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Essay: What is theatre?

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  • Subject area(s): Photography and arts essays
  • Reading time: 2 minutes
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  • Published: 25 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 433 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 2 (approx)

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What is theatre? What is it about? What has it shown us and most importantly what has it taught us? Theatre is a ‘collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or an imagined event. ‘ Theatre is an enrichment that is full of experiences. It teaches our minds and feeds our brains. Since the beginning of musical theatre, there has been comparisons between race and gender discriminations. The purpose of me writing this paper is to show you when we recognize that there is no differences between racial and gender discrimination.
The growth of musical theater in America can be seen through many different lens. Through the lens of African Americans, it is easy to reflect on the treatment and portrayal of African-Americans in the United States. Back in the 1840s African Americans were not allowed to act so white actors would imitate African Americans with Blackface. Blackface was a minstrel show that imitated African Americans from 1840-1890. Blackface consisted of makeup which was either a ‘layer of burnt cork on a layer of coca butter or black grease paint. Costumes were usually flashy combinations of formal wear; swallowtail coats, striped trousers, and top hats.’ The shows featured a variety of jokes, songs, dances and skits that were based on the ugliest stereotypes of African American slaves. They even went as far as even trying to sound like African Americans. It wasn’t till the 19th century white audiences would accept black entertainers unless they performed in black face.
Musical theatre changed for the better with Show Boat, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern. They finally change musical theater by raising the issues of race in American culture and brought serious issues to musical theatre. Before showboat the theatre was reserved for white people, using make up to make black characters obvious. The musical Showboat revolutionized the face of musicals by being the first racially integrated play. Showboat took a new look upon the way theatre was and for now it is seen as the first American musical play. The musical was based upon Edna Ferber’s book. Edna often wrote about characters who dealt with discrimination against others. Hammerstein wrote the lyrics for the play which were emotional and controversial because different race in the same circle were not normal. Till this day Oscar Hammerstein is highly look upon in the history of musical theatre with the upmost respect. His use of language concerning racism is exceptionally strong, and for most of the play it has a very important role in the musical.

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