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Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Play (theatre)

Tragedies originated in Ancient Greek theatre, where they were performed at religious festivals. The three most famous Greek tragedy writers were Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides.

The theatre of Dionysus in Athens. By JarekPT - Wikipedia

The oldest play still in existence is The Persians by Aeschylus, written in 472 BC. The Persians is based on experiences in Aeschylus's own life, specifically the Battle of Salamis. It is unique among surviving Greek tragedies in that it describes a recent historical event.

Euripides' lost play Andromeda was based on the myth of Andromeda and first produced in 412 BC. Andromeda may have been the first depiction on stage of a young man falling in love with a woman.

The ancient Greeks also had comedies, which were presented in competitions at the festival of Dionysia.

A play in front of 2 statues from the Mausoleum. By Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin 

Aristophanes (about 446–386 BC).was regarded as the greatest of the ancient Greek comedy authors and is the only one whose work survives. He wrote about 40 plays in all, of which eleven survive.

One of Aristophanes' plays, The Clouds was performed 425 BC. The work did not survive completely, but a later version did survive. It is a satire against Socrates, and pictures the great philosopher as a swaggering con artist. Some of the accusations were re-used at Socrates' trial, twenty years later.

Terracotta comic theatre mask, 4th/3rd century BC By Giovanni Dall'Orto.Wikipedia

Natyasastra, the earliest Indian treatise on theatre, dance, and music, is attributed to Bharata (AD c.200) and shows the performing arts had already developed fully in India. The earliest surviving Sanskrit plays are fragments from the 2nd century.

With the rise of Christianity in Europe acting was forbidden, and had virtually ceased by the 6th century.

After many hundreds of years during which the church had banned all dramas, the priests begun to use small playlets to teach an uneducated people Bible stories. From these miracle plays developed.

Mystery plays, popular dramatic representation of scenes from the Old and New Testaments were performed in many towns across Europe from the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Former Carmelite monk John Bale (November 21, 1495 – November 1563) was a playwright, who in 1538 wrote a drama, King Johan, which is considered the first English historical play. Of his mysteries and miracle plays only five have been preserved.

John Bale

William Shakespeare, England's greatest playwright, wrote both comedies and tragedies. In Shakespeare's day a comedy did not mean a play that would make people laugh or that had a lot of jokes. Instead it was a play in which all the problems work out all right in the end. This was unlike a tragedy, where the problems do not work out, usually resulting in someone's demise.

The English stage adopted the classical custom during the Elizabethan era. The standard program presented two plays: a comedy was always followed by a tragedy. For a quick change, the players did not put on different shoes. They merely "pulled up their socks" from ankle to knee length. This told the audience that the stage was now set for something serious. So now whenever people are asked to take things seriously, they are told to "pull up their socks."

Ye Bare and Ye Cubb was presented on August 27, 1665 at Fowkes Tavern in Accomack County on the eastern shore of Virginia. It was the earliest known performance of a play in the British North American colonies. The three actors were accused of frivolity, hauled before a local magistrate and charged with "performing a play." The judge demanded that the offending performers re-enact their show and were acquitted after performing much of the play to a delighted court.

The shortest run for a West End play in London was a production of Lord Lytton's 1838 melodrama The Lady of Lyons, which opened on December 26, 1888. The audience was asked to leave after waiting for an hour because nobody could raise the safety curtain. The play was cancelled after that fiasco.

Elmer Rice (1892-1967) was educated in law at New York University. Leaving the profession in 1914, he needed to make a living, and decided to try writing full-time. His first play, On Trial, a melodramatic murder mystery, was a great success and ran for 365 performances. The play was purportedly the first American drama to use the flashback technique, important also in literature and films.

In 1922, Britain’s first radio play was broadcast by the BBC. The Truth About Father Christmas by Phyllis M. Twigg was lost to history because the BBC did not have tape recorders for another decade.

The Mousetrap had its premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, on October 6, 1952. The Agatha Christie play began its run in London the following month at the Ambassadors Theatre. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2002 and its 25,000th performance in November 2012.


St Martin's Theatre, Covent Garden, London. By Lisa - originally posted to Flickr 

The Mousetrap took its title from a play performed in Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Source Europress Enyclopedia

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