Theatre, as defined by Merriam-Webster’s on-line dictionary, is “dramatic literature; dramatic representation as an art or profession”. This definition serves as a broad definition for this term, because theatre can mean many different things to many different people. Theatre can be used to communicate more specifically than other art forms. Theatre can help us understand ourselves and others, as well as everyday life. Through this ever-evolving genre of entertainment, theatre is a wide mix of elements all rolled into one production. Upon investigation, one can find that theatre is easily relatable and even, at times, enjoyable to watch.
Theatre approximates art in many ways. Not only is it performance art, it could be visual art, listening art, or even the art of architecture for set designs. Theatre is mainly performance art; using the mind and body to take on a different role and to convince others of that role, to get a certain point/motive across. Theatre also acts as visual art. What an actor acts out on stage, and how the actor moves is considered visual to the audience. The flow of the lines on the stage, and how they are said are a form of listening art. Each line needs to be delivered distinctly in order to accurately portray the meaning of it. Architecture plays a big role in most theatrical productions. In order to make the play convincing, the play has to be accompanied by a set specifically designed for the setting. If the play calls for a house with a set of stairs, then the set should be crafted as such to properly act the scenes. Alongside the basis of performance art, architecture is equally as important.
Another form of art often seen in theatrical productions is that of costume design and make-up design. An actor has to look the part, so costume designers and make-up artists set to work on the actors. An actor can look like two different people with just a simple costume change and/or make-up variation. The idea of how all of the art is portrayed in the production is due to the director’s vision. What the director sees in their mind is the ultimate goal of what the overall production is supposed to look like. The director needs to have an artist’s mind-frame, on many different levels.
Theatre is all about communication, but in this case, it is direct communication to the audience through actions and line delivery. An actor needs to develop rapport with their audience; get to know them through their reactions to certain things occurring onstage. Once an actor has a good handle on what their audience is like, the actor can make each movement and line delivery specific to their situation. Communication is crucial with the audience, because without communication, the play would honestly have no point. Everything that is done onstage has a purpose, and that is to be properly conveyed to the listening and watching audience.
We can also understand ourselves better through theatre. Relating to at least one of the characters onstage can help us apply the play’s theme to everyday life. Watching the actions and listening to the lines to that one specific relatable character can cause us to analyze our own speech and actions in our own lives. On another level, an actor draws from previous experiences to make and mold their character into what they want the character to be. Those are called inner resources. As an actor, using inner resources is a direct way to relate to the plays situation, and to better understand ourselves. To put it into a broader perspective, William Shakespeare stated in As You Like It, that “All the world is a stage, and in it, all the men and women are merely players” (II.vii.146-147). Using this mind-frame, we are all but actors and actresses trying to live out life as if it is one giant stage. Theatre is not necessary life (or vice versa), but we are to try and live life day to day, as it is happening, and most importantly, enjoying every moment of it.
Theatre is a part of everyday life. What is life but acting and reacting? We are acting out our roles: in life, in society, in school, at work, wherever it may be. We are playing a specific part tailored to our life and life situation. Using the aforementioned quote from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It, the world is waiting for our entrance. However, we must be aware of the other actors and actresses sharing the stage as well. How we relate to other “actors and actresses” is also crucial to life, and how we understand ourselves better. Being an actor onstage and being an “actor” in life can be seen as the same thing, only real life happens every moment, and theatre happens in the context of the timeframe the play is being played. Since theatre can be seen as a part of our everyday lives, it needs to be seen as an important part, because it is our interaction with ourselves, others, and our surroundings.
Theatre is a forever-evolving element of entertainment. From the middle ages to present day, theatre has evolved into many different genres, which produced many various types of plays from a variety of playwrights. There can be many different reasons for theatre to evolve. One of these reasons is that theatre must be played to specific populations of people. Aside from language barriers, different areas of people experience different situations. Once something significant comes about, a playwright picks the topic up and runs with it, and creates dramatic art.
Another reason for the evolution of theatre is language change. If language changes, then the written plays have to change, or the way that the plays are written have to change. Even plays written hundreds of years ago are being translated into more modern forms of the original languages they were written. The change of language also effects how the plays are performed as well, as far as line delivery and perhaps even blocking. Through those reasons and more are ways that theatre evolves. Mainly, theatre evolves to adapt to the surroundings in which it occurs. Not everyone likes the same type of theatre, however, anyone can still relate to what is being performed.
Drama has many essential ingredients. A play needs a firm dramatic plot, with rising action, a climax, and an eventual resolution. Also, if necessary, a little comedy or horror can be thrown into the mix. The audience’s reaction is a key ingredient to how the final product turns out. Drama also needs a brilliant stage crew team to pull everything together, and to orchestrate movement beautifully. Music, if necessary, can be added into the pot. A director needs to accurately portray their vision in order to get the best possible end result. But, perhaps the most important ingredients in the formula of a production are the actors. Without the effort and time put in by the actors to memorize lines and blocking, and also to carry out the production, the production would most certainly not exist. Then, mix all of the aforementioned ingredients together to create something so spectacular, that all who are a part of it will be deeply satisfied.
In conclusion, I feel that theatre is essential to life. Our lives are nothing but playing a part in the world, and to fulfill an ultimate purpose and destiny. Relating to theatre is a great way to get the gears going for self-reflection and examination. Theatre is one of the only means of combining many different art forms together to create a giant masterpiece. Performance art can be enjoyed by everyone, as long as they can relate to the performance on their own deep personal levels. Although putting on a production takes a lot of work, the end result can be amazing if everyone dedicates their minds and bodies to putting on the masterpiece. And even though theatre will never stop changing, the messages and the meaning behind it will always remain the same… theatre just takes the right mix of ingredients to make a phenomenal end product.