Questions tagged [theater]

For general questions about plays and theatrical performances as works of literature. If your question is about a specific play, use the title and author tags instead.

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What play are these lines a reference to?

I am reading about an upcoming play that reimagines a meeting between Samuel Beckett and Harold Pinter on the cricket field. The play has references to their works. For instance, they both wait for a ...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Would the chorus leader typically speak/sing along with the chorus in classical Greek plays?

I had assumed that the chorus leader would speak along with the chorus. He is a part of it, after all. However, when I asked my literature professor on a whim he wasn't completely sure. Doing my own ...
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6 votes
1 answer
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What is the oldest preserved stage direction?

A recent answer from Gareth Rees mentioned that: If Classical Greek drama ever had stage directions, our manuscript sources do not preserve them Which made me wonder: what is the oldest stage ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Play involving a writer being questioned by the police after children start dying in a way matching his stories

When I was in grad school at Carnegie Mellon University, around 2007-2009, I went to a play audition where the piece they had me reading involved a writer (Russian?) being interrogated by the police ...
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Terminology for the category including all of dialogues, monologues, asides and soliloquies

As far as I can understand, a play's script might come not only in a conventional dialogue but also in monologues, asides and soliloquies along with stage directions. I'm unable to find a single term ...
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1 vote
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Literary term for the stagehands on "The Masked Singer"

On the American television singing contest "The Masked Singer", there is a cast of stagehands who play an essential role. They are silent, anonymous, and wear identical dark suits and ...
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6 votes
2 answers
2k views

In musical theatre, what does "book by" mean?

In musical theatre, what does "book by" mean? For example, the Bonnie and Clyde 2012 musical has a book by Ivan Menchell. Bonnie & Clyde is a musical with music by Frank Wildhorn, ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What is the evidence for the width of the trap in the stage of Elizabethan playhouses?

Scholars of Elizabethan theatre agree that the stage in Elizabethan playhouses could have a trap door, for example in the Globe Theatre (built in 1699) and the Red Lion. In his study Shakespeare: The ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Which publication first defined the theatre convention of the fourth wall?

One of the questions on this site asks Do a lot of Shakespeare characters break the fourth wall? However, assuming a "fourth wall" in English Renaissance theatre appears to be anachronistic since ...
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7 votes
1 answer
110 views

How can we reconcile the bareness of Shakespearean stages with the complex stage directions of The Tempest?

I learned recently that in Shakespeare's day, stage dressing was often minimal. This makes sense given that there was a wide variety of theatre styles, the stages were often uncovered and surrounded ...
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7 votes
1 answer
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Secondary literature on "The Warden of the Tomb"

The Warden of the Tomb is an expressionist play fragment by Kafka. Although incomplete, possibly extremely so, it's still decently long - about fourteen pages. Sadly (to me at least), as far as I can ...
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5 votes
1 answer
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What was the play 5-10 years ago where all the dialogue consisted of generic words describing what might be said

This might have been a short piece rather than a full-length play; I heard about it in a news story. I don't remember any details, but the idea was that instead of actually speaking content words, the ...
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3 votes
0 answers
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Larry Csonka and the Chocolate Factory: confirmation of existence

(Note: Not sure if this is the right place to ask this question, but this link: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/300800/where-can-i-ask-questions-about-a-broadway-show brought me here.) My ...
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6 votes
1 answer
229 views

First English Renaissance play where women disguise as men?

In several of Shakespeare's plays, women disguise as men (for a variety of reasons). For example, In The Merchant of Venice, Portia disguises as a lawyer; Jessica disguises as a man when eloping with ...
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5 votes
1 answer
262 views

Tudor or Jacobean plays that are sequels to a Shakespeare play?

William Shakespeare wrote around 40 plays (depending on how the Shakespeare canon is defined). Except for some of his history plays (Henry IV, Henry VI) and possibly The Merry Wives of Windsor (not a ...
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3 votes
1 answer
63 views

Why is there so much emphasis on snack foods in the plays of Martin McDonagh?

Snack foods tend to be highly emphasized in McDonagh's plays, touched on in this article: "The Lord-Lieutenant’s Biscuit and the Irishman’s Spud: Ireland’s Iconic Snacks Blasphemed in Martin McDonagh’...
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18 votes
1 answer
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When did men dressed as women stop being the norm in English theatre?

This excellent answer by Joshua Engel draws a comparison between men dressed as women in Shakespeare-era plays and perspective jumps in modern cinema: The audience would, of course, have been aware ...
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9 votes
1 answer
7k views

What's the difference between a five-act play and a three-act play?

Many stage plays - including all thirty-seven/thirty-nine of Shakespeare's - consist of five acts, while others consist of only three acts. (Are there any other common numbers of acts?) What's the ...
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