The History of Live Entertainment

When we think of live entertainment, our minds automatically go to the present with such performances as music concerts, sporting events, or Broadway shows. Yet, the history of live entertainment goes back quite a long way.

In the Medieval times, the kings and queens thrived on live entertainment and involved such showings as tournaments, jousts, and mystery plays. The poor of the region also had their share of live entertainment and was found in the form of traveling minstrel shows, jugglers, and plays.

The popular entertainers of this time period included such individuals as jesters, who were considered the fools or clowns at medieval courts; mummers, who were costumed dancers at festivals; minstrels and troubadours, who were traveling musicians singing of legends and love; traveling actors, and jugglers.

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Many ancient civilizations had a love for competition and sports. Often, they would hold jousting tournaments, which were matches between the knights. They were lively spectators of contests such as wrestling, bowling, and archery as well as animal fighting, which included dog and cock fighting or bull baiting.

The early Egyptians had live entertainment in the form of wrestling and gymnastics. Dancing and singing was considered a spectator sport and was performed for individuals in their own homes or the palace. The Egyptian artwork shows many details of the many forms of live entertainment they participated in.

The Romans had live entertainment unlike any other race. They enjoyed such shows as chariot races and gladiator fights, all seen in an amphitheatre setting. Gladiators were such people as slaves or criminals who were highly trained in fighting and were required fight to the death. Aside from gladiator fights, there were also animal fights and man vs. animal fights using bears, lions, or elephants.

The ancient Mayans enjoyed watching a ball game in which the game was played in a ball court. This type of ball court was seen in all Mayan cities. This was one type of entertainment in which the loser would lose his life.

The early Chinese played a spectator game similar to soccer called Cuju, which was played in celebration at court feasts. It could comprise of two teams playing against each other or just two players against each other. The Lion dance was also a live performance, which dates back to the Han Dynasty of 205 B.C. The performers portray a lion and the dance is performed to represent happiness.

Early live entertainment of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries includes such things as theater, magic shows, ballparks, and circus performances. Minstrel shows, vaudeville, burlesque, and comedy shows were also quite popular. During periods of war in the United States, spectators were know to actually sit and watch the fighting taking place as a source of entertainment!

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