Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
From Encyclopedia of American Studies
The American Broadway musical is arguably the most distinctive and original theatrical form to develop in the United States and one of the most prominent forms of American popular entertainment of the twentieth century.
Burlesque: Topic Page
Form of entertainment that achieves its effects through caricature, ridicule, and distortion. About 1920 the term began to refer to the "strip-tease" show, which created its own stars, such as Gypsy Rose Lee; in c.1937 burlesque performances in New York City were banned.
Comedy: Topic Page
Literary work that aims primarily to provoke laughter. Unlike tragedy, which seeks to engage profound emotions and sympathies, comedy strives to entertain chiefly through criticism and ridicule of man's customs and institutions.
Commedia dell Arte: Topic Page
Popular form of comedy employing improvised dialogue and masked characters that flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th cent.
Drama: Topic Page
Several origins have been proposed for drama: the ceremonies and dances performed by hunter-gatherers to ensure a successful hunt and initiate the young into the nature of the animals they hunted and the tactics used to kill them is one; dramatic story-telling in which the narrator enacts different roles while telling the story is another; religious ritual, and the enactment of religious stories at festivals, such as those conducted in ancient Egypt from before 2000BC, is a third.
Melodrama: Topic Page
Originally a spoken text with musical background, as in Greek drama.
From The Princeton encyclopedia of poetry and poetics
(Gr., "imitation"). In the cl. sense of the term, a type of drama in which players rely mainly on gestures to tell a story. Found in ancient Greece and Rome, the mime probably arose, as its name implies, from the natural impulse to imitate persons or scenes from daily life.
Miracle Play: Topic Page
Or mystery play, form of medieval drama that came from dramatization of the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.
Musical: Topic Page
20th-century form of dramatic musical performance, combining elements of song, dance, and the spoken word, often characterized by lavish staging and large casts.
Tragedy: Topic Page
Form of drama that depicts the suffering of a heroic individual who is often overcome by the very obstacles he is struggling to remove. The protagonist may be brought low by a character flaw or, as Hegel stated, caught in a "collision of equally justified ethical aims."
Vaudeville: Topic Page
American vaudeville was a live entertainment consisting of unrelated songs, dances, acrobatic and magic acts, and humorous skits and sketches by a variety of performers and acts, each on stage for about five minutes.
Acting: Topic Page
The representation of a usually fictional character on stage or in films. At its highest levels of accomplishment acting involves the employment of technique and/or an imaginative identification with the character on the part of the actor.
Actors and Actresses: Topic Page
Performer who takes one or more role(s) in a play or film.
From Critical Terms for Art History
Performance has mandated the most comprehensive discussion of the identity, purpose, and value of the plastic arts since the Renaissance.
Performance Art: Topic Page
Type of modern art activity presented before a live audience, and combining elements of the visual arts and the theatrical arts, such as music, video, theatre, and poetry reading.
Theater: Topic Page
Theatre (from the Greek ‘seeing-place’) has extended from being a reference to the buildings or space within which drama can take place to encompass the range of phenomena which constitute the relationship between an audience and a performance.
Circus: Topic Page
The modern circus, which originated in performances of equestrian feats in a horse ring strewn with sawdust, dates from the closing years of the 18th cent.
Salzburg Festival: Topic Page
Annual festival of music and drama held in Salzburg, Austria, for five weeks starting in late July.