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Richardson; 4. The actors: European actors and the star system in the American theatre Simon Williams; 5. The emergence of the American actor Joseph Roach; 6. Scenography, stagecraft and architecture in the American theatre, beginnings to Mary C. Henderson; 7. Paratheatricals and popular stage entertainment Peter G.

Wilmeth; Timeline: compiled by Don B. A changing theatre: New York and beyond John Frick; 3. The plays and playwrights: Civil War to Tice L. Theatre groups and their playwrights Mark Fearnow; 5. Popular entertainment Brooks McNamara; 6. Musical theatre Thomas Riis; 7. Actors and acting Daniel J. Watermeier; 8. Scenography, stagecraft, and architecture Mary C. Henderson; 9. Directors and direction Warren Kliewer.

American theatre in context: present Arnold Aronson; 2. The plays and playwrights: Plays and playwrights: June Schlueter; American drama since Matthew Roudane; 4. Constantinople had two theatres that were in use as late as the 5th century. From the 5th century, Western Europe was plunged into a period of general disorder that lasted with a brief period of stability under the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century until the 10th century.

As such, most organized theatrical activities disappeared in Western Europe. While it seems that small nomadic bands traveled around Europe throughout the period, performing wherever they could find an audience, there is no evidence that they produced anything but crude scenes.

By the Early Middle Ages , churches in Europe began staging dramatized versions of particular biblical events on specific days of the year. These dramatizations were included in order to vivify annual celebrations. These were extensive sets of visual signs that could be used to communicate with a largely illiterate audience. These performances developed into liturgical dramas , the earliest of which is the Whom do you Seek Quem-Quaeritis Easter trope, dating from ca.

Hrosvitha c. These six plays — Abraham, Callimachus, Dulcitius, Gallicanus, Paphnutius, and Sapientia — are the first known plays composed by a female dramatist and the first identifiable Western dramatic works of the post-classical era. Hrosvitha was followed by Hildegard of Bingen d.

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As the Viking invasions ceased in the middle of the 11th century, liturgical drama had spread from Russia to Scandinavia to Italy. Only in Muslim-occupied Iberian Peninsula were liturgical dramas not presented at all. Despite the large number of liturgical dramas that have survived from the period, many churches would have only performed one or two per year and a larger number never performed any at all.

The Feast of Fools was especially important in the development of comedy. The festival inverted the status of the lesser clergy and allowed them to ridicule their superiors and the routine of church life. Sometimes plays were staged as part of the occasion and a certain amount of burlesque and comedy crept into these performances.

Although comic episodes had to truly wait until the separation of drama from the liturgy, the Feast of Fools undoubtedly had a profound effect on the development of comedy in both religious and secular plays. Performance of religious plays outside of the church began sometime in the 12th century through a traditionally accepted process of merging shorter liturgical dramas into longer plays which were then translated into vernacular and performed by laymen.

The Mystery of Adam gives credence to this theory as its detailed stage direction suggest that it was staged outdoors.

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The importance of the High Middle Ages in the development of theatre was the economic and political changes that led to the formation of guilds and the growth of towns. This would lead to significant changes in the Late Middle Ages. In the British Isles , plays were produced in some different towns during the Middle Ages. These vernacular Mystery plays were written in cycles of a large number of plays: York 48 plays , Chester 24 , Wakefield 32 and Unknown A larger number of plays survive from France and Germany in this period and some type of religious dramas were performed in nearly every European country in the Late Middle Ages.

Many of these plays contained comedy , devils , villains and clowns. The majority of actors in these plays were drawn from the local population. For example, at Valenciennes in , more than roles were assigned to 72 actors. Often providing their own costumes, amateur performers in England were exclusively male, but other countries had female performers.

The platform stage, which was an unidentified space and not a specific locale, allowed for abrupt changes in location. Morality plays emerged as a distinct dramatic form around and flourished until The most interesting morality play is The Castle of Perseverance which depicts mankind 's progress from birth to death. However, the most famous morality play and perhaps best known medieval drama is Everyman.

