Trivia Time

October, 2014

PARTERRE (THEATRE AUDIENCE) (PART 1) 



Audience members in the parterre did not hesitate to approve, or censure, plays, performers, royal edicts, or offending individuals. For example, “it was in the parterre that Jean-Jacques Rousseau received “kicks in the rear” after his withering attack on French music.” Responses could take less-intrusive forms of applause or booing, but the parterre was not always so kind. James Van Horn Melton writes that “audiences at London's Drury Lane Theater expressed their dissatisfaction by pelting the stage with oranges.” 


By the mid-18th-century the word parterre acquired additional meaning as contemporaries increasingly identified the parterre as a “public judge,” whose response to a performance could determine the success of a play or even the careers of actors, actresses, and playwrights. The wide range of 18th century sources defining the parterre as a judge, include personal letters, memoirs, and published periodicals, such as Joseph Addison and Richard Steele’s The Spectator and The Tattler, which circulated in London’s Coffeehouses. Historians frequently quote portions from the French philosopher and playwright, Jean-François Marmontel's entry for “parterre,” published in the 1776 supplement to Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d'Alembert's Encyclopédie, which declares, “the parterre is the best of all judges.”

 However, scholars caution against equating the parterre with “the public,” especially since the latter term has changed meanings in the past two centuries. While parterre audiences were located at, or near, the bottom of the theater's social hierarchy, attending the theater was still an exclusive activity, limited mostly to the middle ranks of people and above.  Thus, "the public” that was the parterre was distinct from "the people" who could not afford even the cheapest theater tickets. 


In the late 17th-century, royal authorities in England, France, and regions in present-day Italy published numerous edicts threatening to discipline unruly behaviour, from interrupting performances to wearing hats, that were distributed as pamphlets or read aloud in theaters. These edicts where directed at the parterre, and many theater managers, performers, music critics, and individuals from the loges applauded such efforts to enforce order in the parterre. Disciplinary measures varied, but police records from the 18th century tell of police banning disruptive individuals after fights, and punishing unacceptable behaviour, such as defecating in the parterre, as well as guarding against petty crime, such as theft.



Yet, parterre behaviour continued largely unchanged. In Rome and Parma, efforts to regulate start times were ineffective and ignored, especially by “the notorious minor abbots who littered the parterre. Even a request from a bishop in England to lower the curtain before the start of the Sabbath at midnight could not prevent the pit from rioting and trashing the theater when the stage manager attempted to comply. Whether the inability of all efforts to impose order in the parterre reflects poor policing capabilities, the declining authority of the monarchy, or the deliberate resistance of the parterre is undecided.


Between the late 18th and early 19th centuries there was a transformation in theater audiences from active participants to passive viewers, most noticeably in the parterre. While there is consensus among scholars that such a transformation occurred, how and why it occurred is highly contested.
 


September, 2014

PARTERRE (THEATRE AUDIENCE) (PART 1) 

The word parterre comes from the French par and terre and literally translated means “on the ground.”

Originally, the term was used in the 16th century to refer to a formal ornamental garden, but by the mid-17th century, it was increasingly used to refer both to the ground level of a theater where spectators stood to watch performances and to the group of spectators who occupied that space.


Although the word parterre originated in France, historians use the term interchangeably with its English equivalent, “the pit,” to designate the same part of the audience in England, present-day Italy, and Austria.

 While parterre audiences differed in social status, size, inclusion of women, and seating arrangements, they shared the characteristic of being noisy, often boisterous, interactive audiences.


Today, historians are divided over whether or not parterre audiences deliberately challenged political authority, what role they played in constructing public opinion, and if they contributed to the formation of a public sphere in early modern Europe.


It is impossible to categorize parterre audiences as belonging exclusively to one social class, but historians agree that cheaper parterre tickets drew a proportionately higher number of lower level professionals and commercial labourers, such as artisans, students, journalists, and lawyers, to the pit. However, the occupation, wealth, sex, and social standing of parterre spectators differed depending on geographical location.




Historians studying theater audiences in France have traditionally identified the parterre as the exclusive domain of lower class males, with the exception of female prostitutes.More recently, scholars such as Jeffrey Ravel argue that parterre audiences were more socially heterogeneous than previously believed.For one, spectators who sat in the more expensive loges (balcony boxes) were free to meander into the parterre as they wished and it was fashionable for younger well-off men to stand in the parterre. 

As well, despite restrictions against women entering the parterre, cross-dressing was not uncommon.


England's parterre audiences differed from France because of the relatively high number of elites and “fashionable women” who socialized in the pit. Historian Jennifer Hall-Witt provides several possible explanations for the unique character of England's parterre. In English theaters some bench seats were available to parterre spectators, while theatergoers who could not find seats socialized in wide corridors known as fop-allies that ran down the sides and centre of the benches.

 Also in England, unlike in France or Austria, parterre tickets were not the cheapest; a galley ticket was less than the average half-guinea price of a parterre seat in a London theater.

Ultimately, the pit in England was more socially respectable than elsewhere in Europe.

If separation between “nobles and commoners” in English or French theaters was informal, in Austrian theaters, the parterre formally differentiated between elites and non-elites. For instance; in 1748, Vienna's Kärntnertor theater partitioned a section of the standing parterre.

Parterre practices ranged from harmless gossiping to violent rioting. Talking, laughing, whistling, drunken brawls, and hissing, even dancing and singing was common behaviour. 

Prostitution was normal and individuals who ventured into the parterre could expect to be pick-pocketed, spied upon, and jostled about, in spite of the police or doormen who were charged with maintaining order. 

The antics of parterre audiences included mimicking performances, ogling at the women in the boxes, and making fun of people, as in one performance when “a few misfits in the parterre made sure the whole hall noticed one unlucky woman whose wig was taller than the door to her box.”. 
It is not surprising then, that for theatergoers the spectacle in the pit was the primary source of “endless amusement"




August, 2014

SITE-SPECIFIC THEATRE

Site-specific theatre is any type of theatrical production designed to be performed at a unique, specially adapted location other than a standard theatre. This specific site either may be originally built without any intention of serving theatrical purposes (for example, in a hotel, courtyard, or converted building), or may simply be considered an unconventional theatre space (for example, in a forest).

When the location is meant to imitate, or is itself, the setting of the theatrical story (as is common with site-specific theatre), the performance may also then be called environmental theatre. 
Site-specific theatre is commonly more interactive than conventional theatre and, with the expectation of audience members predominantly to walk or move about (rather than sit), may be called promenade theatre. Site-specific theatre frequently takes place in structures originally built for non-theatrical reasons that have since been renovated or converted for new, performance-based functions.
Examples of site-specific theatre include Psycho-So-Matic and Downsize, staged by Chicago's Walkabout Theater in a landromat and a series of public restrooms, respectively; Girls Just Wanna Have Fund$, staged by Women's Project in the lobbies, escalators, and bridges of New York's World Financial Center; Supernatural Chicago, staged in an allegedly haunted nightclub, and Small Metal Objects, staged by Australia's Back To Back Theater at the Whitehall Ferry Terminal.



Another example of this form is the Ramlila, dramatic enactment of Hindu epic, Ramayana, started in 1830 by Maharaja Udit Narayan Singh of Varanasi. It is held each year over the period of 31 days, during autumn festive season of Dussehra at Ramnagar, Varanasi in India, and is staged in permanent structures created as sets throughout the three square mile area, where the audience follow the actors. Ramlila has been declared by the UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.


These are examples of productions which have been labeled site-specific simply because they took place outside a traditional theatre space. A strong argument can be made here that more information is needed to know whether or not these productions are specific to the site or if they are "site-generic," meaning they could be staged in any physically similar venue.

Another definition of environmental theatre is any production that attempts to immerse the audience in the performance by bringing the action off the stage area. For example, some acting may happen in aisles. In the case of a black box theater, acting platforms may even be built between audience section. Sometimes a performer will talk to, or otherwise involve an audience member in a scene. This can be a real audience member, as in interactive theater, or an actor planted to appear as an audience member.

There are a couple variations on site-specific work worth noting, including:
  • Environmental theatre, in which a pre-existing production is placed in an environment similar to the one in which the play is set (e.g. performing Hamlet in a Danish Castle).
  • Promenade theatre, in which audience members generally stand and walk about rather than sit, watching the action happening among them and even following the performers around the performance space. An example of promenade theater is the performances put on by Punchdrunk, a UK-based theatre company, such as Sleep No More.


July, 2014



SAFETY CURTAIN


A safety curtain (or fire curtain in America) is a fire safety precaution used in large proscenium theatres. 



It is usually a heavy fibreglass or iron curtain located immediately behind the proscenium arch. Asbestos-based materials were originally used to manufacture the curtain, before the dangers of asbestos were discovered. The safety curtain is sometimes referred to as an iron in British theatres, regardless of the actual construction material.

Occupational safety and health regulations state that the safety curtain must be able to resist fire and thereby prevent (or at least hinder) fires starting on stage from spreading to the auditorium and the rest of the theatre, reducing injuries to audience members and members of staff.



The curtain is extremely heavy and therefore requires its own dedicated operating mechanisms. In an emergency, the stage manager can usually pull a lever backstage which will cause the curtain to fall rapidly into position. Alternatively, heat-sensitive components can be built into the rigging to automatically close this curtain in case of fire. Finally, it may be released electronically by a building's fire control system if any alarm box is operated. It can also be flown in and out, as regulations in some jurisdictions state that it must be shown to the audience, to prove its effective operation, for a certain amount of time during every performance. This usually occurs during the intermission.

In smaller theatres, a safety curtain is not usually required. Specifically, most United States building codes only require a fire curtain in theatres with a stage height of more than 50 feet (15 m). The heavy, flame-retardant house tabs can provide some degree of fire separation.

In the UK, it is a requirement that a safety curtain must be fully down within the proscenium opening within 30 seconds of being released. The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane was the first theatre to feature an iron safety curtain. Several other serious fires, notably that at the Theatre Royal, Exeter in 1887, led to the introduction of safety curtains on a wider scale.

The safety curtain can be combined with other safety devices, such as:
  • Smoke pockets - are steel channels located at either side of the proscenium arch that the safety curtain travels within to create a physical barrier between the auditorium and the stage. The safety curtain is not intended to create an air seal but rather prevent material from falling from the stage house into the audience.
  • Fire doors - heavy, fireproof doors that are designed to automatically close any doorway onto the stage in the event of a fire. These doors are usually on a slightly pitched track, and are rigged in a way that causes them to automatically close when heated to a certain temperature.
  • Smoke doors or stage lantern - vents above the stage which, when opened in case of fire, will draw smoke out of the auditorium and up out of the roof of the theatre, enabling safer evacuation of the audience. The vents are often attached to compressed springs, so that when activated, they will stay open.
  • Drencher or deluge system - a large reservoir of water stored above the stage which, when released in case of fire, will flood the stage in an attempt to extinguish any flames. This type of system can be problematic, as water interacting with onstage electrical circuits can cause fire.
  • Water Curtain- a system similar to the deluge system, except instead of having the water drench the stage itself, the water flows from sprinkler heads or other nozzles directly in front of the proscenium to prevent sparks from flying off the stage or to extinguish any burning material (such as a set) which may fall through the proscenium.
In the event of a fire, the use of smoke doors and fire curtains means that the stage area effectively functions as a chimney. The heated air rises and leaves through the smoke doors, and this puts the building into negative pressure, which in turn draws fresh air in through any open exit doors. Patrons waiting to exit will have fresh breathing air until the exit doors close. The exit doors which open out will be drawn closed tightly by this draft once they are no longer held open by evacuees. Once the doors are closed, the fire loses its oxygen source. If the doors are then opened again, a backdraft can occur.
 


 


June, 2014

NOH THEATRE (PART 3)

 
Noh theatre is accompanied by a chorus and a hayashi. Noh is a chanted drama, and a few commentators have dubbed it "Japanese opera". However, the singing in Noh involves a limited tonal range, with lengthy, repetitive passages in a narrow dynamic range. The singing parts of Noh are called "Utai" and the speaking parts "Kataru".


