What is Theater in Arts? Concept, Meaning, Types and Characteristics


The Theater is a representation that the human being makes of the almost always real situation that is in the space of the life and daily life of people. It can be said that the theater in some way, in addition to being part of the culture of the peoples, allows them to recreate reality and thereby distance themselves from it to reflect on it. theatre arts


Thus the theater is within the performing arts because it occurs in a physical space in which events take place acted out to be seen by the spectators. In the theater, the performance is very gestural and with it the sound becomes part, which may or may not be music and it seeks to cause an impact on the audience, attract, persuade and enchant the viewer.


The word theater comes from the Greek Theatron which means a place to contemplate. Its most important characteristic is that the staging is totally live, and must have the condition that there is a spectator public and that there is a story to tell and relate that develops through a plot in which various elements such as like the actors, the music, the sound, the scenography and above all there is a lot of emphasis on gestures, on non-verbal language that is communicated through gestures and acting, especially when it comes to communicating emotions. theatre arts


So it could be said that the soul of the theater is the communication of emotions through the emphasis placed on gestures. Likewise, the theater receives this name not only for the performance but also for the physical space where this performance takes place. It must also be said that the theater is not only the scenography, the actors, the plot, but also the costumes, because it defines the personality of the actors, visually communicates through this as a symbol hierarchies and social situations, since with the same, the performance is situated in time and space.

Theater concept theatre arts

Theater, in the dramatic arts, is an art that deals almost exclusively with live performances in which the action is precisely planned to create a coherent and meaningful sense of drama.

There is a widespread misconception that the art of theater can be discussed solely in terms of the intellectual content of the script. However, theater is not essentially a literary art, although it has been taught that way in some universities and schools.

Theater History theatre arts

What stands out most in the theater is the performance of the emotions, which must be very marked and even more so must be the passage from one emotion to another, for example from laughter to crying from one moment to another and with it, manage to awaken emotions in the spectating public.

The theater dates back to Ancient Greece, as festivals and celebrations to the god Dionysus, the god of wine. People sang a hymn called dithyramb, which was recited in a sung way and with live performance, wearing costumes. Then this interpretation was progressively extended for each specific god. theatre arts 

The theater is undoubtedly the most expressive medium of storytelling, constantly adapting to changing times. Although today’s audiences generally experience live storytelling from the comfort of salons, and theaters just for pleasure, this was not always the case. Theater companies of the past went to great lengths to tell their stories, and audiences had and still have a very different experience than today.

While humanity has been transmitting stories orally since the use of language developed, the institution of the theater did not begin until much later. Ultimately, the early versions of the theater were very different from a theatrical performance that can be seen today. theatre arts

The works of the past had a stronger foundation in religion and tradition, and early Greek and Chinese representations are especially rich in religious dedications and community traditions. For this reason, the history of ancient Greece is closely linked to the theater. theatre arts

The first works were performed in homage to the god Dionysus, the god of wine, of fertility. The choirs began to perform hymns written in his honor, which were nicknamed dithyrambs, then these choirs gradually began to dress in costumes and masks, but they still did not resemble the theater as it is known today.

Theater Features theatre arts

Ever since Aristotle discussed the source and purpose of the theater in his famous treatise on Poetics (c. 330 BC), the function and characteristics of the theater have been widely debated. The theater was used as a ritual of political conduct, moral instruction, fun and also sought to change consciousness, generating the demonstration of movement and noise. theatre arts

Theatrical production involves the use of props and sets, costumes, lighting and masks, as well as makeup, in addition to a room for functionality, and also an auditorium, which is the space for the spectator, which can be superimposed, especially in productions after the 20th century. 

Theater is construction, involving music, literature and dance, acting, in an amalgam of art and design. Basic representations function like an artist’s work and may depend on localized objects and space. Many performances require the effort of professionally trained and creative individuals.

In drama, trends change from generation to generation and across cultures, yet most could be equally categorized as symbolic or presenting. Pre-Renaissance Western American, Asian, African American theater, along with 20th century avant-garde theater is on display. theatre arts

What are the stages of the theater?

