A brief look into the history of theatre

When you hear of the theatre, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the many works of the prolific playwright Shakespeare. Considering his contribution to the performing arts, it’s no wonder that his name has become somewhat synonymous with the colourful world of theatre.

 However, the history of theatre goes far beyond the legendary playwright. Read on to learn more about the history of theatre right here at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and how the industry grew into what it is today. 

Where theatre began

The long history of theatre can be traced back to Ancient Greece with the word itself derived from the Greek word ‘theatron’, which means a place of seeing. In those days in 480 BC, stage performances were conducted in honour of the Greek god Dionysus who was known to be the deity of theatre itself among many other things. 

In its earliest form, the performing arts conducted came in the form of music, poetry and orations. As it became an integral part of the Greek culture, it grew to welcome addition which was drama. It came in the form of tragedy, comedy, and satyr play.

How theatre evolved

Due to Greece’s influence and prominence at the time, neighbouring countries such as Italy and Egypt began to adopt theatre in their region. The emergence of the Roman Empire saw developments in the field of theatre with Roman playwrights producing their dramas. 

It was in Rome where the theatre saw growth that changed the industry. There, the first writer’s and actor’s guild was established and it was also in Rome where women were finally allowed to perform on stage.

Theatre and politics

Theatre since its conception has always been a medium for expression and has often been used to make political statements to incite societal change. If you look at plays like Shakespear’s Coriolanus and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, you’ll notice the playwrights’ social commentaries regarding the social and political state of their time.

Shakespeare’s tragedy Coriolanus, believed to have been written between 1605 to 1608, tells the story of the titular character who was a nobleman who served as a leader in the military of the great Roman Empire. The play shows the strife between the political elite and the Roman plebs.

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, the story is centred on the protagonist Jean Valjean who was released from prison and underwent a reformation into an industrialist under a different name while being hunted by a French inspector named Javert. It also features many other characters, particularly activists during the French Revolution. The story, at its core, critiques the unfair justice system, industrialism, women’s rights, and wealth distribution at the time. 

Experience the world through theatre

The world of theatre is a welcoming space where you can experience different stories being told in an affecting manner. It also allows you to witness different perspectives and cultures, and it can even transport you back in time through the masterful creations of renowned playwrights of the past. 

Once you’re ready to experience the magic of the age-old performing arts, visit us at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours and we will take you through unimaginable adventures on the stage of the theatre. 

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