Everyman receives Death 's summons, struggles to escape and finally resigns himself to necessity. Along the way, he is deserted by Kindred , Goods , and Fellowship — only Good Deeds goes with him to the grave. There were also a number of secular performances staged in the Middle Ages, the earliest of which is The Play of the Greenwood by Adam de la Halle in It contains satirical scenes and folk material such as faeries and other supernatural occurrences. Farces also rose dramatically in popularity after the 13th century. The majority of these plays come from France and Germany and are similar in tone and form, emphasizing sex and bodily excretions.

However, farce did not appear independently in England until the 16th century with the work of John Heywood — A significant forerunner of the development of Elizabethan drama was the Chambers of Rhetoric in the Low Countries. Their plays were performed in the Great Hall of a nobleman's residence, often with a raised platform at one end for the audience and a "screen" at the other for the actors. Also important were Mummers' plays , performed during the Christmas season, and court masques.

The end of medieval drama came about due to a number of factors, including the weakening power of the Catholic Church , the Protestant Reformation and the banning of religious plays in many countries. Elizabeth I forbid all religious plays in and the great cycle plays had been silenced by the s. Similarly, religious plays were banned in the Netherlands in , the Papal States in and in Paris in The abandonment of these plays destroyed the international theatre that had thereto existed and forced each country to develop its own form of drama.

It also allowed dramatists to turn to secular subjects and the reviving interest in Greek and Roman theatre provided them with the perfect opportunity. Commedia dell'arte troupes performed lively improvisational playlets across Europe for centuries. It originated in Italy in the s. Commedia dell'arte was an actor-centred theatre, requiring little scenery and very few props.

Plays did not originate from written drama but from scenarios called lazzi , which were loose frameworks that provided the situations, complications, and outcome of the action, around which the actors would improvise. The plays utilised stock characters , which could be divided into three groups: the lovers, the masters, and the servants. The lovers had different names and characteristics in most plays and often were the children of the master. The role of master was normally based on one of three stereotypes: Pantalone , an elderly Venetian merchant; Dottore , Pantalone's friend or rival, a pedantic doctor or lawyer who acted far more intelligent than he really was; and Capitano , who was once a lover character, but evolved into a braggart who boasted of his exploits in love and war, but was often terrifically unskilled in both.

He normally carried a sword and wore a cape and feathered headdress. The servant character called zanni had only one recurring role: Arlecchino also called Harlequin. He was both cunning and ignorant, but an accomplished dancer and acrobat. He typically carried a wooden stick with a split in the middle so it made a loud noise when striking something. This "weapon" gave us the term " slapstick ". A troupe typically consisted of 13 to 14 members. Most actors were paid by taking a share of the play's profits roughly equivalent to the size of their role.

The style of theatre was in its peak from to , but even after that time new scenarios were written and performed. The Venetian playwright Carlo Goldoni wrote a few scenarios starting in , but since he considered the genre too vulgar, he refined the topics of his own to be more sophisticated.

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He also wrote several plays based on real events, in which he included commedia characters. Renaissance theatre derived from several medieval theatre traditions, such as, the mystery plays that formed a part of religious festivals in England and other parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. Other sources include the " morality plays " and the "University drama" that attempted to recreate Athenian tragedy. The Italian tradition of Commedia dell'arte , as well as the elaborate masques frequently presented at court, also contributed to the shaping of public theatre.

Since before the reign of Elizabeth I, companies of players were attached to households of leading aristocrats and performed seasonally in various locations. These became the foundation for the professional players that performed on the Elizabethan stage. The tours of these players gradually replaced the performances of the mystery and morality plays by local players, and a law eliminated the remaining companies lacking formal patronage by labelling them vagabonds. The City of London authorities were generally hostile to public performances, but its hostility was overmatched by the Queen's taste for plays and the Privy Council's support.