Noh hayashi ensemble consists of four musicians, also known as the "hayashi-kata". There are three drummers, which play the shime-daiko, ōtsuzumi (hip drum), and kotsuzumi (shoulder drum) respectively, and a shinobue flautist.



One of the most subtle performance elements of Noh is that of Jo-ha-kyū, which originated as the three movements of courtly gagaku. However, rather than simply dividing a whole into three parts, within Noh the concept incorporates not only the play itself, but the songs and dances within the play, and even the individual steps, motions, and sounds that actors and musicians make. Furthermore, from a higher perspective, the entire traditional Noh program of five plays also manifests this concept, with the first type play being the jo, the second, third, and fourth plays the ha (with the second play being referred to as the jo of the ha, the third as the ha of the ha, and the fourth as the kyū of the ha), and finally the fifth play the kyū.

 

Audience etiquette is generally similar to formal western theater—the audience quietly watches. Surtitles are not used, but some audience members follow along in the libretto. At the end of the play, the actors file out slowly (most important first, with gaps between actors), and while they are on the bridge (hashigakari), the audience claps restrainedly. Between actors, clapping ceases, then begins again as the next actor leaves. Unlike in western theater, there is no bowing, nor do the actors return to the stage after having left. A play may end with the shite character leaving the stage as part of the story (as in Kokaji, for instance)—rather than the play ending with all characters on stage—in which case one claps as the character exits.

During the interval, tea, coffee, and wagashi (Japanese sweets) may be served in the lobby. In the Edo period, when Noh was a day-long affair, more substantial makunouchi bentō ("between acts bento") was served. On special occasions, when the performance is over, o-miki, ceremonial sake, may be served in the lobby on the way out, as it happens in Shinto rituals.

There are about 1500 professional Noh actors in Japan today, and the art form continues to thrive. Actors begin their training as young children, traditionally at the age of three. Historically, the performers were exclusively male. In the modern day, a few women (many daughters of established Noh actors) have begun to perform professionally. Zeami isolated nine levels or types of Noh acting from lower degrees which put emphasis on movement and violence to higher degrees which represent the opening of a flower and spiritual prowess. Many people also study Noh on an amateur basis.

Actors normally follow a strict progression through the course of their lives from roles considered the most basic to those considered the most complex or difficult; the role of Yoshitsune in Funa Benkei is one of the most prominent roles a child actor performs in Noh. Other 'graduation pieces' include Shakkyō, Dōjōji and Hachi no Ki. In his maturity, an actor will be confronted with pieces where the main character is an elderly person, especially the 'Komachi' pieces, portraying the famous Heian period poetess Ono no Komachi, such as Kayoi Komachi or Sekidera Komachi.

Besides professional acting, Noh is practiced by thousands of amateurs who train in chant and dance and often producing recitals.
 
 
May, 2014

NOH THEATRE (PART 2)


The Mugen nō mood usually deals with spirits, ghosts, phantasms, and supernatural worlds. Time is often depicted as passing in a non-linear fashion, and action may switch between two or more timeframes from moment to moment. Genzai nō as mentioned above, depicts normal events of the everyday world. However, when contrasted with mugen instead of with the other four categories, the term encompasses a somewhat broader range of plays.


Geki nō or drama plays are based around the advancement of plot and the narration of action. Furyū nō plays are characterised by elaborate stage action, often involving acrobatics, stage properties, and multiple characters.


Okina or Kamiuta is a unique play which combines dance with Shinto ritual. It is considered the oldest type of Noh play, and is probably the most often performed. It will generally be the opening work at any programme or festival.


The Tale of the Heike, a medieval tale of the rise and fall of the Taira clan, originally sung by blind monks who accompanied themselves on the biwa, is an important source of material for Noh (and later dramatic forms), particularly warrior plays. Another major source is The Tale of Genji, an eleventh-century work of profound importance to the later development of Japanese culture. Authors also drew on Nara and Heian period Japanese classics, and Chinese sources.



The traditional Noh stage consists of a pavilion whose architectural style is derived from that of the traditional kagura stage of Shinto shrines, and is normally composed almost entirely of hinoki (Japanese cypress) wood. The four pillars are named for their orientation to the prominent actions during the course of the play: the waki-bashira in the front, right corner near the waki's standing point and sitting point; the shite-bashira in the rear, left corner, next to which the shite normally performs; the fue-bashira in the rear, right corner, closest to the flute player; and the metsuke-bashira, or "sighting-pillar", so called because shite use it in order to navigate the stage while their vision is restricted by the mask.


The floor is polished to enable the actors to move in a gliding fashion, and beneath this floor are buried giant pots or bowl-shaped concrete structures to enhance the resonant properties of the wood floors when the actors stomp heavily on the floor. As a result, the stage is elevated approximately three feet above the ground level of the audience.


All stages which are solely dedicated to Noh performances also have a hook or loop in the ceiling, which exists only to lift and drop the bell for the play Dōjōji. When that play is being performed in another location, the loop or hook will be added as a temporary fixture.


The garb worn by actors is typically adorned quite richly and steeped in symbolic meaning for the type of role (e.g. thunder gods will have hexagons on their clothes while serpents have triangles to convey scales). Costumes for the shite in particular are extravagant, shimmering silk brocades, but are progressively less sumptuous for the tsure, the wakizure, and the aikyōgen.


The musicians and chorus typically wear formal montsuki kimono (black and adorned with five family crests) accompanied by either hakama (a skirt-like garment) or kami-shimo, a combination of hakama and a waist-coat with exaggerated shoulders. Finally, the stage attendants are garbed in virtually unadorned black garments, much in the same way as stagehands in contemporary Western theater.


Noh masks (nō-men or omote) all have names. They are carved from blocks of Japanese cypress ("hinoki"), and painted with natural pigments on a neutral base of glue and crunched seashell.


Usually only the shite, the main actor, wears a mask. However, in some cases, the tsure may also wear a mask, particularly in the case of female roles. Noh masks portray female or nonhuman (divine, demonic, or animal) characters. There are also Noh masks to represent youngsters or old men. On the other hand, a Noh actor who wears no mask plays a role of an adult man in his twenties, thirties, or forties. The side player, the waki, wears no mask either.


The rarest and most valuable Noh masks are not held in museums even in Japan, but rather in the private collections of the various "heads" of Noh schools; these treasures are usually only shown to a select few and only taken out for performance on the rarest occasions.


The most commonly used prop in Noh is the fan, as it is carried by all performers regardless of role. Chorus singers and musicians may carry their fan in hand when entering the stage, or carry it tucked into the obi. In either case, the fan is usually placed at the performer's side when he or she takes position, and is often not taken up again until leaving the stage.


When hand props other than fans are used, they are usually introduced or retrieved by stage attendants who fulfill a similar role to stage crew in contemporary theater. Like their Western counterparts, stage attendants for Noh traditionally dress in black, but unlike in Western theater they may appear on stage during a scene, or may remain on stage during an entire performance, in both cases in plain view of the audience.


April, 2014

NOH THEATRE (PART 1)
Noh or Nogaku derived from the Sino-Japanese word for "skill" or "talent"—is a major form of classical Japanese musical drama that has been performed since the 13th century. 

Many characters are masked, with men playing male and female roles. 

Traditionally, a Noh "performance day" lasts all day and consists of five Noh plays interspersed with shorter, humorous kyōgen pieces. However, present-day Noh performances often consist of two Noh plays with one Kyōgen play in between.




While the field of Noh performance is extremely codified, and regulated by the iemoto system, with an emphasis on tradition rather than innovation, some performers do compose new plays or revive historical ones that are not a part of the standard repertoire. Works blending Noh with other theatrical traditions have also been produced.

Together with the closely related kyōgen farce, Noh evolved from various popular, folk, and aristocratic art forms, including Dengaku, Shirabyoshi, and Gagaku.


Kan'ami and his son Zeami Motokiyo brought Noh to what is essentially its present-day form during the Muromachi period (1336 to 1573) under the patronage of the powerful Ashikaga clan, particularly the third shogun, Ashikaga Yoshimitsu. It would later influence other dramatic forms such as Kabuki and Butoh. 

During the Meiji era, although its governmental patronage was lost, Noh and kyōgen received official recognition as two of the three national forms of drama.


By tradition, Noh actors and musicians only rehearse together once, a few days before the actual performance. Generally, each actor, musician, and chorus member practises his or her fundamental movements, songs, and dances independently, under the tutelage of a senior member of the school. Thus, the mood of a given performance is not set by any single performer but established by the interactions of all the performers together. In this way, Noh could be seen as exemplifying the medieval Japanese aesthetics of transience, exemplified by the saying of Sen no Rikyu, "ichi-go ichi-e", "one chance, one meeting".

The current repertoire consist of approximately 250 plays, which can be divided according to a variety of schemes. The most common is according to content, but there are several other methods of organization.
 
Noh plays are divided by theme into the following five categories, which are numbered in this order and referred to by these numbers (a "3rd group play", for instance).

  1. Kami mono or waki nō typically feature the shite in the role of a human in the first act and a deity in the second and tell the mythic story of a shrine or praise a particular spirit.
  2. Shura mono or ashura nō (warrior plays) have the shite often appearing as a ghost in the first act and a warrior in full battle regalia in the second, re-enacting the scene of his death.
  3. Katsura mono (wig plays) or onna mono (woman plays) depict the shite in a female role and feature some of the most refined songs and dances in all of Noh.
  4. There are about 94 "miscellaneous" plays, including kyōran mono or madness plays, onryō mono or vengeful ghost plays, and genzai mono, plays which depict the present time, and which do not fit into the other categories.
  5. Kiri nō (final plays) or oni mono (demon plays) usually feature the shite in the role of monsters, goblins, or demons, and are often selected for their bright colors and fast-paced, tense finale movements.



March, 2014


QTP

QTP was formed in January 1999. Christopher Samuel was the one who coined the name.

The founding members of QTP - Karl Alphonso, Yuki Ellias, Advait Hazarat, Nadir Khan, Arghya Lahiri, Quasar Thakore Padamsee, Christopher Samuel and Toral Shah.

QTP's first public show was 19th June 1999. The play was 'The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail' and was directed by Q.

Over the 15 years QTP has produced 25 plays with 8 different directors.

QTP has also collaborated on 11 International Shows.

February, 2014

MOLIERE
Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, known by his stage name Molière, (baptized January 15, 1622 – February 17, 1673) was a French playwright and actor who is considered to be one of the greatest masters of comedy in Western literature.

Among Molière's best-known works are Le Misanthrope (The Misanthrope), L'École des Femmes (The School for Wives), Tartuffe ou L'Imposteur (Tartuffe or the Hypocrite), L'Avare (The Miser), Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme (The Bourgeois Gentleman).


Born into a prosperous family and having studied at the Collège de Clermont (now Lycée Louis-le-Grand), Molière was well suited to begin a life in the theatre. 


In June 1643, when Molière was 21, he decided to abandon his social class and pursue a career on the stage. Taking leave of his father, he joined the actress Madeleine Béjart, with whom he had crossed paths before, and founded the Illustre Théâtre with 630 livres. They were later joined by Madeleine's brother and sister.
  

Despite his own preference for tragedy, which he had tried to further with the Illustre Théâtre, Molière became famous for his farces, which were generally in one act and performed after the tragedy.

He also wrote two comedies in verse, but these were less successful and are generally considered less significant. Later in life Molière concentrated on writing musical comedies, in which the drama is interrupted by songs and/or dances.

 
Thirteen years as an itinerant actor helped him polish his comic abilities while he began writing, combining Commedia dell'arte elements with the more refined French comedy.


Through the patronage of a few aristocrats, including Philippe I, Duke of Orléans – the brother of Louis XIV – Molière procured a command performance before the King at the Louvre. 

