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Renaissance Theatre
What was the Renaissance?
 Began in Italy and spread to other European countries
 Rebirth of cultural interest
 Looking at the world in new ways
 Trying to surpass the Classical world
 The arts were seen as an important part of learning and
literary culture
Spirit of inquiry led to disputes over religion
Center of power shifted away from the church
In England the official state religion changed 4 times in
When Queen Eliz I took the throne in 1558, she outlawed
plays dealing with religion – that ended 200 years of
religious theatre.
Italy during the Renaissance
 Perspective drawing developed in 1400s
Seen almost as a form of magic
Became very important in scenery
Fixed point from audience to back of stage
(from King or Queen’s seat)
** This signaled movement away from formal
and architectural stages (like Greeks and
Romans) to representational and pictoral
Examples of Perspective Art
Classic Renaissance
Perspective Drawing
Translating the Art to the Stage
Perspective Scenery
Technical Drawing
Scenery in Perspective
Just for Fun
…Italian Scenery
 During 17th Century (1600s) – pictoral
representations of “place” in stage scenery
became standards in Europe into the 20th C.
 Changing scenery became necessary to
change “place”
Classic Renaissance Theatres
 Italian theatres were first – English were later
 Very elaborate in design and decoration
 Permanent buildings to honor the importance
of the arts
 Closed in roof – often stained glass dome
and chandeliers of candles
 Footlights – candles along front edge of stage
to light the stage
…more physical space
 Auditorium divisions of boxes and levels of
galleries reflected European social class.
Box on side = wealthy showing off their
Lower level seats are called “Orchestra”
because they are close to the pit - best seats
for seeing the play = for middle class or
wealthy who don’t want to show off
Gallery (balcony) = for lower classes, higher
up and in back – usually different stairways
and doors
Note Stained Glass Dome (later electrified)
Detroit Theatre turned garage
Mansfield, Ohio Theatre
Mansfield, Ohio Theatre
Commedia dell’arte
 Improvisation – plots and subplots, but
improvised dialogue
 Stock characters – standard costumes
 Use of Mime and Pantomime
 Traveled in companies
 Re-Introduced women as equals
France during the Renaissance
 1548 – religious plays outlawed
 1630s – Cardinal Richelieu (Louis X111’s
prime minister) was cultural leader
Wanted to make France the cultural center of
Had 1st proscenium theatre built in own palace
in 1641
Looked to copy some of Italian theatre
1640s-1800 – Neoclassical Rules
 Tragedy about Kings and Nobles
 Comedy about middle and lower classe
 All plays in 5 acts (like Greek episodes)
 Unity of Time – action in 24 hours
 Unity of Place – 1 set – unlike Italians
 Unity of Action – 1 plot
 All endings should have poetic justice
Types of French Plays
 Sottie – French short plays at festivals
Bawdy burlesques of Roman Catholic Mass
Mock Mass – satire of religious service
Buffoonery and noise
 Farce – Fully developed play also based on
Sometimes bawdy
Usually just silly with slapstick humor
Important French Playwright
 Moliere – Jean Baptiste
Poquelin (1622-1673)
 1643 – Theatre Illustre
– 9 friends – toured for
15 years
 1658 – King liked them
– Court Theatre –
 Controversial Subjects
– obsessive behavior
and repressive customs
 Mostly farces and stock
Omaha’s Orpheum Theatre
Seattle’s Paramount Theatre
Buenos Aires, Argentina