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    Italian Renaissance Study Guide (History of the Theatre)

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    What are the date of the Italian Renaissance?
    The dates are approximately 1330-1550.
    What does the word Renaissance mean?
    Renaissance-The activity, spirit, or time of the great revival of art, literature, and learning in Europe beginning in the 14th century and extending to the 17th century, marking the transition from the medieval to the modern world.
    How does the word Renaissance apply to this time period?
    It applies to this time period because this was when theatre was at the time of great revival.
    Humanists were focused on people rather than gods; they were preoccupied with describing humanity and human powers, and they studied and imitated the Greeks and Romans.
    How is this^ different from the Middle Ages?
    In the Middle Ages, people focused on God and His powers, rather than on humanity and human powers.
    What is pastoral drama?
    Pastoral drama was an imitation of the Greek satyr plays that were short, ribald comic pieces that had been presented as a follow-up to Greek tragedies. The subject matter of this drama was romance, but were not as sexual or bawdy as the satyr plays.
    Intermezzi were were short pieces depicting mythological tales; were presented between the acts of full-length plays, usually comedies, and were often thematically related to full-length works they followed. Developed out of popular court entertainments. Disappeared in the 1600s.
    The only Italian Renaissance theatre form to survive. Developed at a Florentine academy at end of sixteenth century. Was originally created for aristocratic audiences. Was believed to be re-creating the Greek tragic style. Early operas were off of Greek myths and ancient history. Are mostly sung.
    Sebastiano Serlio
    He was an Italian architect, painter, and designer. Introduced perspective into scene design. Believed there should be three basic settings for drama 1) tragic setting, showing streets of stately houses 2) comic setting, a common street setting and 3) pastoral setting, trees, hills, and cottages. He introduced using a series of ‘angle wings’- flats hinged in a fixed position and painted in perspective-placed one behind the other on Both sides of the stage.
    Proscenium Arch
    The opening behind which scenery and stage machinery could be concealed.
    The word “proscenium” is derived from what words?
    It derived from the Greek word proskēnion, which was the front of the building forming the background for a dramatic performance, stage, from pro- + skēnē building forming the background for a dramatic performance.
    Teatro Olimpico
    Oldest surviving theatre built by the Italian Renaissance. Is in Vicenza. Was designed by Andrea Palladio for the Olympic Academy. Sophocles’s ‘Kind Oedipus’ was its premiere production.was inspired by Vitruvius and designed as miniature indoor Roman theatre.auditorium held 3,000 spectators, elliptical benches connected to the scaena. Had a semicircular orchestra. Raised stage in front of scaena. Its ornate facade was designed to look like a street. Facade had fave openings; three in back wall and one on each side.each opening lead off into an alleyway or street, that was designed look look as though it was fading into the distance. Three dimensional buildings that deceased in seize to give a disappearing effect.
    Teatro di Sabbioneta
    Constructed by Scamozzi. Only 250 seats. Made for the Academia dei Confidenti. Had one background that went from one side of the stage to the other. Smaller and more intimate version of the the Teatro Olimpico. In a rectangular building, has a small colonnade around the horseshoe-shaped auditorium that has a flat floor and no fixed seating. Raised stage with painted panorama at back that has none of the Olimpico stage’s complex simple. Is believed to form a transition between the Olimpico and Farnese theaters.
    Teatro Farnese
    Most notable theatre of the Italian Renaissance. Designed by Giovanni Battista Aleotti. Is in Parma, Italy. Was completed in 1618, had a typical court and academic auditorium, raised horseshoe seating for 3500 people, and semicircular orchestra in front of the stage. Orchestra could be used for extra seating or could be flooded for aquatic scenes like sea battles. Had a proscenium-arch stage. The Farnese is still standing today, even through both World Wars.
    The pit
    Open area where the audience stood.
    The boxes
    The lower tiers where mostly the upper class sat because it was expensive seating.
    The galleries
    The upper tiers which had bench seating.
    What was the lighting like?
    Had candles and torches.
    The chariot and pole system
    Was when a series of wheels and pulleys below the level of the stage, that were attached on frameworks to the scenery above, were shifted and the scene changed automatically.
    Giacomo Torelli
    Was known for his many spectacular stage settings and scene changes. Created the chariot and pole system.
    The groove system of scenery changes
    At the back two shutters met in the middle. Together, these pieces formed a completed stage picture. When one set of side wings and back shutters was pulled aside, a different stage picture was revealed.
    Commedia dell’arte
    We’re traveling troupes usually consisting of seven men and three women. Mostly did comedies. Was not a written literary form, but was mainly improv.
    Were servants that were sometimes sly and sometimes foolish.
    Repeated bits of physical Comic business.

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    Italian Renaissance Study Guide (History of the Theatre). (2017, Sep 04). Retrieved from

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