Performing a classic play by Pierre Corneille and a farce of his own, Le Docteur Amoureux (The Doctor in Love), Molière was granted the use of salle du Petit-Bourbon near the Louvre, a spacious room appointed for theatrical performances. 

Later, Molière was granted the use of the theatre in the Palais-Royal. In both locations he found success among the Parisians with plays such as Les Précieuses ridicules (The Affected Ladies), L'École des Maris (The School for Husbands) and L'École des Femmes (The School for Wives). 

This royal favor brought a royal pension to his troupe and the title "Troupe du Roi" (The King's Troupe). Molière continued as the official author of court entertainments.


Though he received the adulation of the court and Parisians, Molière's satires attracted criticisms from moralists and the Roman Catholic Church.  

Tartuffe ou L'Imposteur (Tartuffe or the Hypocrite) and its attack on religious hypocrisy roundly received condemnations from the Church, while Don Juan was banned from performance. 

Molière's hard work in so many theatrical capacities began to take its toll on his health and, by 1667, he was forced to take a break from the stage. 

In 1673, during a production of his final play, Le Malade Imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid), Molière, who suffered from pulmonary tuberculosis, was seized by a coughing fit and a haemorrhage while playing the hypochondriac Argan. He finished the performance but collapsed again and died a few hours later.

 In his 14 years in Paris, Molière single-handedly wrote 31 of the 85 plays performed on his stage while simultaneously holding his company together.



January, 2014

 THEATRE IN AUSTRALIA

There are theatrical and dramatic aspects to a number of Indigenous Australian ceremonies such as the corroboree, and fusions of this ancient theatrical content and style with Western theatrical productions are not uncommon in Australia. 

At a corroboree Aborigines interact with the Dreamtime through dance, music and costume and many ceremonies act out events from the Dreamtime.

However, during its early Western history, Australia was a collection of British colonies in which the theatrical arts were generally linked to the broader traditions of English literature and to British and Irish theatre. 

Australian literature and theatrical artists (including Aboriginal as well as Anglo-Celtic and multicultural migrant Australians) have, since 1788, introduced the culture of Australia and the character of a new continent to the world stage.

European theatrical traditions came to Australia with white settlement with the First Fleet. 
The first production, The Recruiting Officer written by George Farquhar in 1706, was performed in 1789 by convicts. 
The extraordinary circumstances of the foundation of Australian theatre was recounted in the 1988 play Our Country's Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker - the participants were prisoners watched by sadistic guards and the leading lady was under threat of the death penalty. The play is based on Thomas Keneally's novel The Playmaker.

In early 1955, the Union Theatre Repertory Company invited a young Barry Humphries to tour Victoria with a production of Twelfth Night directed by Ray Lawler. On tour, Humphries gradually invented the character of Edna Everage as part of the entertainment for the actors during commutes between country towns, imitating the Country Women's Association representatives who welcomed the troupe in each town. 

By night Lawler worked on a new play, Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, his tenth but most acclaimed work. Both creations represented historic milestones in Australian theatre.  

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll was the first Australian play produced by the MTC and portrayed resolutely Australian characters and went on to international acclaim. At Lawler's suggestion, Mrs Everage made her first appearance in a Melbourne University's UTRC revue at the end of 1955, as the city prepared for the 1956 Summer Olympic Games. 


The Melbourne Theatre Company, originally the Union Theatre Repertory Company, formed in 1953, is Australia's oldest professional theatre company. Over the years, MTC has championed Australian writing, introducing the works of writers such as Alan Seymour, Vance Palmer, Patrick White, Alan Hopgood, Alexander Buzo, David Williamson, John Romeril, Jim McNeil, Alma De Groen, John Powers, Matt Cameron, Ron Elisha, Justin Fleming, Janis Bolodis, Hannie Rayson, Louis Nowra, Michael Gurr, Jack Davis, Michael Gow and Joanna Murray-Smith and many others to mainstream Melbourne audiences.


The National Institute of Dramatic Art was established in Sydney in 1958. This institute has since produced a list of famous alumni including Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Mel Gibson and Baz Luhrmann.


Regular venues include: the Melbourne Arts Centre, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre and Queensland Performing Arts Centre.



The Sydney Theatre Company was founded in 1978 becoming one of Australia's foremost theatre companies. Players associated with the company include Mel Gibson, Judy Davis, Hugo Weaving, Geoffrey Rush and Toni Collette. Cate Blanchett and husband Andrew Upton are currently artistic directors of the Company. It operates from The Wharf Theatre near The Rocks, as well as the Sydney Theatre and the Sydney Opera House Drama Theatre.


In 1979, two impoverished young Sydney actors, Mel Gibson and Geoffrey Rush, shared a flat and co-starred in a local production of Waiting for Godot.


There are a range of amateur and professional theatre groups throughout the country, as well as a vibrant independent and fringe theatre community, largely concentrated in Melbourne, home of La Mama.



December, 2013


5 FACTS ABOUT THESPO 15


THESPO 15 had 125 full length plays registering. The highest ever!!!

Thespo 15 traveled to 14 cities to watch plays. Another record!!

This year, 2 plays - Invisible City and Mi Ghalib, had previously tried to be at Thespo, but didnt make it.

Slovenian workshop leader Barbara Anders heard about Thespo in Shanghai!

Clerke and Joy met Vivek Rao at a pub in Edinburgh, and immediately signed on for Thespo!


November, 2013

Royal National Theatre

The Royal National Theatre (generally known as the National Theatre) in London is one of the United Kingdom's two most prominent publicly funded theatre companies, alongside the Royal Shakespeare Company. Internationally, it is known as the National Theatre of Great Britain.


From its foundation in 1963 until 1976, the company was based at the Old Vic theatre in Waterloo. The current building was designed by architects Sir Denys Lasdun and Peter Softley and structural engineers Flint & Neill and contains three stages, which opened individually between 1976 and 1977. It is located next to the Thames in the South Bank area of central London. In addition to performances at the National Theatre building, the National Theatre company tours productions at theatres across the United Kingdom.




Since 1988, the theatre has been permitted to call itself the Royal National Theatre, but the full title is rarely used. The theatre presents a varied programme, including Shakespeare and other international classic drama; and new plays by contemporary playwrights. Each auditorium in the theatre can run up to three shows in repertoire, thus further widening the number of plays which can be put on during any one season.


In June 2009, the theatre began National Theatre Live (NT Live), a program of simulcasts of live productions to cinemas, first in the United Kingdom and then internationally.



In 1847, a critic using the pseudonym Dramaticus published a pamphlet describing the parlous state of British theatre. Production of serious plays was restricted to the patent theatres, and new plays were subjected to censorship by the Lord Chamberlain's Office. At the same time, there was a burgeoning theatre sector featuring a diet of low melodrama and musical burlesque; but critics described British theatre as driven by commercialism and a 'star' system. There was a demand to commemorate serious theatre, with the "Shakespeare Committee" purchasing the playwright's birthplace for the nation demonstrating a recognition of the importance of 'serious drama'. 

The following year saw more pamphlets on a demand for a National Theatre from London publisher Effingham William Wilson. The situation continued, with a renewed call every decade for a National Theatre. Attention was aroused in 1879 when the Comédie-Française took a residency at the Gaiety Theatre, described in The Times as representing "the highest aristocracy of the theatre". The principal demands now coalesced around: a structure in the capital that would present "exemplary theatre"; that would form a permanent memorial to Shakespeare; a supported company that would represent the best of British acting; and a theatre school.


The Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was opened in Stratford upon Avon on 23 April 1879, with the New Shakespeare Company (now the Royal Shakespeare Company); and Herbert Beerbohm Tree founded an Academy of Dramatic Art at Her Majesty's Theatre in 1904. This still left the capital without a national theatre. A London Shakespeare League was founded in 1902 to develop a Shakespeare National Theatre and – with the impending tri-centenary in 1916 of his death – in 1913 purchased land for a theatre in Bloomsbury. This work was interrupted by World War I.


Finally, in 1948, the London County Council presented a site close to the Royal Festival Hall for the purpose, and a "National Theatre Act", offering financial support, was passed by Parliament in 1949. Ten years after the foundation stone had been laid in 1951, the Government declared that the nation could not afford a National Theatre; in response the LCC offered to waive any rent and pay half the construction costs. Still, the Government tried to apply unacceptable conditions in order to save money; attempting to force the amalgamation of the existing publicly supported companies: the RSC, Sadler's Wells and Old Vic.


In July 1962, with agreements finally reached, a board was set up to supervise construction, and a separate board was constituted to run a National Theatre Company and lease the Old Vic theatre. The "National Theatre Company" opened on 22 October 1963 with Hamlet. The Company was to remain at the Old Vic until 1976, when construction of the Olivier was complete.



Laurence Olivier became artistic director of the National Theatre at its formation in 1963. He was considered the foremost British film and stage actor of the period, and became the first director of the Chichester Festival Theatre – there forming the company that would unite with the Old Vic Company to form the National Theatre Company. In addition to directing, he continued to appear in many successful productions. He became a life peer in 1970, for his services to theatre, and retired in 1973.


Peter Hall took over, to manage the move to the South Bank. His career included running the Arts Theatre between 1956 and 1959 – where he directed the English language première of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. One of the National's associate directors, Richard Eyre became artistic director in 1988; his experience included running the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh and the Nottingham Playhouse. He was noted for his series of collaborations with David Hare on the state of contemporary Britain.


In 1997, Trevor Nunn became artistic director. He came to the National from the RSC, having undertaken a major expansion of the company into the Swan, The Other Place and the Barbican Theatres. He brought a more populist style to the National, introducing musical theatre to the repertoire.


The current artistic director, Nicholas Hytner, took over in April 2003. A number of his successful productions have been made into films. In April 2013 Hytner announced he would step down as artistic director at the end of March 2015.

2013 marked the 50th Anniversary of the Royal National Theatre.

 


October, 2013

Why's it called a Green Room?


"Room close to the stage (i.e. the green) for the actors to meet and relax before or after going on stage."


There are many possible answers to this question. What follows are a few of those.

All that's agreed upon is: 


1) The Oxford Companion to the Theatre entry under Green Room says that the first reference is in Thomas Shadwell's play A TRUE WIDOW (1678).
The relevant line from Act Four of that play is :
Stanmore : "No madam: Selfish, this Evening, in a green Room, behind the Scenes, was before-hand with me..."
It also says that the only 'proper' green room now is at Drury Lane. Green Rooms - where actors met before and after perfs to entertain friends - were also known as Scene Rooms (or Screen Rooms, for scenery storage) and Green might be a corruption of Scene. Early English theatres had several, graded hierarchically according to the salary of the actor.



2)  Another known written use of the term is in 1701, and from the context the writer (English owner-actor/playwright Colley Cibber 1671-1735, Poet Laureate) expected people to recognise the term, so it was probably in common use by the end of the 1690s.
Most lexicographers have concluded that the term did originate from the colour the early greenrooms were painted, but no-one has any firm reasons as to why they would have been painted green.



3)     Another earlier citation is found in in A Warrant for the upper tiring room at the Cockpit-in-Court, 10 December 1662 from PRO LC 5/119 (cited D.Thomas, ed., Restoration and Georgian England, 1660-1788 CUP, 1989).
The fact that it's in use in the Court, means it was certainly in use in commercial theatre also.
'for the upper tiring room in the Cockpit, the walls being unfit for the rich clothes, one hundred and ten yards of green baize at three shillings four pence the yards;'
So was green baize wall covering there purely to stop "rich clothes" from getting dirty?



