I'm looking for some words to denote pre-modernistic old-fashioned theater tradition with wigs, bombastic style of expression and so on. This kind of theater we can still observe at the provinces. In Russian, for this purpose we use expressions which can be translated as naphthalene/cardboard performance, so I'm looking for some words like that.

  • Are you thinking of a period melodrama? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melodrama#18th-century_origins:_melodrama – Third News Jun 23 '14 at 9:18
  • Yes, melodrama may be le mot juste, if construed more in terms of writing and acting style than incidental music. Victorian melodrama was performed in large theaters made possible by advances in structural ironwork, which in turn required broader gesture and more intense lighting (limelight), which in turn required makeup, which was made with ham fat, hence giving rise to the term "ham acting," which may also be helpful here. – Brian Donovan Jun 23 '14 at 10:27
  • Wish we had a theater/performing arts SE. – Kris Jun 23 '14 at 11:48
  • Well, I mean modern performances which still use different cliches which they believe would make them look like classical royal productions or something like that. – BukvaCe Jun 23 '14 at 12:31

Perhaps you are looking for something like vaudeville.

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  • Well, vaudeville is more about specific genre, I think. It would be strange, if I said something like “present day performances at many St Petersburg theaters are vaudeville” – BukvaCe Jun 23 '14 at 12:23

One possibility is the term "neoclassical theatre." A fairly extensive discussion of this type of theatre appears in posting on the WiseGeek site, including an enumeration of "the Five Rules" of neoclassical theatre:

The attitude of the Neoclassicists toward excess and the individual led them to develop a strict set of guidelines for what was appropriate in the theatre. These included five basic rules: purity of form, five acts, verisimilitude or realism, decorum and purpose.

Since the heyday of neoclassical theatre was 1650–1725, I suppose attempts to invoke its sonorities and discipline might more appropriately be called "neo-neoclassical theatre," but as far as I know, no one actually uses that term.

Many other historical genres of theatre (including commedia dell'arte, melodrama, burlesque, and Restoration spctacular receive brief coverage in Wikipedia's article on History of Theatre. It's not a bad place to start your online research into types of now-anachronistic theatre.

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I think that you are referring to : vintage theaters.


  1. Characterized by excellence, maturity, and enduring appeal; classic.
  2. Old or outmoded.

Also: Box theater:

In theater, a box (also known as loge) is a small, separated seating area in the auditorium for a limited number of people.

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  • Josh61, thank you, but I'm looking for an adjective that would be more picturesque, not for a formal description. Any ideas? – BukvaCe Jun 23 '14 at 9:02

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