Community theatre refers to theatrical performance made in relation to particular communities—its usage includes theatre made by, with, and for a community. It may refer to theatre that is made entirely by a community with no outside help, or to a collaboration between community members and professional theatre artists, or to performance made entirely by professionals that is addressed to a particular community. Community theatres range in size from small groups led by single individuals that perform in borrowed spaces to large permanent companies with well-equipped facilities of their own. Many community theatres are successful, non-profit businesses with a large active membership and, often, a full-time professional staff. Community theatre is often devised and may draw on popular theatrical forms, such as carnival, circus, and parades, as well as performance modes from commercial theatre.
Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον, itself from θεάομαι.
A community is a small or large social unit that has something in common, such as norms, religion, values, or identity. Communities often share a sense of place that is situated in a given geographical area or in virtual space through communication platforms. Durable relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties also define a sense of community. People tend to define those social ties as important to their identity, practice, and roles in social institutions. Although communities are usually small relative to personal social ties (micro-level), "community" may also refer to large group affiliations, such as national communities, international communities, and virtual communities.
Devised theatre - frequently called collective creation - is a method of theatre-making in which the script or performance score originates from collaborative, often improvisatory work by a performing ensemble. The ensemble is typically made up of actors, but other categories of theatre practitioner may also be central to this process of generative collaboration, such as visual artists, composers, and choreographers; indeed, in many instances, the contributions of collaborating artists may transcend professional specialization. This process is similar to that of commedia dell'arte and street theatre. It also shares some common principles with improvisational theatre; however, in devising, improvisation is typically confined to the creation process: by the time a devised piece is presented to the public, it usually has a fixed, or partly fixed form. Historically, devised theatre is also strongly aligned with physical theatre, due at least in part to the fact that training in such physical performance forms as commedia, mime, and clown tends to produce an actor-creator with much to contribute to the creation of original work.
Community theatre is understood to contribute to the social capital of a community, insofar as it develops the skills, community spirit, and artistic sensibilities of those who participate, whether as producers or audience-members. It is used as a tool for social development, promoting ideas like gender equality, human rights, environment and democracy. Most of the community theatre practices have been developed based on the philosophy of education theorist Paulo Freire's approach of critical pedagogy in theatre and implementation techniques built by Augusto Boal, known as Theatre of the Oppressed. Freire's approach attempted to stimulate social change by encouraging the audience to build capacities for critical thinking through participation in active dialogue. The participants would identify issues of concerns and discuss possible solutions, with an enhanced tolerance for different perspectives with regard to the same problem. Such plays are then rarely performed in traditional playhouses but rather staged on streets, public places, in traditional meeting spaces, schools, prisons, or other institutions, inviting an alternative and often spontaneous audience to watch.
Social capital broadly refers to those factors of effectively functioning social groups that include such things as interpersonal relationships, a shared sense of identity, a shared understanding, shared norms, shared values, trust, cooperation, and reciprocity. However, the many views of this complex subject make a single definition difficult.
Paulo Reglus Neves Freire was a Brazilian educator and philosopher who was a leading advocate of critical pedagogy. He is best known for his influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, generally considered one of the foundational texts of the critical pedagogy movement.
Pedagogy of the Oppressed, written by educator Paulo Freire, proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated by Myra Ramos into English and published in 1970. The book is considered one of the foundational texts of critical pedagogy.
Community theatre is distinct from amateur theatre which, while it may be community-based, is non-professional.
Amateur theatre, also known as amateur dramatics, is theatre performed by amateur actors and singers. Amateur theatre groups may stage plays, revues, musicals, light opera, pantomime or variety shows, and do so for the social activity as well as the artistic side. Productions may take place in venues ranging from the open air, community centres or schools to independent or major professional theatres and can be simple light entertainment or demanding drama.
Partly inspired by Antonio Gramsci's interpretation of culture, the seminal theatre practitioner Augusto Boal developed a series of techniques known as the Theatre of the Oppressed from his work developing community theatre in Latin America.
Antonio Francesco Gramsci was an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician. He wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics. He attempted to break from the economic determinism of traditional Marxist thought and so is considered a key neo-Marxist. He was a founding member and one-time leader of the Communist Party of Italy and was imprisoned by Benito Mussolini's Fascist regime.
A theatre practitioner is someone who creates theatrical performances and/or produces a theoretical discourse that informs of his or her practical work. A theatre practitioner may be a director, dramatist, actor, designer or a combination of these traditionally-separate roles. "Theatre practice" describes the collective work that various theatre practitioners do. Theatre practitioner also refers to one who practices theatre. An individual who goes to see theatre productions may be called a patron, or 'theatre-goer.'