Some of the other (unsupported) reasons for the name that have been suggested are:

  • Because the plays originally took place outside on the village green.
  • Because the artificial grass (green carpet) was stored there.
  • The room was painted green as it was soothing to actors eyes (after they had come off from performing in front of limelight, which left a greenish after-image on the retina)
  • It was where the shrubbery used on stage was stored, and the plants made it a cool comfortable place.
  • The 'green' was jargon for the section of the stage visible to the public, so clearly the 'green room' was the room nearest the stage.
  • "Greengage" is cockney-rhyming slang for "stage", hence the Green room was the room by the stage.
  • The room was walled with green baize as soundproofing, so actors could practice their lines.
  • One theory to the Green Room mystery is that the Actors were often nervous and nauseous and had a green complexion.
  • Greek theatres had an area behind the stage covered by vines where the actors could rest in the shade after performing in bright sunlight.
  •  "The term 'green room' is one of the most used and least understood words in theatre. The word actually is in reference to the makeup worn by the actors. When first applied, old style makeups were prone to cracking until fully cured. During the period immediately after makeup was applied, it was 'green' or uncured. The Green Room was a quiet place for the actors to sit and relax while the makeup was 'green' and to allow it to cure properly."

 September, 2013



Theatre Terms Origins: Break A Leg

As is often the way with language, there seems to be no definitive answer as to the true derivation of this term. Below are offered some suggestions:

1) Lincoln / Wilkes Booth Injury
Popular etymology derives the phrase from the 1865 assassination of Abraham Lincoln. John Wilkes Booth, the actor turned assassin, leapt to the stage of Ford's Theater after the murder, breaking his leg in the process. The logical connection with good luck is none too clear, but such is folklore.


2) Hals Und Beinbruch

A Dictionary of Catch Phrases suggests that there may be a connection with the German phrase Hals und Beinbruch, an invitation to break your neck and bones. The German phrase is used by aviators and is equivalent to the English phrase Happy Landings!. Both phrases arose about the same time, the early twentieth century, but the connection between the German aviation community and American theater is unclear, so they may be unrelated.


3) Bending the Knee

For contemporary English-speaking theater people, the ritual greeting reflects that calamitous 42nd Street production, "Break a leg."

However, the rather terrible curse may have had a more benign origin. Much earlier in stage history, when superstition had a less frightening hold on the craft, actors and their followers used a more gracious greeting: "May you break your leg," by which it was meant that the evening's performance would be of such grandeur that the actor would be obliged to break his leg - that is bend his knee - in a deep bow acknowledging the audience's applause.


4) Getting Onto the Stage

Evidently, in the days of early vaudeville, the producers would book more performers than could possibly perform in the given time of the show - since "bad" acts could be pulled before their completion... so, in order to insure that the show didn't start paying people who don't actually perform, there was a general policy that a performer did NOT get paid unless they actually performed on-stage. So the phrase "break a leg" referred to breaking the visual plane of the legs that lined the side of the stage.

i.e. "Hope you break a leg and get on-stage so that you get paid."


5) Outsmarting the Sprites

Meaning: A wish of good luck, do well.



Origin: "Break a leg" is sourced in superstition. It is a wish of good luck, but the words wish just the opposite. It was once common for people to believe in Sprites. Sprites are actually spirits or ghosts that were believed to enjoy wreaking havoc and causing trouble.

If the Sprites heard you ask for something, they were reputed to try to make the opposite happen. Telling someone to "break a leg" is an attempt to outsmart the Sprites and in fact make something good happen. Sort of a medieval reverse psychology. Of course it has became a popular wish of luck for theater performers.


6) Take A Bow

This term came from the understudies telling the primaries to "break a leg" enough times that it came to be considered bad luck if they didn't say it. A more likely origin is from Shakespeare's time when "to break a leg" meant to "take a bow".


7) Break A Legend

In the nineteenth century theatre, when it was the norm for actors like Keen, Tree, and Irving to be actor managers. They would perform a role many times and for many years. When a new actor would take over a particular role that had become closely associated with one of these legendary actors he was told "break the legend". Over time this gradually got changed to "break a leg".


8) Greek Stomping

In the Greek times, people didn't applaud - they stomped for their appreciation. So if they stomped long enough, they would break a leg.


9) Elizabethan Stomping

During Elizabethan times and that instead of applause the audience would stomp their chairs, and if they liked it enough the leg of the chair would break.


10) Compensating for Injury

There was lead actor on a play who broke his leg an hour before curtain time, all the cast members learned about it, and he still went on despite of his condition. All the cast members did their best performance that night, because everyone was worried that the audience might notice the broken leg, as a result they got the best review the next day.



International Alternatives

11) Australia: 'Chookas'

The Australian term for "break a leg" is "chookas" (pronounced chook-as).

Other terms


12) Opera Singers

Opera singers use 'Toi Toi Toi' which is believed to be an onomatopoeic representation of spitting three times (believed to expel evil spirits)


August, 2013




FUNNY TECHIE QUOTES



“Actors are props with dialogue.”



"If force doesn't work, you're not using enough.”



"Done is best"



“And on the first day the lord said. . . . . .LX1, GO! and there was light.”



“Let the actors finish it.”



"I don't make mistakes, I have unintentional improvisations."



"Life's a stage and were constantly changing the scenery."



"Extras are props that eat. . ."

"Umm, 'scuze me, your techies are showing. . ."

"If we could read minds, we wouldn't need headsets."

"Hey, I forgot my cue sheet, oh well, I'll make it up. I wonder if they'll notice?"

"If I wanted to have people tell me what to do, I would have become an actor."

“If the director doesn't notice, it doesn't need to be fixed.”

“I memorise gel colours for fun.”

“I use glow tape instead of night lights to find my way around home at night.”

"Our techies practice safe sets and Techies do it on cue."
  July, 2013

THE MOUSETRAP


The play began life as a short radio play broadcast on 30 May 1947 called Three Blind Mice in honour of Queen Mary, the consort of King George V. 


The play had its origins in the real-life case of the death of a boy, Dennis O'Neill, who died while in the foster care of a Shropshire farmer and his wife in 1945.



The play is based on a short story, itself based on the radio play, but Christie asked that the story not be published as long as it ran as a play in the West End of London.








The short story has still not been published within the United Kingdom but it has appeared in the United States in the 1950 collection Three Blind Mice and Other Stories.



When she wrote the play, Christie gave the rights to her grandson Matthew Prichard as a birthday present. 



Outside of the West End, only one version of the play can be performed annually and under the contract terms of the play, no film adaptation can be produced until the West End production has been closed for at least six months.



The play had to be renamed at the insistence of Emile Littler who had produced a play called Three Blind Mice in the West End before the Second World War. The suggestion to call it The Mousetrap came from Christie's son-in-law, Anthony Hicks. In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, "The Mousetrap" is Hamlet's answer to Claudius's inquiry about the name of the play whose prologue and first scene the court has just observed (III, ii). The play is actually The Murder of Gonzago, but Hamlet answers metaphorically, since "the play's the thing" in which he intends to "catch the conscience of the king."



Tom Stoppard's 1968 play The Real Inspector Hound parodies many elements of The Mousetrap, including the surprise ending.



Christie herself did not expect The Mousetrap to run for such a long time. In her autobiography, she reports a conversation that she had with Peter Saunders: "Fourteen months I am going to give it", says Saunders. To which Christie replies, "It won't run that long. Eight months perhaps. Yes, I think eight months."


 When it broke the record for the longest run of a play in the West End in September 1957, Christie received a mildly grudging telegram from fellow playwright Noël Coward: "Much as it pains me I really must congratulate you ..." In 2011 (by which time The Mousetrap had been running for almost 59 years) this long-lost document was found by a Cotswold furniture maker who was renovating a bureau purchased by a client from the Christie estate.

The original West End cast included Richard Attenborough as Detective Sergeant Trotter and his wife Sheila Sim as Mollie Ralston. They took a 10% profit-participation in the production, which was paid for out of their combined weekly salary ("It proved to be the wisest business decision I've ever made... but foolishly I sold some of my share to open a short-lived Mayfair restaurant called 'The Little Elephant' and later still, disposed of the remainder in order to keep Gandhi afloat.")

Since the retirement of Mysie Monte and David Raven, who each made history by remaining in the cast for more than 11 years, in their roles as Mrs Boyle and Major Metcalf, the cast has been changed annually. The change usually occurs around late November around the anniversary of the play's opening, and was the initiative of Sir Peter Saunders, the original producer. There is a tradition of the retiring leading lady and the new leading lady cutting a "Mousetrap cake" together.

The play has also made theatrical history by having an original "cast member" survive all the cast changes since its opening night. The late Deryck Guyler can still be heard, via a recording, reading the radio news bulletin in the play to this present day. The set has been changed in 1965 and 1999, but one prop survives from the original opening – the clock which sits on the mantelpiece of the fire in the main hall.

Notable milestones in the play's history include:
  • 22 April 1955 – 1,000th performance
  • 13 September 1957 – Longest-ever run of a "straight" play in the West End
  • 12 April 1958 – Longest-ever run of a show in the West End with 2239 performances (the previous holder was Chu Chin Chow)
  • 9 December 1964 – 5,000th performance
  • 17 December 1976 – 10,000th performance
  • 16 December 2000 – 20,000th performance
  • 25 November 2002 – 50th anniversary; a special performance was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
  • 18 November 2012 – 25,000th performance
A staging at the Toronto Truck Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, that opened on 19 August 1977 became Canada's longest running show, before finally closing on 18 January 2004 after a run of twenty-six years and over 9,000 performances.

On 18th November 2012, both the 25,000th performance and the 60th year of the production were marked by a special, charity performance that featured Hugh Bonneville, Patrick Stewart, Julie Walters and Miranda Hart. The money raised by the performance went towards Mousetrap Theatre Projects.

 

June, 2013


MARGARET HUGHES - THE FIRST THEATRE ACTRESS


Margaret Hughes (c. 1645 – 1 October 1719), also Peg Hughes or Margaret Hewes, is often credited as the first professional actress on the English stage. Hughes was also famous as the mistress of the English Civil War general and later Restoration admiral, Prince Rupert of the Rhine.

Hughes became an actress during a period of great change in English drama. English drama had suffered greatly during the English Civil War and the Interregnum, being banned by a Puritan Parliament in 1642.

This ban was finally lifted upon the Restoration of King Charles. Charles was a keen theatre-goer, and promptly gave two royal patents to Sir Thomas Killigrew and Sir William Davenant.

During the Renaissance women had been almost exclusively banned from appearing as actresses on the stage, and there was a history of embarrassing incidents occurring for male actors in female roles.

The Dorset Garden Theatre of the Duke's Company of actors, where Hughes spent a busy season in 1676.

Hughes may have been the first professional actress in England. The occasion of her first performance was on 8 December 1660, in a production of Shakespeare's play Othello, when she played the role of Desdemona in a production by Thomas Killigrew's new King's Company at their Vere Street theatre.

There remains some uncertainty over this, however. Some other historians place Anne Marshall as the first such actress, and there has been much analysis of the early recollections of John Downes, whose memories of the 1660s form a key part of Hughes' claim in this regard.

Hughes was famous for her charms as an actress; diarist Samuel Pepys considered her 'a mighty pretty woman', and she was said to be a 'a great beauty, with dark ringletted hair, a fine figure, and particularly good legs'. Pepys suggested that she was a lover of Sir Charles Sedley, a noted dramatist and "famous fop", in the 1660s; she was reportedly also involved with Charles II himself, if only briefly. Hughes is also believed to have had an illegitimate son, Arthur, earlier in her career, who remained associated with drama in the capital.

Most famously, however, Hughes became associated with Prince Rupert, Duke of Cumberland (sometimes known as "Rupert of the Rhine") as his morganatic wife.

 Margaret continued to act even after Ruperta's, her daughter’s, birth, returning to the stage in 1676 with the prestigious Duke's Company at the Dorset Garden Theatre, near the Strand in London. The next year Rupert established Hughes with a 'grand building' worth £25,000 that he bought in Hammersmith from Sir Nicholas Crispe.

A one-act play about Margaret Hughes, entitled The First Actress, was performed in 1911, at the Kingsway Theatre in London, by a group of suffragette actresses who called themselves the Pioneer Players. Ellen Terry played Nell Gwyn in this production.

