original image taken with a pentax k-30
edited in PS elements 7
Renaissance literally means re-birth. During the 16th c. we see a re-birth and growth in every area of the arts. As theorist evolved a set of guidelines for playwrights to follow, artists and architects design new theatres from seating arrangements to scene design to the mechanics of scene shifting.
The Renaissance began in the 1300s and co-existed with the Middle Ages/Medieval Thinking. The Renaissance did not dominate until the 16th c. A number of things brought about the Renaissance: 1. The decline in feudalism, 2. the increased growth of cities, 3. increased power of princes/rulers, 4. the lessening influence of the church over learning and life, 5. the invention of the movable type printing press.
Forms of Renaissance Drama – As the Renaissance began, there were 3 forms of drama:
TRAGEDY: 1st tragedy written in Italian – Sofonisba (1515) by Giangiorgio TRISSINO. He followed the Greek formula. Followed/overshadowed by CINTHIO. Orbecche (1541) 1st Italian tragedy performed, followed Senecan formula.
COMEDY: originally copied Romans/Greeks (subject/settings as well as structure). Evolved to Italian subjects/settings – well-established by 1540.
PASTORAL: A love story, featuring romanticized characters such as shepherds and shepherdesses, nymphs and satyrs, in an idealized rural setting.
OPERA – Towards the latter part of the 16th c., the CAMERATA ACADEMY of Florence (academy – group of scholars organized to study one subject—i.e., classical drama, literary theory) attempted to re-create Greek tragedy—chorus, music, dance, plots from mythology. Others had tried this before, but the Camerata believed that Greek tragedies were sung/chanted. Renaissance audiences loved the results which became what we know as OPERA. The 1st opera was Dafne (1594) [text Rinuccini, Caccini; music Jacopo Peri]. The 1st great operatic composer was MONTEVERDE who emphasized the musical aspect – Orfeo (1607). By 1650, opera’s popularity had spread all through Italy and Europe.
Development of the Italian Stage
During the 16th c., each duke who ruled an Italian state had a theatre (not a permanent structure—usually built in a large drawing or ball room and then torn down). These dukes were very competitive. The overall interest in the classical period extended to architecture. The discovery in the 15th century of a book by a 1st century B.C. architect sparked this interest. The book contained a chapter on theatres (no pictures, led to interpretations).
The 1st result of this discovery was the TERENCE STAGE – (late 15th/early 16th c.) a continuous facade (wall) divided into a series of curtained openings, each representing the house of a different character (similar in concept to medieval mansions). The facade was at the back of a platform – acting space. Soon added perspective painting (1st known example of perspective painting in scenery was Ariosto’s The Casket in 1508).
PERSPECTIVE PAINTING – Developed in the 15th c. in the art world (painter Masaccio, architect Brunelleschi). It created the illusion of space and distance, a magical spectacle which the Italians loved. PERSPECTIVE – in scenery is the illusion of diminishing size and greater distance as near the back of the stage. Conventionalized settings were employed: for comedy – regular houses; for tragedy – palaces; pastorals – woods.
Other developments include several methods of changing scenery (groove system, chariot and pole) as well as the seating configuration that still exists today—box, pit, and gallery.[BE SURE TO ASK ME IN CLASS TO EXPLAIN THESE SYSTEMS TO YOU.]
By mid 17th c., Italian architecture and staging practices were set and remained the standard until the late 19th c.