From Miracle to Psycho Drama- The Evolution of British Theatre in a Nutshell

Life is all about evolution, and evolution refers to a process of constant expansion and branching. Being a light which illuminates all facts, it is a curve that all lines must follow. Theatres are a great example which portrays the importance of architecture and literature contemporarily and historically in British culture.

British theatre possesses a rich history, from playwrights such as William Shakespeare to actors like Laurence Olivier. In the modern days, audiences still love to challenged and entertained once they go to theatres, and getting to hear ideas which may not be expressed anywhere else, you can read about this in essays about poetry.

Drama in Britain emerged from church services from the 10th century onwards at Easter. Mystery cycles of plays basing on the Bible were performed by the 14th century outside the church by members of craft guilds in such cities as Chester and York. So how has the British Theatre evolved from miracle to psychodrama?

  1. Early Theatre and Religion, the beginning of British theatre (1350)

During the medieval period, religious stories were used by the church to control and distract the country. Religious storytelling was the root of theatre which essentially grew out of this. It was necessary to entertain the public after the Black Death trauma. These plays were in the form of miracle plays and mystery cycles. Mystery cycles dramatized stories sourced from the Bible, whereas miracle plays stories were about the saints’ lives.

  1. Royalty and entertainment (1576)

Henry VIII banned all religious performances after centuries of spiritual inspiration for theatre, preventing plays from the spread of Catholicism. Setting up his own ‘Church of England,’ he demanded people follow the faith instead. Theatre, later on, flourished in the 16th Century, building playhouses and opening its doors in 1576 in London.

  1. Elizabethan Theatre, The Globe Theatre (1599)

In the late 16th century, besides royalty, all classes of society visited the public theatres. Audiences developed a voracious appetite for new plays, and thus the theatres became popular. Writers were employed as new companies flourished, satisfying the novelty demand.

Theatre was still under playwrights and royal control, and if they went too far, they faced imprisonment. The possible repercussions playwrights faced did not bar the industry from growing, in 1599 the iconic Globe Theatre was built. It was purposely constructed for the Lord Chamberlain’s company with William Shakespeare being amongst its members.

  1. 17th-Century Theatre, more royal restrictions (1660)

This was a turbulent time for British theatre, from the closure of the theatres and lavish court masques under the decadence of Restoration drama and Cromwell. Patented theatre became familiar with non-patented theatre and legitimate theatre as illegitimate theatre. Progress was witnessed in 1660 when Margaret Hughes became the first woman on stage.

  1. 18th-Century Theatre, Censorship (1737)

Theatre flourished as new playhouses were built in London and the provinces, and many theatres enlarged. Among the most successful shows being the ballad opera The Beggar’s Opera. Theatre began satirizing the government, and politicians tightened theatrical censorship in response.

With dramatic creativity effectively stifled, writers turned to illegitimate theatre or novels for creative freedom. Regardless of an amendment in 1843, the act remained in use and place until 1968.

  1. Innovations in acting (1747)

Theatrical innovations of David Garrick marked the point when writers, actors and other theatre-makers began taking control. He introduced sweeping changes, and actors were subjected to intensive and new rehearsal. He was also responsible for radical stylistic advances in acting, bringing more realism and emotion to the time exaggerated expressions.

  1. 19th Century, Naturalism on stage (1867)

New theatres opened satisfying a demand for entertainment from the workers flooding into the major cities with the Industrial Revolution taking hold. In the Victorian era theatre’s popularity meant the patent system was no longer functional. It was therefore ended in 1843 and allowed more opportunities in drama. With its end enabling the theatre to develop artistically.

  1. Kitchen sink dramas (1947)

Interest in the arts became bigger in post-war Britain, as audiences were keen seeing stories with which they identified with. ‘Kitchen sink’ dramas provided them.

  1. Power of the director (1955)

The director’s role became the vital creative force. The directors’ theatre notion began in Europe, spreading to Britain. Sir Peter Hall in 1955 directed the first Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot English language production, cementing his reputation.

  1. End of censorship and Club theatres (1963)

The power of theatre was in the hands of theatre-makers, begun challenging authority. Until it ended in 1968, theatres were avoiding government censorship constraints and traded as private clubs.

  1. Contemporary theatre (2006)

Theatre kept evolving as a vehicle for pushing boundaries and challenging establishment. Black Watch, premiering at 2006 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, told the Iraq War story through the soldiers’ eyes from the Black Watch regiment; theatre at its arresting and controversial.

  1. Contemporary controversy (2015)

The religious outrage caused the closure of Behzti at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2004. The play sparkling riots due to a rape and murder staging in a Sikh temple. In 2015, Homegrown Play about Islamic radicalization was canceled days before opening. Regardless of all the difficulties, British theatre is reflecting modern life, to tell stories and challenge taboos.