Exam Overviews

Midterm Exam Form

Matching/Definition Section

I will ask you to either match terms to their definitions or briefly and accurately define those terms. These terms will consist of important vocabulary drawn from your readings and lecture.

Essay Section

I will ask you to complete four of the essay questions on the exam. Below are questions that may appear on the exam. Your essays should be accurate and supported with evidence from your readings. You will be able to bring in a 3x5" notecard containing any notes you might wish to take; however, the exam itself will be closed-book. One essay is required.

  1. Drama is a uniquely communal for of art, and the role of the community is central to any knoweldge of theater history. From ancient Greek festivals to Medieval processionals to the newly professionalized theater of the Spanish Golden Age, drama is an important form of civic spectacle, drawing on, displaying, and even creating the patterns of social organization, shaping how the public understands itself, and defining the parameters of the community. Drawing on your knowledge of the material and cultural conditions of drama, write an essay in which you describe the civic functions of theater. Choose two of the three historical contexts we've studied to discuss in your essay. Extra Credit: To support your claims, also use evidence from Lysistrata, Everyman, and/or Fuente Ovejuna.
  2. The material spaces of theatrical performance directly and indirectly shape the drama that emerges, as well as the audience's experience of that drama. Drawing on your knowledge of the theatrical spaces characterisitic of the drama we've studied thus far, write an essay in which you describe what is characteristic of those spaces and how those characteristics impact the nature and experience of performance. You should consider the construction of the theater itself, the locations of theatrical performance, the role of the audience, and the kinds of drama produced. Choose two of the three historical contexts we've studied to discuss in your essay. Remember that not all theater takes place in purpose-built theaters, and not all theaters are for public use!
  3. Over time, theater history takes on recognizable narratives of development, becoming more professional—that is, less organized by amateur interest and more systematic, organized by experts or those skilled in a specialized field. Guilds are important players in this narrative of theater history. Drawing on your knowledge of the three periods of theater history we've discussed thus far, discuss the trend towards professionalization—or the changing face of professionalization—in ancient Greek theater, Medieval Western theater, and theater of the Spanish Golden Age.
  4. Medieval theater is known for the ways in which it blurs the boundaries between the real and the representation, between the everyday and the festival, between the identity of the actors and the roles they played, between the worldly and the otherworldly, and so on. Drawing on your knowledge of Medieval theater history and the cultural context it emerged from, discuss this peculiar characteristic. You should consider our discussion of anachronism and simultaneous performance in your response, as well. Extra Credit: To support your claims, also use evidence from Everyman and/or the supplementary handouts of primary source material I provided.
  5. Tragedy and comedy as we know them emerged in part from ancient Greek theater; by the Spanish Golden Age, a new form—the comedia—had become popular. Compare the conventions of tragedy, comedy, and Spanish comedia. In your essay, be sure to describe the defining characteristics of each form, being careful to differentiate Greek Old and New Comedy from the “New Comedy” of the Spanish comedias.
  6. Throughout early theater history, women were routinely barred from the stage, and in many cases, their presence in the theater was also strictly regulated. Yet, women are often represented in drama, and many may have worked in less visible occupations. Drawing on your knowledge of public, private, and court theater from the periods we've studied thus far, discuss women's roles in, on, and to theater. Extra Credit: To support your claims, also use evidence from Lysistrata and/or Fuente Ovejuna.
  7. Extra Credit Essay (Complete only after the required portions of the exam have been completed): Theater history depends on the ability of scholars to study it, which means that it rests on documents. Many of these documents have been lost to time; many popular forms of performance, especially pagan performance traditions, never enjoyed such documentation. Discuss what we don't know (or what we know less of) about theater history, what has been lost in time or neglected as less important. Pay particular attention to ancient Greek theater history and pagan traditions, including the carnivalesque, in Medieval Europe. You might also consider strolling players, household amateur performances, and Italian performance traditions like comedia del'arte.

