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What is Theatre?
What is Theater?
And why is it awesome?


Etymology (origin of the word)
• Greeks
– Theatron
• a place where something is seen
– Dran
• Something done


Theatre vs Drama vs Performance
• Theatre
– All encompassing activity – including the building, the team, the job
• Performance

• Drama
– Refers to plays, dramatic texts – conflict
• Dramatist, dramaturgy


• A Building
– A Space
• A Group
– A company of players
• An activity
– A profession


The Building The SPACE
• All you need is an empty space
– A space to act
– A space to watch and hear
• The First Space
– Around fires
– Greeks and their hills
– Traveling wagons
– Concrete buildings
• Is it necessary to have separation between actor and audience?
– How much money have you got?


The Group (who makes it)
• The Company
• The act of theatre is COLLABORATIVE
– One person on stage, up to hundreds behind
• Throughout history – groups who make theatre
– Traveling from place to place performing
– Multi-skilled people self-producing their work
– This work would define the company
– Becomes an artistic family
– Can outlive the building


building – Rehearsals of minimum 4 weeks – Last week preparations – Performing 11 The Various Jobs • Acting • Designing • Building • Running • Producing • Directing • Stage Managing • House Managing • Playwrighting 12 Acting • Performing in front of an audience – Playing imaginary circumstances truthfully 13 Designing • Putting together the audio and visual elements – Scenery 2 . designing. but lots of work • An Original Production can take years – The writing – Planning. not a work.2015/03/31 – 7 The legendary groups • The one with Shakespeare (Lord Chamberlain’s Men) • The one with Moliere (France) • The one with Chikamatsu (Kabuki Theatre) • Living Theatre (Joseph Chaikin) • Theatre du Complicite (Simon Mcburrney) 8 The collection of similarity • Can refer to a group of theatres – “a category of associated works” – They can be linked by • Geography (where in the world?) • Era (what time period?) • Esthetics (what they look like) • Ideology (what is their motto) – They create a broad identity 9 Some Families • Greek theatre • Theatre of the Absurd • Medieval Theatre • Protest Theatre • Theatre of the Oppressed • Musical Theatre • Poor Theatre 10 Theatre as an occupation • Theatre is work.

etc) – Distributing the cash at the end 17 Directing • Controlling and developing the artistic product – Making a unified vision – Coordinating all components – Supervising rehearsals 18 Stage managing • Those responsible for the people “running” the show 19 House managing • Responsibility for audience – Admitting – Seating – Making them comfortable – 20 Playwrighting • With an old text – It happened many years before in a place far away 3 .2015/03/31 – – Properties – Costumes – Make-up – Lighting – Sound – Programs – Advertisements – Foyer – 14 Building • Those who translate design into reality by constructing – Carpenter – Costumer – Electricians – Make-up artists – Painters – Sound engineers – Video editors 15 Running • Technicians who execute the show in proper sequence – Light and sound cues – Shifting of scenery – Placement/return of properties – Assignment. the place. laundering. the audience – Supervising all efforts – Promoting the production – Dealing with legal matters (contracts. repair of costumes 16 Producing • The administrating – Finding the team.

and actors “play” roles – It is WORK • The connection has always existed – From celebration to playing – From sports/games to plays – The popularity of athletes and actors – Spaces shared 23 Theatre / Play / Child • Games as a child • Contains drama • Hide and seek – The fear of separation – Counting. searching and finding • Playing comes out of something serious – Way of dealing with concerns and fears of real life 24 Why is it popular? • Theatre offers – Competition. hiding. physical involvement – Audience gets engaged in watching this – Similar to sports – Everybody did this as a child • Looking at actors with envy – Being able to play when you are no longer a child 25 Difference between Theatre & Play/Sports • Theatre is calculated – You might not know how the game will end – BUT HAMLET will die! – • The work of theatre is to keep Hamlet alive (the story going) so that you can make a totally engrossing. expression. emotional engagement.2015/03/31 – • With a new text – Part of the process of work 21 Multi-skilled workers • In most companies or buildings – People do more than one job • Throughout history – The same kind of roles have always been present • In South-Africa – Playwrighting can be shared between actors and director 22 Theatre and the “play” • Just because we refer to it as a “play”. moving experience for the audience 26 Theatre is the art of making play into work Or Theatre is the art of making play into a work of art 27 The Art of Theatre • Goes beyond having good skills • Needs creativity and imagination 4 .

