Theatre, also known as theater, is a collaborative form of performing art in which live performers, usually actors or actresses, present the representation of the real or imagined event in front of a live audience in a specific location, often a stage. This experience may be communicated to the audience through a combination of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance.

Artistic elements such as painted landscapes and theatrics such as light sources are used to enhance the physical strength, presence, and immediacy of the experience. The specific location of the performance is also named “theatre,” which is derived from the Ancient Greek o (théatron, “a place for viewing”), which is derived from (theáomai, “to see”, “to watch”, “to observe”).

Modern Western theater is largely influenced by ancient Greek theater, from which it borrows technical terminology, genre classification, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements. Patrice Pavis, a theatre artist, defines showmanship, theatrical language, stage writing, and theatre specificity as synonymous expressions that distinguish theatre from other performing arts, literature, and the arts in general.

Productions of plays and musical theater are included in modern theatre. Ballet and opera are both forms of theatre that employ many conventions such as acting, costumes, and staging. They had an influence on the development of musical theater; for more information, see those articles.

Organization and Subcategories

There are numerous modern theatre movements that produce theater in a variety of ways. The sophistication and purpose of theatrical enterprises vary greatly. People involved range from amateurs and hobbyists (in community theater) to experts (in Broadway and similar productions). Theatrical productions can be performed on a shoestring or on a massive scale with multimillion-dollar budget allocations. This diversity is reflected in the numerous theatre sub-categories, which include:

  • West End and Broadway theatres
  • Theatrics on the street
  • Theatre in the community
  • Dinnertime drama
  • Theatre on the fringe
  • Off-Off-Broadway
  • Theatre on the road
  • The summer stock theater

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