Theatres sprang up in suburbs, especially in the liberty of Southwark, accessible across the Thames to city dwellers but beyond the authority's control. The companies maintained the pretence that their public performances were mere rehearsals for the frequent performances before the Queen, but while the latter did grant prestige, the former were the real source of the income for the professional players.

Along with the economics of the profession, the character of the drama changed toward the end of the period. Under Elizabeth, the drama was a unified expression as far as social class was concerned: the Court watched the same plays the commoners saw in the public playhouses.

With the development of the private theatres, drama became more oriented toward the tastes and values of an upper-class audience. By the later part of the reign of Charles I, few new plays were being written for the public theatres, which sustained themselves on the accumulated works of the previous decades. Puritan opposition to the stage informed by the arguments of the early Church Fathers who had written screeds against the decadent and violent entertainments of the Romans argued not only that the stage in general was pagan , but that any play that represented a religious figure was inherently idolatrous.

In , at the outbreak of the English Civil War , the Protestant authorities banned the performance of all plays within the city limits of London. A sweeping assault against the alleged immoralities of the theatre crushed whatever remained in England of the dramatic tradition.

During its Golden Age , roughly from to , [43] Spain saw a monumental increase in the production of live theatre as well as the in importance of theatre within Spanish society. It was an accessible art form for all participants in Renaissance Spain, being both highly sponsored by the aristocratic class and highly attended by the lower classes. Major artists of the period included Lope de Vega , a contemporary of Shakespeare, often, and contemporaneously, seen his parallel for the Spanish stage, [49] and Calderon de la Barca , inventor of the zarzuela [50] and Lope's successor as the preeminent Spanish dramatist.

The sources of influence for the emerging national theatre of Spain were as diverse as the theatre that nation ended up producing. Storytelling traditions originating in Italian Commedia dell'arte [59] and the uniquely Spanish expression of Western Europe 's traveling minstrel entertainments [60] [61] contributed a populist influence on the narratives and the music, respectively, of early Spanish theatre. Neo-Aristotelian criticism and liturgical dramas, on the other hand, contributed literary and moralistic perspectives. Spanish drama had an immediate and significant impact on the contemporary developments in English Renaissance theatre.

After public stage performances had been banned for 18 years by the Puritan regime, the re-opening of the theatres in signaled a renaissance of English drama. With the restoration of the monarch in came the restoration of and the reopening of the theatre. English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from to are collectively called "Restoration comedy". Restoration comedy is notorious for its sexual explicitness, a quality encouraged by Charles II — personally and by the rakish aristocratic ethos of his court.

For the first time women were allowed to act, putting an end to the practice of the boy-player taking the parts of women. Socially diverse audiences included both aristocrats, their servants and hangers-on, and a substantial middle-class segment. Restoration audiences liked to see good triumph in their tragedies and rightful government restored. In comedy they liked to see the love-lives of the young and fashionable, with a central couple bringing their courtship to a successful conclusion often overcoming the opposition of the elders to do so.

Heroines had to be chaste, but were independent-minded and outspoken; now that they were played by women, there was more mileage for the playwright in disguising them in men's clothes or giving them narrow escape from rape. These playgoers were attracted to the comedies by up-to-the-minute topical writing, by crowded and bustling plots , by the introduction of the first professional actresses, and by the rise of the first celebrity actors.

To non-theatre-goers these comedies were widely seen as licentious and morally suspect, holding up the antics of a small, privileged, and decadent class for admiration. This same class dominated the audiences of the Restoration theatre. This period saw the first professional woman playwright, Aphra Behn. As a reaction to the decadence of Charles II era productions, sentimental comedy grew in popularity.

