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Theatre History
Chinese and Hindu Theatre
The Beginnings of Chinese Theatre
• The beginnings:
– 2000 BC
– Used interpretive dance
– Dances told a story
– Reverence for ancestors
– Only the people of the Emperor's court saw
the dramas
Chinese Drama:8th- 9th century AD
• Emperor Ming Huang
– founded a school for actors
– called the Children of the Pear Tree Garden
– considered the patron saint of theatre in
China to this day
– highly formalized
– themes- ancestor worship, military glory,
faithfulness to husband
End of Ming Haung’s Drama
• Mongol invasion 1280 AD
– they wanted:
plays from that time
• When the Communists took over in1949 it ended
this drama- used theatre for government policy
The Peking Opera
• Westerners considered the Chinese
theatre opera because of the singing
• it had a very symbolic quality
• most acting was done by men
Style of Peking Opera
• Used highly stylized poses and
• Very graceful
• Every gesture meant something
– a sleeve over the eyes= weeping
– shoulders shaking= grief
Props and costumes
• Props were also symbolic
white paper falling= snow
an actor with a flag= army
flag with wavy lines- river
colors= emotions
red= faithfulness
blue= cruelty
white= evil
Used thick makeup and dazzling costumes
Hindu Theatre
Ancient- dates back to 1500 BC
A religious form
real theatre emerged around 5th Century BC
Sanskrit- language of educated used
Performed in courtyards and gardens of
• Actors waited in a “greenroom” before going
on stage * we use this term today in drama
Hindu Theatre
Scenery was a decorated wall
small audiences close to stage
delicate restrained acting styles
plays always ended happily
women were on stage- ( this may have
been the first place to allow women
• next week- Japanese theatre