New Architecture of the Italian Renaissance!

  During the Italian Renaissance, new architectural designs in theaters were being discovered. Theatre designs and scenery on stage were revolutionized in this period (Goldfarb and Wilson 140). In this time, three particular theatre buildings were founded that still stand today, which is really cool because they were created in the 1500s! These theaters are known as Teatro Olimpico, the theatre at Sabbioneta, and Teatro Farnese and the proscenium stage. 

     The Teatro Olimpico was the oldest of the three. This theatre was in fact built with intention of being used as an Olympic Academy in Vicenza. When the chief architect on the project, Andrea Palladio, died, the structure was continued and completed and built into a theatre by Vincenzo Scamozzi in 1584. The venue was modeled after the structure of a Roman theatre. The difference is that it is indoor and smaller. This theatre holds room for three thousand audience members! They are seated on elliptical benches that create a semicircular orchestra (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The stage was raised as it is in modern auditorium style seating. This theatre specialized in creating three demential set pieces and creating the illusion of depth on the stage. They accomplished this by having openings in the facade that would have ally ways or street scenes that appeared to be happening in the distance (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The theatre was very innovative.

     The next is the theatre at Sabbioneta. This theatre was built by Scamozzi in 1588. This theatre was different because it was very small, holding only 250 seats. It can be seen as a smaller and intimate version of the Teatro Olimpico (Goldfarb and Wilson 141). The stage is raised and has a painted panoramic scene at the back. This theatre was simple and did its job. 

    The last of the three is the Teatro Farnese and the proscenium stage. Teatro Farnese was constructed by architect Giovan Battista Aleotti. He created the Teatro Farnese in Parma which became the most well known and impressive theatre building of the Italian Renaissance (Goldfarb and Wilson 142).  The raised horseshoe seating in this theatre held 3,500 audience members. The orchestra in this theatre could actually be filled with water to create scenes at sea on stage! The most important part of the Teatro Farnese was the invention of the proscenium-arch stage (Goldfarb and Wilson 143). The proscenium arch is now one of the most popular of theatre spaces and is used constantly in theatres all over the world. The proscenium allows stage mechanisms to be hidden from the audience, contributing to realism on stage (Goldfarb and Wilson 143). The Teatro Farnese was revolutionary. 



Works Cited:


Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. Print.


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Hey mom and dad. 

I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the love and support you gave me in my passion for theatre. I know it wasn’t your first choice, Dad, but I appreciate your finding a way to love it. One thing I’m most grateful for is your acquired love of Shakespeare.  Going to Cedar City with you guys to the Utah Shakespeare Festival has been an enormous benefit to me and my education. Without that, I wouldn’t have half the handle on Shakespeare I do now, and frankly, I may have ignored straight theatre altogether and lived my life only knowing musicals.

Since I know you two love Shakespeare so much, I thought I might introduce you to another beautiful sect of theatre: the Spanish Golden Age.  Many Spanish Golden Age plays could almost pass for Shakespeare. One particular Spanish playwright, Lope Felix De Vaga Carpio, had similar play structures, with many changing scenes and progressive story lines that could occur over long periods of time, and even the same characters. Well, not exactly the same, but the same type. Mom, remember how much you loved the oaf in the Merry Wives of Windsor?  Lope Felix De Vaga Carpio used the same sotck character of the compulsive liar, usually silly and fat as well, in his plays.  There are also examples of the same type characters all across the board from English Renaissance to Spanish Golden Age, with Romeo and Juliet’s Nurse as a typical character.

Plays in Spain even used the same beautiful style of writing with beautiful language and rhythm. Shakespeare wasn’t the only one o use iambic pentameter. 

So what do you say? Spain Theatre Festival next summer?

Works Referenced

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre. Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill , 2012. Print.

Get thee to a Nunnery!

