrific performance
The direction is unusual/original/extraordinary.
boring
primitive
disgusting
vulgar
spectacular
thrilling
to be first-rate
to be moving /touching
to make/to produce a deep impression on sb
to leave much to be desired
to be at one’s best /at one’s worst
to have a strong emotional impact on sb
to have a cathartic effect
to drive sb to tears
to feel like crying/ laughing
to receive good/bad reviews in newspapers
to be close to the book
The acting was natural
This actor overacted too much.
The actress burnt herself out on stage.
The actor put his heart and soul into the role.
The actress caught the spirit of the character very well.
The actor revealed the emotional state and the inner world of the
main character.
to be exceptionally good at varying one’s voice
His face was very expressive.
to manage to penetrate into the inner world of the character
to be a success/a failure
to succeed in bringing the character to life
This actor/actress is charismatic and creates a special
atmosphere/aura around him/her.
This performance is unforgettable.
When I saw that performance, it burnt into my heart / it struck
me immensely.
I had a really good time/I enjoyed the play greatly.

Points to discuss.
Use your active vocabulary while talking about the theatre.
1. How do you choose a performance? Do you choose a certain playwright, a
certain play, a genre, a actor/actress, a director, a theatre etc? Which of these
factors are the most important for you?
2. Do you read reviews before seeing a performance? Do you follow the advice of
your friends/parents? Do you choose the performance by yourself?
3. What are you favourite genres/ Moscow theatres/actors/actresses/?
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4. Where do you prefer to sit in the theatre?
5. Who are the people who create a performance? What qualities should they
possess?
6. What do you usually do when you come to the theatre? Does the atmosphere of
the theatre put you in a special mood?
7. Give a list of top ten Moscow actors and actresses. Account for your point of you.
8. Give a list of the most striking Moscow performances and account for your
choice.
9. What’s your attitude to commercial theatre projects? Are their quality worse than
the one of repertoire theatre performances?
10. Will the theatre be ever ousted by the cinema or TV? Which form of
entertainment do you prefer?
11. What makes a good actor/actress? Do they have an easy life in Russia?
12. What is your attitude to TV versions of performances shown on TV, channel
Culture, for example?
13. What is your attitude to modernised versions of classical plays? Account for it.
14. Write a review of a performance that struck you/ or that you didn’t like very much.
Be ready to give a presentation of this performance in class. If you have the
programme or the booklet about the performance, bring it to class.

Examples of reviews.

Review One
Three comrades

Not long ago I saw one of the most striking performances of the Sovremennik theatre “Three
comrades”, an adaptation of Remarque’s famous novel . I was impressed by the direction of
Galina Volcheck . The artistic director caught the spirit of the novel very well and
represented it on stage. The performance was close to the book. That night Chulpan
Hamatova was in the cast. She performed the role of Pat Holman. Chulpan gave a marvellous
performance of a person who is seriously ill with TB, who understands that her days are
numbered, and wants to forget about it. She doesn’t give up, she wants to live and to love. Her
cheerful nature and ability to love attracts Robby and his friends. Pat brightens his love and
brings joy and meaning into his life. He, in his turn, loves the girl tenderly and looks after her
despite her catching disease. His love to Pat is self-denying. Chulpan’s acting is amazing. Her
voice is powerful and her face is very expressive. She wonderfully reveals the emotional state of
the character . She puts her heart and soul into the role and charges the audience with
electricity. That is why Moscow theatre-goers starting talking about her as a talented theatre
actress in 1999 after the first-night of “Three comrades”. Since then she has played a number
of interesting roles, but Pat remains one of her best ones. For Galina Volchek the idea of true
friendship is also important. You can’t help admiring the three fiends who stand by each other
in trouble, whatever happens. At the end Otto even sells his favourite car to get a big sum of
money and to give Robby an opportunity to spend the last days of Pat’s life with her in the
sanatorium which is expensive. The acting of Sergey Yuskevich is magnificent in the scene,
where he parts with his car for the sake of his friend. The performance is also a strong protest
against fascism which destroys people’s lives. Lenz, one of the friends, is killed by fascists
because of his ideas. The performance is wonderfully staged. The scenery and the music
create the necessary atmosphere- sometimes the atmosphere of sadness and sometimes the
atmosphere of joy. The soundtrack tos the performance is marvellous. Galina Volchek also
uses the surround volume system to create the atmosphere of Berlin( trams, cars, etc). the
sea, the forest. For example, you can here the sound of the cuckoo bird who promised Pat that
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she would live 100 years. But unfortunately the girl died in the sanatorium and Robby ‘s life was
empty again.
The end of the performance is powerful when you see the three friends and Pat flying
somewhere up in the car when they were all alive and happy. This performance preaches the
ideas of true love and friendship which are stronger than everything else.
Discussion points:
Use the vocabulary in bold while talking about the performance.
1) What is the performance “Three comrades” about?
2) What can you say about the acting?
3) What can you say about the direction?
4) What is the message of the performance?

