Theatre or theater is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers, typically actors or actresses, to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place, often a stage.
The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music, and dance. Elements of art, such as painted scenery and stagecraft such as lighting are used to enhance the physicality, presence and immediacy of the experience.
The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek ??at??? (théatron, "a place for viewing"), itself from ?e??µa? (theáomai, "to see", "to watch", "to observe").
Modern Western theatre comes, in large measure, from ancient Greek drama, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements.
Theatre artist Patrice Pavis defines theatricality, theatrical language, stage writing, and the specificity of theatre as synonymous expressions that differentiate theatre from the other performing arts, literature, and the arts in general.
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action", which is derived from the verb d???, dráo, "to do" or "to act". The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception.
The structure of dramatic texts, unlike other forms of literature, is directly influenced by this collaborative production and collective reception. The early modern tragedy Hamlet (1601) by Shakespeare and the classical Athenian tragedy Oedipus the King (c. 429 BCE) by Sophocles are among the masterpieces of the art of drama. A modern example is Long Day's Journey into Night by Eugene O'Neill (1956).
Theatre productions that use humour as a vehicle to tell a story qualify as comedies. This may include a modern farce such as Boeing Boeing or a classical play such as As You Like It. Theatre expressing bleak, controversial or taboo subject matter in a deliberately humorous way is referred to as black comedy. Black Comedy can have several genres like slapstick humour, dark and sarcastic comedy.
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