Augusto Boal was a Brazilian theater practitioner, drama theorist, and political activist. He was the founder of Theatre of the Oppressed, a theatrical form originally used in radical left popular education movements. Boal served one term as a Vereador in Rio de Janeiro from 1993 to 1997, where he developed legislative theatre.
In Britain the term "community theatre" is sometimes used to distinguish theatre made by professional theatre artists with or for particular communities from that made entirely by non-professionals, which is usually known as "amateur theatre" or "amateur dramatics."Notable practitioners include Joan Littlewood and her Theatre Workshop, John McGrath and Elizabeth MacLennan and their 7:84 company, Welfare State International, and Ann Jellicoe founder of the Colway Theatre Trust, now known as the Claque Theatre and run by UK practitioner Jon Oram.
Joan Maud Littlewood was an English theatre director who trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and is best known for her work in developing the Theatre Workshop. She has been called "The Mother of Modern Theatre". Her production of Oh, What a Lovely War! in 1963 was one of her most influential pieces.
Theatre Workshop is a theatre group whose long-serving director was Joan Littlewood. Many actors of the 1950s and 1960s received their training and first exposure with the company, many of its productions were transferred to theatres in the West End, and some, such as Oh, What a Lovely War! and A Taste of Honey, were made into films.
John Peter McGrath was a British playwright and theatre theorist who took up the cause of Scottish independence in his plays.
Community theatre in the Netherlands came about after the ending of the "theater-in-education" movement. This "theatre-in-education" movement lasted from 1970-1985. The big theatre in the Netherlands which was created originally for "theatre-in-education" and subsequently community theatre is the Stut Theatre. This theatre idea was started in 1977 by Jos Bours and Marlies Hautvast, who when they first starting creating plays at the Stut Theatre, realized this kind of community-theatre had a complete different approach from "theatre-in-education."
The Netherlands is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba— it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.
Community theatre in the United States was an outgrowth of the Little Theatre Movement, a reform movement which began in 1912 in reaction to massive Victorian melodramatic theatre spectacles.However, the country’s oldest extant community theatre group, the Footlight Club, has existed since the 19th century and performed every year since 1877.
The American Association of Community Theatre represents community theaters in the U.S., its territories, and its military bases around the world.
Theatre Passe Muraille sent ensemble casts into rural communities to record local stories, songs, accents and lifestyle. Their employment of collective creation was thus taken to an unheard of scale and spread across Canada.Passe Muraille facilitated the first production of Codco, which employed personal experiences of Newfoundland culture in their shows.
The Boardmore Playhouse, named in honor of Elizabeth and Harry Boardmore, is a 337-seat venue which is the centre for the performing arts at Cape Breton University. The Playhouse is home to CBU Boardmore Theatre which presents an annual season of plays, including plays for young audiences, four to five full-length plays, a bi-annual Shakespeare production and a bi-annual Broadway Musical, and a one-week one act play festival with an emphasis on new play development. Throughout the school year and summer months the CBU Boardmore Playhouse is also involved with a number of community projects. The Playhouse provides practical expertise to community theatre groups in the form of workshops for young people as well as advice and leadership in summer theatre programs. Open auditions are held each September for anyone interested in getting involved in any aspect of the theatre. Auditions are held the weekend following the first week of classes.
In Western Australia, there is a substantial number of community theatre groups who have banded together to form the Independent Theatre Association.
Political theatre is theatre that comments on political and social issues.
Epic theatre is a theatrical movement arising in the early to mid-20th century from the theories and practice of a number of theatre practitioners who responded to the political climate of the time through the creation of a new political theatre. Epic theatre is not meant to refer to the scale or the scope of the work, but rather to the form that it takes. Epic theatre emphasizes the audience's perspective and reaction to the piece through a variety of techniques that deliberately cause them to individually engage in a different way. The purpose of epic theatre is not to encourage an audience to suspend their disbelief, but rather to force them to see their world as it is.
Invisible theatre is a form of theatrical performance that is enacted in a place where people would not normally expect to see one, for example in the street or in a shopping centre. Performers disguise the fact that it is a performance from those who observe and who may choose to participate in it, thus leading spectators to view it as a real, unstaged event.
Experimental theatre began in Western theatre in the late 19th century with Alfred Jarry and his Ubu plays as a rejection of both the age in particular and, in general, the dominant ways of writing and producing plays. The term has shifted over time as the mainstream theatre world has adopted many forms that were once considered radical.