Jeffrey Hatcher wrote a play about Edward Kynaston entitled Compleat Female Stage Beauty (2000), and later adapted his play for the 2004 film Stage Beauty, directed by Richard Eyre and starring Claire Danes as Margaret.

She is also the main character of the book, "The Vizard Mask", written by Diana Norman. Here she is depicted as a stuttering American Puritan, Penitence Hurd, who later becomes a successful Restoration actress.



May, 2013

PLAY WITHIN A PLAY

This dramatic device was probably first used by Thomas Kyd in The Spanish Tragedy around 1587, where the play is presented before an audience of two of the characters, who comment upon the action. 

From references in other contemporary works, Kyd is also assumed to have been the writer of an early, lost version of Hamlet (the so-called Ur-Hamlet), with a play-within-a-play interlude.

In Francis Beaumont's Knight of the Burning Pestle (ca. 1608) a supposed common citizen from the audience, actually a "planted" actor, condemns the play that has just started and "persuades" the players to present something about a shopkeeper. The citizen's "apprentice" then acts, pretending to extemporise, in the rest of the play. 

This is a satirical tilt at Beaumont's playwright contemporaries and their current fashion for offering plays about London life.

William Shakespeare used this device in many of his plays, including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Love's Labours Lost, and Hamlet

In Anton Chekhov's The Seagull there are specific allusions to Hamlet: in the first act a son stages a play to impress his mother, a professional actress, and her new lover; the mother responds by comparing her son to Hamlet. Later he tries to come between them, as Hamlet had done with his mother and her new husband. The tragic developments in the plot follow in part from the scorn the mother shows for her son's play.

The opera Pagliacci is about a troupe of actors who perform a play about marital infidelity that mirrors their own lives. 

And John Adams' Nixon in China (1985-7) features a surreal version of Madam Mao's Red Detachment of Women to extraordinary effect, illuminating the ascendence of human values over the disillusionment of high politics in the meeting.

In Bertolt Brecht's The Caucasian Chalk Circle, a play is staged as a parable to villagers in the Soviet Union to justify the re-allocation of their farmland.

This kind of play-within-a-play, which appears at the beginning of the main play and acts as a 'frame' for it, is called an 'induction'

Brecht's one-act play The Elephant Calf (1926) is a play-within-a-play performed in the foyer of the theatre during his Man Equals Man.

In Jean Giraudoux's play Ondine, all of act two is a series of scenes within scenes, sometimes two levels deep. This increases the dramatic tension and also makes more poignant the inevitable failure of the relationship between the mortal Hans and water sprite Ondine.

A play within a play also occurs in the musical The King and I, where Princess Tuptim and the royal dancers give a performance of Small House of Uncle Thomas (or Uncle Tom's Cabin) to their English guests. 

April, 2013

Quotes you'll never hear... 

From the Director:

“No, today is tech rehearsal, we’ll re-work that scene later.”
“I think the scene changes are too fast”
“Of course I think we’ll be ready for opening night”
“The crew? Why they’re just wonderful!”


From a Stage Manager:

“We’ve been ready for hours!”
“No, I called it perfect the first time- let’s move on!”
“The headsets work perfectly!”
“That’s didn’t take long”


From the designers:

“Yes, it absolutely is my fault that the set looks awful”
“The director knows best, obviously I wasn’t giving him what he wanted.”
“We have too many colors in stock, I can’t choose”


From the actor:

“Don’t… let’s not talk about me!”
“This costume is SO comfortable”
“No problem, I can do that for myself.”
“I have a fantastic agent”
“Without the crew the show would never run - let’s thank them!”


From the stage crew(ninjas): 

“There’s room for that over here”
“We’ll get in early tomorrow to do it”
“No, no. I’m sure that is our job!”
“All the tools are locked away carefully”
“Can we do the scene change again, please?”
“It’s a marvelous show!”


March, 2013

THE HISTORY OF FRENCH THEATRE (PART 2)

 
French theatre from the seventeenth century is often reduced to three great names -- Pierre Corneille, Molière and Jean Racine -- and to the triumph of "classicism"; the truth is however far more complicated.


Theatre at the beginning of the century was dominated by the genres and dramatists of the previous generation. Most influential in this respect was Robert Garnier. Although the royal court had grown tired of the tragedy (preferring the more escapist tragicomedy), the theatre going public preferred the former. This would change in the 1630s and 1640s when, influenced by the long baroque novels of the period, the tragicomedy—a heroic and magical adventure of knights and maidens—became the dominant genre. The amazing success of Corneille's "Le Cid" in 1637 and "Horace" in 1640 would bring the tragedy back into fashion, where it would remain for the rest of the century.


The Greek tragic authors (Sophocles, Euripides) would become increasingly important by the middle of the century. Important models for both comedy, tragedy and tragicomedy of the century were also supplied by the Spanish playwrights Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Tirso de Molina and Lope de Vega, many of whose works were translated and adapted for the French stage. Important theatrical models were also supplied by the Italian stage (including the pastoral), and Italy was also an important source for theoretical discussions on theatre, especially with regards to decorum.



Regular comedies (i.e. comedies in five acts modeled on Plautus or Terence and the precepts of Aelius Donatus) were less frequent on the stage than tragedies and tragicomedies at the turn of the century, as the comedic element of the early stage was dominated by the farce, the satirical monologue and by the Italian commedia dell'arte. Jean Rotrou and Pierre Corneille would return to the regular comedy shortly before 1630.



Cardinal Richelieu asked the newly formed Académie française to investigate and pronounce on the criticisms (it was the Academy's first official judgement), and the controversy reveals a growing attempt to control and regulate theatre and theatrical forms. This would be the beginning of seventeenth century "classicism".



The expression classicism as it applies to literature implies notions of order, clarity, moral purpose and good taste. 



By the 1660s, classicism had finally imposed itself on French theatre. The key theoretical work on theatre from this period was François Hedelin, abbé d'Aubignac's "Pratique du théâtre" (1657), and the dictates of this work reveal to what degree "French classicism" was willing to modify the rules of classical tragedy to maintain the unities and decorum .



Tragedy in the last two decades of the century and the first years of the eighteenth century was dominated by productions of classics from Pierre Corneille and Racine, but on the whole the public's enthusiasm for tragedy had greatly diminished: theatrical tragedy paled beside the dark economic and demographic problems at the end of the century and the "comedy of manners" had incorporated many of the moral goals of tragedy.



Comedy in the second half of the century was dominated by Molière. A veteran actor, master of farce, slapstick, the Italian and Spanish theatre, and "regular" theatre modeled on Plautus and Terence, Molière's output was large and varied. He is credited with giving the French "comedy of manners" ("comédie de mœurs") and the "comedy of character ("comédie de caractère") their modern form. His hilarious satires of avaricious fathers, "précieuses", social parvenues, doctors and pompous literary types were extremely successful, but his comedies on religious hypocrisy ("Tartuffe") and libertinage ("Don Juan") brought him much criticism from the church, and "Tartuffe" was only performed through the intervention of the king. Many of Molière's comedies, like "Tartuffe", "Don Juan" and the "Le Misanthrope" could veer between farce and the darkest of dramas, and the endings of "Don Juan" and the "Misanthrope" are far from being purely comic.



The major battle of romanticism in France was fought in the theatre. The early years of the century were marked by a revival of classicism and classical-inspired tragedies, often with themes of national sacrifice or patriotic heroism in keeping with the spirit of the Revolution, but the production of Victor Hugo's Hernani in 1830 marked the triumph of the romantic movement on the stage.



  The dramatic unities of time and place were abolished, tragic and comic elements appeared together and metrical freedom was won. Marked by the plays of Friedrich Schiller, the romantics often chose subjects from historic periods (the French Renaissance, the reign of Louis XIII of France) and doomed noble characters (rebel princes and outlaws) or misunderstood artists (Vigny's play based on the life of Thomas Chatterton).

  

Avant-garde theatre in France after World War I was profoundly marked by Dada and Surrealism. The surrealist movement would continue to be a major force in experimental writing and the international art world until the Second World War and the surrealists technique was particularly well suited for poetry and theatre, most notably in the theatrical works of Antonin Artaud and Guillaume Apollinaire.

Inspired by the theatrical experiments in the early half of the century and by the horrors of the war, the avant-garde Parisian theatre, "New theatre" or, as the critic Martin Esslin termed it, "Theatre of the Absurd," around the writers Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Fernando Arrabal, refused simple explanations and abandoned traditional characters, plots and staging. Other experiments in theatre involved decentralisation, regional theatre, "popular theatre" (designed to bring the working class to the theatre), and theatre heavily influenced by Bertolt Brecht (largely unknown in France before 1954), and the productions of Arthur Adamov and Roger Planchon. 

The Avignon festival was started in 1947 by Jean Vilar who was also important in the creation of the T.N.P. or "Théâtre national populaire".

The events of May 1968 marked a watershed in the development of a radical ideology of revolutionary change in education, class, family and literature. 

In theatre, the conception of "création collective" developed by Ariane Mnouchkine's Théâtre du Soleil refused division into writers, actors and producers: the goal was for total collaboration, for multiple points of view, for an elimination of separation between actors and the public, and for the audience to seek out their own truth.


February, 2013

THE HISTORY OF FRENCH THEATRE (PART 1)




The theatre of France has a long and eventful history dating back to the Middle Ages

Most historians place the origin of medieval drama in the church's liturgical dialogues and "tropes". At first simply dramatizations of the ritual, particularly in those rituals connected with Christmas and Easter plays were eventually transferred from the monastery church to the chapter house or refectory hall and finally to the open air, and the vernacular was substituted for Latin. In the 12th century one finds the earliest extant passages in French appearing as refrains inserted into liturgical dramas in Latin, such as a Saint Nicholas (patron saint of the student clercs) play and a Saint Stephen play.

6th-century French theatre followed the same patterns of evolution as the other literary genres of the period. For the first decades of the century, public theatre remained largely tied to its long medieval heritage of mystery plays, morality plays, farces, and soties, although the miracle play was no longer in vogue. 

Public performances were tightly controlled by a guild system. The guild "les Confrères de la Passion" had exclusive rights to theatrical productions of mystery plays in Paris; in 1548, fear of violence or blasphemy resulting from the growing religious rift in France forced the Paris Parliament to prohibit performances of the mysteries in the capital, although they continued to be performed in other places.

Like the "Confrères de la Passion", "la Basoche" came under political scrutiny (plays had to be authorized by a review board; masks or characters depicting living persons were not permitted), and they were finally suppressed in 1582.

As early as 1503 however, original language versions of Sophocles, Seneca, Euripides, Aristophanes, Terence and Plautus were all available in Europe and the next forty years would see humanists and poets both translating these classics and adapting them.

From 1550 on, one finds humanist theatre written in French. The influence of Seneca was particularly strong in humanist tragedy. His plays — which were essentially chamber plays meant to be read for their lyrical passages and rhetorical oratory — brought to many humanist tragedies a concentration on rhetoric and language over dramatic action.

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, public theatrical representations in Paris were under the control of guilds, but in the last decades of the sixteenth century only one of these continued to exist: although "les Confrèrie de la Passion" no longer had the right to perform mystery plays (1548), they were given exclusive rights to oversee all theatrical productions in the capital and rented out their theatre (the Hôtel de Bourgogne) to theatrical troupes at a high price. In 1597, this guild abandoned its privilege which permitted other theatres and theatrical companies to eventually open in the capital.

In addition to public theatres, plays were produced in private residences, before the court and in the university. In the first half of the century, the public, the humanist theatre of the colleges and the theatre performed at court showed extremely divergent tastes. For example, while the tragicomedy was fashionable at the court in the first decade, the public was more interested in tragedy.

The early theatres in Paris were often placed in existing structures like tennis courts; their stages were extremely narrow, and facilities for sets and scene changes were often non-existent (this would encourage the development of the unity of place). Eventually, theatres would develop systems of elaborate machines and decors, fashionable for the chevaleresque flights of knights found in the tragicomedies of the first half of the century.

