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Treading the boards

For around three and a half millennia people have been entertained via the medium of theatre and theatrical performance, in all its various forms, continues to be a vital part of world culture. Indeed, several styles have already been enshrined on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, including kabuki from Japan, Italy’s opera dei pupi (puppet theatre) and sbek thom (Khmer shadow theatre) from Cambodia.

Western theatre is thought to have originated in Athens during the 6th century BCE, with the word ‘theatre’ being Ancient Greek in origin and describing ‘a place for viewing’. Ancient Greek drama also gives us much of the technical terminology still used in modern Western theatre today. In the east, there are records dating to the Shang Dynasty of ancient China (circa 1600-1000 BCE) of theatrical entertainments. And historians place the beginnings of Sanskrit drama in India around the 2nd century BCE.

If you are one of the millions that love to be entertained by this art form then here’s the Flexicover Teams rundown on some of the world’s top theatre destinations.

Athens, Greece

The Greek capital is a destination not to be missed by any theatre aficionado. From grand theatres to local playhouses, it offers over a hundred stages to explore, some of which are old amphitheatres, such as The Odeon of Herodes Atticus located at the base of the Acropolis. Seating 6,000, the venue is open from May to early October so you can take in awe-inspiring classical tragedy under the night sky. For an indoor option, try the beautiful Pallas Theatre. For a truly unique experience, head up Mt Lycabettus where, 300m above sea level, the Lycabettus Theatre is located for not only a great performance but a great view of the city below too.

Vienna, Austria

With around 70 theatres located across the city, the art of acting has become deeply woven into Vienna’s culture making it an excellent destination for theatre buffs. Traditional venues like the Burg Theatre showcase plays with classical storylines and the celebrated Theatre an der Wien, built in 1801 (making it one of Vienna’s oldest), now primarily performs operatic theatre. There are old variety theatres Ronacher and Raimund Theatre, where English subtitles are projected onto screens at many of the shows, and at the Marionettentheatre Schloss Schonbrunn plays use beautiful wooden puppets to the delight of adults and children alike.

Tokyo, Japan

Japanese theatre is most famously known for kabuki with its elaborate costumes and dramatic makeup style. This is a classical Japanese drama-dance where all roles are played by men but due to the skill of the actors’ vocal expressions and gestures, it can be hard to believe that the female roles aren’t played by women. Kabuki-za is Japan’s most famous and grandest Kabuki theatre, dating from 1899. Headsets are available that give English translations as well as contextual background information. Other venues include Kokuritsu Gekijo and Shinbashi Enbu-jo. However, Tokyo’s scene is diverse and offers other traditional styles including the Japanese art of puppetry, bunraku.

Bogota, Colombia

Whilst the modern theatre scene is fairly new, traditionally, Colombian theatre derives much from Spanish zarzuela (a lyric-dance form) companies introduced during the colonial era of the 16th century. One of the world’s biggest theatre festivals, the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro, takes place every two years in Bogota and attracts millions of spectators. More than 800 performances, with a large number of international acts, make it the ideal place to explore not only Colombian theatre but also the cultures of other countries all in one location. Vibrant parades of Colombian artists and classical performances showcase the unique aspects of different theatre styles.

Toronto, Canada

This city has a deep history of theatre in its veins, hosting the third largest English-speaking theatre district in the world after London and New York. The district includes many landmark sites such as The Royal Alexandria Theatre, believed to be the oldest theatre still operating in North America, and the Tarragon Theatre, one of Canada’s main centres for contemporary playwriting. Toronto also offers a number of international shows to visit, along with a wide choice of local theatre and several annual festivals, including the Toronto Fringe Festival and SummerWorks, which focuses on small theatre productions and is Canada’s largest juried theatre festival.

So whatever type of performance you fancy taking in on your travels, be it musical, dance or dramatic, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.