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This genre focused on encouraging virtuous behavior by showing middle class characters overcoming a series of moral trials. Playwrights like Colley Cibber and Richard Steele believed that humans were inherently good but capable of being led astray. Through plays such as The Conscious Lovers and Love's Last Shift they strove to appeal to an audience's noble sentiments in order that viewers could be reformed. The Restoration spectacular , or elaborately staged "machine play", hit the London public stage in the late 17th-century Restoration period, enthralling audiences with action, music, dance, moveable scenery , baroque illusionistic painting , gorgeous costumes, and special effects such as trapdoor tricks, "flying" actors, and fireworks.

These shows have always had a bad reputation as a vulgar and commercial threat to the witty, "legitimate" Restoration drama ; however, they drew Londoners in unprecedented numbers and left them dazzled and delighted. Basically home-grown and with roots in the early 17th-century court masque , though never ashamed of borrowing ideas and stage technology from French opera , the spectaculars are sometimes called "English opera".

However, the variety of them is so untidy that most theatre historians despair of defining them as a genre at all. It was spectacle and scenery that drew in the crowds, as shown by many comments in the diary of the theatre-lover Samuel Pepys. A fiasco such as John Dryden 's Albion and Albanius would leave a company in serious debt, while blockbusters like Thomas Shadwell 's Psyche or Dryden's King Arthur would put it comfortably in the black for a long time. Neoclassicism was the dominant form of theatre in the 18th century. It demanded decorum and rigorous adherence to the classical unities.

Neoclassical theatre as well as the time period is characterized by its grandiosity. The costumes and scenery were intricate and elaborate. The acting is characterized by large gestures and melodrama. Neoclassical theatre encompasses the Restoration, Augustan, and Johnstinian Ages. In one sense, the neo-classical age directly follows the time of the Renaissance. Theatres of the early 18th century — sexual farces of the Restoration were superseded by politically satirical comedies, Parliament passed the Stage Licensing Act which introduced state censorship of public performances and limited the number of theatres in London to two.

Theatre in the 19th century is divided into two parts: early and late. The early period was dominated by melodrama and Romanticism. Beginning in France , melodrama became the most popular theatrical form. August von Kotzebue 's Misanthropy and Repentance is often considered the first melodramatic play. In Germany , there was a trend toward historic accuracy in costumes and settings , a revolution in theatre architecture, and the introduction of the theatrical form of German Romanticism.

Influenced by trends in 19th-century philosophy and the visual arts , German writers were increasingly fascinated with their Teutonic past and had a growing sense of nationalism. The plays of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing , Johann Wolfgang von Goethe , Friedrich Schiller , and other Sturm und Drang playwrights, inspired a growing faith in feeling and instinct as guides to moral behavior. In Britain , Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron were the most important dramatists of their time although Shelley's plays were not performed until later in the century.

In the minor theatres, burletta and melodrama were the most popular. Pierce Egan , Douglas William Jerrold , Edward Fitzball , and John Baldwin Buckstone initiated a trend towards more contemporary and rural stories in preference to the usual historical or fantastical melodramas.

James Sheridan Knowles and Edward Bulwer-Lytton established a "gentlemanly" drama that began to re-establish the former prestige of the theatre with the aristocracy. The later period of the 19th century saw the rise of two conflicting types of drama: realism and non-realism, such as Symbolism and precursors of Expressionism. Realism began earlier in the 19th century in Russia than elsewhere in Europe and took a more uncompromising form. The Ensemble's productions are often considered the most historically accurate of the 19th century, although his primary goal was to serve the interests of the playwright.

The Meiningen Ensemble stands at the beginning of the new movement toward unified production or what Richard Wagner would call the Gesamtkunstwerk and the rise of the director at the expense of the actor as the dominant artist in theatre-making. The realisation of Zola's ideas was hindered by a lack of capable dramatists writing naturalist drama. He quickly won the approval of Zola and began to stage Naturalistic works and other foreign realistic pieces. In Britain, melodramas, light comedies, operas, Shakespeare and classic English drama, Victorian burlesque , pantomimes , translations of French farces and, from the s, French operettas, continued to be popular.