In the early part of the century, the theatre performances took place twice a week starting at two or three o'clock. Theatrical representations often encompassed several works, beginning with a comic prologue, then a tragedy or tragicomedy, then a farce and finally a song. Nobles sometimes sat on the side of the stage during the performance. Given that it was impossible to lower the house lights, the audience was always aware of each other and spectators were notably vocal during performances. The place directly in front of the stage, without seats—the "parterre" -- was reserved for men, but being the cheapest tickets, the parterre was usually a mix of social groups. Elegant people watched the show from the galleries. Princes, musketeers and royal pages were given free entry. Before 1630, an honest woman did not go to the theatre.

Unlike England, France placed no restrictions on women performing on stage, but the career of actors of either sex was seen as morally wrong by the Catholic Church (actors were excommunicated) and by the ascetic religious Jansenist movement. Actors typically had fantastic stage names that described typical roles or stereotypical characters.

In addition to scripted comedies and tragedies, Parisians were also great fans of the Italian acting troupe who performed their Commedia dell'arte, a kind of improvised theatre based on types. The characters from the Commedia dell'arte would have a profound effect on French theatre, and one finds echoes of them in the braggarts, fools, lovers, old men and wily servants that populate French theatre.

Outside of Paris, in the suburbs and in the provinces, there were many wandering theatrical troupes. Molière got his start in a such a troupe.

The great majority of scripted plays in the seventeenth century were written in verse (notable exceptions include some of Molière's comedies).
 

January, 2013

THE ROYAL COURT THEATRE

The Royal Court Theatre is a non-commercial theatre on Sloane Square, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. It is noted for its contributions to modern theatre. In 1956 it was acquired by and is home to a resident company, the English Stage Company.

The first theatre on Lower George Street, off Sloane Square, was the converted Nonconformist Ranelagh Chapel, opened as a theatre in 1870 under the name 'The New Chelsea Theatre'. Marie Litton became its manager in 1871, hiring Walter Emden to remodel the interior, and it was renamed the Court Theatre.

Further alterations were made in 1882 by Alexander Peebles, after which its capacity was 728 (including stalls and boxes, dress circle and balcony, amphitheatre, and gallery). The theatre closed on 22 July 1887 and was demolished.



The present building was built on the east side of Sloane Square, replacing the earlier building, and opened on 24 September 1888 as the New Court Theatre. Designed by Walter Emden and Bertie Crewe, it is constructed of fine red brick, moulded brick, and a stone facade in free Italianate style. Originally the theatre had a capacity of 841 in the stalls, dress circle, amphitheatre, and a gallery.

The first production in the new building was a play by Sydney Grundy called Mamma, starring Mrs. John Wood and John Hare, with Arthur Cecil and Eric Lewis.

Harley Granville-Barker managed the theatre for the first few years of the 20th century, and George Bernard Shaw's plays were produced at the Royal Court for a period. It ceased to be used as a theatre in 1932 but was used as a cinema from 1935 to 1940, until World War II bomb damage closed it.

The interior was reconstructed by Robert Cromie, the number of seats being reduced to under 500. The theatre re-opened in 1952.
 George Devine became artistic director and opened the English Stage Company at the Royal Court in 1956 as a subsidised theatre producing new British and foreign plays, together with some classical revivals

Devine aimed to create a writers' theatre, seeking to discover new writers and produce serious contemporary works. During this period, the ESC became involved in issues of censorship. 

Their premiere productions of Osborne's A Patriot for Me and Saved by Edward Bond (both 1965) necessitated the theatre turn itself into a 'private members club' to circumvent the Lord Chamberlain, formally responsible for the licensing of plays until the Theatres Act 1968. 

The succès de scandale of the two plays helped to bring about the abolition of theatre censorship in the UK.

During the period of Devine's directorship, besides Osborne and Bond, the Royal Court premiered works by Arnold Wesker, John Arden, Ann Jellicoe and N. F. Simpson. 

Subsequent Artistic Directors of the Royal Court premiered work by Christopher Hampton, Athol Fugard, Howard Brenton, Caryl Churchill, Hanif Kureishi, Sarah Daniels, Timberlake Wertenbaker, Martin Crimp, Sarah Kane, Mark Ravenhill, Martin McDonagh, Simon Stephens, and Leo Butler.

In addition to the 400-seat proscenium arch Theatre Downstairs, the studio Theatre Upstairs was opened in 1969, at the time a 63-seat facility.

  The Rocky Horror Show premiered there in 1973.

Though the main auditorium and the façade were attractive, the remainder of the building provided poor facilities for both audience and performers, and the stalls and understage often flooded throughout the 20th century. 

By the early 1990s, the theatre had deteriorated dangerously and was threatened with closure in 1995. 

The Royal Court received a grant of £16.2 million from the National Lottery and the Arts Council for redevelopment, and beginning in 1996, it was completely rebuilt, except for the façade and the intimate auditorium. 

The theatre reopened in February 2000, with the 380-seat Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, and the 85-seat studio theatre, now the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs. 

The theatre was Grade II listed in June 1972. 

Over the last decade, the Royal Court has placed a renewed emphasis on the development and production of international work. 
By 1993, the British Council had begun its support of the International Residency programme (which started in 1989 as the Royal Court International Summer School) and by early 1996 a department solely dedicated to international work had been created. A creative dialogue now exists between innovative theatre writers and practitioners in many different countries including Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Palestine, Romania, Russia, Spain, Syria and Uganda. 
The International Department has been the recipient of a number of awards including the 1999 International Theatre Institute award.

The Royal Court was one of the launch organisations for Digital Theatre, a project which makes theatre productions available in video download form. The first performance filmed and released was Over There' 

December, 2012

Ruby and Burjor Patel 

Number of productions they've been associated with - 67

Burjor Patel produced Rahul da Cunha's first commercial venture called - Nuts

The only play that Shernaz Patel has acted in with her mother, Ruby Patel - Nuts

Who initiated the idea to start the Parsi wing of Indian National Theatre? - Burjor Patel

Ruby Patel was the leading lady of the Parsi wing of INT, her contemporary in the Gujarati wing - Sarita Joshi

One of the first commercial English plays that crossed 100 shows - Run For Your Wife under Burjor Patel Productions



November, 2012

 CHINESE THEATRE

Theatre of China has a long and complex history. Today it is often called Chinese opera although this normally refers specifically to the more well-known forms such as Beijing Opera and Cantonese Opera, there have been many other forms of theatre in China.

The Tang Dynasty is sometimes known as "The Age of 1000 Entertainments". During this era, Ming Huang formed an acting school known as The Pear Garden to produce a form of drama that was primarily musical. That is why actors are commonly called "Children of the Pear Garden."

During the Dynasty of Empress Ling, shadow puppetry first emerged as a recognized form of theatre in China. 

There were two distinct forms of shadow puppetry, Pekingese (northern) and Cantonese (southern). 

The two styles were differentiated by the method of making the puppets and the positioning of the rods on the puppets, as opposed to the type of play performed by the puppets. Both styles generally performed plays depicting great adventure and fantasy, rarely was this very stylized form of theatre used for political propaganda.

Cantonese shadow puppets were the larger of the two. They were built using thick leather which created more substantial shadows. Symbolic color was also very prevalent; a black face represented honesty, a red one bravery. The rods used to control Cantonese puppets were attached perpendicular to the puppets’ heads. Thus, they were not seen by the audience when the shadow was created.
 
Pekingese puppets were more delicate and smaller. They were created out of thin, translucent leather (usually taken from the belly of a donkey).They were painted with vibrant paints, thus they cast a very colorful shadow. The thin rods which controlled their movements were attached to a leather collar at the neck of the puppet. The rods ran parallel to the bodies of the puppet then turned at a ninety degree angle to connect to the neck.

While these rods were visible when the shadow was cast, they laid outside the shadow of the puppet; thus they did not interfere with the appearance of the figure. The rods attached at the necks to facilitate the use of multiple heads with one body. When the heads were not being used, they were stored in a muslin book or fabric lined box. The heads were always removed at night. This was in keeping with the old superstition that if left intact, the puppets would come to life at night. Some puppeteers went so far as to store the heads in one book and the bodies in another, to further reduce the possibility of reanimating puppets.
 
Shadow puppetry is said to have reached its highest point of artistic development in the eleventh century before becoming a tool of the government.

Pauline Benton revolutionized American puppetry in the 1930s with performances of the Red Gate Players: the first professional company to perform Chinese shadow theatre in North America.

Benton collected traditional shadow figures in Beijing, and also commissioned modern figures depicting contemporary lifestyles in urban China.

These rare shadow figures, now owned by Chinese Theatre Works - directed by Kuang-Yu Fong and Stephen Kaplin, are available for exhibit.

In the Song Dynasty, there were many popular plays involving acrobatics and music. 

These developed in the Yuan Dynasty into a more sophisticated form known as zaju, with a four or five act structure. 

Yuan drama spread across China and diversified into numerous regional forms, the best known of which is Beijing Opera, which is still popular today.

Xiangsheng is a certain traditional Chinese comedic performance in the forms of monologue or dialogue.


October, 2012

 SHAW FESTIVAL

The Shaw Festival is a major Canadian theatre festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, the second largest repertory theatre company in North America. 

Founded in 1962, its original mandate was to stimulate interest in George Bernard Shaw and his period, and to advance the development of theatre arts in Canada.

The Festival's roots can be traced to 1962 when Ontario lawyer and playwright Brian Doherty staged a summertime "Salute to Shaw" in the town's courthouse, a venue later known as the Courthouse Theatre. 



For eight weekends Doherty and his crew produced Shaw's Don Juan in Hell and Candida. The "Salute," with its mandate to promote the works of Shaw and his contemporaries, was an immediate success.



With the addition of actor and director Barry Morse as Artistic Director in 1966, the Festival gained huge international publicity and its productions garnered sold-out performances. 



Morse also joined the company as actor during this season. 



Paxton Whitehead took over management of the company with the 1967

season and under his leadership, the Festival gained new heights.


He served for twelve seasons as Artistic Director of the Shaw Festival. 

During his tenure he was able to push through a plan of building the purpose-built 869 seat state-of-the-art Festival Theatre to expand considerably the capacity for audiences at Niagara-on-the-Lake. 



Queen Elizabeth II, Indira Gandhi, and Pierre Elliot Trudeau were among those who attended performances at the Shaw Festival Theatre during its inaugural season in 1973.



September, 2012

 Tibetan theatre

Tibetan theatre features China’s oldest ethnic drama style, arising independently of Chinese theatre in the fifteenth century, as well as the quasi-dramatic temple dances and other forms. 
Tibetan drama integrates singing, dialogue, dance, acrobatics, mime and colourful costumes. The musical accompaniment consists only of drum, cymbal and chorus. 
Both Tibetan drama and temple dance feature masks designating character. 
There are three sections to a Tibetan drama: a masked dance forming the prologue, the drama itself, and a farewell blessing. 
Content concerns Tibetan history and mythology, and a few are based on Indian literary works. 
Characterization is stark, with positive and negative features clearly shown.
Tibetan dramas are performed during the day under special tents, with the audience all around the performance area, with only a narrow passage for the actors to enter or exit.
Chinese authorities established the professional Tibet Drama Troupe of Tibet in 1960, but during the Cultural Revolution only propaganda themes based on Han Chinese revolutionary stories were allowed. In the period of reform, the traditional theatre has revived strongly. 
Although dramas with modern content are still found, Tibetans find them boring and greatly prefer the traditional. In 1997 a Tibetan cultural official gave a figure of 150 professional and folk performing arts troupes for the Tibet Autonomous Region. Of these about half are folk drama troupes. 
Performances are still very common on festival days and enthusiastically patronized by ordinary Tibetans, who appear to regard their theatre as a symbol of their identity. 
Although there are also performances in modern theatres, most take place under the traditional tent or in any open space.

