Theatre History Essay Research Paper Question 1 — страница 2

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gladiatorial combat (50). The theatre of ancient Rome can be compared to American television, as it was more pulp than substance (49). While an extremely small amount of Roman plays survive today, the writings of theatre historians like Cicero and Horace have left us a lot of information about this period. In addition, the writings of a sensational storyteller named Suetonius outline the violence and sex associated with theatre during the Roman era. As true theatre all but disappeared under the carefree excess of pagan Rome, it was soon outlawed by Constantine in 325 A.D. after a dream in which he saw a vision of a white cross the night before he sent his troops into battle. After praying to the God of the cross he had seen, Constantine found himself victorious in battle the next

day and swore allegiance to what ending up being the God of Christianity. Constantine then declared Christianity as the official religion of Rome under the Edict of Milan and set out to establish a definite canon of books for the Holy Bible. At the time, theatre had manifested itself into many different forms, one of which was gladiatorial combat. A large percentage of slaves forced into gladiator sports were Christians. Therefore, when Constantine outlawed theatre in Rome it was to save the lives of the Christians slaves being murdered. Once again, faith and the theatre had met hand in hand. As Christianity gained rapid influence and popularity, many different sects of Christianity with many different slants began to spring up over Europe and North Africa. As an official

dogmatic view of the religion began to come into form, theatre was kept alive only through underground mime troupes and storytellers that traveled throughout Europe. As the dark ages approached, mimes and minstrel shows began to take shape and in 970 A.D., a German nun named Hrosvitha began to write plays on Christian morality. Hrosvitha s stories began to gain immense popularity and drama found new life through the Christian church (85). Cycle pageants based on different views of the Bible, known as Vernacular Drama were also quite popular. Amongst the most popular of these was the 2nd Shepard’s Play. Dedication to the church in the medieval ages produced a very different but involved period for the theatre. Drama was an excellent way of communicating to a highly illiterate

society the themes and messages outlined in the Bible (87). Ideals of Christian faith were brought to life through theatre. Whereas in the East, drama was still looked at as distasteful because of the legacy of ancient Rome, the Western world was putting drama to good use. As the Middle Ages ended and the renaissance began, the mechanics of culture turned from the spiritual to the material. Secular ways and the praise of the individual gave way to many new art forms such as classical music, opera and the Comedia del Arte, a form of mime acting. By this time many plays from both ancient Greece and Rome had been long since destroyed, but a small amount of works from playwrights like Sophocles, Aeschylus, and Euripides had survived the test of time. A rediscovery of the classics was

in order. A resurgence of Aristotelian philosophy and neo-classic behavior would soon result. The discovery of the new world and the abolition of the feudal system had transformed the Western world into a merchant based economy and as religion began to play a smaller part in the life of the renaissance man, theatre began to expand and redefine itself in many new ways. Mankind was expressing himself in new ways and the theatre of the renaissance was a direct reflection of this behavior. Since ancient Egypt, the relationship between faith and the theatre is relative to the society that produces it. History is a testament that theatre is capable of radiating truth and lie, blasphemy and praise. In ancient Rome, theatre was a method of killing innocent Christians. During the Middle

Ages, the same peoples it once killed used theatre for missionary purposes. When religion was taken out of the picture during the renaissance, there was no religion to be found in renaissance theatre. Theatre and faith prove to be an interrelated cycle of human will. Essay 2 – The Role of the Playwright The role of the playwright has changed many times since the dawn of theatre. As in most art forms, the degree of respect (or lack thereof) given to playwrights is largely dependant upon the society that produces them. To some cultures, playwrights were hallowed and considered almost superhuman in the eyes of society. In other cultures, they were regarded as being one step above garbage men. Different societies have always valued certain art forms more than others have. Theatre