Today I am having a conversation with two persons who work in the sphere of theater art. Thou both of them come from the similar type of environment, the difference between them is obvious. The actors are belonging to the different epochs, one to the medieval type of theater, and the other is the modern professional commedia del’arte performer. Our conversation occurs in the form of double interview, where both respondents are asked the same questions. The purpose is to discover the nature of the actors work and the whole perspective on the theater of different historical ages. The participants, further on, will be marked as Medieval and Modern, for the actor of medieval and modern ages respectively. I would like to begin the interview with the general question of what is theater to the viewer as the phenomenon of the society and culture.
Medieval: In our culture the theater is quite a new discovery, thou historically theater is one of the most ancient forms of art and entertainment in our times it is very conservative. In Medieval times, people seem to rely mainly on the church and God for their entertainment purposes, many of my contemporaries view theater as a deed of Satan full of mortal sin. In general, ideals and subjects of the plays evolve around unquestionable Church dogma (and therefore very safe subject matter).
There is no possibility for the scenario writer to diverge from the commonly accepted type of the performance with constant glorification of God, and moreover the Catholic Church, which is supposed to be Lords deputy on the Earth. The standard Medieval Cycle dramas are aimed mainly at making advancements in the church. The Cycle Dramas or English Passion Plays are performed with the permission and “help” of the church.
The Relationship Between Church and State The church had considerable material wealth, which instigated a problem: Who was superior, Pope or King? This question caused a great deal of strife during the Middle Ages, but the pope always had the advantage, until the end of the Medieval Period, when the state finally triumphed over the popes powers of interdict and excommunication. The practical ...
Very often the Church clergy writes the play lets and then gives it over to the Guilds for staging and public performance (Nicoll 123).
Modern: Nowadays theater is viewed as avant-garde stream in the global culture. modern theater continues its development through the pass set during the Renaissance era. Compared to the Medieval times the focus has shifted on the on the questions of humanity (and therefore creating an unstable and unsettling universe), and life on earth. Modern approach to the religious doctrine is now less serious. Through the texts of the English Passion Plays (the plays, which gave birth to modern theater art) we can see that the attitude is playful and comic when the subject matter is the Devil or something equally as wicked. Modern theater system can be described briefly as more honest, natural, and practical (Phillips 26).
Today the most prominent authors write the plays and stage performance scripts. The revolutionary ideas are discussed in the most of them. The newest trend is to explore the spiritual side of life being with the focus on alternative philosophies and approaches to human reasoning. My next question is concerned with the way of preparation for the play. What does it take the actor and theater crew to stage the play? What are the main steps and basic guidelines? Medieval: As I already said, in our age the theater is very dependent on the Church. The first thing the actor must do to perform is getting an appropriate blessing from the Church authorities.
The Church is not concerned with the quality of the play; it rather focuses on the actor, who must be pure in heart and soul. Only recognized by the Church person can perform. In fact, most of the current actors do not have a slightest idea of the stage performance. There is no actor play that can be seen in their deeds. The focus of such an actor is to monotonically pass the text to the viewer with as less expression as possible. The actor and director of the play does not want to make the audience think for themselves, the aim is to deliver the message of the Church and make the viewer act as Church prescribes them to (Clunnes 56).
GREEK DRAMA: the actors The actors in ancient tragedies were hired and paid by the state and assigned to the tragic poets probably by lot. By the middle of the fifth century three actors were required for the performance of a tragedy. In descending order of importance of the roles they assumed they were called protagonist 'first actor' (a term also applied in modern literary criticism to the ...
A Medieval audience is not able to handle this collapse of religious structure, or any other controversial ideas. In Medieval theater the play is very ascetic. With none to very few decorations and dim auditorium the play is often boring and sometimes frightening. What is very interesting is that male actors perform all of the roles in the play. In our age woman is considered to be an evil creature that is not allowed on the stage, and what is more, very often, women are not allowed to the theater building at all. Modern: Todays theater is a very exciting form of art, and sometimes it take months to prepare a great play with decent decorations and actors.
Just like any other art form, proper training in theater is essential to gain mastery in the skill of acting. Every actor must learn to use a set of “tools” with which he can handle any role given to him. This set of skills allows the artist to conquer any character. The general approach of the actor when preparing for a new role is to be openhearted and relaxed when considering some new character. The main component to successful acting involves neutralization and actualization of the self, the script, and the acting environment represented in the script. The actor must not allow himself to be hindered by previous learning of the character. He must expose his entire self to the character he is working with. This, in turn, will lead to a more sensitive person and a very finely tuned actor. This tool is about the actor recognizing his objective, the barriers that lie in the way, and how he will go about conquering those obstructions to achieve his goal. It gives the actor a sense of direction.
The actor is inspired, just like a real person to achieve his goal (Morrden 73).
Therefore nowadays stage acting is a very intimate and creative process, which deliver satisfaction to both, the actor himself and the audience, which enjoys the show. The stage decorations stand absolutely apart. Oftentimes a separate crew of people, which is sometimes larger in number than the actors and direction of the play, works on the exterior of the play and its appearance to the viewer. The complex decorations often have an ability to be fully flexible and mobile, thus allowing the actors and scenario writers to depict different plot developments. The sound surrounding is also very important in the modern theater. Nowadays the symphonic orchestras take part in the play.
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The live music of great polyphony provides a viewer with a special feeling of presence and partaking in the exciting deed of theater. My final question to interviewees is concerned with the structure of the play. What are the parts of the plot, how is developed? Medieval: The plot of most of the Cycle Dramas is similar in structure, and the dramas that came after the Cycle Dramas continue to use this structure. The structure of the double plot/sub plot is becoming more and more significant and taking on more importance during Medieval age. The story of the play generally evolves around one subject, which is revealed consistently and logically with cause and effect approach. The structure of the play is planned in such a way that the viewer will not be confused in any way, and exit the auditorium with exactly the same thought that was intended by the authors (Nicoll 112).
Modern: The structure of the modern play is very complex. The events are often interloping. The chronology of the play sometimes is broken, and this allows the audience to come up with own assumptions on the plot development and the full outcome of the play. At the same time the author of the performance has an ability to surprise the viewer with the unexpected culminations and conclusions. The latest trend is to create such a play, which will leave many ideas and things uncovered at the end, thus stimulating the personal thinking processes of the viewer and desire to review the play once again. The theater is now not a way of propaganda, it is rather an elegant way of entertainment with the focus on profitability of the project.
From the early theater of the Greeks to Broadway, theater had definitely evolved to one of the most accepted and highly communicated form of art. After all, everything is subject to change, the world of theater is no exception. The theater that we know today had undergone heavy changes. In those stages of changes, it had seemed that just after a type of theater has been accepted by the public, ...
In the conclusion I would like to note that the development of theater has gone a great way. The focuses and targets of the plays and their performance have diametrically changed. However we all can be sure that theater will remain a very popular and one of the main form of art at any age. Works Used Phillips, Gordon. Take it Personally: On the Art and Process of Personal Acting. Applause Books: New York, NY. 2000.
Clunes, Arnold. The British Theatre. Dublin Publishers: Dublin, Ireland, 1964. Nicoll, Antwan. Development of the Theatre. Prentice Hall: Glendale, ND, 1987. Mordden, Ellen.
Modern American Theatre. Glupets House: San Francisco, 1986..