Chapters 15, 16, 17, The Beginning of B’Way, and American Playwrights The very beginning, children playing games and the caves with paintings of animals they hunted Community – life of group more important than the individual Teenage gangs, religious organizations, congregations, military, some teams Collective – individual most important, uses group to further individual’s goals Produce collectives, theatre today, cities, self gov’t Alexander Pope “the proper study of mankind is man. ” Humans have very basic needs: 1.
Food 2. Shelter 3. Mate to procreate 4. Grouping for shelter Greek farmers may have used stone rings to thrash wheat – where the circle or orchestra came from with dancing and singing Greek: Theatron: orchestra, dancing circle; Thymele, altar; parados, where chorus came in; skene, stage house; proskene, in front of stage house where actors performed. Greek theatre had masks, music, instruments, costumes, tragedy, comedy, chanting, and singing Roman: half circle; connected seating to stage house; auditorium, hearing place best known Greek playwrights – Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides Rome liked Greek culture brought back a captured slave Livius Andronicus who became the Father of Roman Literature = could translate Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey 1.
Rome collapsed no more central gov’t 2. Barbarians came 3. Growth of Christian Church No theatres built for 1000 yrs. (476 AD to 1500 AD) all mimests excommunicated I 5 C Medieval wagons bought theatre to town squares or Mansion (Fr. ord for house) stages made of pageant wagons lined up Elizabethan England gave us verse drama, language, literature, ballad opera, and exploration with circle globe theatre groundlings = audience that stood in the circle for one pence with least expensive tickets Italian Renaissance gave us opera, commedia dell’Arte, and proscenium arch earliest built theatre with a proscenium arch that is still standing is Teatro Farnese built in 1618 It was during the Renaissance that theatres moved indoors. NOTE: stage is now behind the arch unlike Teatro Olympico with stage still in front.
The first playhouse to be completely gas lit was the Chestnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia in 1816 After Thomas Edison invented the incandescent bulb in 1879, the first theatre to use electric lighting was the Savoy Theatre in London in 1881 Commedia dell’ arte 1550 to 1750 AD Vecci = old people Zanni = eccentric servants Innamorati = young lovers Beginning with West Side Story, directors have looked for triple threats (person who is equally strong actor, dancer, singer) Sondheim (West Side Story, Gypsy, Sweeney Todd, Company)
Meta-musical=musicals about musicals, make references to other musicals Major spectacle in modern musical (Spiderman, Wicked) Puritans- MA Bay Colony 1620 Theatre= immoral work-moral play immoral theatre idleness=devil’s plaything Actors=pretend to be someone else lying= agent of the devil Bible=honest Actors = prostitutes and gamblers Profit=smiled on by God Calvinist strain of Protestantism if business made $=good 1716 first theatre built in Williamsburg VA Tough on non-profit OK for profit – still today as well Four Ways Theatre is Produced 1.
Commercial enterprise=B’Way, Off B’Way, Off-off B’Way, Touring, Cruises, Casinos, and Theme Parks 2. Not-for-profit=LORT(League of Resident Theatres – started 1960’s) 3. Amateur 4. Academic REP & PTTP for example Commercial a. Broadway – get investors (angels) for pay royalties to writers, composers, lyricists, directors, librettists (90% of all investments lose $) b. Off-Broadway (started 1950’s) c. Off-Off-Broadway (smaller and less expensive tickets) d. Touring Productions (first class, bus and truck, road with per diem) e. Cruises, Casinos, and Theme Parks Contributed Income 1.
Foundations (Ford, Rockefeller) 2. Corporations (MBNA, etc. ) 3. Individuals (you and me) 4. Government grants NEA LORT (not-for-profit) 65% vs. 35% a measure of success box office needs to cover 65 % of annual budget, started in the 60’s 501©3 Not-for- profit designation by gov’t for no taxes and can accept charity but cannot give out dividends NEA – national endowment of the arts (signed into law by Lyndon Johnson) & (tried to eliminate in1990’s) about $1 of our tax money per year goes to the arts (NEA or National Endowment for the Arts) AEA – Actors Equity Assoc. SAG – Screen Actors Guild (for movies)
AFTRA – represents TV artists, basically) SDC – Society for stage directors and choreography. America’s greatest contribution to the theatre is the American Musical Development of Musical Theatre 1. Prehistory and Greek (& Romans) 2. Opera (Italy) 3. Operetta = “little opera” (Europe with G & S from England) 4. Ballad Opera (England where they added popular songs into comedies-most famous is John Gay’s THE BEGGAR’S OPERA in 1728) 5. Musical Comedy (first one THE BLACK CROOK in NYC in 1866 longest run ever- 475 performances)also known as the first book musical (contemporary popular songs) with Fr. allet troupe introduced dance (girls in flesh colored tights) 6. American Musical SHOWBOAT was the true beginning of the complete American musical 7. First musical to use choreography to move the plot/story forward was OKLAHOMA American Musical — specific reasons why it happened and happened here and not elsewhere A. American Spirit (Manifest Destiny) B. Artistic and Ethnic Melting Pot C. Assembly Line Approach to Creativity Musical Creative Team 10 Players-know what they do 1. Producer 2. Book Writer 3. Composer 4. Lyricist 5. Director 6. Orchestrator 7. Musical Director 8.
Choreographer (stager/fight choreographer) 9. Designers 10. Stars and Other Players THE BEGINNING OF BROADWAY –video Florenz Ziegfeld – creator of FOLLIES, hired Eugene Sandow from Chicago World’s Fair, Bert Williams, Fanny Brice, and took an enormous risk with SHOWBOAT. Women fainted touching Eugene’s nearly naked muscular body. Bert Williams joined FOLLIES in 1910 first African-American in Follies Geo. M. Cohan – father of American Musical Comedy and only statue on B’Way, opened in LITTLE JONNIE JONES in 1904 shortly after subway station opened in Times Square (formally LONGACRE SQUARE) on 4/8/1904.
Irving Berlin – White Christmas, Easter Parade, God Bless America, No Biz Like Show Biz, and Alexander’s Rag Time Band – Kern said Irving is American Music Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II teamed up to make a musical from Edna Ferber’s SHOWBOAT and it opened in 1927 Tin Pan Alley on W 28th Street was filled with music publishers trying to sell their songs for 10 cents Eugene O’Neill – Long Day’s Journey into Night 3P (family-characters on the fringe) fan of Ibsen Tennessee Williams – STREETCAR and CAT won 2P (family-Southern Gothic) Arthur Miller – Death of a Salesman 1P, The Crucible, All My Sons (family-unjust system, misplaced values, & capitalism) Edward Albee – Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf 3-4P Zoo Story, A Delicate Balance, American Dream (absurd realism) August Wilson – Fences, Piano Lesson, Gem of the Ocean, etc. (chronicling the Black American Experience over 100 years with 10 plays) Each play represents a decade starting with 1900.
Plays take place in Hill District in Pittsburg (save one) and are called the Pittsburg Cycle. 2P Zack-theatre of absurd and theatre of cruelty Ionesco, Beckett, Albee “Nothing is funnier than unhappiness” – Beckett “That’s what happens in a play, yes? The shit hits the fan! ” – Albee Absurd and cruel – Great Depression, WW II, atomic bomb, Pearl Harbor The driving force in absurdism is an unknown and dangerous force. A question. Why are we here and what does it all mean? Plots are cyclical, communication is strained or useless. ”We are born, we suffer, we die AND we laugh at someone else’s pain” ask Zack And Berthold Brecht’s, Verfremdungseffekt, or alienation effect. Sondheim, Fosse, and Gilbert and Sullivan.