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Theatre is that branch of the performing arts concerned with the creation of stories or narratives for (or with) an audience using combinations of acting, speech, gesture, music, dance, object manipulation, sound and spectacle — indeed, any one or more elements of the other performing arts. In addition to standard narrative dialogue style, theatre takes such forms as opera, musicals, ballet, mime, kabuki, classical Indian dance, Chinese opera, mummers' plays, improvisation, story theater and pantomime.

The term theatre (from the Greek theatron) enjoys the distinction of two spellings: "theatre" in British English and "theater" in American English. There is no technical distinction between the meanings of the two spellings, however most theatre artists prefer the English spelling because it creates a historical nod to the ancient Greek term. Some also use the American spelling to designate a theatre building and the English term to reference the art itself, as in the "art of theatre".

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Broadway
New York City has a strong entertainment and performing arts culture. The city is important in the American film industry. Manhatta (1920), an early avant-garde film, was filmed in the city. Today, New York City is the second largest center for the film industry in the United States. The city has more than 2,000 arts and cultural organizations and more than 500 art galleries of all sizes. The city government funds the arts with a larger annual budget than the National Endowment for the Arts. Wealthy industrialists in the 19th century built a network of major cultural institutions, such as the famed Carnegie Hall and Metropolitan Museum of Art, that would become internationally established. The advent of electric lighting led to elaborate theatre productions, and in the 1880s New York City theaters on Broadway and along 42nd Street began showcasing a new stage form that came to be known as the Broadway musical. Strongly influenced by the city's immigrants, productions such as those of Harrigan and Hart, George M. Cohan and others used song in narratives that often reflected themes of hope and ambition. The city's 39 largest theatres (with more than 500 seats) are collectively known as "Broadway," after the major thoroughfare that crosses the Times Square theatre district. This area is sometimes referred to as The Main Stem, The Great White Way or The Realto. The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, which includes Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Opera, the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, the Vivian Beaumont Theatre, the Juilliard School and Alice Tully Hall, is the largest performing arts center in the United States.

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Lillian Gish
Credit: Bain News Service

A portrait of Lillian Gish from 1921. Gish was one of the first female movie stars, called "The First Lady of the Silent Screen", starting in 1912 and continuing to appear in films until 1987. The American Film Institute named Gish 17th among the greatest female stars of all time and awarded her a Life Achievement Award, making her the only recipient who was a major figure in the silent era. Remarkably, she never won an Academy Award for her work, although she did receive a Special Academy Award in 1971.

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William Shakespeare

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Tomb of Beckett at Cimetière de Montparnasse
Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906 - 1989) was an Irish writer, dramatist and poet. Beckett's work is stark and fundamentally minimalist. As a student, assistant, and friend of James Joyce, Beckett is considered by many one of the last modernists; as an inspiration to many later writers, he is sometimes considered one of the first postmodernists. He is also considered one of the key writers in what Martin Esslin called "Theatre of the Absurd". He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation". Beckett was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984. He died in Paris of respiratory problems.

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George Bernard Shaw
In order to fully realize how bad a popular play can be, it is necessary to see it twice.

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Theatre

History: Sanskrit PlaysNatya ShastraNatya Shastra of BharataKoodiyattamBhasaKālidāsaKathakaliBhavabhutiHarshaChinese theatreCantonese OperaBeijing OperaRamakienNohBunrakuKabukiButohTheatre of Ancient GreeceTheatre of ancient RomeMedieval theatreCommedia dell'ArteEnglish Renaissance theatreRestoration comedyRestoration spectacularNeoclassicismTwentieth century theatre

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Types: ComedyDramaMusical theatreHip-Hop theater

Philosophy: AristotlePoeticsKonstantin StanislavskiAntonin ArtaudBertolt BrechtOrson WellesPeter BrookJerzy GrotowskiMeisner techniqueStanislavsky SystemMethod actingPresentational acting

Organization: Community theatreDinner theatreFringe theatreSummer stock theatreRegional theatreOff-Off-BroadwayOff-BroadwayOff West EndBroadway theatreWest End theatre

Unions: Actors' Equity AssociationSociety of Stage Directors and ChoreographersInternational Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Awards: Back Stage West Garland AwardsDrama Desk AwardEvening Standard AwardsGreen Room AwardHans-Reinhart-RingHelpmann AwardJoseph Jefferson AwardLaurence Olivier AwardsLondon Critics' Circle Theatre AwardsLucille Lortel AwardManchester Evening NewsMatilda AwardNew York Innovative Theatre AwardsMolière AwardObie AwardOvation AwardsSangeet Natak Academy AwardTheatre Pasta Theatre AwardsTony Award

Stagecraft: Theatre directorPlaywrightActorProduction teamSet designerLighting designerCostume designerSound designDramaturgStage managementProduction managerTechnical theatre

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