So, what is the Tent, you ask? It is where one of the local theatres hold their summer shows. It is under a big green tent, in the the park. I will be doing hair and makeup for Hello Dolly and Hairspray and I am a stickler when it comes to period But regardless of whether I am working a show or not, I will see them all. The Tent in the summer is magical and sometimes hot and muggy, or breezy and cool. Oh, and then there was that one time there was a tornado warning. But I won't think about that now. And the raccoons are always a treat, or the chipmunks. Both have have attempted to take the stage before. Such Divas!
Besides being under a tent, the theater is also round and the actors have patrons viewing them from three sides, which is how the original theatre productions were preformed. The earliest outdoor, and in the round, theater dates back to the 6th Century in Greece. The best-preserved one is the Theatre of Epidaurus and some say it dates back to the 4th Century.
In the 6th century BC a priest of Dionysus, by the name of Thespis, introduces a new element which can validly be seen as the birth of theatre. He engages in a dialogue with the chorus. He becomes, in effect, the first actor. Actors in the west, ever since, have been proud to call themselves Thespians.
According to a Greek chronicle of the 3rd century BC, Thespis is also the first winner of a theatrical award. He takes the prize in the first competition for tragedy, held in Athens in 534 BC. Read more: ">History of Literature: Greek Drama
The first English outdoor theatre was built in 1576 by James Burbag, an Elizabethan amphitheatre designed to hold a capacity of up to 3000 people. Prior to that, performances were staged in inn-yards. In winter months performances were moved inside to converted old coaching inns or other available buildings and referred to as Playhouses.
More information on the Elizabethan Theatre can be found at History of Elizabethan Theatre
Pictured is the Swan Theatre
I do wonder what it would have been like to sit outside in Greece or Elizabethan England and watch a performance, though these productions would have taken place during the day and probably uncomfortably hot weather due to the lack of shade (at least in Greece). But at least the Greeks had togas. They Elizabethans weren't so lucky to have lighter clothing ;). I would like to visit Greece one day and if I do, I will make a point to see the Theatre of Epidaurus. I've read that the acoustics are amazing. They would have to be because how else would the patrons be able to hear the actors centuries before microphones were invented, especially if you were seated at the top.
For centuries theatre has been one of the main forms of entertainment and I am fascinated with how it has changed from the first Shakespearean production to the amazing technical magic that happens today. From the scripts to makeup and costumes to lights and sound. I am particularly interested in the behind the scenes during the Regency Period. After all, most of my characters do enjoy a good comedy, drama or opera and as an author, I should know what is going into those productions. Don't you agree? And, did actress during the Regency Period really deserve their naughty reputations?
Have you ever enjoyed a show outside under the stars or a tent?
Amy De Trempe
Duchess of Decency