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The Evolution of Theater from the 17th Century to Present Day (Research Paper Sample)


A research paper about The Evolution of Theater from the 17th Century to Present Day


The Evolution of Theater from the 17th Century to Present Day
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The Evolution of Theater from the 17th Century to Present Day
Theater like any other form of human activities has undergone many changes. This has been necessitated by changes in cultural settings, demographical adjustments, industrial revolution, and technological advancement. All these factors have impacted on human activities shaping them in many ways. For instance, theaters have thrived during times when men valued leisure and suffered when cultures shifted towards more work and less leisure activities. The evolution of theatre can best be studied in the context of how they were organized, the plays or acts that took place in the theaters and the type of audience that was popular in the theaters. These factors are distinct in theaters mainly present in the early civilizations of Europe.
The 16th century was characterized by a society stratified based on social classes. As Brook (1996) connotes, everyone attended the theaters in the early Greece, but where one sat was determined by their position in the society. This meant that the privileged in the society took up front seats while those of the lower classes and women enjoyed the plays from the back. Brook also notes that the seats were made in a discriminatory manner with cushioned seats made available only for those in the upper strata of the society. The arrangement was common across many societies too.
In England, the 17th century saw the sponsorship of theaters and production houses by the wealthy in the society. This saw the rise of playhouses associated to the royal family. Such theaters with names like The King’s Men, Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and The Prince’s Men rose to unprecedented success due to the support they received from their patrons (Brook, 1996). During the same time, actors and playwrighters became popular due to the high number of plays that they acted. Such popular artists of this era include William Shakespeare and Sir William Davenant.
The Roman theaters were pretty much like the Greek theaters only that their acts included more of human combat than artistic plays that characterized the English and Greek theaters. Theaters in the 17th century Rome were also used as arenas where public executions were held. The audience was not restricted but individuals’ social status determined where in the arena one sat. When events at the theaters turned more into regular gladiatorial contests, those who held to the Christian doctrines became opposed to theaters and all that they stood for. It was not long until the Roman Empire collapsed, further weakening theater development (Kraus et al., 2005).
Historical occurrences in the various societies influenced theaters. In England, plagues were a major source of theater interruptions during the 17th and early 18th century. During such times, theaters were a target of the regulators who were tasked with ensuring that the plagues did not spread. Seeing as it is that theaters were usually thronged by different types of people, it was hard arguing for their continuity anytime that London was threatened by a plague. Brook (1996) argues that it was during such a time that Shakespeare composed and developed a majority of his works.
Another important occurrence that saw a change of theater activities is the puritan revolution that saw the rise of strictly Christian society that was purified of the evil nature of theaters and games. This era was characterized by strict adherence to the Christian doctrines with zero tolerance for any form of merrymaking. The playhouses were raided and those participating in theatrics arrested and punished. While it is believed that plays were still performed in private establishments, this period, known to many as the dark period, show little in terms of theater activities (Kraus et al., 2005).
The restoration period saw theaters reopened and developed to exceed their earlier prosperity. Much of the restoration period theater was attributed to Sir William Davenant who had managed to defy the puritan’s rules and continued to stage plays under the guise of narratives and operas. When King Charles II was reinstated, he gave Sir Davenant exclusive monopoly rights to theatrics in London. Brook (1996) argues that this period was marked by a shift of attention more to the audience than to the performance. This was mainly due to a change in audience from a mixed lot to purely th...
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