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Renaissance Theatre

Beginning of Italian Renaissance
Began to study Roman plays and write imitations of them.
The 4 Major innovations from Italian Renaissance
1. Acting (commedia dell-arte)
2. Dramatic Criticism (Neoclassical Ideals)
3. Scene Design
4. Theatre Architecture
Commedia dell’arte
Not a literary form but improvised from a plot outline. Each performer always played a stock character with fix attributes and costume.

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Traveling Commedia dell’arte performers
10 performers. 7 men, 3 women.
Flaminio Scala
Published the oldest 50 commedia dell-arte scenarios.
Commedia dell-arte character. Masked master braggart and coward. Usually unwelcome suitor of female lover.
Masked Master Commedia dell-arte character. The elderly merchant.
Masked master of commedia dell-arte. The jealous husband.
Masked Servant characters in commedia dell-arte
Arlecchino (Harlequin)
Most popular commedia character. Masked servant who was skilled acrobat and dancer and carried a “slapstick”
Masked Servant commedia character who was a companion to the harlequin
Masked servant commedia character. hunchback with long nose.
Julius Scaliger
Italian dramatic critic. Wrote Poetics Libri Septem in which he attempted to standardize literature by relating Aristotle to Horace. Drama is meant to “teach, move and delight.”
Lodovico Castlevetro
Translated Aristotle’s Poetics. Argues that drama was invented to “please the ignorant multitude.” He also formulated the centrality of the three unities. My Poetics! My Poetics!
Neoclassical Ideals
-Three Unities
-Purity of Genre
-No Onstage Violence
The appearance of truth to life. No chorus, deus ex machina, ghosts, apparitions, soliloquies, etc.
All characters should behave according to rank, sex, age, and profession.
Three Unities
Time (shouldn’t exceed 24 hours)
Place (restricted to one location)
Action (No subplots)
Purity of Genre
Two forms of genre, tragedy and comedy.
The lesson of the theatre should be morally acceptable.
Giovanni Battista Guarini
Wrote pastoral tragicomedy (Il Pastor Fido) that stirred controversy because it didn’t conform to Aristotelian ideals. He responded to attacks with his Compendium of Tragicomedy
Compendium of Tragicomedy
Guarini argued that elements of tragedy and comedy are combined in nature. Tragicomedy is a new, superior drama.
Sebastian Serlio
Italian Architect/ Scenic Designer. Sets weren’t meant to be changed/moveable and were three dimensional with angled wings.
Written by Serlio. The 1st Renaissance work on architecture to devote a section to theatre. Had illustrations of tragic, comic and pastoral scenes based on Vitruvius’ descriptions.
Giocomo Torelli
Invented Chariot and Pole system making all scenery able to be changed simultaneously.
Teatro Olimpico
Located in Vincenza. Andre Palladio was the architect. Three doors on front, two on side, perspective drawing in back. All painted to look like marble.
Theatro Farnese
In Parma. The oldest remaining proscenium.
Propaganda Plays
Based off of didactic nature of morality plays. Used in England during King Henry VIII’s break w/ Catholic Church
Sparked interest of ancient literature among English scholars and writers. Had performances in universities.
London’s Inns of Court
Training arena for young lawyers. Wealthy aristocrats were taught music, dance and other graces through the presentation of plays.
The University Wits
Wrote for the public stage and bridged the gap between learned and popular audiences.
Thomas Kyd
Wrote The Spanish Tragedy. Influenced by Seneca and put all action onstage. Established practice of revenge tragedies
Christopher Marlowe
English Playwright. Placed focus on protagonist. Wrote Edward II and Dr. Faustus.
John Lyly
English playwright that wrote comedies primarily for boys’s companies.
Robert Greene
English playwright that wrote romantic comedies for adult companies.
Leicester’s Men
First company to receive a Royal Patent. Headed by James Burbage.
The Defense of Poetry
Written by Sir Philip Sydney. Argued that literature is the most effective instrument for teaching morality and moving people to virtuous actions.
Sir Edmund Tilney
Master of Revels who was granted in 1581 to license all plays.
The Queen’s Men
Established by Elizabeth I. Monopoly of performance in London.
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men
One of two official companies in London at the time. Lead by Burbage Family and William Shakespeare.
The Lord Admiral’s Men
One of two official companies in London at the time. It’s members illegally formed a 3rd company that performed at the Sway Playhouse.
