What is the difference between Theatre and performing art (Fine Arts)?
Theater is a performing art, but what is excatly differentiates it from the performing artworks done by studio artists ( including the ones performed in museums for example). Or, why couldn't we call the performing art at the museum "A play" or "theatre"?
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Theater is performed but it follows a different aesthetic than “performance art.” Theater is drama and drama is compelled to tell a story. Drama has three essential ingredients that are required in any piece of fiction. There must be a hero; the hero must have a goal, and there must be an obstacle for the hero to overcome to achieve that goal. Without these ingredients there is no conflict and without conflict there is no drama. Performance art is less concerned with story and more concerned with making a statement with impact. As an aesthetic, it is art, as in fine art, and so is far more of a visual aesthetic. It must be concerned with elements such as line, color, tone and shape. It is necessarily thematic, as is drama, but it need not have a plot. Drama can happen in a space with no light and it can happen without the visual element, such as radio plays and plays in books. Performance art is exhibitory, which is why it usually happens in museums. Theater and performance art often converge, one becoming the other and vice versa, but drama begins with the playwright and performance art begins with the visual artist.
Performing Arts is a large umbrella that includes Theatre, Music, and Dance. Fine Arts typically refers to the Visual Arts.
According to Aristotle (Ancient Greece), there were six essential dramatic elements: Plot, Character, Theme, Language, Music and Spectacle. While theatre artists might debate whether all six are absolutely necessary, you can easily see that all are still a major part of a theatrical event.
Using this list to compare Theatre to Fine Arts, it is evident that there are significant differences. A visual artist may include some of these elements in their work, but I can't think of a single piece of visual art that uses all of them.
Of course, the main difference is that theatre, as a performing art, is meant to be performed and viewed at the same time. A piece of visual art is created first and then viewed. Unless, of course, you are talking about performance art, which is a hybrid of theatre and fine art. In this form, the creation of the art is meant to be viewed, but the emphasis is more on the visual than on plot, character or language.
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