Modern Theater – Beginnings, Representatives, Concepts


What is the Teatro Moderno?

In the Modern Theater the stages are often very large and can hold many people. The stage is placed in the center with the audience usually in front and to the sides, but rarely behind. Some theaters, for example, the Cockpit theater in London is what they call a round theater, where the audience is around the stage so that there are views on each side.

Sometimes the audience can be way above the stage in the boxes, but that’s mostly for VIP access. Other than that, usually the audience chairs are placed to the sides and in front of the main stage.

In modern theater, in shows, such as The Lion King, the actors enter through the house entrances, drawing the audience in and getting their attention. In some low-key, informal, off-Broadway shows, actors or actresses may even call the audience up on stage to participate in the production.

Whether the audience is literally in the production or not, modern theater has a way of captivating the audience, regardless of the show. In Modern Theater some of the most popular are musicals. The 20th century was also known as the Golden Age of Broadway, where musicals were at the top of their game and almost everyone went to see them.

Comedies, operas and dramas also became very popular, and many new types of theater were introduced, such as political and religious theater.

How did the Modern Theater develop?

The theatrical developments of the 19th century were in many cases inspired by the social upheavals that followed the French Revolution. Throughout Europe the middle class took over theaters and made changes in repertory, style and decorum.

In countries that experienced revolutionary changes or failures, national theaters were founded to give expression to the views and values of the middle class, whose aspirations in these cases coincided with a more general movement for national liberation.

In Western Europe a different model of development emerged, which varied considerably in each country but had the unified features of a demand for realism on the stage, which meant a reflection of the lifestyle and domestic environment of the rising class in both its tragic and comic aspects.  Also complementary to this development was the demand for greater decorum and cleanliness in the auditorium.

In England, where the Industrial Revolution was more advanced than in other European countries, the middle class had to fight for its own theaters against the entrenched power of the two patent houses (licensed by the Crown), Drury Lane and Covent Garden, which had enjoyed an almost total monopoly of dramatic theater since 1660. Attempts were made as early as 1789 to evade legal restrictions on the construction of new theaters.

What is the Teatro Moderno

Types of Modern Theater

When someone mentions theatrical performance, the first things that probably come to mind are the great Broadway musicals such as Phantom of the Opera and the great plays of playwrights. Contemporary performance offers a wider diversity of experiences. While new or hybrid forms are continually evolving, the following are the major forms of performance in the last 50-100 years.


Plays have always been the core of theatrical performance. Plays have fixed texts, are written by playwrights, and are performed by actors under the vision of a director. Since Greece in 523 B.C., plays have raised questions about our humanity and reflected our foibles and follies.

While all civilizations can trace the formal tradition of storytelling to their earliest days, contemporary commercial playwrights represent a greater diversity than at any other time in history.

Playwrights of all genres, ethnicities, and races are regularly produced in the world’s leading commercial theaters. Highly successful playwrights have paved the way for opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to have their voices heard from the stage.


Musical theater dates back to John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera in 1728, but came to its current form in 1943 with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma. Musical theater tells stories in the same way as a play, but in addition to spoken text, it also includes sung text and dance to tell its story.

Legacy of this Theater 

Melodrama was one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the 19th century. Although it was often dismissed as a cultural product, there is a growing awareness of its importance in the history of theater and its influence on both film and television.

The modern perception of the world, it is based on a series of sensational news and happy endings, is perhaps a modern twist on the conventions of melodrama. Thus, the role of Victorian actresses in melodrama is a subject of interest in modern theater and performance.

Melodrama in French theater was to signify a dramatic musical piece. So from the beginning, melodrama actually involves drama with music. The first time the word melodrama was used in English was to describe a play in 1802 and its Tale of Mystery by Thomas Holcroft which was based on a French melodrama.

So melodrama becomes a legacy of modern theater, a descriptive term for plays that seem to contain certain conventions and characteristics that are repeated from play to play. So there is a fairly broad spectrum of dramas with nautical themes, dramas about industry or fallen women.

The generic term melodrama tends to be applied to a wide variety of 19th century plays. Melodrama became the most popular form of drama throughout the 19th century and is probably the most performed genre of drama not only in Britain, but also in Europe, Australasia and North America. So you’re really talking about a genre that has had an extraordinarily broad impact historically on the theater.

Representatives of this Theater 

The theater of the absurd is a style of theater that appeared in the twentieth century, representative of modern theater, at the time of the Second World War, and is characterized by a total break with the more classical genres, such as tragedy, comedy or tragicomedy, a break that is expressed, for example, in a total lack of continuity in the actions or in the absence of history, as in La Cantatrice chauve by Eugène Ionesco.

It is a genre that often deals with the absurdity of man and life. The origin of this movement is undoubtedly essentially linked to the fall of humanism and the trauma caused by the First World War. If this literary movement was inspired by the Surrealists and Dadaists, it is radically opposed to realism.

The highest representatives of the theater of the absurd in modern theater are Eugène Ionesco, Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Jean Genet and even Harold Pinter who are among the authors of these plays that have overturned the conventions of the genre. The peculiarity of Ionesco’s creations, for example, is that they reduce the characters to puppets, destroying all possibilities of communication between them, removing all coherence from the plot and all logic from what is said on stage.

In this theater of the absurd, representative of modern theater, the absurdity of the situations, but also the destructuring of the language itself have made this theatrical style a dramatic movement in its own right. This type of theater shows an existence devoid of meaning by staging the irrationality of all hope of communication, in which humanity is lost.