A theatrical performance is a representation of real or imagined life. It is often a presentation of a written text. Depending on the genre, it may involve dancing, singing, juggling, or other physical acts. The performance is usually performed live, but can be recorded on film.
Actors in dramatic theatre play directly to the audience. In contrast, actors in nondramatic theatre play in front of the audience, acknowledging them. They may also perform acrobatic acts. But the main aim of most theatrical productions is to achieve two basic goals: to entertain and to impart a special quality to the theatrical space.
Traditionally, the theatre was a powerful medium, with an emphasis on social ritual. However, in the 20th century, the boundaries between performers and audiences were broken down. These attempts to blur the distinction between the two became popular in the form of environmental theatre. Various forms of the theatre have been created to achieve these goals, such as guerrilla theater.
In the late 19th century, the work of an actor evolved from a representational act into one of rebellion. The stage moved away from the recessed image of a representational locale and into a more open space, often taking the form of a town square or an auditorium.
An actor’s performance consists of a series of activities, each of which is separate from the other. These include the imaginative exploration of fictitious situations, the physical skills involved in performing, and the relationship with other actor-characters.
The performer also creates a feedback loop with the audience. For example, when a character says “I am a doctor,” the person in the audience might say, “I am a physician.” This process of mutual feedback can be seen in comedy, where the timing of lines is determined by the laughter of the audience. In a serious drama, the feedback is more difficult to observe.
A theatrical performance is a unique experience, in which the viewer is immersed in the world of the play. A performance can be captured on film, but the experience of watching the theatre in real time is unrepeatable. As such, it serves as a psychological intervention for the individual. Performing arts such as drama, dance, and music are used in this way to construct a world where the audience perceives satisfaction and freedom.
Dramatic performances are often characterized by a fictional mimetic nature. The actor performs to the audience, but also mediates between the audience and the spiritual dimension of the performance. In some cases, the performer is seen as a critic of society or as a celebrant of the emotional audience.
Naturalistic theatre emerged in the late nineteenth century and required the actor to hide his or her everyday behaviour from the audience. At the same time, a large amount of rehearsal time was necessary. Although the act was highly sophisticated, it also required the actor to be very focused and to concentrate on his or her fellow actor.