The Renaissance Theatre Development Essay

October 14, 2020 by Essay Writer

Renaissance theatre developed in Italy and spread to all the other parts of Europe at a very fast rate between the1500s and 1700s.

Protestant Reformation and English Renaissance Theatre

The most important influence of the Protestant Reformation on English Renaissance Drama was the rejection of pastoral features of medieval drama. Rejecting them succeeded because of scholars who influenced people with humanist ideologies.

Theatre eliminated all its religious aspects and adopted secular nature. Playwrights reverted to classical theatre ideologies. Plays adopted the classical structure that had acts and scenes. It also borrowed other elements of classical drama like; spectacle, music, and dance.

Impacts of reformist ideas on Italian theatre

Italians developed the proscenium theatre design 1500s. This theatre had a raised stage where actors performed, and the audience sat behind them. There were two entrances on either side of the scenery. The architectural development in Italy at that time was a major influence in the development of this theatre. Theatres were attended by all people regardless of status and class.

Reformists renewed people’s interests in classical drama by rejecting the religion-oriented drama of the medieval era. Playwrights, therefore, wrote plays that resembled classical drama. The new drama put much emphasis on verisimilitude; it advocated for realism. Playwrights removed unrealistic elements of classical drama from their plays. They, for example, reduced the time for performing one play from several days to some minutes. They believed that this would enhance credibility.

Neoclassicism in France

It took time for French audiences to embrace neoclassic ideas. The reluctance to accept neoclassic drama in France was because of the deep-rooted commedia farce. Theatre in France has its roots in the period of Louis XIII who instructed Cardinal Richelieu to construct a theatre that resembled the Italian theatre. In the mid-1600s, plays from Pierre Corneille and Jean Batiste Racine influenced the development of renaissance ideologies in the French Theatre.

Neoclassic principles involved; faith in human capabilities, as opposed to belief in religion. Playwrights in the neoclassic era eliminated the influence of religion on theatre and developed secular plays. They recreated classical drama by coming up with the drama that had classical features.

Their drama emphasized verisimilitude, purity of drama, a five-act plot, and the purpose of drama. These principles were accepted due to support from the French Academies, the Monarch, and the church; they argued that this drama helped nurture a French moral society.

Major neoclassic playwrights in France were Jean Batiste Moliere, Jean Racine, and Pierre Corneille. In England, playwrights included Lord Robert Chamberlain, Thomas Lupton, Sir William Berkeley, William Shakespeare, and Walter Raleigh while in Italy; Niccolo Machiavelli was the most notable playwright.

Commedia dell’arte and Moliere

Commedia dell’arte was a branch of drama that became very prominent towards the end of the 1550s. It started in Italy and slowly spread throughout Europe. It had storylines whose characters improvised lines on stage; there was no written plot.

Messages in these plays were, therefore, not as important as the comic elements in them. Other features of this genre were; the use of lazzi and stock characters. Lazzi was the element of this drama that could make people laugh. The stock characters included; Arlecchino, Pedrolino, Harlequin, Pulcinella, and Brighella.

Moliere acquired commedia dell’arte skills from Fiorillo and wrote a play, Sgnarelle, ou Le Cocu imaginaire in tribute to this genre and Fiorillo. He wrote plays with stock characters similar to those in Commedia dell’artes. Most of these characters were foolish and from a low social class, while others were young lovers.

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