If you have ever tried to fit Shakespeare into a crossword puzzle under “early playwright”, it might have been confusing that it didn’t work. It is common to automatically think of classics such as Romeo and Juliet or Hamlet as the primary play predecessors of theatrical history. In truth, the first plays came to light hundreds of years before Shakespeare’s time. The original stage performances that were documented is actually in Greece.
Prior to Shakespeare
If you rewind to approximately 500 B.C., you will hear the fame was claimed by Aeschylus, Euripides and Sophocles. This time period and Greece itself was recognized as a dramatic time period. Happiness was elation and sadness was utter demise in their writings. In modern times we have several genres that cover the basics and the in-betweens. In the earlier days there was only two displays, Tragedy and Comedy. Greece has been the seed of innovation for many of the worlds inventions including the stage. Mechanisms called “Deus Ex Machina” were built to maneuver large props and statuary in and out of scenes. They thrived on detail which set the foundation for the Theater both in the past and the present.
The concepts of the Theater expanded into Rome, however the Roman Playwrights put a satirical twist to the set. They used the same plots found in Greece and touched them with a up leading comedic turn. They shared their renditions at the Roman Games which did not denote the culture you might expect. The festivals were a host of adrenalized events such as racing and boxing. This interfered with the success of the plays as the audience was more interested in who was going to walk away the winner.
The Next Era in Theater
Profound impacts in the Theater are noted in the historic Middle Ages. The content added became a moral of the story for the public to learn from and reflect on their own lives. Mainly derived by Christianity, these plays often had biblical references to support their ideology. As time went on, comedy farces began to include boundary breaking humor. This began to out run the prior as it was deemed as offensive. Many religious fundamentalists became wary and left the theater scene.
Prov style plays gained popularity through Europe in the early 1500’s. The integrated style led to the age that we are most familiar with. Elizabethan Theater was an era all of its own. The combined senses of tragedy, romance, comedy and history made its way to introduce Shakespearian works. His writing was a lingual melody of emotion and suspense that comes across the stage poetically. Fixated Theater became the institution of the future for all Playwrights. Audiences found themselves intrigued and captivated by the nuance of the characters. Shakespeare certainly was the pivotal point of a Theatrical epoch even though he was not the beginning of Theater itself. “To know the end is to know the plot of all histories as they are repeated in an infinite cycle of events”- Rab.ki once said, and the words still resonate today.