In William Shakespeare’s time, women were not allowed to participate as actors in any Elizabethan acting companies. Why, you may ask? Women on the stage were believed to be more or less, glorified whores. It seems this perception, whether true or not, was a belief that stemmed from the religious ideologies left over from the Medieval Age. The reality is, women were viewed negatively if seen in a theatrical production.  Imagine going to Romeo and Juliet, to see a young boy in a dress play Juliet, the love interest of Romeo. As a modern audience member we might find the sexual implications distracting. However, the English Renaissance has not demonstrated any significant evidence to suggest audiences were distracted by the casting choices. As a modern audience member, I wonder how audience members responded to the spectacle. One can only theorize at this point in time. However, what is clear is the significant interest in sexual stereotyping. In Wilson and Goldfarb, they point out a clear example of this, seen in As You Like It. In this play, Rosalind disguises herself as a man. This seems pretty straight forward to modern actors and directors. However, during the English Renaissance a male actor would be cast as Rosalind (a woman), who pretends to be male. This creates a weird cycle of storytelling in which the actor is let off the hook in a way. Although fully capable in playing Rosalind the woman, the actor is allowed to be a “man” on stage throughout the unfolding of the play. Additionally, actors, aka males, had full reign on how women were to be portrayed in society. If we think of a modern day example, perhaps one can get a stronger sense of what was really occurring during this time in England. If we look at any major magazine for women at the local super market, chances are they are owned by Conde Nast. Perhaps this is a far fetched example, but one could argue that men are deciding how women should be perceived in society. Women, in turn, reading standard publications for women are influenced into conforming to the “ideal woman”. Perhaps this is too deep a debate to bring up in one blog post, but I think it is fair to say that can see how the English Renaissance still has a hold on how women are perceived in society today. Although women perform Shakespeare and other plays all the time, having more rights than previously seen on a grand global scale, it cannot go without saying that Shakespeare’s plays from the English Renaissance are still alive and well in today’s world, thus shaping how women are viewed on a small scale.

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. “Medieval Theatre.”Living Theatre: History of the Theatre. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.

Rock and Rules (Blog Post #8)

You know, man. . .theater and music, they’re all a part of art. And for some reason, everyone always thinks they have to put labels and rules on art. Curiosity is one thing. Trying to explain the world, is one thing. But human beings go too far sometimes, take things to extremes. Trying to tell everyone that one way is always right and another way is all wrong is completely different. These songs playing, for example—they’re all just fun and care-free, they exist for us to enjoy them. But some songs are out to make a point. They’re didactic. They’re trying to tell us how to feel and what to think, what’s right, what’s wrong, and what we should do. And you know, that’s not really a bad thing. But some people take it too far. Take the Italian critics of the Renaissance, for instance. These guys stuck hardcore to their neoclassical ideals. Instead of just trying to understand and explain theater of their time, they wrote down rules and literally attacked productions that didn’t adhere to them. Instead of going out there and making good art themselves, these fat cats sat around and tried to tell others what was good and what wasn’t.

First off, they said all theater should teach a lesson and tell the audience what to think, force-feeding a theme down their throats. They were also obsessed with “verisimilitude” which is just a fancy name for “realism.” And boy, did they get specific. Time was a big deal to them, and they felt that the action of the play couldn’t exceed 24 hours without becoming too unrealistic. Extremists cut that time down to 12 hours, or even 2 hours for the hard-core believers (I guess they would have loved the TV show “24”). They also had some vague rules about keeping the actions within the same “place” but that was open somewhat to interpretation. Stuff could be happening in different areas of the same city, or be restricted to the events happening in one room of one house. Don’t try any of that multiple locations crap though, or you’ll have to watch your back! (What’s this, related events taking place in multiple locations? Look out, we’ve got a bad ass up in here!) They also promoted unity of action, which just means it had to follow one simple plot revolving around the same small group of characters. Yeah, right, because multiple complex things happening to different places and to different people can’t affect each other. Last time I checked, life is complicated.


Works Cited

Wilson, Edwin, and Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre. 6th Edition. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 151-155. Print.

Neoclassical Ideals

What’s up, everybody? Now I know what I’m going to talk to you about probably has pretty much nothing to do with the show tonight, but I think it’s worthwhile stuff for you to think about. Hey, it might even help some of the bands here. So what I’m going to tell you about are the ideals of neoclassical theatre. That basically means what people thought about drama during the Italian renaissance. Basically, the critics of this time were really about following what the Romans and Greeks said about theatre, although they ended up being a lot more rigid with their rules than the people they were inspired by. To be totally honest, they wanted to give mandates to the playwrights who wrote around this time.

There were two main critics during this time, Julius Caesar Scaliger and Lodovico Castelvetro, and while I know we all hate critics it might be worthwhile to think about what they theorized about.  They agreed on the big stuff, but they varied when it came down to the details. Scaliger was all about the ideas of decorum and verisimilitude, which basically just meant being truthful. The biggest thing he talked about was the fact that theatre was supposed to teach people, move them, and also delight them. Also, everything that the characters in plays did absolutely had to be within the social norm of the time or they would seem ridiculous.

