Although theaters developed in many parts of Greece, it was in Athens, where the most dramatic styles the world has known was formed. Ancient Greek theaters were built in natural open air sites on conveniently shaped hills. This allowed a great mass of people to enjoy a show at one timeThe Ephesus could hold 56,000 people Unlike later dramas, which could be endlessly duplicated, Greek manuscripts existed as a single, fragile piece. Many of them have been destroyed over time, and the few that have survived are treasured, and said to be priceless. Due to the immense size of the audience, actors placed emphasis on exaggerated action and speech. And, colourful symbolic masks and costumes where used.
Medieval Theater started in churches – the reason why medieval plays were about bible stories. At first, it became customary for priests to act out brief scenes during Christmas and Easter. These acts attracted large crowds, and more elaborate versions were created, when crowds increased so much, that seating extended out onto the steps and streets. Finally the church refused to allowed priests to partake in any such events again, so ordinary people began these performances outside. Performances were set in the town square, with several stage settings around the square. This was as such, because there were no proper theaters, or areas large enough to hold the entire stage.
England”s theater developed rapidly in the years following the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The dominant feature of Elizabethan theater was the stage. There were three parts to the stage:
1 The fore stage, which jutted out into the audience a fare way, this was used for outside scenes.
2 The inner stage, this was used for scenes inside a building.
3 An upper stage or balcony, which was used for miscellaneous purposes.
There were three parts to the stage, as there were no scene changes, or breaks during the play. Very little scenery was used, so the actors had to create the illusions of a scene through there voices and dialogue. This lead to a more poetic script, and poets became the main source of script writing.
The restoration theater had it”s tragic dramas, but the majority of the plays were comical. Many elaborate machines, were used to create the scene.
The stage was a very clever idea, in that on the sides of the stage, large back shutters were painted with the scene. The stage slightly jutted out, but not into the audience.
It was at the front of the stage were most of the acting took place.
Modern theater has developed throughout the years, incorporating several aspects from the different theaters I have talked about. The theater is behind the proscenium arch, where all the acting takes place. The acting space can be closed off by a curtain, this allows for scene changes. The emphasis is on creating the scene through lighting, and music. The acting, and dialogue depicts real life, and is not exaggerated in any way.