Theatre (also theater in American English) is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance. Elements of design and stagecraft are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek θέατρον (théatron, “a place for viewing”), itself from θεάομαι (theáomai, “to see", "to watch", "to observe”).
Modern Western theatre derives in large measure from ancient Greek drama, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements. Theatre scholar Patrice Pavis defines theatricality, theatrical language, stage writing, and the specificity of theatre as synonymous expressions that differentiate theatre from the other performing arts, literature, and the arts in general.
Theatre today includes performances of plays and musicals. Although it can be defined broadly to include opera and ballet, those art forms are outside the scope of this article.
Famous quotes containing the word theater:
“The theater is a baffling business, and a shockingly wasteful one when you consider that people who have proven their worth, who have appeared in or been responsible for successful plays, who have given outstanding performances, can still, in the full tide of their energy, be forced, through lack of opportunity, to sit idle season after season, their enthusiasm, their morale, their very talent dwindling to slow gray death. Of finances we will not even speak; it is too sad a tale.”
—Ilka Chase (19051978)
“I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they wont contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. Thats what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.”
—Orson Welles (19151984)
“We live in a time which has created the art of the absurd. It is our art. It contains happenings, Pop art, camp, a theater of the absurd.... Do we have the art because the absurd is the patina of waste...? Or are we face to face with a desperate or most rational effort from the deepest resources of the unconscious of us all to rescue civilization from the pit and plague of its bedding?”
—Norman Mailer (b. 1923)