Peter and the Starcatcher - November 07 - November 09, 2019

Bishop Kenny High School

 History of Theatre 


The magic of theatre can be traced to ancient records from Greece, including those of Aristotle, which note that Thespis of Icaria was the first actor to portray a character outside of the Greek Chorus which is why actors are also known as thespians.


The art of the thespian is multifaceted; from auditions to performance, an actor must not only memorize lines and blocking (movements across the stage and entrances and exits) but they must also research historical eras and fields of study that their character role will be influenced by. Furthermore, they must develop this character to be believable which is much like a study in forensic psychology. "What makes this character behave in this manner? In this era? In this time and place? What was their family like? What experiences in their life formed and molded their personality?"


The role of an actor is about character and not necessarily gender. Historically, this began because many societies prohibited women from performing on the stage: Ancient Greek theatre, English Renaissance, Japanese Noh, and Chinese Opera. Japanese Kabuki started with all female groups in the early 1600s but this was outlawed and male troupes took over the Kabuki theatre tradition. This societal stance mandated that men and boys take the female roles.

By the 19th century, women had made their way to the stage and females often took masculine roles. One of the most famous examples was Sarah Bernhardt who was cast as Prince Hamlet in the late 1800s. In 1904, Nina Boucicault originated the female casting for the role of Peter Pan which was continued by Maude Adams, Marilyn Miller, 

Eva Le Gallienne, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby. In 1954, in the musical version of the story, Mary Martin portrayed Peter Pan.


Due to availability of actors, ages, and roles, this theatre tradition continues today.


Actors portray and develop the character for the role in which they are cast and work to suspend disbelief so that everyone can dream and imagine once again with each theatre experience.

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