August, 2012

APPLIED THEATRE

Applied theatre is an umbrella term that categorizes theatre that is utilized for a greater purpose, such as documentary theatre, interactive theatre, ethnodrama, process drama, political theatre, grassroots theatre, etc. 

Applied theatre is an inclusive term and does not carry any limiting fixed agendas. 

It is a term used for performance practices that fall outside mainstream theatre performance and take place "in non-traditional settings and/or with marginalized communities." 

They are most often in spaces "that are not usually defined as theatre buildings, with participants who may or may not be skilled in theatre arts and to audiences who have a vested interest in the issue taken up by the performance or are members of the community addressed by the performance." 

Traditional mainstream theatre is most often centered in the interpretation of a pre-written script, applied theatre, in contrast, involves both the generation and the interpretation of a theatre piece that in performance may or may not be scripted in the traditional manner.

 Applied theatre is not drama therapy, although there are commonalities between both areas. 

Drama therapy is the intentional use of drama and theatre processes and products utilized for healing and/or growth of clients (individual or group). 

Often applied theatre and drama therapy looks similar; for instance, some practitioners in applied theatre and drama therapists both use Boal techniques and playback theatre in their work.

Drama therapists are trained in psychology and specific therapeutic interventions involving theatre processes and products, while in the field of applied theatre, practitioners are usually trained as artists and theatre-makers who also learn to apply their knowledge of theatre and performance to different community and participatory settings.

Applied theater may become therapeutic to the person involved, but that is not intentional and not the goal, just a benefit that may occur.

There is a debate about the relationship between instrumentalism and artistry across the field of applied theatre.

Some practitioners choose to focus primarily on improvisation, whereas others might introduce a range of artistic practices, such as developing scripted plays with prisoners and devised performance with children with disabilities, or apply indigenous forms of cultural performance to address issues of local concern or create social cohesion, sometimes combined with new forms of digital communication.

 However practised, Applied theatre is intended to make a difference to the people who participate and the environments in which they live.


July, 2012

TECHNICAL REHEARSAL 

The technical rehearsal or tech rehearsal is a rehearsal that focuses on the technological aspects of the performance.

Tech rehearsals generally are broken down into four types: dry tech rehearsals, tech rehearsals, pick-up tech rehearsals, and paper tech.

They consist of fully testing out all of the technology being used in the performance (lighting, sound, automation, special effects etc.) to diagnose and prevent mistakes from occurring during the actual performance. 

It also gives the designers the opportunity to see how their designs will impact each other (i.e. how the color of a light might affect the look of a costume), and to make final changes.

The dry tech is essentially a rehearsal without the performers. It is a period, usually lasting multiple hours, where each designer and department head runs his or her segment of the production. It is also a chance for the tech crew who will operate the equipment to become familiar with the flow of the performance. Usually it consists of the lights being cued in sequential order, fixing any problems along the way such as brightness, angle, framing, or position.

Then a sound check is initiated to check the levels of the music, sound effects, or microphones to be used during the performance. Changes are made as necessary to correct volume, pitch, or feedback problems.

Lastly, for stage shows, the fly rigs or battens are tested for weight and accuracy of cueing with sound and lights. If there are moving set pieces, the crew will test their operation and mechanics (if they are automated) and practice their movement, flow, and position on and offstage.

The tech rehearsal includes the performers. It runs through the entire production, either in its entirety or cue-to-cue. A cue-to-cue is when the sound and lights are run with certain parts of scenes within the production. Usually a scene will start with the first few lines and then skip to the lines and staged blocking for the next cue. This whole process can take many hours, and though it is beneficial for all aspects of production, it can become very tedious. They have been known to run long hours, mainly due to multiple runs of the show within the tech.

Costumes are usually reserved for the dress rehearsals, but sometimes they are brought in to test the costumes against the final stage lighting as well, so as not to produce a conflict in color differentiation in the final product. Also, costume pieces that restrict movement or fit strangely such as shoes, hats, gloves and so on may be added either in their final form or (usually) in rehearsal form approximating size, shape, etc. to allow actors to get used to them in advance. 

During the tech, all of the previous actions taken during the dry tech are repeated, so as to check lighting in concordance with the staged blocking and stage placement.

Once completed as many times as the director feels comfortable, the tech will end. Any number of actions can usually be taken after a tech such as the running of problematic scenes or acts, another dry tech to work out problematic technical issues, or certain performers may be held to work with certain effects that the other performers aren't needed for. After all this is completed, the tech rehearsal is officially over, and the next rehearsal to be performed is the dress rehearsal, then final dress.

Occasionally, if productions run for long periods or if performers are away from the production for prolonged periods, pick-up tech rehearsals are scheduled. Pick-ups usually consist of covering problem areas from previous shows, rehearsing difficult effects or transitions, or rehearsing newly-introduced technical aspects. Usually lasting no longer than a few hours, they sometimes will be held on different days or times as performance pick-ups so as not to bog down the performers or to detract from the performing rehearsal aspect of the show.

If the show is on tour, additional tech rehearsals may be held to cover issues that might arise from being in a different size/shape performance space. Issues might include: set size, timing, lighting angles and intensity, offstage storage, etc. Due to the fast paced nature of tours, often there is very little or no time for additional tech rehearsals.

Technical rehearsals may run in a different order than indicated above, or possibly include other production departments, such as sets, CGI effects, or even costumes.
Prior to getting into the theatre, each of the designers (lighting, sound, scenic, and costumes) will meet with the stage manager to discuss lighting and sound cues, costume changes and movement of the scenery. This process is called paper tech because all of the technical aspects are written down on paper. The stage manager will place all of this information into the prompt book.


June, 2012

CIRCUS

A circus is commonly a travelling company of performers that may include clowns, acrobats, trained animals, trapeze acts, musicians, hoopers, tightrope walkers, jugglers, unicyclists and other stunt-oriented artists.

The word also describes the performance that they give, which is usually a series of acts choreographed to music and introduced by a ringmaster.

A traditional circus performance is normally held in a ring 13 m (42 ft) in diameter. This dimension was adopted by Philip Astley to enable a horse rider to stand upright on a cantering horse to perform a series of acrobatic maneuvers and to more easily retain their balance.

Most modern circuses have a system of tiered seating around the ring for the public and since the late 19th early 20th century the performance has taken place under canvas and more recently plastic tents commonly called "The Big Top".

First attested in English 14th century, the word circus derives from Latin circus, which is the romanization of the Greek kirkos, itself a metathesis of the Homeric Greek krikos, meaning "circle" or "ring".

Early Christian writer Tertullian claims that the first circus games were staged by goddess Circe in honour of her father Helios, the Sun god. This claim accords well with the fact that many Roman games were indeed dedicated to the Sun god.

In Ancient Rome, the circus was a building for the exhibition of horse and chariot races, equestrian shows, staged battles, displays featuring trained animals, jugglers and acrobats.

In Ancient Rome the circus was the only public spectacle at which men and women were not separated.

For some time after the fall of Rome, Europe lacked a large and animal-rich circus. Itinerant showmen travelled the fairgrounds of Europe. Animal trainers and performers are thought to have exploited the nostalgia for the Roman circus, travelling between towns and performing at local fairs. Another possible link between the Roman and modern circus could have been bands of Gypsies who appeared in Europe in the 14th century and in Britain from the 15th century, bringing with them circus skills and trained animals.

The modern concept of a circus as a circular arena surrounded by tiers of seats, for the exhibition of equestrian, acrobatic and other performances seems to have existed since the late 18th century. 

The popularity of the circus in England may be traced to that held by Philip Astley in London. The first performance of his circus is said to have been held on January 9, 1768. 

One of Astley's major contributions to the circus was bringing trick horse-riding into a ring, though Astley referred to it as the Circle.

The Englishman John Bill Ricketts brought the first modern circus to the United States. He began his theatrical career with Hughes Royal Circus in London in the 1780s, and came over from England in 1792 to establish his first circus in Philadelphia. The first circus building in the US opened on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia, where Ricketts gave America's first complete circus performance. George Washington attended a performance there later that season.

In 1919, Lenin, head of the USSR, expressed a wish for the circus to become 'the people's art-form', given facilities and status on a par with theatre, opera and ballet. The USSR nationalized the Soviet circuses. When the Moscow State Circus company began international tours in the 1950s, its levels of originality and artistic skill were widely applauded, and the high standard of the Russian State circus continues to this day.

Contemporary circus (originally known as nouveau cirque) is a recent performing arts movement that originated in the 1970s in Australia, Canada, France, the West Coast of the United States, and the United Kingdom. Contemporary circus combines traditional circus skills and theatrical techniques to convey a story or theme. 

The most conspicuous success story in the contemporary genre has been that of Cirque du Soleil, the Canadian circus company whose estimated annual revenue now exceeds US$810 million, and whose nouveau cirque shows have been seen by nearly 90 million spectators in over 200 cities on five continents.

In an effort to find newer audience for the struggling circus industry in India, the Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai, in collaboration with Mumbai- based Junoon Theatre, co-founded by Sanjana Kapoor will be presenting the best acts from the circus in an indoor setting by Pune-based Rambo Circus.

May, 2012

Summer Stock Theatre

Summer stock theatre is any theatre that presents stage productions only in the summer. 

The name combines both the seasonal time of year with the tradition of staging shows by a resident company, reusing stock scenery and costumes. 

Summer stock theatres frequently take advantage of seasonal weather by having their productions outdoors or under tents set up temporarily for their use.

Some smaller theatres still continue this tradition, and a few summer stock theatres have become highly regarded by both patrons as well as performers and designers.
Often viewed as a starting point for professional actors, stock casts are typically young, just out of high school or still in college.

Summer stock started in 1919-1920s with four theatres: The Muny, St. Louis, Mo. (1919); Manhattan Theatre Colony, first started near Peterborough, New Hampshire (1927) and moved to Ogunquit, Maine; the Cape Playhouse, Dennis, Massachusetts (1927); and the Berkshire Playhouse, Stockbridge, Massachusetts (1928).

Many of the theatres of the heyday, the 1920s through theMany of the theatres of the heyday, the 1920s through the 1960s, were in New England.

Also called the "straw hat circuit", theatres also were in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, among other states.

The structure was to present different plays in weekly or biweekly repertory, performed by a resident company, generally between June and September.
The usual fare consisted of light comedies, romances, mysteries. The theatres were located in rural areas. 

Touring companies would carry hand props and costumes to each venue, where sound, lights and set would be awaiting them.

Summer stock provided a training ground for actors and great, inexpensive entertainment for vacationing East Coast urbanites.

Students took classes in acting, stagecraft, makeup, and voice, and if they were talented enough, they might be asked to appear in plays with the resident acting company.

Additionally, many notable performers spent their summers on the circuit.

Plays and musicals that had closed on Broadway would play the circuit. 

A similar circuit existed in Florida during the winter.

The Council of Stock Theatres (COST) negotiated a special contract with Actors Equity to cover the work of actors and stage managers.

Performers such as Ginger Rogers, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Angela Lansbury, Bob Hope, Sergio Franchi, Zero Mostel, Ann Miller, Jane Powell, and Debbie Reynolds performed at the Cape Cod Music Circus and its sister theatre, the South Shore Music Circus. 

Some summer theatres specialize in a particular type of production, such as Shakespearean plays, musicals, or even opera.

In 1949, St. John Terrell began a new experience presenting summer stock theatre under an arena-type (circus) tent in Lambertville, New Jersey, the Music circus. 

This began a new period of outdoor theatre. In 1951 this new style of summer stock made its way west with the addition of the Sacramento Music Circus.

The Cape Cod Music Circus (now the Melody Tent) in Hyannis, Massachusetts opened in 1950, the third tent theatre to open, and The South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset, Massachusetts followed in 1951. A tent theatre had opened earlier in Florida. 

