When you think of musical theatre history, what comes to mind? Does it seem like theatre was an invention of bored modern-day man? Or can you imagine its origins to be deeply buried in the past? In today’s world, we recognise musical theatre as the acted storytelling of a drama, through which song and dance play an integral part.
Musicals have long since been a favourite amongst live audiences. Some of the most famous Broadway musicals of all time include Cats, Les Miserables, Wicked, Beauty and The Beast, and The Lion King. As the popularity of musical theatre increases, we’re seeing it shift to the big screen. From classics such as Grease, and The Wizard of Oz, to the more recent film productions of Mamma Mia and Bohemian Rhapsody, it seems like the world just can’t get enough!
Whilst musical theatre of recent times has been intended as art and entertainment – was this always the case? To discover the answer, we must trace musical theatre history back to its beginnings in Ancient Greece.
The Greek God Dionysus And His Role In Musical Theatre History
Dionysus – God of the Vine, also known as Bacchus, he was worshipped in Ancient Greece as the god of all things grape and wine, of fertility, ritual madness, and religious ecstasy. So, where does he belong in musical theatre history? Dionysus was also the god of theatre. Given the prevalence and importance of wine amongst Greek culture and society, he was a popular mythological figure of those times and many religious festivals were celebrated in his name.
The cults of Dionysus used these festivals to perform ritual ceremonies whereby they worshipped their god through drama, song and dance – the beginnings of musical theatre history as we know it today.
Greek Amphitheatres In Musical Theatre History
One of the most famous theatres in history is the Theatre of Dionysus Eleuthereus, situated in the Athenian Acropolis. Believed to have been originally built in 4th century BC, it had seating capacity for approximately 17,000 people and boasted superb acoustics.
Without the luxury of modern technology, the Ancient Greeks used architecture and design to create sound amplification. While it may seem impossible that they were able to generate sufficient amplification to reach such large audiences, they had a few tricks up their sleeves. For example, did you know that the specific geometry of the seating area was key to the quality of acoustics within classical Greek theatres?
Musical Theatre History In The Making
Do you want to make musical theatre history? Or would you simply like to explore acting, song, and dance as a means of self-discovery and creativity? If you’re looking for a safe and collaborative environment in which you can grow your confidence in performance and as an individual, Perform Australia is just right for you.
As a mobile performing arts school based across Canberra and Brisbane, Perform Australia offers musical theatre classes taught by professional drama teachers who love what they do. Having fun is always at the heart of our teaching programs, and we delight in encouraging and supporting our students of all ages and stages.
To learn more about our performing arts classes and programs, please see our website or call us on 1300908905 and speak to a friendly member of the Perform Australia team.
These blog posts are written by Perform Australia staff.