3. Where a brief summary of the evolution undergone by the concept of theater in the mind of the Church, from her earliest times to the present day, is made.
The Greek classics looked down upon theater and regarded actors as people of low birth. Plato, for example, was a prominent enemy of the stage.
As for Christianity, it is known that the early Church (Councils and the Fathers in the lead) showed a continuous hostility against theater. Tertullian (De Spectaculis) and Saint Augustine (Enarrationes in Psalmos; De Fide et Operibus; De Vera Religione; etc.) were perhaps, among many others, its most bitter critics. In fact, the enmity (including even that of famous persons such as Bossuet) lasted until after the seventeenth century, despite inconsistent periods of respect and even cooperation.
It should be noted, as an important historical curiosity, that in the Middle Ages Saint Thomas was one of the few theologians who upheld the honor of theater and of the craft of acting, as long as morality was taken into account (S. T., II-II, q. 168, a. 3). The Saint even defended the legality of the stipends received by the actors who acted honestly (S. T., II-II, q. 87, a. 2, ad. 2).
A careful study of the reasons for this current of thought is not relevant here. One can arguably say, generally speaking, that the high degree of immorality reached by theater since the classical era and early days of the Church was the cause of the multitude of prohibitions thrown against it. In effect, the complex and lascivious Dionysian milieu was involved in theater, along with its orgies, its phallic cults, and deeply obscene stage performances. Not to mention the bloody and cruel spectacle of the games at the circus. No wonder the Reformation was no less hostile than the Catholic Church to theater.