Serge Sudeikin's poster for the Bat Theatre (1922).
Serge Sudeikin's poster for the Bat Theatre (1922).

Theatre or theater (from French "théâtre", from Greek "theatron", θέατρον, meaning "place of seeing") is the branch of the performing arts concerned with acting out stories in front of an audience using combinations of speech, gesture, mime, puppets, music, dance, sound and spectacle — indeed any one or more elements of the other performing arts. Bernard Beckerman, head of Hofstra University's department of drama, in his book, Dynamics of Drama, defines theatre as what "occurs when one or more human beings, isolated in time and/or space, present themselves to another or others." In addition to the standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, ballet, mime, kabuki, puppetry, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera, mummers' plays, and pantomime.



Overview of theatre

"Drama" "hard wood floor"(literally translated, Action, from a verbal root meaning "I do") is that branch of theatre in which speech, either from written text (plays), or improvised is paramount. The first theatre, the Theatre of ancient Greece, created the definition of a theatre: an audience in a half-circle watching an elevated stage where actors use props staging plays. "Musical theatre" is a form of theatre combining music, songs, dance routines, and spoken dialogue. However, theatre is more than just what one sees on stage. Theatre involves an entire world behind the scenes that creates the costumes, sets and lighting to make the overall effect interesting. There is a particularly long tradition of political theatre, intended to educate audiences on contemporary issues and encourage social change. Various creeds, Catholicism for instance, have built upon the entertainment value of theatre and created (for example) passion plays, mystery plays and morality plays.

There is variety of philosophy, artistic process, and theatrical approach to creating plays and drama. Some are connected to political or spiritual ideologies, and some based on purely "artistic" concerns. Some processes focus on a story, some on theatre as event, some on theatre as catalyst for social change. According to Aristotle's seminal theatrical critique Poetics, there are six elements necessary for theatre: Plot, Character, Idea, Language, Song, and Spectacle. The 17th-century Spanish writer Lope de Vega wrote that for theatre one needs "three boards, two actors, and one passion". Others notable for their contribution to theatrical philosophy are Konstantin Stanislavski, Antonin Artaud, Bertolt Brecht, Orson Welles, Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski.

The most recognizable figures in theatre are the directors, playwrights and actors, but theatre is a highly collaborative endeavour. Plays are usually produced by a production team that commonly includes a scenic or set designer, lighting designer, costume designer, sound designer, dramaturg, stage manager, and production manager. The artistic staff are assisted by technical theatre personnel who handle creation and execution of the production.

Some believe it is important for actors to study all commonly taught acting methods to perfect their craft. Methods include: Meisner, Stanislavsky, Strasberg, and Hagen.


Genres of theatre

Konstantin Somov's illustration for The Theatre by Alexander Blok (1909).
Konstantin Somov's illustration for The Theatre by Alexander Blok (1909).

There are a variety of genres that writers, producers and directors can employ in theatre to suit a variety of tastes:

This list is somewhat incomplete and some regard it as eurocentric. None of the genres listed are actually mutually exclusive. The richness of live theatre today is such that its practitioners can borrow from all of these elements and more, and present something that is a multi-disciplinary melange of pretty much everything.


Theatre venues and styles


Notable theatre festivals


Theatre conventions

Technical theatre


Awards in theatre




See also

  • Bouffon
  • Break a leg
  • Censorship
  • Chinface
  • Digital theatre
  • Dramatist
  • Epic Theatre
  • History of theatre
  • Irish theatre
  • List of early-modern women playwrights (UK)
  • List of Irish dramatists
  • List of playwrights
  • List of playwrights by nationality and date of birth
  • List of theatre directors
  • Mask Sound & Dance Theatre
  • Movie theater
  • Opera house
  • Puppet theatre
  • Showcase theatre
  • Stagecraft
  • Suspension of disbelief
  • Theatre for development
  • Theatre in India
  • Theatre in the United States
  • Theatre technique
  • Theatrical style
  • Tableaux Vivant
  • Theatre in architecture
  • Theatre consultant



Further reading

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