Review two

Into the whirlwind


By Eugenia Ginzburg
“This is not a play you just watch, but a play you experience”/LA Times/
One of the most striking performances of the Sovremennik theatre is the adaptation of
Eugenia Ginzburg’s astonishing autobiographical novel about her eighteen years in Stalinist
camps, staged by Galina Volchek, the artistic director of the theatre. It is one of the best
productions of Galina Borisovna Volchek.
When the Sovremennik theatre toured America and performed on Broadway, “Into the
Whirlwind” got very good reviews in American newspapers and Galina Volchek was awarded
a prestigious prize for this production and for her adaptation of A. Chechov’s ”Three sisters”
And it’s no wonder that the performance was so hailed in America.
First, it touches upon a problem, which can’t leave you indifferent.
Second, the performance features 35 actors and actresses, including such stars as:
Marina Neyolova, Liya Akhedzhakova, Nina Doroshina, Lilia Tolmacheva, etc. All of them burn
themselves out on stage and closer to the end of the performance look extremely exhausted.
Both actors in leading and in supporting roles reveal the tragedy of people who were tormented
in a Siberian Stalinist camp. For example, our star Marina Alexandrova performs a minor role of
a German dancer who managed to escape from a Hitler concentration camp, but found herself
in a Stalinist one. And she gives an unforgettable performance, though her role is a
supporting one.
Of course, Marina Neyolova in the leading role is absolutely marvelous. Her acting is extremely
emotional and has a cathartic effect on the audience. One can’t forget the impression
produced by her voice in the monologue uttered when her character was sentenced to prison
absolutely for nothing:” Ten years and for what, ten years and for what?!”
Third, the direction of Volchek is brilliant. Everything is well thought of. On entering the
theatre you plunge directly into that epoch, you hear the songs and melodies of that time,
see the portraits of the Soviet leaders in the lobby. It creates the effect of presence.
Later, when performance starts, they heighten this effect of presence by various means. For
example, they use the surround volume system to reproduce the sound of the clicking bars,
they also direct the lights from the lamp to the audience, when they show the scene of
Eugenia’s interrogation. She suffers from the lights of the lamp directed into her face. The
spectators suffer with her. So you can also appreciate the contribution of light and sound
engineers to the success of the performance.
On the whole, it’s a brilliant performance that sticks in your memory and burns into
your heart.
Discussion points:
Use the vocabulary in bold while talking about the performance.
1) What is the theme of the performance?
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2) How does the director of the performance heighten the effect of presence?
3) Why do you think the performance was greatly hailed in America?
British and American theatres