Although since prehistoric times there is theater with rites and imitations of animals and characters. The first stages of differentiation in the theater occurred in ancient Greece with two types of works: those that were very melancholic, in which dramatic stories with sad and gloomy endings were staged, but in them the mystical interventions of the gods. theatre arts

Also, there were the comedy works where the rulers of the time were mocked in a mocking manner. Thus it can be said that the theater has been changing to the same extent that different civilizations and societies have changed.

Now it is important to note that each civilization and culture has its own theater. theatre arts

Classical theater theatre arts

From Western postulates, this theater is called classical, because it is related to civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome, in addition, the works are written in the classical languages ​​of Greek and Latin. Find out here the complete information on classical theater.

Greek theater

The first classification that arises in Greece has four theatrical forms such as tragedy, satirical drama, comedy and mime. The first two were for adult audiences and the last two for children. In the beginning, the performance was only for men with routine clothes and masks. Later the theater spread to other civilizations such as the Roman. theatre arts

This theater as such is said to have been seen as such in the 3rd century BC. C. at first with religious festivals, then it became entertainment, hence the most popular form was comedy. Likewise, it is reported as the beginning of the theater of dramatic creation in the 2nd century BC. C, with the comedies of Plautus and Terence, as adaptations of the Greek comedy.

These works were developed as a local intrigue, although they also had didactic value. The development of the plot was dynamic and to the taste of the public, many of its parts sung. In the same way, the Christian church condemned the Roman theater for considering its artists libertine and because the mimes satirized the characters of the church. These attacks contributed to the stagnation of the theater for some five hundred years. For this reason, only the popular artists called minstrels and troubadours survived in the Middle Ages who contributed to give it continuity. Know here the information of the Greek theater.

Roman theatre theatre arts

When the Republic of Rome was created and expanded in the 4th century BC, Greek territories and the culture of those peoples were annexed, with Greek theater and theatrical architecture being part of the heritage of this new republic. Therefore, the proper Roman theater was developed in the third century BC and theatrical production was associated in principle with religious festivals, which was later eliminated when the number of festivals increased, turning the theater into an entertainment and of this type of theater medieval theater emerged. Know the complete information of the Roman theater. theatre arts

Medieval Theater

This Theater is in the form of a liturgical drama and was reborn in Europe in the Roman Catholic Church. Likewise, this theater was carried out frequently through festivals of the pagan and popular type. Therefore, in the 10th century, the different ecclesial rites, such as the mass, were done as a dramatic representation. Know the complete information of the medieval theater.

Religious Theater

This theater is defined as the liturgical drama present during the next two hundred years from the different biblical stories with the performance of the altar boys and young people of the choir. Thus, at first the proper vestments for the celebration of the mass and the architectural forms of the church as decoration were sufficient. However, it was later organized more formally. Therefore, the stage was divided into two parts, the mansion and the stalls. This space consisted of a scenic structure, a small platform, imitating the garden of Eden, Jerusalem and Heaven. Know the information of the religious theater.

Deep Medieval Theater

This 14th century theater is separated from the liturgical drama and takes place outside the churches, particularly on the feast of Corpus Christi. Then it switched to cycles that could count up to 40 dramas. Therefore, it is thought that although they are similar to liturgical dramas, the cycles were given independently.

Therefore, they were produced with an entire community every four or five years. Know the complete information of the deep medieval theater.

Renaissance Theater

With the Protestant reform, the religious theater of the mid-sixteenth century disappeared as such, forming a new and dynamic profane theater. In this theater the acts and cycles are simple, different and far from the dramas of Shakespeare and Molière, moving from the themes of the late Middle Ages on the struggle of humanity and adversities, to more secular themes and more temporary concerns with the reappearance of the comic and the grotesque. Know the complete information of the Renaissance theater.

Neoclassical Theater

This theater results from a purely academic process, therefore, it does not evolve from religious forms, nor from popular and dramatic practices already in existence. Read more about neoclassical theater.

