4000 BC (approx.) Plays written called the Pyramid Texts (fifty-five texts found later in Egyptian pyramids and tombs.)
1887-1849 BC I-Kher-nefert, the first stage director and actor mentioned in recorded history, produces the Abydos Passion Play.
600 BC Arion, a Greek poet and musician, replaces improvised dithyramb (choral hymn) by writing formal lyrics.
534 BC Thespis, who is credited with introducing the first actor, wins first contest for tragic drama in Athens, Greece.
475 BC Aeschylus adds a second actor.
472 BC Aeschylus writes The Persians earliest surviving Greek play.
471 BC Sophocles introduces a third actor in tragedy and makes less use of the chorus.
465 BC A skene (a wooden hut or tent) is added to the theatre for use as a dressing room for actors and chorus.
449 BC First acting competition for tragic actors at City Dionysia.
442-441 BC Sophocles writes Antigone.
431 BC Euripides writes plays with parts for up to 11 actors.
335-323 BC Aristotle’s Poetics sets the standards for tragedy.
200-160 BC Roman playwrights, Plautus and Terence, write comedies.
4 BC Seneca, major Roman tragic dramatist, is born.
80 AD Most actors are slaves, or low-ranking members of society.
197-201 AD The Roman Catholic Church excommunicates actors.
197-202 AD Christians forbidden to attend theatre.
300 AD Earliest recorded religious plays.
600 AD Wandering troupes of performers, usually the troupe owner’s slaves, entertain in Britain and on the European continent.
1110 AD Earliest record of a miracle play, Dunstable, England.
1204 AD Religious drama performed outside the church.
1320 AD Ordinary people participate in performances as the medieval trade unions or guilds take over presentations of religious pageants. Rolling stages or pageant wagons used.
1375 AD English plays begin to be written in everyday language.
1402 First European acting company is given permission by Charles VI to occupy a permanent playhouse in the Ho’pital de la...