Castelverto was a bit more radical than Scaliger, and he argued a lot that theatre was created specifically to, as he said, “please the ignorant multitude”. He also really wanted people to enjoy the theatre for the experience rather than how good the play’s writing was. That’s not such a bad idea, is it? This was a bit weird for the time, though. Also, he was really big on the idea that the needs and demands of the audience were what should rule the plays. Like, if the play changed locations it would be stupid because the audience knew that they were still in the same place, and he was really adamant about the face that the plays written should be set in the time of one day and shouldn’t change location at all.

Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 151-153. Print.


                Hey when you think of the word Corrales what do you think of? Uncle’s stable out in Guatemala. That would be a pretty good answer, Corrales (the Spanish word for pen) were theatres that were shaped in the same way as the typical stable of the time. They were similar to the theatres that I told you about in England with the open air roof, and the roofed boxes for the wealthy and the nobles. The entrance would be at the back facing the stage and there would be a place to sit for all of the “groundlings” or “mosqueteros, the Spanish word for musketeers, (Wilson and Goldfarb 202) in the open air area. When you walked into the entrance of the theatre and looked at the stage you would find rows of boxes on either side of the theatre and above you. When you looked at them it would look as though you had walked into a stable for the horses.

                The biggest thing that would be different between the Spanish theaters of the Golden Age and the English Theaters of the Renaissance, the shape. English theaters were typically shaped in a polygon unless they were indoors. The Corrales were typically placed in a courtyard of  a large house or in the shape of a courtyard placed in the middle of a hotel. They were built in a rectangle and would have a center section that was about the size of a soccer field for all of the poorer people to sit. At the front of the theatre you would find a row or two of benches that were sperated from the rest of the year and sometimes they were put in a semicircle formation and were called “lunetas” or “small moons”. (Wilson & Goldfarb 202) In some of the theaters you would see elevated benches underneath of the boxes.




                Women in this time were allowed to sit in the theater many of the places could only hold 350 women and they were also allowed to sit in the boxes as long as they were accompanied by a man as well. It was very rare that you would find them in the boxes since those were specifically reserved for nobles, government officials, and the clergy. 




Works Cited: 

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 201-204. Print.

Wild, Larry. “Renaissance Theatre: Spain.” Renaissance Theatre: Spain., n.d. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Unknown, . “Talking Strings.” The University of British Colombia. Linda Fenton Malloy Design, n.d. Web. 22 Nov 2013. <;.

Secular theatre in the Spanish Golden Age

So something I’ve been learning about recently in my Theatre History class is the Spanish Golden Age of theatre. It was pretty golden because of the fact that it during the era religious and secular theatre managed to thrive side by side. This was pretty unusual, and I found it to be a pretty refreshing change from the other eras of theatre history that I have read about up to this point. Both these styles of theatre were pretty honestly equally produced and they were also both treated with equal professionalism.

In terms of secular theatre, the full length plays made around this time were called comedia nuevas or, as was more simply put, comedias. You probably think that this meant that they were pretty much all comedies, but actually the plays were given this name regardless of whether they were actually comedies or more serious plays. Actually, there wasn’t much of a stigma about how serious or how comedic these plays were supposed to be, so the playwrights were given a lot of freedom to write the style of play that they wanted in terms of mixing serious and funny content. Typically, they were written about love and honor, and tended to place the leading characters as minor nobles. They were also episodic plays much like what was seen in England at this time, but they usually ended up being three acts instead of five, like what was seen in England.

The closest more modern example of what was typical of golden age Spanish drama would be things like the old swashbuckling films that were popular in the 40’s, romance novels and, funnily enough, soap operas. A typical example of a Spanish comedia would be The King, The Greatest Mayor. Written in 1620, this play was about an arraigned marriage between a farmer’s daughter, Elvira, and a peasant named Sancho, who asks his lord for approval. Once his lord, Don Tello, sees Elvira he actually ends up wanting to keep her all to himself. That’s really just the basic outline of the plot at the beginning of the show, but it’s clear that it ends up being really dramatic, with clashes between peasant and lord, kidnappings, and everything required for a good melodrama.

Works Cited:

Wilson, Edwin, Alvin Goldfarb. Living Theatre: History of Theatre Sixth Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 2012. 193-207. Print.