GREEK DRAMA Oedipus Rex Unit
BACKGROUND Greek drama reflected the flaws and values of Greek society. In turn, members of society internalized both the positive and the negative messages, and incorporated them into their daily lives. Concept of exposing society’s flaws and allowing the audience to learn from them— evident in theatre
BACKGROUND Athens—center of Greek culture City-state known for its cultural, political, and military power between 550 and 220 BC Festival known as City Dionysia held in March in honor of Dionysus, god of wine Statue of Dionysus was carried into theatre so he could observe the performances
THEATER First formal Greek theatre built in Athens between 550 and 534 BC Open-air theater to devote full attention to actors, and stadiumstyle seating, front rows reserved for distinguished visitors Orchestra: (literally, "dancing space") was normally circular. It was a level space where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with the actors who were on the stage near the skene.
THEATER Skene: the building directly behind the stage, raised only two or three steps above the level of the orchestra. Usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. Actors could make entrances and exits.
THEATER Theatron: (literally, "viewing -place") is where the spectators sat. The theatron was usually part of hillside overlooking the orchestra, and often wrapped around a large portion of the orchestra. Spectators in the fifth century BC probably sat on cushions or boards, but by the fourth century, had marble seats.
THEATER Parodos: (literally, "passageways") are the paths by which the chorus and some actors (such as those representing messengers or people returning from abroad) made their entrances and exits. The audience also used them to enter and exit theater before and after the performance.
COSTUMES Actors wore masks with exaggerated features and wide mouths so that their voices projected to the audience. Wore long, trailing robes with elaborate designs At the bottom of each actor’s shoe was a 6 inch wooden sole to make them appear tall and intimidating. Carried themselves with grand esteem and moved gracefully about the stage.
CHORUS Most Greek choruses blended music, dance, and song. Chorus entered orchestra during the parados and remained there for the whole play. Purpose was to create foreshadowing and suspense—gives you added information or insight into the story or a character Helps the audience feel more involved in the play (singing directly at them) Also to help the audience come to their own conclusions about the events unfolding before them.
STRUCTURE OF GREEK PLAY Prologue—presents background and describes the conflict Then, the chorus, or group of dancers, enters and sings a parados, or opening song. Choral songs, called odes, separate scenes called episodes. The odes divided into alternating parts called stophe and antistrophe. Exodos—At the end of play, the chorus exits singing a processional song which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play. Can also include kommos—the main character(s) lament in song with the chorus.
DRAMATIC CONVENTIONS Soliloquy: a speech in which a character who is alone onstage reveals private thoughts and feelings to the audience. This character may appear to address the audience directly, but it is understood that the audience is overhearing the character talking or thinking out loud. Aside: a brief remark delivered by a character to express private thoughts while other characters are onstage. Like a soliloquy, it is directed to the audience and presumed to be unheard by the other characters. The transition from one scene or act to another might involve a considerable passage of time in the plot.
GREEK TRAGEDIES Greek tragedies took their plots from well-known myths and legends. Shows the downfall or death of the main character, or tragic hero. Hero is always a noble or outstanding person. Downfall caused by a tragic flaw: a mistake or unwise decision. Sometimes, this mistake is the result of an innate character weakness, such as excessive pride. However, the error may instead result from ignorance, for example, of some crucial piece of information.
GREEK TRAGEDIES The cause of the tragedy might be a character flaw, but it may instead by some weakness or evil in society itself. Tragedies often explore powerful emotions, such as love, hate, revenge, and loyalty. Aristotle wrote that tragedy triggers two main emotions in the audience—pity and fear. We pity the protagonist’s suffering while we also fear for him/her and ourselves.