Theatre in London

Most British cities have a theatre, but London has the greatest number. There are over
50 theatres in London’s West End, the area in London with most theatres , and about
35 smaller fringe theatres. A successful play may run for months, even years.
In recent years, musicals have been very successful. About 5 million people,
many of them tourists, go to see a musical every year in London.
Going to the theatre is not only popular, but also expensive. Not many young people
can afford to go. It is possible to get cheaper tickets by going to afternoon performances
called matinees or by buying stand-bys, half-price tickets which are sold half an hour
before a performance starts.
Britain has a long tradition of drama. British theatre began in the thirteenth
century , before the time of Shakespeare, with a serious of short stories from the Bible
called The Mystery Plays. Even today, every four years in York and Chester, ordinary
people still perform these plays.
Acting, both by amateurs and professionals, is still very much alive in Britain.
The most famous British theatres are the National theatre and the Barbican. The
Royal Shakespeare Company performs both at the Barbican and in Stratford-on-Avon,
where Shakespeare was born. These theatres receive money from the government so
that they can perform several plays a year. In spite of this money from the government ,
many theatres including the National Theatre and the Barbican find it difficult to survive.
There are many smaller theatre groups in Britain . Some of them receive money
from the government to perform plays which are contemporary and experimental.
Opera and ballet life is also interesting in Britain. Several first –class orchestras
are based in London. Opera of the highest quality is performed in London. The Royal
Opera House at Covent Garden in central London is leased by the government to the
Covent Garden Opera House trust, which receives a government grant. Seasons of
opera are performed there and also of ballet by the Royal ballet , which has in recent
years been one of the most successful British ventures in the arts.
(From “Highlights by L.V. Kvedchenya )
I Learn the vocabulary in italics and make your own situations with it.
II Discussion points:

1) What kind of tickets are available in London?


2) What do theatres do to survive?
3) What theatre companies are popular in Britain?

British theatre

London’s theatreland buzzes with action in the early evening.


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Film and TV drama have their roots in the theatre, and theatre has long been
important in British cultural life. After all, the most celebrated creative export of
all time is Shakespeare. Actually Shakespeare, although uniquely talented, was
not the only dramatist of his time; he had competition from Christopher Marlowe,
Ben Jonson and others. The theatre flowered quickly and gloriously in the
Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. It was suppressed briefly by the Puritans,in
the 17th century, but since then it has been a vibrant and popular art form right
up to the present day. Most periods have had their great playwrights: William
Congreve, Oliver Goldsmith, Sheridan, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw,
Harold Pinter. Even when, as in the mid 19th century, there was a lack of major
dramatists, the theatre thrived on European drama or revivals of classics.
Cinema has not destroyed live theatre, as some thought it would. Theatre-going
actually increased during the 20th century, the age of film. In London today there
are over 100 theatres, which is more than any other city in the world, including
New York. Of course, the audiences are not all Londoners; the majority are
foreign tourists. But the British are still very theatre-minded, and there are no
fewer than 17,000 amateur theatre groups in the country. Every school does
drama — the school play is an institution, and can be extremely well-produced
with good lighting, music and costumes.
The theatre and the cinema have a sort of symbiotic relationship, with many
actors, directors and writers doing both. Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh
and Emma Thompson all had careers on the stage before going into films.
The theatre writer Tom Stoppard wrote the screen play for the hugely successful
“Shakespeare in Love”. Actors in the theatre quite often go into films for the
money and fame, and later come back to the stage for the pleasure and artistic
satisfaction of it.
So Hollywood stars like Nicole Kidman or Dustin Hoffman occasionally appear in
small London theatres.
( Information is taken from: “British life and institutions by Mark Farrel).
Discussion points:
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Use the vocabulary in bold while talking about the text:
1) What is the history of British theatre?
2) Prove that British people are theatre-minded on the basis of the text.
3) What kind of relationship exists between cinema and theatre?

4) Can you see any advantage of theatre over film, or is theatre just old-fashioned?

