Theatre is a collaborative form of performing art that uses live performers or actors, 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. The specific place of the performance is also named by the word "theatre" as derived from the Ancient Greek(théatron, "a place for viewing").
The history of theatre charts the development of theatre over the past 2,500 years. While per-formative elements are present in every society, it is customary to acknowledge a distinction between theatre as an art form and entertainment. The history of theatre is primarily concerned with the origin and subsequent development of the theatre as an autonomous activity. Since classical Athens in the 6th century BC, vibrant traditions of theatre have flourished in cultures across the world.
Greek theatre, most developed in Athens, is the root of the Western tradition; theatre is in origin a Greek word. It was part of a broader culture of theatricality and performance in classical Greece that included festivals, religious rituals, politics, law, athletics and gymnastics, music, poetry, weddings, funerals, and symposia.
Western theatre developed and expanded considerably under the Romans. The Roman historian Livy wrote that the Romans first experienced theatre in the 4th century BC, with a performance by Etruscan actors.The first important works of Roman literature were the tragedies and comedies.
As the Western Roman Empire fell into decay through the 4th and 5th centuries, the seat of Roman power shifted to Constantinople and the Eastern Roman Empire, today called the Byzantine Empire.The true importance of the Byzantines in theatrical history is their preservation of many classical Greek texts and the compilation of a massive encyclopaedia called the Suda, from which is derived a large amount of contemporary information on Greek theatre.
Theatre in the 19th century is divided into two parts: early and late. The early period was dominated by melodrama and Romanticism.The later period of the 19th century saw the rise of two conflicting types of drama: realism and non-realism, such as Symbolism and precursors of Expressionism.