Theatre (or theater, see spelling differences) is a branch of the performing arts. Any performance may be considered theatre; however, as a performing art, theatre focuses almost exclusively on live performers enacting a self-contained drama before an audience. A performance qualifies as dramatic by creating a representational illusion. The word “theatre” derives from the Ancient Greek theatron (θέατρον) meaning “a place for viewing.” A theatrical performance may include music, dance and various elements of stagecraft such as costumes, sets, lights, stage properties and sound engineering, among others.
Modern Western theatre derives in large measure from ancient Greek drama, from which it borrows technical terminology, classification into genres, and many of its themes, stock characters, and plot elements. Theatre scholar Patrice Pavis defines theatricality,theatrical language, stage writing, and the specificity of theatre as synonymous expressions that differentiate theatre from the other performing arts, literature, and the arts in general. Theatre includes performances of plays and musicals. Although it can be defined broadly to include opera and ballet, those art forms are outside the scope of this article.