Plays were loose frameworks that provided situations, complications, and outcome of the action, around which the actors improvised. It would be several decades before the word "actress" appeared — , according to the Oxford English Dictionary, more than a century after the word "actor" was first used to denote a theatrical performer, supplanting the less professional-sounding "player. They could enlarge their audience by going on tour across the country, performing a repertoire of well-known plays, such as those by Shakespeare. Archived PDF from the original on May 11, As early as , American viewers had begun to make known their preference for greater naturalness on screen. Farces also rose dramatically in popularity after the 13th century. Actors in recurring roles are under contract to appear in multiple episodes of a series. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. As the Western Roman Empire fell into decay through the 4th and 5th centuries, the seat of Roman power shifted to Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire.