Theatre In England

    

Theatre has always been an important part of the culture of any country or civilisation. It allows the audience to immerse themselves in the emotions of another, whether joy or frivolity in the case of a comedy, or deep sorrow and regret, as in a tragedy. This has a particularly cathartic effect. In centuries past, it has not always been acceptable to display emotions openly. For this reason, the theatre was deemed the only acceptable place to laugh, cry, guffaw, yell and gasp in emotive outbursts.

Theatrical creations have been an integral part of England’s culture for centuries. Today, it is still famous for renowned productions, such as Cats, The Phantom of the Opera, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Peter Pan, Puss in Boots, Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and the Comedy of Errors, amongst many others.

In old England, theatre owners enjoyed a respected image, and many of them were involved in the industry in the form of playwriting or acting themselves. They determined which actors would act in the productions being hosted at the theatre, holding a tremendous amount of power in their hands. Indeed, the success of an aspiring actor lay in the hands of the theatre owners.

Image of the reconstructed Globe on the south bank of the Thames in London, a wonderful place to visit.
The reconstructed Globe on the south bank of the Thames in London,
a wonderful place to visit.

The theatre of old was as varied as it is today. This made it appealing to an array of onlookers, making theatre a cultural attraction to the masses. All that was not allowed in early theatre was to attack the King. Other than that, it was a free-for-all. Depending on the personal tastes of theatre-goers, they would tend to support one or two specific theatres. As the line between the working class and the upper class blurred in terms of the entertainment they enjoyed, theatrical productions adopted a less high-brow wit and a more ‘slapstick’ one. Another part of the evolution of theatre was that the audience now demanded more of a spectacle and less impressive dialogue. They wanted props, costumes and effects. Today, these are still crucial elements to an impressive show.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the audiences started to develop preferences for certain actors. This was the beginning of the enormous celebrity status that modern-day performers enjoy. Actors were renowned for their abilities, senses of humour and even their aesthetic appeal. However, these actors were also slaves to the industry; required to stick to strict rules and regiments for their careers to be considered seriously. Some well-known actors of the day included Nell Gwynne, Thomas Betterton, Elizabeth Barry and Charles Macklin.


Costumes were a very important part of English theatre, and remain so today. Creative and dramatic pieces communicate much of the storyline and character profile, creating drama as well as a sense of realism. A large portion of the budget goes to creating such pieces. Because theatre became about the spectacle created, the audiences demanded grand get-ups where appropriate. This started a trend amongst theatre companies to lend one another certain pieces to save costs. Others hired them out. This is still done in many cases.

Today, visitors to England are urged to see at least one major theatrical production. There are always classic favourites on show (particularly in London), as well as exciting new productions.

For more information, please view: http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/