Etymology
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theatre (n.)

chiefly British English spelling of theater (q.v.); for spelling, see -re.

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Tony 

1947, awards given by American Theatre Wing (New York), from nickname of U.S. actress, manager, and producer Antoinette Perry (1888-1946).

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starlet (n.)

1825, "small star," from star (n.) + diminutive suffix -let. Meaning "promising young female performer" is from 1911 [Italian soprano Emma Trentini (1878-1959), so called in "The Theatre" magazine, March 1911].

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constructivism (n.)

1926, in reference to an abstract artistic and theatrical movement, emphasizing machines and mechanical devices, begun in Russia c. 1920, from Russian konstruktivizm; see constructive + -ism. Related: Constructivist.

THE out-and-out Constructivists have announced that the stage setting not only must be stripped of every shred of adventitious decoration but must be conceived anti-decoratively. [Sheldon Cheney, "Constructivism," Theatre Arts, vol. xi, 1927] 
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Macbeth 

masc. proper name, Gaelic, literally "son of life." The first reference to bad luck associated with Shakespeare's "Macbeth," and to avoidance of naming it, is from 1896, alludes to an incident of 1885, and says the tradition goes back "so far as modern memory can recall." The original superstition seems to have pertained particularly to the witches' scenes, which were played up dramatically in 19c. productions, and especially to Matthew Locke's 17c. music to accompany the witches' song, which was regularly played through the 19th century.

It is strange how the effect of this music has exerted such a long surviving influence on members of the dramatic profession. It is still considered most unlucky to sing, hum, or whistle the witch airs in the theatre except in the ways of business. [Young-Stewart, "The Three Witches," in The Shakespearean, Sept. 15, 1896]
If you number an actor or actress among your friends, and desire to retain his or her friendship, there are three things you positively must not do, especially if the actor is of the old school. Do not whistle in the theatre, do not look over his shoulder into the glass while he is making up, and do not hum the witch's song from "Macbeth." ... [O]lder actors would almost prefer to lose their salary than go on in "Macbeth" on account of this song. They believe that it casts spells upon the members of the company. ["Some Odd Superstitions of the Stage," Theatre magazine, July 1909]
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theater (n.)

late 14c., "open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles and plays," from Old French theatre (12c., Modern French théâtre, improperly accented) and directly from Latin theatrum "play-house, theater; stage; spectators in a theater" (source also of Spanish, Italian teatro), from Greek theatron "theater; the people in the theater; a show, a spectacle," literally "place for viewing," from theasthai "to behold" (related to thea "a view, a seeing; a seat in the theater," theates "spectator") + -tron, suffix denoting place. (In Old English glosses, theatrum is rendered by wafungstede "a place for sights").

Meaning "building where plays are shown" is from 1570s in English. Transferred sense of "plays, writing, production, the stage" is from 1660s. Generic sense of "place of action" is from 1580s; especially "region where war is being fought" (1914). Spelling with -re arose late 17c. and prevailed in Britain after c. 1700 by French influence, but American English retained or revived the older spelling in -er.

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-re 

word-ending that sometimes distinguish British from American English. In the U.S., the change from -re to -er (to match pronunciation) in words such as fibre, centre, theatre began in late 18c. and became standard there over the next 25 years at the urging of Noah Webster (the 1804 edition of his speller, and especially his 1806 dictionary). The -re spelling, like -our, however, had the authority of Johnson's dictionary behind it and was unmoved in Britain, where it came to be a point of national pride, contra the Yankees.

Despite Webster's efforts, -re was retained in words with -c- or -g- (such as ogre, acre, the latter of which Webster insisted to the end of his days ought to be aker, and it was so printed in editions of the dictionary during his lifetime). The -re spelling generally is more justified by conservative etymology, based on French antecedents. It is met today in the U.S. only in Theatre as an element in the proper names of entertainment showplaces, where it is perhaps felt to inspire a perception of bon ton.

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nom (n.)

French for "name" (9c.), from Latin nomen (see nominal). It is used in various phrases in English, such as nom de guerre (1670s) "fictitious name used by a person engaged in some action," literally "war name" and formerly in France a name taken by a soldier on entering the service, and nom de théâtre "stage name" (1874). Nom de plume (1823) "pseudonym used by a writer," literally "pen name," is a phrase invented in English in imitation of nom de guerre. Fowler suggests it is "ridiculous for English writers to use a French phrase that does not come from France."

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vaudeville (n.)

1735, "a country song," especially one for the stage, from French vaudeville (16c.), alteration (by influence of ville "town") of vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire "(song of the) valley of Vire," in the Calvados region of Normandy, first applied to the popular satirical songs of Olivier Basselin, a 15c. poet who lived in Vire. The alternative explanation is that vaudevire derives from dialectal vauder "to go" + virer "to turn." From the popularity of the songs in France grew a form of theatrical entertainment based on parodies of popular opera and drama, interspersed with songs.

The Théatre du Vaudeville is rich in parodies, which follow rapidly upon every new piece given at the Opera, or at the Théatre Français. Their parody upon Hamlet is too ludicrous for description, but irresistibly laughable; and the elegaut light ballet of La Colombe Retrouvée [The Dove found again], I saw parodied at the Vaudeville as "La Maison Retrouvée" [The House found again], with a breadth of farce quite beyond the genius of Sadler's Wells. Some of the acting here, particularly that of the men, is exquisite; and the orchestra like all the orchestras in Paris is full and excellent. ["France in 1816," by Lady Morgan]

As a sort of popular stage variety entertainment show suitable for families, from c. 1881 in U.S., displaced by movies after c. 1914, considered dead from 1932.

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iron curtain (n.)

1794, the name of a fire-protection device to be used in theaters, a literal iron curtain; see iron (n.) + curtain (n.).

The new and exquisitely beautiful theatre of Drury-lane has the peculiar contrivance of an iron-curtain to secure the audience from all danger, in case of fire on the stage. Miss Farren, in the occasional epilogue, delivered on opening this new theatre, pleasantly informs the spectators that, should flames burst out in the part appropriated to the representation, they may comfort themselves with thinking that nothing can be burnt but the scenery and the actors. [The Monthly Review, June 1794]

From 1819 in the figurative sense "impenetrable barrier." In reference to the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe, famously coined by Winston Churchill March 5, 1946, in speech at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, but it had been used earlier in this context (for example by U.S. bureaucrat Allen W. Dulles at a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations, Dec. 3, 1945). The phrase had been used in the sense of "barrier at the edge of the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union" from 1920. During World War II, Goebbels used it in German (ein eiserner Vorhang) in the same sense. But its popular use in the U.S. dates from Churchill's speech.

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