Reading Questions over a brief History of Theater

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Reading Questions over A Brief History of Theater
1. Greek theater has its origins in what religious festival? Do theater and film have

religious characteristics even still? Explain.

2. Initially, Greek theater consisted of religious chants being performed by whom?

3. Where was Greek theater performed and what apparatus were used by the chorus to

reach large audiences?

4. Who is responsible for separating an actor from the chorus to create conflict and

dramatic effect, and what playwrights expanded upon his innovation?

5. Who were the important Greek tragedians, and for what works are they known?

6. Aside from adding additional actors in dialogue with the chorus, for what innovation is

Sophocles known that has continued to be an aspect of plays and films ever since?

7. Who are the most well known Greek comedic playwrights, and what was the nature

of these comedic works?

8. How does the Roman name for dramatic performances offer insight into the

difference between the purpose and content of Greek and Roman theater?

9. Name and describe the two main types of Roman theater. What two playwrights are

the exemplars of these forms?

10. For what innovation is Terence known, and why was this feature an important

addition to dramatic performance?

11. What innovations did the Romans make to the stage or performance area of plays?

12. How is Roman theater responsible for plays running afoul of the church, and what

were the repercussions of this divide?

13. How did the Church keep theater alive during the medieval period despite banning it

as part of the coliseum spectacles?

14. The Medieval Church developed what three forms of plays, and how did these plays

and the place where they were performed change throughout the Medieval Period?

15. What innovations were made to the stage on the Continent and in England during

the Renaissance and Reformation?

16. Although the plays staged at the beginning of this period were revivals of Greek and

Roman classics, what political/religious factors caused plays in England to become

more secular and less political?

17. Why were English theater troupes and theater houses given such ill repute during

the Renaissance and Reformation periods?

18. Who are three of the most well known playwrights of the Elizabethan and Jacobean


19. What factors allowed Shakespeare to be so successful as a playwright and


20. What innovations were made to dialogue and style of plays during the Elizabethan


21. Although theaters were closed in England throughout much of the 1600s by the

Protestant government of Cromwell, what innovations were occurring in France that

later were influential to English theater?

22. What two French playwrights had a strong influence on the development of Western


23. What changes in themes and actors occurred in the theater during the Restoration


25. What innovations did David Garrick, Oliver Goldsmith, and Richard Sheridan begin

to make to themes and the style of plays during the Eighteenth Century? How are

such influences seen in films even today?

26. What influential playwrights developed plays during the Nineteenth Century, and

who is responsible for the development of method acting during this same time?

27. What societal factors during the Twentieth Century led to realism and naturalism in

plays, and how was such a stylistic focus a continuation of a trend which began

with Sophocles?

28. Aside from realistic works, what theater genres returned to the more formalized and

stylized theater of the Greeks?

29. Who were some of the important playwrights of the Twentieth Century?

30. What factors led to films taking prominence over theater as the dramatic format for

the masses?

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