So successful were the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan , such as H. Pinafore and The Mikado , that they greatly expanded the audience for musical theatre. While their work paved the way, the development of more significant drama owes itself most to the playwright Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen was born in Norway in In addition, his works Rosmersholm and When We Dead Awaken evoke a sense of mysterious forces at work in human destiny, which was to be a major theme of symbolism and the so-called " Theatre of the Absurd ".

Unlike most of the gloomy and intensely serious work of their contemporaries, Shaw and Wilde wrote primarily in the comic form. Edwardian musical comedies were extremely popular, appealing to the tastes of the middle class in the Gay Nineties [78] and catering to the public's preference for escapist entertainment during World War 1. While much 20th-century theatre continued and extended the projects of realism and Naturalism , there was also a great deal of experimental theatre that rejected those conventions.

These experiments form part of the modernist and postmodernist movements and included forms of political theatre as well as more aesthetically orientated work. Examples include: Epic theatre , the Theatre of Cruelty , and the so-called " Theatre of the Absurd ". The term theatre practitioner came to be used to describe someone who both creates theatrical performances and who produces a theoretical discourse that informs their practical work.

The Cambridge History of American Theatre, Volume 2: 1870-1945

A number of aesthetic movements continued or emerged in the 20th century, including:. After the great popularity of the British Edwardian musical comedies , the American musical theatre came to dominate the musical stage, beginning with the Princess Theatre musicals, followed by the works of the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter , Jerome Kern , Rodgers and Hart , and later Rodgers and Hammerstein. Throughout most of history, English belles lettres and theatre have been separated, but these two art forms are interconnected.

As the country expanded so did theatre; following the war of theatre headed west. In this era of theatre, the moral hero shifts to the modern man who is a product of his environment. During this period of theatre, Hollywood emerged and threatened American theatre. The earliest recorded quasi-theatrical event dates back to BC with the " passion plays " of Ancient Egypt. The story of the god Osiris was performed annually at festivals throughout the civilization. Modern theatre in Ghana emerged in the early 20th century.

The Blinkards is a blatant satire about the Africans who embraced the European culture that was brought to them. In it Sekyi demeans three groups of individuals: anyone European, anyone who imitates the Europeans, and the rich African cocoa farmer. This sudden rebellion though was just the beginning spark of Ghanaian literary theater.

A play that has similarity in its satirical view is Anowa. Written by Ghanaian author Ama Ata Aidoo , it begins with its eponymous heroine Anowa rejecting her many arranged suitors' marriage proposals. She insists on making her own decisions as to whom she is going to marry. The play stresses the need for gender equality, and respect for women. Anowa chooses a man of her own to marry. Anowa supports her husband Kofi both physically and emotionally. Through her support Kofi does prosper in wealth, but becomes poor as a spiritual being. Through his accumulation of wealth Kofi loses himself in it.

His once happy marriage with Anowa becomes changed when he begins to hire slaves rather than doing any labor himself. This to Anowa does not make sense because it makes Kofi no better than the European colonists whom she detests for the way that she feels they have used the people of Africa. Their marriage is childless, which is presumed to have been caused by a ritual that Kofi has done trading his manhood for wealth.

Anowa's viewing Kofi's slave-gotten wealth and inability to have a child leads to her committing suicide. This difference in even the basis of their names seems to implicate the moral superiority of women in a male run society. The entire play is based upon an Akan oral tradition called Anansesem folk tales.

The main character of the play is Ananse the spider. The qualities of Ananse are one of the most prevalent parts of the play. Ananse is cunning, selfish, has great insight into human and animal nature, is ambitious, eloquent, and resourceful. By putting too much of himself into everything that he does Ananse ruins each of his schemes and ends up poor.

