- Slides: 15
Ancient Greek Drama
Origins of theatre l Theatre began with religious festivals in honor of Dionysus l During the spring, they held a festival in Athens called “City Dionysia” l Men would perform songs to welcome and honor Dionysus (these were called dithyrambs) l Plays were only presented during this festival l Chorus-group of about fifty who sang and danced l Athenians spread these festivals to its allies in order to promote a common identity l There were three types of plays: tragedy, comedy, and satyr
Origins of Tragedy l Thespis l Known (6 th century BC) as the “father of drama” l Won a prize for tragedy in 535 B. C. l Considered the first Greek actor and originator of tragedy l Was said to have introduced the first actor and thus, dialogue l Tragedy originally meant “Goat song, ” possibly because goats were sacrificed to Dionysus prior to performances
l Aristotle’s Poetics is the first known theory about Greek tragedy. He says tragedy evolved from dithyrambs, songs sung in praise of Dionysus l Dithyrambs were originally frenzied and improvised l By the 600 s B. C. , the poet Arion is credited with organizing the song into a formal narrative with a chorus l l Three main tragedy poets: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides
Aeschylus l 525 -426 B. C. l Added a second actor to the stage l Create trilogies based on unified themes
Sophocles l 496 -406 B. C. l Added a third actor to the stage l Fixed the number of chorus to 15 l Introduced painted scenery l Created each play of a trilogy as separate in nature
Euripides l 486 -406 B. C. l Reduced the participation of the Chorus in the main action on stage l Relied on heavy prologues and deux ex machina endings l Deus ex machina: literally, “god from the machine; ” where an actor playing a god was lowered onto the stage using a crane. The gods were used to solve “unsolvable” problems at the end of the play.
Origins of Comedy l There is no trace of the origin of comedy l Comedic plays were derived from imitation l Aristophanes wrote the majority of comedy plays l 11 surviving plays by Aristophanes
The Theatre Structure l l l Theatron: seeing place where audience sat Orchestra: Circular dancing place where actors and Chorus performed. Thymele: altar to Dionysus in center of orchestra. Skene: building used as a dressing room. Proskenion: front of skene building which served as backdrop Parados: entrance to theater used by Chorus.
Actors l Hypocritesl Actor the answerer-playing roles and dramatist originally the sameplaywright took leading role l Never have more than three-changed characters (protagonist, deuteragonist, tritagonist) l All male performers; played female roles as well.
Costumes and Masks Long flowing robes were colored symbolically l High boots, often with raised soles l Larger than life masks, made of linen, wood, and/or cork l Identified age, gender, and emotion l Used exaggerated features, such as large eyes and an open mouth l
Music and Dance l Choral odes often had musical accompaniment: l Flute l Lyre l Percussion l Dance was defined as expressive rhythmical movement
Role of the Chorus l l l To set the overall mood and express theme Add beauty to the play through song and dance Give background information Divides the action and offers reflection and commentary on events Questions, advises, and expresses opinion— usually through the chorus leader
Conventions of Theatre l Unities l l Messenger - l Action- simple plot Time- single day Place- one scene throughout Tells news happening away from scene Report acts of violence not allowed to be seen Limitations of Theater Continuous presence of Chorus No intermissions, continuous flow of action and choral odes - No lighting; no curtains -