Shareholders of English Companies
Formed the self-governing, democratic body. An actor would invest a large sum of money and commit themselves to a company for a minimum number of years.
Hired Men of English Companies
Worked under contract to perform supporting roles/ work as prompter.
Boy Apprentices of English Companies
Each company had 4-6 that began around age 10 and remained as an apprentice until 20 yrs. old. Lived with masters who trained them and performed female roles.
Formal Acting
An acting style that was lacking individualized characterizations, because of large repertory of plays and limited rehearsal time.
“Realistic” Acting
Convincing characters w/ emphasis on contemporary life and manners and truthfulness of human psychology.
Boys’ Companies
Originally formed in choir schools and then became popular at court.
The Children of Paul’s
1st Boys’ Company to achieve prominence and run public performances at its own playhouse.
The Children of Her Majesty’s Chapel (The Blackfriars Boys)
Most famous of Boys’ Companies. Known for outlandish comedies
Public Theaters
The Rose (Philip Henslow), Lord Admiral’s Men, The Swan(Francis Langley), The Globe, 2nd Globe (The King’s Men)
1st Blackfriars at the Old Buttery
A private theatre led by Richard Farrant who claimed it was only for preparing children to appear before the queen. Closed after it was discovered that public performances were being given.
2nd Blackfriars at Upper Frater Hall
Private Theatre related to the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
The Swan
Original drawing by Johannes de Witt (didn’t survive) copied by Arend vand Buchell. Shows trestles under stage, stairs into gallery, people in gallery above stage.
Ben Jonson
Leader of writers who “favored conscious artistry.” Mostly wrote masques for the court of James I. Popularized “comedy of humors.” Comedies are described as “corrective.” 1st Poet Laureate of England.
Beaumont and Fletcher
Collaborated over 50 plays. Fletcher was chief dramatist for King’s Men after Shakespeare retired.
William Shakespeare
Shareholder in Lord Chamberlain’s men for entire career. Part owner of the Globe and the 2nd Blackfriars playhouse.
Changes in theatre during James I reign
Plays start reflecting cynicism and doubt. Tragicomedies become increasingly popular. Thrills and excitement. Increased technical skills in playwriting.
John Webster
English Playwright who’s protagonists are surrounded by corruption. Protagonist never achieves any new insight. Violence occurs onstage. Wrote the White Devil and the Duchess of Malfi.
John Ford
English Playwright barely noticed in his own day. Admired for ability to illuminate evil by associating it with ordinary people. Wrote ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore.
Court entertainment, not specific plays.
The Stuart Court Masques
Similar to the Italian Intermezzi. Performed at court. Allegorical story w/ parallels between person being honored and some mythological person/ event. A lot of moving and dancing. Tended towards proscenium arch.
Charles I had Inigo Jones convert Royal Cockpit at Whitehall into a permanent theatre to be used by professional companies when used by court. It was octagon-shaped with a semicircular stage.
Inigo Jones
1st important English scene designer. Studied in Italy. Designed and staged masques. Used technology such as cloud machines to suspend dancers, movable scenery, etc.
The Masque of Blackness
An early Inigo Jones masque with a stage at one end of a hall and perspective scenery of angled wings.
The Masque of Hymen
An early Inigo Jones masque that used periaktoi and suspended 8 dancers in a cloud machine that moved from upstage to downstage.
The Hue the Cry After Cupid
The 1st known Inigo Jones masque to use a proscenium arch. Also had scenery that parted in teh middle to reveal another scene behind it.
The Mask of Oberon
A later Inigo Jones masque that used sets of shutters that were in grooves to reveal 3 successive scenes.
The Temple of Love
A later Inigo Jones masque in which he didn’t use angled wings but instead used flats.
Oliver Cromwell’s effect on Theatre
A rekindled religious opposition to theatre. Closed all theaters.
Short plays in between acts with stock characters. Also included the spectacle of scene changes and music and dance.

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Renaissance Theatre
Beginning of Italian Renaissance Began to study Roman plays and write imitations of them. The 4 Major innovations from Italian Renaissance 1. Acting (commedia dell-arte)
2021-02-24 03:21:28
Renaissance Theatre
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