He is written in an exaggerated sense in order to force the process of self-examination. Ananse is used as a way to spark a conversation for change in the society of anyone reading. The play tells of Ananse attempting to marry off his daughter Anansewa off to any of a selection of rich chiefs, or another sort of wealthy suitor simultaneously, in order to raise money. Eventually all the suitors come to his house at once, and he has to use all of his cunning to defuse the situation.

Along with this, Mbuguous is used, Mbuguous is the name given to very specialized sect of Ghanaian theatre technique that allows for audience participation. The Mbuguous of this tale are songs that embellish the tale or comment on it. Spontaneity through this technique as well as improvisation are used enough to meet any standard of modern theatre. In his pioneering study of Yoruba theatre, Joel Adedeji traced its origins to the masquerade of the Egungun the "cult of the ancestor". They created short, satirical scenes that drew on a number of established stereotypical characters.

Their performances utilised mime , music and acrobatics. In the s, the popular traveling theatre moved into television and film and now gives live performances only rarely. It utilised non-Naturalistic techniques, surrealistic physical imagery, and exercised a flexibile use of language. Playwrights writing in the mids made use of some of these techniques, but articulated them with "a radical appreciation of the problems of society. Traditional performance modes have strongly influenced the major figures in contemporary Nigerian theatre. Ogun, he argues, is "a totality of the Dionysian, Apollonian and Promethean virtues.

The proponents of the travelling theatre in Nigeria include Duro Ladipo and Moses Olaiya a popular comic act. These practitioners contributed much to the field of African theatre during the period of mixture and experimentation of the indigenous with the Western theatre. The history of African-American theatre has a dual origin. The first is rooted in local theatre where African Americans performed in cabins and parks.

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Their performances folk tales, songs, music, and dance were rooted in the African culture before being influenced by the American environment. The earliest form of Indian theatre was the Sanskrit theatre. The earliest-surviving fragments of Sanskrit drama date from the 1st century. However, although there are no surviving fragments of any drama prior to this date, it is possible that early Buddhist literature provides the earliest evidence for the existence of Indian theatre.

The Pali suttas ranging in date from the 5th to 3rd centuries BCE refer to the existence of troupes of actors led by a chief actor , who performed dramas on a stage. It is indicated that these dramas incorporated dance, but were listed as a distinct form of performance, alongside dancing, singing, and story recitations. This would be as early as the 5th century BCE, but the event is only described in much later texts, from the 3rd-4th centuries CE.

The Treatise is the most complete work of dramaturgy in the ancient world. It addresses acting , dance , music , dramatic construction , architecture , costuming , make-up , props , the organisation of companies, the audience, competitions, and offers a mythological account of the origin of theatre.

Sanskrit theatre was performed on sacred ground by priests who had been trained in the necessary skills dance, music, and recitation in a [hereditary process]. Its aim was both to educate and to entertain. Under the patronage of royal courts, performers belonged to professional companies that were directed by a stage manager sutradhara , who may also have acted. Certain sentiments were considered inappropriate for men to enact, however, and were thought better suited to women.

Some performers played character their own age, while others played those different from their own whether younger or older. Of all the elements of theatre, the Treatise gives most attention to acting abhinaya , which consists of two styles: realistic lokadharmi and conventional natyadharmi , though the major focus is on the latter. Its drama is regarded as the highest achievement of Sanskrit literature. Actors may have specialised in a particular type.

The last was inspired by a story in the Mahabharata and is the most famous. It was the first to be translated into English and German. The next great Indian dramatist was Bhavabhuti c. He is said to have written the following three plays: Malati-Madhava , Mahaviracharita and Uttar Ramacharita. Among these three, the last two cover between them the entire epic of Ramayana. The powerful Indian emperor Harsha — is credited with having written three plays: the comedy Ratnavali , Priyadarsika , and the Buddhist drama Nagananda. Kathakali is a highly stylised classical Indian dance - drama noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures, and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.