18th century theater

This theater was European, of actors, dominated by interpreters with works written and adjusted to their style. Likewise, these actors adapt the classics to suit tastes and adapt characteristics. Thus, Shakespeare’s plays, in particular, were altered to please the actors and conform to neoclassical principles. Learn here the information about the 18th century theater.

African Theater

For example, in Africa, religious rites were mixed with movement and gestural communication that followed music and dance, always using masks to represent roles and moods. These rites reinforce identity and social cohesion. Know the complete information of the African theater.

American theater

In America, the Mayan and Aztec and Inca civilizations developed a form of theater that was related to agricultural festivals and also illustrated stories. Likewise, the Aztecs widely developed mimicry, with two causes, one religious and the other burlesque. The Incas also made theatrical performances that served the interests of the state.

Also in India mythological dramas on Hindu philosophy were evidenced in the form of song, dance and mime. Likewise, the theater appears in Japan in the fourteenth century, with lyrical-musical drama in the form of prose or verse with historical and mythological themes. Know here the complete information of the American theater.

Vanguard of Modern Theater

It refers to the movements, grouped under this term avant-garde, that tried alternatives to realistic theater. They took naturalism beyond only a superficial and limited vision of reality, so they found a truth and reality in the spiritual, in the unconscious. Thus, they felt that the theater had lost contact with its origins so it was turned towards the symbolic, towards abstraction, the ritual, in an attempt to revitalize the theater. Find out here the complete information on modern theater.

Theater in the Modern Age

On the other hand, in the modern age, the Renaissance theater goes from theocentrism (centered on the gods), to anthropocentrism (centered on the human being), with naturalistic works, seeking the recovery of reality, of life in motion and of the human figure in space, with illusionistic scenarios. Likewise, in the Baroque theater tragedy developed, based on the inescapable of destiny, with a classic tone and a highly ornate scenography, following the trend of the Baroque. Know the complete information of the modern age.

19th century theater

Specific philosophical ideas were shaped in the 18th century, eventually merging and taking hold in the early 19th century, in a movement called Romanticism. Learn here the information about the 19th century theater.

Romantic Theater

In the 19th century, the romantic theater appears, from the current of romanticism, in which sentimentality, drama, with a predilection for dark and rugged themes, the exaltation of the natural and folkloric stands out. Therefore, the romantic theater exalted the spiritual plane that humanity had to transcend the limitations of the physical world. Therefore, the theme was drawn from nature and the natural man. Know here the complete information of the romantic theater.

Symbolist Theater

This theater came about with the Symbolist movement in France in 1880. The Symbolists carried out the “de-theatricalization” of the theater, that is, they removed all the technological and scenic obstacles of the 19th century from the theater, and changed them for the spirituality that came from of the text and its interpretation. Therefore, the texts were full of symbols that were difficult to decode. Therefore, the pace of the works was slow and similar to a dream.

Expressionist theater

The expressionist movement boomed in the first two decades of the 20th century, especially in Germany. Violent and grotesque situations of the human mind are placed on stage, recreating a nightmare world. Therefore, Expressionism exacerbates distortion, exaggeration by making suggestive use of light and shadow.

Then, also, in the twentieth century, the theater incorporates a diversity of styles, evolving according to the avant-garde artistic currents. In it much more emphasis is placed on artistic direction and visual and literary scenography. Know here the complete information of the expressionist theater.

Contemporary theater

This theater is consolidated after pure realism ceased to dominate the popular scene after World War I. Even though, the realistic theater continued to live commercially, especially in the United States. However, psychological realism is sought more, so dramatic and scenic resources other than realism were used for this purpose. Find out here the complete information on contemporary theater. theatre arts

Theater of the Absurd

The term was coined by the critic Martin Esslin in 1962 to refer to some playwrights who wrote in the 1950s, mainly French, against the traditional concepts of Western theater.

