Theatre History: Italian Renaissance

The history of theatre starting from 6th Century BCE towards the end of the Italian Renaissance; includes names, dates, events, and other significant items.


Raked Stage

1330 AD - 1550 AD

the sloped floor typical of Italian Renaissance stages used for scenery
sloped upwards away from the audience and improves the view for the audience
was used in many opera produtions (late 16th century)

Commedia Erudita

1400 AD - 1550 AD

16th century Italian dramatic form that unlike its theatrical contemporary, the vernacular and improvisiational Commedia dell'Arte, followed scripts written in Latin or Italian that were based on the scholarly of earlier Italian and ancient Roman authors
these plays were performed for the nobility by non-professional actors

Sebastiano Serlio

1475 AD - 1554 AD

italian mannerist architect
built part of Palace of Fontainebleau
canonized the classical orders of architecture in Seven Books of Architecture/All the Works on Architecture and Perspect

Andrea Palladio

1508 AD - 1580 AD

Italian architect active in the Republic of Venice
influenced by Roman/Greek architecture (Vitruvius)
most influential individual in Western Architecture
created Teatro Olimpico but died during construction

Vincenzo Scamozzi

1548 AD - 1616 AD

venetian architect and a writer on architecture mainly active in Vicenza and Republic of Venice area in the seoncd half of the 16th century
inherited Palladio's work (Teatro Olimpico) in 1580
did a work called L'Idea dell'Architettura Universale, 1615 (The Idea of Universal Architecture)

Characters of Commedia dell'Arte

1551 AD - 1797 AD

Arlecchino: comic servant, chequered costume, role of light-hearted nimble, and astute servant, introduced in 1580s then became a staple by 1630s, twarts the plan of his master, pursuing his own love interest, becomes romantic hero.

Inamorata: sole purpose was to be in love with each other and themselves, are united by the end of the show, had stock names for male and female characters, appeared in 16th century theatre

Pantalone: Pantalone of the Needy, important principal characters, exceptional greed and status at the top of the social order, debuted around 1560, plant the lion = planting the Venetian flag

Brighella: comic, masked character with loose fitting white smock with green trimmed plants and equipped with a slap stick, displays look of preternatural lust and greed

Il Capitano: often an outsider who can maintain his claims only by benefit of the fact that none of the locals know him, usually a Spaniard given the fact that Italy was under Spanish control well into the 17th century

Il Dottore: one of the vecchi or old men, is an obstacle to the young lovers, he's the alter ego of Pantalone, a decadent erudite and an angry busy body


1551 AD

term for the outline of a performance's plot in Italian popular theatre
used by Commedia dell'Arte and listed only acts and scenes


1551 AD

improvised comic dialogue or action commonly used in Commedia dell'Arte (16th century)
fill time or to ensure certain frequency of laughs
Arlecchino would have hundreds at disposal

Commedia dell'Arte

1551 AD - 1797 AD

form of theatre characterized by masked "types"
began in Italy in the 16th century
responsible for the advent of actresses and improvised performances based on sketches or scenarios
comedy of craft= commedia dell'arte all'improviso
flourished during Mannerist period
plots based on themes of sex, jealously, love, and old age

Isabella Andreini

1562 AD - 1604 AD

Italian actress and writer
member of the Compagnia dei Comici Gelosi (high society theatre company)
played innamorata
has a character named after her

Teatro Olimpico (Construction)

1580 AD - 1585 AD

theatre in Vicenza, North Italy
was designed by Andrea Palladio and was finished by Vincenzo Scamozzi
introduced onstage scenery and different perspective
has oldest surviving stage set still in existence
a part of Renaissance theatre


1598 AD - 2014 AD

sole original performance type to emerge from the Renaissance into the present day
started at the end of the 16th century
singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text (libretto) and a musical score in a theatrical setting
core works around 1639-1648 AD
first survived work Peri's Euridice (1600)


1600 AD - 1899 AD

philosophical concept that distinguishes between the truth and falsity of assertions and hypothesis
fundamental doctrine of Neo-Classicism, refers to the believability of a narrative—the extent to which a narrative appears realistic, likely, or plausible (regardless of whether it is actually fictional or non-fictional)


Alois M. Nagler

1908 AD - 1993 AD

a scholar of theater history
wrote "Sources of Theatrical History" (1952) and "Shakespeare's Stage" (1988)