It originated in the country's present-day state of Kerala during the 17th century [] and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming. Rabindranath Tagore was a pioneering modern playwright who wrote plays noted for their exploration and questioning of nationalism, identity, spiritualism and material greed.

There are references to theatrical entertainments in China as early as BC during the Shang Dynasty ; they often involved music, clowning and acrobatic displays. During the Han Dynasty, shadow puppetry first emerged as a recognized form of theatre in China. There were two distinct forms of shadow puppetry, Cantonese southern and Pekingese northern. The two styles were differentiated by the method of making the puppets and the positioning of the rods on the puppets, as opposed to the type of play performed by the puppets. Both styles generally performed plays depicting great adventure and fantasy, rarely was this very stylized form of theatre used for political propaganda.

Cantonese shadow puppets were the larger of the two. They were built using thick leather which created more substantial shadows.


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Symbolic color was also very prevalent; a black face represented honesty, a red one bravery. The rods used to control Cantonese puppets were attached perpendicular to the puppets' heads. Thus, they were not seen by the audience when the shadow was created. Pekingese puppets were more delicate and smaller. They were created out of thin, translucent leather usually taken from the belly of a donkey. They were painted with vibrant paints, thus they cast a very colorful shadow.

The thin rods which controlled their movements were attached to a leather collar at the neck of the puppet. The rods ran parallel to the bodies of the puppet then turned at a ninety degree angle to connect to the neck. While these rods were visible when the shadow was cast, they laid outside the shadow of the puppet; thus they did not interfere with the appearance of the figure. The rods attached at the necks to facilitate the use of multiple heads with one body.

When the heads were not being used, they were stored in a muslin book or fabric lined box. The heads were always removed at night. This was in keeping with the old superstition that if left intact, the puppets would come to life at night. Some puppeteers went so far as to store the heads in one book and the bodies in another, to further reduce the possibility of reanimating puppets. Shadow puppetry is said to have reached its highest point of artistic development in the 11th century before becoming a tool of the government.

During this era, Emperor Xuanzong formed an acting school known as the Children of the Pear Garden to produce a form of drama that was primarily musical. In the Song dynasty , there were many popular plays involving acrobatics and music. These developed in the Yuan dynasty into a more sophisticated form with a four- or five-act structure.

Yuan drama spread across China and diversified into numerous regional forms, the best known of which is Beijing Opera, which is still popular today. Today, the dramatic forms introduced or influenced by Spain continue to live in rural areas all over the archipelago. These forms include the komedya, the playlets, the sinakulo, the sarswela, and the drama.

In recent years, some of these forms have been revitalized to make them more responsive to the conditions and needs of a developing nation. In Thailand , it has been a tradition from the Middle Ages to stage plays based on plots drawn from Indian epics. In particular, the theatrical version of Thailand's national epic Ramakien , a version of the Indian Ramayana , remains popular in Thailand even today.

In Cambodia , at the ancient capital Angkor Wat , stories from the Indian epics Ramayana and Mahabharata have been carved on the walls of temples and palaces. Similar reliefs are found at Borobudur in Indonesia. During the 14th century, there were small companies of actors in Japan who performed short, sometimes vulgar comedies.

A director of one of these companies, Kan'ami — , had a son, Zeami Motokiyo — who was considered one of the finest child actors in Japan. After Zeami succeeded his father, he continued to perform and adapt his style into what is today Noh. A mixture of pantomime and vocal acrobatics, this style has fascinated the Japanese for hundreds of years. However, alarmed at increasing Christian growth, he cut off contact from Japan to Europe and China and outlawed Christianity.

When peace did come, a flourish of cultural influence and growing merchant class demanded its own entertainment. The men who control the puppets train their entire lives to become master puppeteers, when they can then operate the puppet's head and right arm and choose to show their faces during the performance. The other puppeteers, controlling the less important limbs of the puppet, cover themselves and their faces in a black suit, to imply their invisibility.