In this sense, the theater of the absurd was created as a result of the rejection of realistic theater and its psychological basis, with a coherent structure, plot and trust in dialogued communication. Therefore, each work has its own models and characteristics of internal logic, both comic, sad, pathetic, macabre, humiliating, harrowing and violent. Thus, the most important theoretical source was the “Theater and its double”, by Antonin Artaud, published in 1938. Find out here the complete information on the theater of the absurd.

Western Theater theatre arts

Western theater as such is reported as unknown, however it is believed to be linked at the beginning with religious rites and practices, which continue to be carried out to this day. What most determines it is the load of symbolism and rituality present in their practices. Hence, it is associated with depictions of fertility, harvest celebration, shamanism, and other similar sources.

What are the types of Theater?

Here are some of the existing types of theater that will be developed in greater depth later: theatre arts

Dramatic theater theatre arts

In this genre life actions are staged, dealing with everyday matters that mark people’s lives, deep themes that are developed through dialogue. It is classified into: historical, Elizabethan, lyrical, social, liturgical and satirical drama. Know the complete information of the dramatic theater.

Melodramatic theater

Melodrama is considered the most deeply rooted dramatic genre in the nineteenth century. Therefore, melodrama as literature was despised and undervalued because it uses images of villains who were accommodating the mustache or heroines subject to the railroad tracks. Nonetheless, it represents a very popular form of theater that has never been done before. Learn about melodramatic theater information here. theatre arts

Tragic theater

It is a genre of traditional drama from which a dark, fatal situation is staged that has a sad, depressing ending. Almost always the product of ineffable, dire fate. In this genre, the characters face the designs of God, the rulers and destiny. Stories such as impossible loves, deaths of loved ones, exile, war, destruction. Know the complete information of the tragic theater.

Comic theater

It is contrary to comedy, albeit traditional, with a happy, upbeat, and upbeat ending. theatre arts

From comedy there is the comic theater, in which the characters face situations that make fun of and laugh at the weaknesses, defects, clumsiness of the character as the plot develops, the ending can be tragic or happy . Get to know the comic theater here. theatre arts

Children’s Theatre

Briefly, children’s theater is a piece that involves children as actors and / or as an audience. Children’s theater is created and presented specifically for children’s audiences, whether by child actors, professional adult actors, and a combination of both.

The theater has always been part of all cultures since time immemorial. Therefore, it is almost impossible to suggest a specific date when children’s theater began. However, in terms of a scripted play, it is believed that children’s theater began in the late 19th century in Europe and took the form of touring companies with dramatizations of folk tales, fairy tales and the first widely recognized was Peter Pan de Barrie, in 1904 in the United Kingdom. Find out here the complete information about children’s theater.

Tragicomedy theatre theatre arts

Tragicomedy is a literary instrument used in works of fiction. It contains both tragedy and comedy, and most tragicomedy characters are exaggerated, sometimes there can be a happy ending after a series of unfortunate events. Also, jokes are incorporated throughout the story, to lighten the tone.

Therefore, the feeling and mood of the play at the end is neither happy nor gloomy. Although it has in part a comic structure, it also has a strong tragic story. Know the complete information of the tragicomedy.

Outdoor theater  

It is the theater that takes place in the streets, squares, in improvised places away from the specialized buildings for such a function. This theater seeks to bring the theatrical spectacle closer to the masses and can have some scenography or dispense with it. Thus, the style of representation is different from theater in theater because the space is part of the play and can be interactive. It has a variant that is the invisible theater, where the public does not realize that they are witnessing a theatrical work. Know all the information about the open air theater.

Puppet Theatre

It is a type of theater that is performed with fun and common stories, using puppets that are personified according to the characters in the play and are performed for children, although works for adults can also be staged that can be mostly satirical and of criticism. Learn about everything about the puppet theater here. theatre arts

Pedagogical Theatre

They are educational theater plays, used as interactive learning strategies, which can be performed at all educational levels, however they are more frequent at the preschool and primary level. They can also be religious in nature, with multiple representations, carried out through stories that seek to teach different types of content and values. Know the complete information of the pedagogical theater.