Final Exam Form

Matching Section

For the final exam, I will give a matching section on the last day of class, which you may complete in teams of two-three. You may not use your books, but you may use each other! The following terms represent an exhaustive list of our reading for the second half of term.

royal progress household players liberties theatrical enclosure
feudalism capitalism pit personation
anti-theatricalism gentrification court masque theatrical elitism
interregnum or commonwealth period theatrical monopoly shutter-and-groove scenery tennis court theaters
restoration comedy forestage proscenium manager
Pleiade poets heroic drama unities baroque
single perspective set stage seating mimetic comedy ludic comedy
commedia dell'arte declamatory acting style derogation (of actors' status) national theater
parterre fairground theaters comedie ballet Collier controversy
ballad opera Licensing Act David Garrick character (representation of in acting style)
type (representation of in acting style) sentimental drama boxes (seating) gallery (seating)
rationalism middle classes or bourgeoisie satire proscenium
melodrama spectacle realism popular theater
painterly scenic design box set drop curtain gaslight
electrical lighting domestic verisimilitude classical acting styles director
pictorial realism naturalism three-dimensional set design fourth wall
new theater Stanislavski's method symbolism or symbolist theater photographic scene design
art for art's sake (aestheticism) non-illusionism [Craig, Appia]

Essay Section

I will ask you to complete four of the essay questions on the exam. Below are questions that may appear on the exam. Your essays should be accurate and supported with evidence from your readings. You will be able to bring in a 3x5" notecard containing any notes you might wish to take; however, the exam itself will be closed-book. One of the essays will be required.

  1. The history of theater is closely bound up with the social and cultural contexts from which theater emerges. Write an essay in which you describe how at least three important social or cultural contexts shaped the theater that emerged. What are the important ideological, technological, social, or cultural changes that marked the periods in theatrical history that we've studied in the second half of the term, and what was their impact? You might choose to focus on significant events, particular technological developments, important figures, or significant laws to focus your essay.
  2. [REQUIRED] The material spaces of theatrical performance directly and indirectly shape the drama that emerges, as well as the audience's experience of that drama. Drawing on your knowledge of the dominant features of the many theatrical spaces we've studied in the second half of the term, write an essay in which you describe the evolution of the theater as a physical space from the Reniassance to the modern period. Choose two of the three historical contexts we've studied to discuss in your essay. Some ideas to consider are seating, the shifting size of the forestage, the shape and location of the theater, the significant changes to the building itself, lighting, and the key developments in stage/set design. [EXTRA CREDIT: discuss three historical contexts]
  3. From the early modern to the modern periods, theater became a truly professional institution—more systematic, organized by recognized professionals and those skilled in specialized fields. From the Renaissance to the modern period, theater began to acquire its own history as well as an aesthetic status or legitimacy it had not previously possessed. At the same time, the stage and its properties were frequent targets for criticism both moral and political. Describe the continuing trend of theatrical professionalization from the Renaissance through the modern period. You should consider the origins of the professional actor in the household player; the transition from feudalism to capitalism; the changing status of the actor's profession in the face of clerical anti-theatricalism; the function of the actor/manager, the director, and the stage designer; the role of the monopoly; the changes in audience construction; and the legislation affecting the stage.
  4. From the Renaissance to the end of the 18th century, court theater and its descendants rose and fell; by the 19th century, theater had become a popular institution and a forum for the concerns of the middle class. Discuss the key components of court theater (as distinct from popular, commercial theater) and its function from the Renaissance to the seventeenth century and the Restoration. You should include reference to the royal progress, the court masque, the opera, the Pleiade poets, and the comedie-ballet.
  5. While women were never wholly absent from the theater, it was only n the early modern period that they became visible on the professional stage—though this happened at different times in different contexts. Discuss the history of the actress in the early modern period (Renaissance-18th century), paying special care to address the English context, the French context, and the role of women in court theater prior to their appearance on the professional stage. [EXTRA CREDIT: Substantially incorporate The Rover and/or Tartuffe into your response.]
  6. In many ways, the history of theater is a history of iconoclasm, of deliberate attempts to confront and reshape the conventions of previous movements, generations, theatrical ideologies and practices. Describe the new theatrical movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries and their relationship to one another, focusing particularly on the role of realsim and versimilitude in those developments. You should particularly discuss realism, naturalism, and the non-illusionist developments of the modern period, as well as the shifting concepts of psychology and character that informed these theatrical developments. [EXTRA CREDIT: discuss the 18th century as part of this history of iconoclasm.]
  7. In the second half of the term, we've read work by a wide variety of playwrights; choose three authors and/or their plays to discuss with reference to the cultural contexts that inform them. If you discuss Behn, you might discuss gender or the Restoration comedy; if you discuss Moliere, you might discuss his important contributions to the theater, or the controversy surrounding his work; if you discuss Gay, you might discuss the ballad opera or the role of satire; if you discuss Ibsen, you might discuss realism.
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