Theatre Timeline 19th Century

  • Romanticism

    Mainly inspired by the late-great William Shakespeare, many people wanted to push the limits of what they could perform or write for theatrical productions. Thus, leading to the creation of the romanticism movement. Romanticism mainly focused on the story of love and tragedy with the added elements of mysticality and imagination. This period saw many successful productions, such as Hernani, The Japanese Lily, and A Good Deed Is Never Wasted (UCF Libraries).
  • La Scala

    La Scala
    La Scala opened its doors in 1778, located in Milan, Italy, and was a popular landmark for theatre in the 1800s. Many of La Scala's theatrical productions involved the works of Giuseppe Verdi. In 1872, Milan would claim La Scala as their own property. After the theatre was bombed during World War II, the theatre opened up a couple of years later, in 1946. Many years later, the theatre was under renovation in 2004 and has still left a lasting impact on theatre history (Tikkanen, La Scala).
  • The Walnut Street Theatre

    The Walnut Street Theatre
    The Walnut Street Theatre opened its doors in the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 2nd, 1809. As of today, The Walnut Street Theatre is the oldest English-speaking theatre that is still running. Many stars, most notably William Shatner, Ethel Waters, and The Marx Brothers, have all performed at the theatre. Their first production, titled The Rivals, had former president Thomas Jefferson in attendance that night (History of the Theatre)
  • Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo
    Victor Hugo was one of the most critical influencers in the romanticism genre of theatre. He gained popularity with his production of Hernani in 1830, which depicts the hero who revolts against society with a driven passion for love. The playwright would spark the rise of the romanticism genre for the next fifty years in France. However, his most popular novel would be the Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1931 (Bay, Developments in the 19th Century).
  • Edgar Allen Poe

    Edgar Allen Poe
    Edgar Allen Poe, one of the most influential writers of all time, inserted many horror and violent elements into his stories. Some of his most famous works include The Tell-Tale Heart, The Raven, and The Pit and the Pendulum. Allen Poe inspired many authors to follow his writing style, the most notable being Stephen King. His works are still remembered and often referenced in many movies and films, most notably the Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror (The Edgar Allen Poe Society of Baltimore).
  • Realism

    With the oncoming rise of realism in theatre, playwrights would find many ways to incorporate real-life situations into a natural form of art. We would see a surge in this genre in the 1850s, originating from French writer Gustave Flaubert, who usually depicts most of his novels from realistic depictions of society. This form of theatre spread quickly throughout many countries, such as France, Germany, and the United States (Brittanica, The Editors of Encyclopedia).
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin

    Uncle Tom's Cabin
    Uncle Tom’s Cabin, written by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a novel that centers around the lives of enslaved people during the pre-Civil War era in the United States. Uncle Tom, the main character, is shown as an enslaved person who is dealt with severe injustice and cruelty in his society. This novel shows the horrors of slavery and would drastically change the public’s eye on the topic in the United States (CliffsNotes, Book Summary).
  • W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan

    W.S Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan
    The dynamic duo of Gilbert and Sullivan were some of the most prolific composers during the 19th century. Gilbert and Sullivan mainly set their style of a musical in a comedic fashion, with their most popular operas being The Yeomen of the Guard, The Mikado, and The Pirates of Penzance. Their twenty-five-year-long relationship remains relevant, as their operas are still performed (The Beginner's Guide to Gilbert and Sullivan).
  • Richard Wagner

    Richard Wagner
    Although he sparked controversy with his anti-Semitic association, Richard Wagner still remained a prolific composer in his own right. His most famous work is titled The Ring of the Nibelung, which was tied into four musical operas focused on revenge, power, and greed. Wagner greatly influenced Western music and remains relevant today (Richard Wagner).
  • A Doll's House

    A Doll's House
    A Doll's House, written by Henrik Ibsen, is commonly referred to as one of the best theatre productions of the 19th century. The play is about Nora Helmer, a married woman with three kids. Nora feels like her marriage isn't as she intended but doesn't have the strength to walk out. Ultimately, she eventually runs away from her family and attempts to start a new life. The play has grown to be an influence on the realism genre (Russo, Everything you Need to Know About a Doll's House on Broadway).