Mimic Theater theatre arts

This theater is given through mimicry, seeking to express various emotions through actions and gestures made with the body, face and hands. Therefore, the dialogues that are presented in another type of theatrical work, with the speech, are replaced by gestures and body movements, getting the viewer to capture what the actor or mime wants to express, usually comic gestures, dedicated to awakening laughter in the viewer, but they can also be dramatic and sad to make them cry. Find out here the complete information about the mimic theater. theatre arts

In the theater, a monologue is a solo, solitary, it is a speech presented by a single character, most of the time to express his mental thoughts aloud, although sometimes also to address another character or the audience directly.

Monologue, in literature and drama, is a speech extended by one person, it is any speech of a certain duration directed by a character to a second person. There is also the soliloquy, which is a type of monologue in which a character addresses an audience directly or says his thoughts out loud while alone or while the other actors are silent. Know here the complete information of the monologue theater. theatre arts

Farce theater theatre arts

The farce is a dramatic comic piece that uses highly unlikely situations, stereotypical characters, outlandish exaggerations, and violent jokes in the play. The term also refers to the kind or form of drama that is made up of such compositions. As a result, farce is generally considered intellectually and aesthetically inferior to comedy in its stark characterizations and implausible plots, but it has been sustained by its popularity in performance and has persisted throughout the Western world to the present. Know the complete information of the farce theater.

Vaudeville theater theatre arts

This theater is defined as a dramatic subgenre that unfolds as a frivolous, light and scathing comedy, in which mistakes and comic episodes are shown, alternating songs and musical spaces, the name comes from the French vaudeville.

Its origin is in the minstrels who roamed places singing and performing farces, which gave rise to this vaudeville theater. It is believed that the name of this theater is defined as of 1450, by the songs and presentations of a full-fledged man from the city. Another meaning is related to a satirical and political theatrical song, in which there are also certain dramatic pieces in which songs were not made. Know the complete information of the vaudeville theater.

Shadow Theater theatre arts

Of Chinese and Indian origin, this theater uses dolls instead of actors, and curiously, the audience never sees the dolls directly, but their shadows that are projected on a screen that is placed in front of the viewer. It is believed that it is the antecedent of cinema. Find out here the information about the shadow theater.

Black Theater theatre arts

In this theater the visual effects are highlighted by making an illusion of animated objects. Therefore, as the human eye does not distinguish black objects on black and this is the foundation of black theater. Therefore, in this theater there is a manipulation of objects where the “puppeteers” are all completely dressed in black and manipulate objects exposed to black light that seem to levitate. The most famous company this theater is the Black Theater in Prague. Know the information of the black theater.

What is the Legacy of the Theater?

The great legacy that the theater has left, especially the Greek one, is that the staging of reality allowed us to recreate and thereby assimilate the wars, invasions, tragedies experienced by civilizations. In the same way, modern theatrical terms crystallize in the production of the Greek tragedies of the fifth century.

Therefore, the terms such as actor, chorus, theater, tragedy, protagonist, the term hypocrite, adding the term actress (after the first playwright Thespis), scene, orchestra (literally, a place to dance), prologue, the monologue , dialogue, audience, antagonist, episode, all this vocabulary enriched the lexicography of language in all cultures.

Nowadays the theater is a form of entertainment, but everything that is performed in theater today in tragedy, comedy, drama has its origin in Greece, because the theater was for the Greeks their best pastime. theatre arts

Main Representatives of the Theater

The beginnings of the independent experimental scene date back to the early post-revolutionary years, when several ensembles immediately emerged. Most of the founding personalities of the progressive ensembles of that time are still active on stage, although not all of them do so under non-established conditions.

One of the representatives is the contemporary European creators, who transfer the procedures of the auteur theater, the sense of humor, the current language or jargon and the typical themes of the formation of this theater from the representations to the television and the formats of entertainment.

In addition, numerous plays deal with historically difficult periods in Europe, which contributed to the cultivation of a documentary style. They follow the pattern of primarily German postwar theater, as European theater has also become an important platform for social discourse during a delicate period of cultural and historical change. theatre arts

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