This introductory text acquaints students with the theatre its artistic and social functions, its development, and how each of the theatre arts functions as a unit. In the thirty-five years since it was first published, The Essential Theatre has established a reputation as one of the most comprehensive, authoritative surveys of the theatre in academia. The Essential Theatre works in tandem with its companion anthology, Plays for the Theatre (7th edition), edited by Oscar G. Brockett with Robert Ball. The scripts in Plays serve as the foundation for discussion of the various types of theatrical experience explored in The Essential Theatre. The Essential Theatre is intended to meet the needs of two courses: Introduction to Theatre (an overview serving as a foundation for students who expect to major in theatre, focusing on the theatrical experience from the viewpoint of the players) and Theatre Appreciation (an overview providing insight for non-majors, focusing on the theatrical experience from the viewpoint of audience members).