American Theater

Theater in the United States has been strongly influenced by European drama,
but the "musical" is of truly American origin. The musical is a play with spoken
lines, songs, and dances. It was not until the 1940s and the production of
"Oklahoma" that musicals began to change in style and content. Although the
basic plot of "Oklahoma" presented an uncomplicated love story, the characters in
the play seemed more like real people, and, instead of the routine dancing, ballet
was introduced. Since "Oklahoma" many successful musical plays have appeared
on the American stage. No longer just light and amusing, they often deal with
serious themes, accompanied by sophisticated music and dancing. One example
is "West Side Story", a modem version of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", the
story of young lovers who die tragically. Set in New York City, it portrays
tense and hostile relationships between Puerto Ricans and native New Yorkers.
Another highly successful musical play was "My Fair Lady", the musical
version of a play by the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw. The first
important American playwright of serious, nonmusical drama was Eugene O'Neill,
who wrote deep and sensitive analyses of human relationships. O'Neill remains
this country's most important dramatist, and his plays are performed frequently.
Other notable modern American playwrights include Thornton Wilder, Lilian
Hellman, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, and Arthur Miller. These names are
only a few from the long list of contributors to the contemporary stage. The
American palywright who is most widely known today is Arthur Miller. His play
"Death of a Salesman" has been performed in countries throughout the world.
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This work captures with sympathy and understanding the heartbreak of an
unsuccessful man who cannot manage the forces in his life.
Two important developments in recent years are the "theater of the absurd" and
the "black theater". There are also some controversial experiments with
electronic music and lighting, body movements to replace spoken words in
expressing ideas, and even spontaneous audience participation in some
performances. Black theater presents plays about black people, written by black
playwrights, and performed by black casts. Originally, drama about blacks carried
messages of protest against racial prejudice. Today, although this theme of protest
is still present, black theater is increasingly concerned with blacks as individual
human beings and their problems as ordinary people. In recent years theatrical
performances by blacks have increasingly stressed black music: spirituals,
gospelsinging and jazz and ragtime melodies.
New York City is the theater center of the United States. Most
important new plays are produced there. For years young actors, actresses,
and playwrights have gone to New York, hoping to find success.
The New York theater world is divided into two parts. One centers
around Broadway, which is one of the city's most important streets. Almost all
the large commercial theaters are located on or near Broadway in the
midtown area. Most Broadway theatergoers seem to prefer musicals and
sophisticated dramas or comedies featuring one or two highly paid stars.The
other New York theater division, off-Broadway, has no definite geographic
location. Off-Broadway theaters are found throughout the city in buildings
once used as garages, offices, and stores. Rents are low, and there is just
space enough for small audiences. Sometimes there is no raised stage.
Then the cast performs in the center of the room, surrounded on all sides by
the audience. This arrangement is known as "theater-in-the-round".
Many theater groups are active outside New York. There are profes-
sional companies in almost every major city. Some of them follow
repertory schedules. Different plays are performed several times by the
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same group of actors within a period of a few weeks or months. There are
also traveling acting companies that tour throughout the country. In
addition, there are nonprofessional university and community theater
groups.
Unlike many other countries, there is no nationally subsidized theater in
the US. Some acting companies receive financial help from the National
Endowment for the Arts, foundations, and a few communities. However,
many theater groups suffer from lack of adequate financing. Frequently
commercial theaters must charge very high prices for tickets in order to pay
production costs and to make some profit. As a result, many people who
love the theater cannot afford to go often.
( Н.Д. Токарева, В. Пеппард “What it is like in the USA).
Discussion points:

1). Summarize the contents of the text about American Theatre using the
vocabulary in the bold.

2) Make up lists of famous American playwrights and famous American plays.


4) What kind of genres are popular in the USA?
5) Do theatres receive financial help from the government?
6) What can you say about the black theatre?
7) Describe the difference between Broadway and off-Broadway theatres.
8) Are musicals popular in Russia? What is your attitude to them?
9) In what ways are Russian, British and American Theatre different? What
feautures do they have in common?