All Episodes

Zola, France, Realism, and Naturalism

19th century playwrights remade the French theater – first with Realism, then Naturalism.

Race Melodrama and Minstrel Shows

19th century racism contributed to a unique and troubling performance culture in America.

North America Gets a Theater...Riot

How did American theater develop after the Revolutionary War?

The Rise of Melodrama

In the 18th century, audiences were ready for some really, really dramatic theater.

Why So Angry, German Theater?

After Germany was unified, we got Sturm, Drang, Weimar Classicism and Goethe.

England's Sentimental Theater

English Sentimental Comedies weren't that funny, but they were definitely sentimental.

China, Zaju, and Beijing Opera

Let's discuss wizard theater and the rise of classical Chinese theater and Beijing Opera.

All Night Demon Dance Party - Kathakali

Learn about the all-night dance shows in India that culminate in killing a Demon.

Japan, Kabuki, and Bunraku

Under the Shoguns, we get Kabuki and Bunraku. And Samurais get in trouble for watching it.

Pre-Columbian Theater, Spanish Empire, and Sor Juana

American theater existed before Europeans arrived, and the Spanish greatly influenced it.

Molière - Man of Satire and Many Burials

Meet Renaissance France's theater greatest playwright: Molière.

Rules, Rule-Breaking, and French Neoclassicism

The French Neoclassical revival involved a lot of rules – and some rule-breaking.

The Spanish Golden Age

Spain was having kind of a moment in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Where Did Theater Go?

In the 1600s, English theater had to go into hiding, from PURITANS. Enter: WOMEN.

English Theater After Shakespeare

Thanks, Shakespeare! Let's talk about Ben Jonson, revenge tragedies, and court masques.

Comedies, Romances, and Shakespeare's Heroines

Let's take a look at Shakespeare's comedies, romances, problem plays and heroines.

Shakespeare's Tragedies and an Acting Lesson

Shakespeare's tragedies had some jokes, and they changed the way tragedies were written.

Straight Outta Stratford-Upon-Avon – Shakespeare's Early Day

How a young Shakespeare stormed into London's theater – and wrote some pretty good plays.

The English Renaissance and NOT Shakespeare

Let's take a look at London theater and the playwrights who set the stage for Shakespeare.

Pee Jokes, the Italian Renaissance, Commedia Dell'Arte

Painting, music, architecture, and plays with fart jokes were all thriving from 1300-1500.

Just Say Noh. But Also Say Kyogen

Noh, and its counterpart Kyogen are some of the most revered theater forms in Japan.

Get Outside and Have a (Mystery) Play

After European churches changed their minds on theater, drama became an outdoor activity.

Hrotsvitha, Hildegard, and the Nun who Resurrected Theater

Meet Hrotsvitha: a cool, 10th century nun/playwright who influenced a new era of theater.

The Death and Resurrection of Theater as... Liturgical Drama

As Christianity rose in the west, theater declined. But it returned – via Catholic Mass!

Nostrils, Harmony with the Universe, and Ancient Sanskrit Th

Thanks to Bharata Muni, we can tell you quite a bit about Ancient Sanskrit theater.

Roman Theater with Plautus, Terence, and Seneca

Roman dramas lifted stories and characters directly from Greek dramatists like Menander.

Dances to Flute Music and Obscene Verse. It's Roman Theater,

Turns out, Roman theater looks A LOT like Greek theater.

Greek Comedy, Satyrs, and Aristophanes

How did Greek comedy evolve out of tragedies? And how did that become real comedy?

Tragedy Lessons from Aristotle

Let's look at Aristotle's rules for theater, and how they can be used for catharsis.

Thespis, Athens, and The Origins of Greek Drama

Western theater arose in Athens, Greece from religious rituals – including RITUAL MADNESS.

What Is Theater?

1.What is theater? And 2. Is it spelled -re or -er? The first question is a bit trickier.

About Crash Course Theater

Welcome to Crash Course Theater! Are you in drama club? Want to know about the history of theater? Maybe learn some theater history? Have a lot of fun? This is the series for you! We learn about the history and workings of the dramatic arts, together.

Other shows you may enjoy

Great Performances
Live From Lincoln Center
Austin City Limits
WQED Sessions
Craft in America