behind its actual presence. -Jacques Derrida 30 Impersonation • Actors impersonate characters – Foundation of theatre • Impersonation – Difficult to understand – How to separate the character from actor? – How to separate voice of character/voice of playwright? – How do you clarify? 31 MASK • At the beginning of time. and in this sense it is the only art of life. It is neither a book nor a work. not character • As we watch we are aware of both actor and character living in the same body 33 And the actor/actress? • Become anonymous – they don’t exist • But also they are larger – they exhibit themselves • Both liberation • And • Self awareness 34 The Agreement • The act of impersonation depends on an agreement between actor and audience – Actor will pretend to be character – Audience will see him/her as character • The agreement does not necessarily imply lifelike 5 . no trace. no object to carry off.2015/03/31 • • A work of art – Captures something you can’t hold – Says something about life – Finding a purpose for our meaningless lives 28 Actor as Artist • Art integrates – imagination and reality. and the character arrived • The masks is both physical and symbolic • The characters have life – actors are dead • Though we don’t use masks a lot today – It is the symbol of theatre 32 Paradox of the Actor • A good actor ceases to exist • Yet at the end – we applaud the actor. emotion and intellect • However messed up life can be – Art can integrate and provide satisfaction • Theatre is not a pure art – Collaborative – Interdisciplinary – combines many arts 29 Theatrical representation is finite and leaves hind it. but an energy. of theatre – When a mask was placed • The actor was gone.

2015/03/31 • – But within a set of conventions – Within a style • 35 Actor as the great Pretender • At the root of it – Actors tell lies within the play • But the goal is not to become an imposter – But to serve the art • The character is not “somebody else” – but a fiction – A human being is always more complex than a character whose starting point is words on a page – Actor creates a character 36 How to act today • No masks – But costumes. posture. dialogue. voice. etc • Audience begins to care deeply – magic • Well staged pieces draw the audience in • Artists play around with the conventions • 6 . • Most European/American actors favour Stanislavski – “Live the life of the character on stage” • But it is not the only approach • Line between actor/character always blurry 37 Performance • A series of action taken for the benefit of someone else • A conversation – If strictly private – just communication – If done in order to impress/involve someone else • Then it is performance • Performance is everywhere – A lot of things done for benefit of others • Theatre puts it into a formal mode of artistic expression 38 Direct • Direct – Comedians. movement. accent. singers • Done purely for benefit of audience 39 Indirect • Indirect – Within drama – Done as if no audience is present – Audience made to focus on events not on presentation – The audience job is to believe in the play • Actor are characters • Scripted events are happening for the first time – Suspension of disbelief 40 Suspension of Disbelief • Work on idea of empathy – connecting with characters – their dreams. etc. problems.

ovation 44 THEATRE IS IMMEDIATE • Happening RIGHT NOW • Each night. same time. pre-planned • Objective to rehearse so well to be able to repeat • But script is not the play – It is only a blueprint. same space) • Actors get more satisfaction out of the live • Audience can affect your performance 43 THEATRE is COMMUNAL • Strangers come together towards a goal • It is a social activity • It creates some kind of response – Applause. shifts can happen • It is present • Works with the same uncertainty as life – Anything can happen next 45 THEATRE is (mostly) Scripted • Most theatrical performance are written. laughter.2015/03/31 • 41 What does an audience look for • Characters we care about & actors we admire – Characters must struggle/actors sweat – – Look for a well crafted story that is relevant and Good performances 42 Theatre is LIVE • A living. each performance is new – Every time the actor has to do it again – And changes. an outline • Scripts – Published versions after a 1st performance – Can not capture everything 7 . real-time event • Performs and audience interact – (breathe same air.