Today's First Folio Theatre Facts:

What is Metatheatre?
Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM has one of the most recognized examples of metatheatre in history - it is a theater play that refers to the existence of theater itself.
Metatheatre is defined as the aspects of a play that draw attention to its nature as drama or theater, such as an actor directly addressing the audience, expressing awareness of an audience, or acknowledging that the people performing the show are actors.

  • Metatheatre has been a dimension of drama ever since its invention in Greece 2,500 years ago. In fact, the terms "metatheatre" or "metadrama" use the Greek prefix "meta—", which means "beyond" or "about". So metatheatre is theater about theater, or drama about drama.*

  • The term "metatheatre" was conceived by Jewish American playwright, essayist and theater critic Lionel Abel in 1963, referring to when a character is aware of their own theatricality. He described metatheatre as reflecting comedy and tragedy at the same time, where the audience can laugh at a character while also feeling empathetic.*

  • Shakespeare was renowned for incorporating metatheatre into his plays. Examples include the play-within-the-play devices of Hamlet, Love's Labour's Lost, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Henry IV Part 1. In many of Shakespeare's plays, characters directly address the audience, or exposit on the nature of theater itself.**

  • In modern theater, metatheatre has led to a performance convention known as "breaking the fourth wall." This phrase comes from the relationship to the mise-en-scène behind a proscenium arch of a stage. When a scene is set indoors and three of the walls of its room are presented onstage, the "fourth" wall is the invisible, imagined wall that separates the actors from the audience. So if characters on stage "see" the audience and interact with them, they are "breaking the fourth wall."*

  • Instances of metatheatre can also be found in plays by many of the realist playwrights, including Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg, and Anton Chekhov. Chekhov's The Seagull, in which the first act revolves around the characters' preparations for staging an experimental play, is framed by discussions of art, the imagination, and the responsibilities of the dramatist.**

*Information from "Metatheatre" from Wikipedia, 2022.
Our 2021-2022 season is sponsored by Alan & Susan Becker
and Daniel Nowaczynski & Nancy Ziegler

First Folio's programs are sponsored in part by
grants from the Illinois Arts Council (a State agency)
and the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation. 

First Folio Theatre is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. 
All performances take place on the grounds of the Mayslake Peabody Estate, which is owned and operated by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. Indoor shows are presented in Mayslake Hall, a 30-room Tudor Revival style mansion originally built by coal baron Francis S. Peabody. Completed in 1922, the mansion is on the National Registry of Historic Places.

First Folio Theatre is fully accessible with reserved ADA seating available and assisted listening devices available for all indoor performances. To request ADA seating, please contact the Box Office at 630-986-8067.
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