The theatre in the round concept brought Broadway-style musicals to northern California under a big top tent each summer. 

The South Shore Music Circus and Cape Cod Melody Tent now serve primarily as intimate settings for musical acts including popular singers, oldies groups, and orchestras.


April, 2012 
 BARDOLATRY

Bardolatry is a term that refers to the excessive adulation of William Shakespeare, a portmanteau of "bard" and "idolatry." 

Shakespeare has been known as "the Bard" since the nineteenth century. One who idolizes Shakespeare is known as a Bardolater.

The term "Bardolatry" was coined by George Bernard Shaw in the preface to his collection Three Plays for Puritans published in 1901.

Shaw professed to dislike Shakespeare as a thinker and philosopher because he did not engage with social problems, as his own plays did.

 The earliest references to the idolising of Shakespeare occur in an anonymous play The Return from Parnassus, written during the poet's lifetime.

A poetry-loving character says he will obtain a picture of Shakespeare for his study and that "I'll worship sweet Mr Shakespeare and to honour him will lay his Venus and Adonis under my pillow, as we read of one – I do not well remember his name, but I'm sure he was a king – slept with Homer under his bed's head".However, this character is being satirised as a foolish lover of sensuous rather than serious literature.

The serious stance of Bardolatry has its origins in the mid-18th century, when Samuel Johnson referred to Shakespeare's work as "a map of life".

In 1769 the actor David Garrick, unveiling a statue of Shakespeare in Stratford-upon-Avon during the Shakespeare Jubilee, read out a poem culminating with the words "'tis he, 'tis he, / The God of our idolatry". 

The phenomenon developed during the Romantic era, when Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, William Hazlitt, and others all described Shakespeare as a transcendent genius. 

Shaw's distaste for this attitude to Shakespeare is anticipated by William Cowper's attack on Garrick's whole festival as blasphemous in his poem The Task (1785).

The phenomenon became important in the Victorian era when many writers treated Shakespeare's works as a secular equivalent or replacement to the Bible.

"That King Shakespeare," the essayist Thomas Carlyle wrote in 1840, "does not he shine, in crowned sovereignty, over us all, as the noblest, gentlest, yet strongest of rallying signs; indestructible".



The essential characteristic of bardolatry is that Shakespeare is presented as not only the greatest writer who ever lived, but also as the supreme intellect, the greatest psychologist, and the most faithful portrayer of the human condition and experience.

Shaw's sceptical views arose in response to such ideas. Shaw wished to demythologise Shakespeare. He emphasised that Shakespeare was capable of both brilliance and banality, a point made humorously in his late puppet play Shakes versus Shav, in which he compares Shakespeare's work to his own. 

He unequivocally asserted that Shakespeare was a great poet, even calling him "a very great author" at one point, and praised his use of what Shaw called "word-music". He also declared, "Nobody will ever write a better tragedy than Lear". 

However, he also wrote in a letter to Mrs Patrick Campbell, "Oh, WHAT A DAMNED FOOL SHAKESPEARE WAS"[sic].

The critic Harold Bloom revived bardolatry in his 1998 book Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, in which Bloom provides an analysis of each of Shakespeare's thirty-eight plays, "twenty-four of which are masterpieces." 

Written as a companion to the general reader and theatergoer, Bloom declares that bardolatry "ought to be even more a secular religion than it already is." He even contends in the work, in a deliberately provocative overstatement, that Shakespeare "invented" humanity, in that he prescribed the now-common practice of "overhearing" ourselves, which drives our own internal psychological development. 

In addition, he embraces the notion of the true reality of the characters of Shakespeare, regarding them as "real people" in the sense that they have altered the consciousness and modes of perception of not only readers, but most people in any western literate culture.

Bloom remains one of the most commonly cited modern commentators on Shakespeare's work in America.


March, 2012 

THE COMEDY STORE

The Comedy Store is a comedy club located in Soho, London, England, opened in 1979 by Don Ward and Peter Rosengard.

It was named after The Comedy Store club in the United States, which Rosengard had visited the previous year. 

Starting out above a strip club, in 1982 they moved to Leicester Square at a premises they were able to take over formally in 1985.

The club was the focus of the "alternative comedy" boom in the early 1980s and helped start the careers of many comedians, including Paul Merton, French & Saunders, Alexei Sayle, Craig Ferguson, Rik Mayall, Adrian Edmondson, Ben Elton, Simon Pegg, Pat Condell and John Sparkes.

In October 1985, an improvisational group called The Comedy Store Players was formed, consisting of Mike Myers, Neil Mullarkey, Kit Hollerbach, Dave Cohen and Paul Merton. 

The group has had several lineup changes over the years, and now features a rotating team of Neil Mullarkey, Paul Merton, Josie Lawrence, Richard Vranch (a comedy improviser who also plays piano), Jim Sweeney, Lee Simpson and Andy Smart, together with frequent guest appearances. 

Several of The Comedy Store Players appeared on the BBC Radio 4 and Channel 4 comedy game show Whose Line Is It Anyway?

In 1990 The Cutting Edge satirical comedy team was formed by comedy journalist John Connor (formerly comedy editor at radical London listings magazine City Limits). The shows aim was to recapture the political edge that was fostered at the original Comedy Store.

The Store moved to a specifically designed stand up comedy venue in 1993 at 1a Oxendon Street, between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.

Comedian Paul Merton is one of the longest performing mainstream comics to still be associated with the venue from his debut performance in 1984. He presented a BBC 1 documentary, 25 Years of the Comedy Store - A Personal History by Paul Merton (11 January 2005).

The Comedy Store also has sister venues in Manchester (opened in 2000), and Bournemouth (2006). There was also a venue at the Merrion Centre in Leeds which opened in November 2003 but closed in June 2004. 

The store in Mumabi opened in 2010.

February, 2012 

A puppet is an inanimate object or representational figure animated or manipulated by an entertainer, who is called a puppeteer. It is used in puppetry, a play or a presentation that is a very ancient form of theatre.

There are many different varieties of puppets, and they are made of a wide range of materials, depending on their form and intended use. They can be extremely complex or very simple in their construction. They may even be found objects.

Puppetry by its nature is a flexible and inventive medium, and many puppet companies work with combinations of puppet forms, and incorporate real objects into their performances. They might, for example, incorporate "performing objects" such as torn paper for snow, or a sign board with words as narrative devices within a production. 

The following are, alphabetically, the basic and conventional forms of puppet:
  • Black light puppet - A form of puppetry where the puppets are operated on a stage lit only with ultraviolet lighting, which both hides the puppeteer and accentuates the colours of the puppet. The puppeteers perform dressed in black against a black background, with the background and costume normally made of black velvet.

  • Bunraku puppet – Bunraku puppets are a type of wood-carved puppet originally made to stand out through torch illumination. Developed in Japan over a thousand years ago and formalised and combined with shamisen music at the end of the 16th century, the puppeteers dress to remain neutral against a black background, although their presence as kind of 'shadow' figures adds a mysterious power to the puppet. Bunraku traditionally uses three puppeteers to operate a puppet that is 2/3 life size.
  • Carnival or body puppet - usually designed to be part of a large spectacle. These are often used in parades and demonstrations, and are at least the size of a human and often much larger. One or more performers are required to move the body and limbs.
  • Finger puppet - An extremely simple puppet variant which fits onto a single finger.
  • Sock Puppet - A puppet formed from a sock and operated by inserting ones hand inside the sock.
  • Hand or glove puppet - These are puppets controlled by one hand which occupies the interior of the puppet.
  • Light Curtain puppet presentations use specifically focused light to highlight small areas of a performance, allowing the puppet to be seen while the manipulators remain invisible. The puppets stand on a stage divided into an unlit background and a well-lit foreground, meeting to form a "curtain" of light. The puppeteer dresses in black and remains hidden in the unlit background of the stage while the puppet is held across the light curtain in the lit foreground of the stage.
  • Marionette or "string puppet" - These puppets are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer.

  • Marotte - A simplified rod puppet that is just a head and/or body on a stick. In a marotte à main prenante, the puppeteer's other arm emerges from the body (which is just a cloth drape) to act as the puppet's arm.

  • Pull String Puppet - a puppet consisting of a cloth body where in the puppeteer puts his/her arm into a slot in the back and pulls rings on strings that do certain tasks such as waving or moving the mouth.

  • Push puppet - A push puppet consists of a segmented character on a base which is kept under tension until the button on the bottom is pressed. The puppet wiggles, slumps and then collapses, and is usually used as a novelty toy.

  • Push-in or Paper puppet, or Toy Theatre - A puppet cut out of paper and stuck onto card. It is fixed at its base to a stick and operated by pushing it in from the side of the puppet theatre. Sheets were produced for puppets and scenery from the 19th century for children's use.

  • Rod Puppet - A puppet constructed around a central rod secured to the head. A large glove covers the rod and is attached to the neck of the puppet. A rod puppet is controlled by the puppeteer moving the metal rods attached to the hands of the puppet and by turning the central rod secured to the head.
  • Shadow puppet - A cut-out figure held between a source of light and a translucent screen. Shadow puppets can form solid silhouettes or be decorated with various amounts of cut-out details. Colour can be introduced into the cut-out shapes to provide a different dimension and different effects can be achieved by moving the puppet (or light source) out of focus. Javanese shadow puppets (Wayang Kulit) are the classic example of this.

  •  Supermarionation - A method invented by Gerry Anderson which assisted in his television series Thunderbirds in electronically moving the mouths of marionettes to allow for lip-synchronised speech. The marionettes were still controlled by human manipulators with strings.

  • Ticklebug - A ticklebug is a type of hand puppet created from a human hand to have four legs, where the puppet features are drawn on the hand itself.

  • Table Top Puppets - A puppet usually operated by rod or direct contact from behind, on a surface similar to a table top (hence the name). Shares many characteristics with Bunraku
    .
  • Ventriloquist dummy - A puppet operated by a ventriloquist performer to focus the audience's attention from the performer's activities and heighten the illusions. They are called dummies because they do not speak on their own. The ventriloquist dummy is controlled by the one hand of the ventriloquist. Such acts aren't always performed with a traditional dummy, occasionally using other forms of puppetry.
Water Puppet - a Vietnamese puppet form, the "Múa rối nước". Múa rối nước literally means "puppets that dance on water", an ancient tradition that dates back to the tenth century. The puppets are built out of wood and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool.
 



January, 2012 

 Satyadev Dubey
Satyadev Dubey was born in Bilaspur district of the then Madhya Pradesh in 1936. 

He moved to Mumbai with the aim of becoming a cricketer, but ended up joining the Theatre Unit, a theatre group run by Ebrahim Alkazi, which also ran a school for many budding artists. 



Later when Alkazi left for Delhi to head the National School of Drama, he took over the Theatre Unit, and went on to produce many important plays in the Indian theatre.

He produced Girish Karnad's first play Yayati, and also his noted play Hayavadana, Badal Sarkar's Ebang Indrajit and Pagla Ghoda, Chandrashekhara Kambara’s Aur Tota Bola (Jokumaraswamy in original Kannada), Mohan Rakesh’s Aadhe Adhure, Vijay Tendulkar’s Khamosh! Adalat Jaari Hai, and A Raincoat For All Occasions and Jean Anouilh's Antigone in 2007.

He is credited with the discovery of Dharmavir Bharati’s Andha Yug, a play that was written for radio; Dubey saw its potential, sent it across to Ebrahim Alkazi at National School of Drama, and the rest is history, in modern Indian theatre. When staged in 1962, Andha Yug brought in a new paradigm in Indian theatre of the times.

He made two short films Aparichay ke Vindhachal (1965) and Tongue In Cheek (1968),and directed a Marathi feature film, Shantata! Court Chalu Aahe (1971).

He won the 1978 National Film Award for Best Screenplay for Shyam Benegal's Bhumika and 1980 Filmfare Best Dialogue Award for Junoon

In 2011, he was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

Satyadev Dubey passed away on 25th December 2011.