Street theatre is a form of theatrical performance and presentation in outdoor public spaces without a specific paying audience. These spaces can be anywhere, including shopping centres, car parks, recreational reserves, college or university campus and street corners. They are especially seen in outdoor spaces where there are large numbers of people. The actors who perform street theatre range from buskers to organised theatre companies or groups that want to experiment with performance spaces, or to promote their mainstream work. It was a source of providing information to people when there were no sources of providing information like television, radio etc. Nowadays, street play is used to convey a message to the crowd watching it. Street play is considered to be the rawest form of acting, because one does not have a microphone or loud speakers.
Theatre for Development (TfD) means live performance, or theater used as a development tool—as in international development. TfD encompasses the following in-person activities, with people before an audience:
The Drawer Boy is a play by Michael Healey. It is a two-act play set in 1972 on a farm near Clinton, Ontario. There are only three characters: the farm's two owners, Morgan and Angus, and Miles Potter, a young actor from Toronto doing research for a collectively created theatre piece about farming.
The Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) describes theatrical forms that the Brazilian theatre practitioner Augusto Boal first elaborated in the 1970s, initially in Brazil and later in Europe. Boal was influenced by the work of the educator and theorist Paulo Freire. Boal's techniques use theatre as means of promoting social and political change in alignment originally with radical left politics and later with center left ideology. In the Theatre of the Oppressed, the audience becomes active, such that as "spect-actors" they explore, show, analyse and transform the reality in which they are living.
The Lehrstücke are a radical and experimental form of modernist theatre developed by Bertolt Brecht and his collaborators from the 1920s to the late 1930s. The Lehrstücke stem from Brecht's epic theatre techniques but as a core principle explore the possibilities of learning through acting, playing roles, adopting postures and attitudes etc. and hence no longer divide between actors and audience. Brecht himself translated the term as learning-play, emphasizing the aspect of learning through participation, whereas the German term could also be understood as teaching-play. Reiner Steinweg goes so far as to suggest adopting a term coined by the Brazilian avant garde theatre director Zé Celso, Theatre of Discovery, as being even clearer.
Elizabeth MacLennan was a Scottish actress, writer and radical popular theatre practitioner.
The Atelier-Théâtre Burkinabé (ATB) is a Burkinabé theatre group which practises "theatre for development".
The Moscow Art Theatre production of The Seagull in 1898, directed by Konstantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko, was a crucial milestone for the fledgling theatre company that has been described as "one of the greatest events in the history of Russian theatre and one of the greatest new developments in the history of world drama." It was the first production in Moscow of Anton Chekhov's The Seagull, though the play had been performed with only moderate success in St. Petersburg two years earlier. Nemirovich, who was a friend of Chekhov's, overcame the writer's refusal to allow the play to appear in Moscow after its earlier lacklustre reception and convinced Stanislavski to direct the play for their innovative and newly founded Moscow Art Theatre (MAT). The production opened on 29 December [O.S. 17 December] 1898. The MAT's success was due to the fidelity of its delicate representation of everyday life, its intimate, ensemble playing, and the resonance of its mood of despondent uncertainty with the psychological disposition of the Russian intelligentsia of the time. To commemorate this historic production, which gave the MAT its sense of identity, the company to this day bears the seagull as its emblem.
Forum Theatre is a type of theatre created by the innovative and influential practitioner Augusto Boal, one of the techniques under the umbrella term of Theatre of the Oppressed (TO). This relates to the engagement of spectators influencing and engaging with the performance as both spectators and actors, termed ‘spect-actors’, with the power to stop and change the performance. As part of TO, the issues dealt with in Forum Theatre are often related to areas of social justice with aims to explore solutions to oppression featured in the performance.
A Provincial Lady is a one-act play by Ivan Turgenev. Written in 1850, it was first produced in January 1851 at a benefit performance for the seminal 19th-century Russian actor Mikhail Shchepkin at the Maly Theatre in Moscow.
In film and television, drama is a genre of narrative fiction intended to be more serious than humorous in tone. Drama of this kind is usually qualified with additional terms that specify its particular subgenre, such as "police crime drama", "political drama", "legal drama", "historical period drama", "domestic drama", or "comedy-drama". These terms tend to indicate a particular setting or subject-matter, or else they qualify the otherwise serious tone of a drama with elements that encourage a broader range of moods.
Theatre pedagogy is an independent discipline combining both theatre and pedagogy. As a field that arose during the 20th century, theatre pedagogy has developed separately from drama education, the distinction being that the drama teacher typically teaches method, theory and/or practice of performance alone, while theatre pedagogy integrates both art and education to develop language and strengthen social awareness. Theatre pedagogy is rooted in drama and stagecraft, yet works to educate people outside the realm of theatre itself.
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