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Another interesting feature of the acting experience was the fact that different actors might play the same character at different points in the play, since there were only three speaking actors and many roles. Dramatists appear to have written their plays as they wished with little or no concern for how the performance was to be accomplished from a technical standpoint, even though the author was almost always the director as well.
The Greeks developed acting schools, the first actors’ guild, invented the "star" system, and treated actors as highly respected, even cherished members of society. But this social status was not to be enjoyed by actors for very long.
Unlike Greek society, actors in Rome were at the bottom of the social ladder. In fact, theatre managers, such as Ambivious Turpio, used slaves as actors in virtually all of his productions. Roman citizens were not allowed to act, and anyone who defied the law would lose his civil rights. A soldier who appeared on stage would be put to death immediately. The Romans had no restrictions on women, and in fact, seemed to particularly fancy female dancers, some of whom became mistresses of senators and generals, or ultimately earned enough money to buy their freedom.
What the Romans lacked in their contribution to written drama, they more than made up for in their technical innovations. Rome was a triumph of engineering, and their theatres were magnificent. Whereas the Greeks used little or no scenery in their productions, the Romans developed elaborate machinery to create stage effects. Their technical achievements didn’t stop with the staging of plays, it extended to the audience seating area as well. Roman engineers were masters of controlling water and it is believed that some form of "air-conditioning" may have existed in some Roman theatres. In at least one case, audiences were treated to an extremely fine mist of water mixed with perfume and piped to "sprinklers" overhead. And while many giant amphitheaters were constructed, sometimes seating as many as 80,000, the Romans also built more intimate stages with capacities around 1,500, much closer to our modern standard. Some of these extraordinary buildings were temporary in nature, including one that was three stories high, supported by 60 columns and featured numerous statues, all of which were torn down after less than a week of performances! One remarkable theatre featured a "swiveling" audience area so that after watching a play the seats were turned around and a gladiator fight was presented at the opposite end of auditorium.
The Camerata Academy in Florence was fascinated by the use of music in Greek plays and by the end of 16th century they had created their own form of music theatre called opera, in which all of the dialogue was set to music. It Italy it caused a sensation and soon opera spread throughout the world, especially taking root in France and Germany.
The second great achievement of the Italian Renaissance was a unique form of improvisational theatre known as commedia dell’arte. ("Arte" signified that the actors were professional artists.) The commedia was entirely centered around the skill of the actor. No script was used in performance, only a scenario that outlined the basic plot. Actors had some "stock" monologues and bits of stage business that they would frequently employ at key moments, but the bulk of the action was improvised. And unlike other forms of drama which played to specific audiences, the commedia was enjoyed by kings and commoners alike.
There were three basic "types" of characters in each play. Lovers, masters and servants. Within each of these sets were standard characters who always wore the same costume and mask, and had the same name, although the lovers were usually known by their real names. An actor who played a character, such as the servant Harlequin, would usually play that same character for life, even passing the role on to his descendants.
The first theatre with a permanent proscenium arch was built in Italy in 1618 and great developments in stage technology took place around the world. Plays could now have numerous scene changes and costumes became increasingly more realistic. The desire for spectacle and pageantry still existed and many plays included elaborate special effects and very large casts, but as theatre moved indoors it moved much closer to the experience we know today.
Part 1—Matching—Write the capital letter for the person at the end of his or her description. Of course, some people will have many descriptions, so some of the letters will be used more than once. Each question counts three points, so this section counts sixty-nine points.
Stanislavski Spolin Quintilian Steele MacKay Aaron Hill Thespian François Delsarte Thespis Dionysus Polis Dionysia Paul Sills Danchenko ChekhovHe/She wrote books on improvisation and revolutionized theatre games with books like Improvisation for the Theatre. _____
He was a Roman Rhetoric teacher whose methods were used to instruct orators who worked for lawyers. _____
He/She wrote An Actor Prepares. _____
This is a modern word that means “actor.” _____
He/She wanted to be a great singer, but lost his voice. _____
He/She wanted to be a great singer, but decided very young that he was simply not very good. _____
He/She was the Greek god of wine and revelry. _____
He/She is known for bringing the work of Delsarte to America. _____
He/She is considered the Western World’s first actor. _____
This term describes a theatre festival that was held in Athens, Greece. _____
He/She was one of the best-known playwrights to emerge from the Moscow Art Theatre. _____
His/Her techniques were used from Roman times until the early European Renaissance. _____
He/She wrote The Sea Gull, which was the first highly successful play produced by the Moscow Art Theatre. _____
He/She worked with Stanislavski in creating the Moscow Art Theatre. _____
He/She believed that, while natural emotions are sincere, they are not artistic. _____
He/She proposed that there are only ten dramatic passions. _____
He/She is known for saying, “Nothing is more deplorable than a gesture without a motive.” _____
Although He/She still believed in stylized gestures, the action became less audience-directed and became more character-directed. _____
Since He/She believed that exterior motion effects emotion, his/her stylized gestures were designed to bring about emotion rather than to fake emotion. _____
He/She founded the American Academy of Dramatic Art. _____
He/She set out to observe people and every possible emotion. _____
His mother revolutionized improvisation in America and he continues this work today. _____
His early credits include performing with the Alexeyev Circle, a family-run theatre group. _____
Part Two—Short Answer—Fill in the blank or completely answer the question. Each of these counts five points, so the section counts twenty points.
Picasso defined art as “the lie that reveals _______________________________.”
Recall the beliefs of classical societies and the graph we drew of the connections among elements, fluids, emotions, and humors. Explain as completely as possible how the body fluids affect the emotions and how the emotions affect the humour.
List three things Stanislavski and the man who helped him create the MAT considered negative about Russian theatre before 1900.
Why did Stanislavski drop out of the Moscow drama school?
Explain the limits of using a mirror to practice, remember, and represent emotions.
Part Three—Completely answer this question. This section counts ten points, so I’m obviously expecting a more involved answer.
Explain the difference between presentational and representational acting.
Include in your answer the reasons that each method appeal(ed) to the periods when they are (were) used. You should also explain which one is more audience-directed (or audience-centered) and which is more character-directed (or character-centered).
Film-North * Anatoly Antohin * eCitations *
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