- Slides: 36
The Golden Age of Ancient Greek Theatre the origins of drama
The Origins Of Drama § The dithyrambs celebrating Dionysus soon evolved into dramas. § The story goes: Thespis, a popular writer of Dithyrambs, is said to have invented drama when he asked one “performer” to stand outside the chorus to engage in some “call and response. ”
Word Origin § The modern word “thespian” comes from the name Thespis. § Accredited with being the first actor to actually “play” the roles of characters using masks
The Chorus § Because of the dithyrambic origins of Greek drama, the plays featured Choruses. § The chorus danced and either sung or chanted their lines.
Functions of the chorus § an agent: gives advice, asks, takes part § establishes ethical framework, sets up standard by which action will be judged § ideal spectator - reacts as playwright hopes audience would § sets mood and heightens dramatic effects § adds movement, spectacle, song, and dance § rhythmical function - pauses / paces the action so that the audience can reflect.
Word Origin § The modern word “drama” comes from the Greek word dran meaning "to do” § The Greeks understood the role of action in plays.
The Theatre of Dionysus § The first plays were performed in the Theatre of Dionysus, built in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens at the beginning of the 5 th century, § These theatres proved to be so popular they soon spread all over Greece.
Amphitheatres § Plays were performed out-of-doors. § The side of the mountain was scooped out into a bowl shape, something like our amphitheatres today, and tiers of stone seats in concentric semi-circles were built on the hill. § These theatres often seated as many as 20, 000 spectators, with a special first row being reserved for dignitaries.
Theatron § The 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.
Word Origin § The modern word “theater” comes from the Greek word theatron meaning "seeing place"
Orchestra § The 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 (called the Proskenion) in front of the skene. In the center of the orchestra there was often an altar.
Skene § The skene (literally, "tent") was the building directly in back of the stage, and was usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them.
Parados § The parodoi (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 Actors § All of the actors were men. Women were not allowed to participate. § The actors played multiple roles, so a wooden, cork, or linen mask was used to show the change in character or mood. § If playing a female role, the male actor in want of a female appearance wore the prosternida before the chest and the progastrida before the belly
Working in the Space § Because of the distance between actors and the audience, the actors, who were all men, used broad gestures and histrionic speech. § The actor made himself taller by wearing thick-soled shoes called cothurnis and a high head piece called an onkus. § The masks assisting in projecting the actor’s voice through a type of inside megaphone.
Costumes § § Consisted of standard Greek attire Chiton: a sleeveless tunic belted below the breast the himation: draped around the right shoulder the chlamys, or short cloak, worn over the left shoulder § elaborately embroidered patterns
Staging § Staging was accomplished simply with the use of pinakes, or scenery painted on boards and placed against the skene. § Also periaktois, triangular prisms, that could be revolved for scenery changes. § Properties were also used. § Drums were sounded for thunder.
Staging, Cont’d. § the eccyclema, a small wagon platform, was wheeled in to show a corpse to the audience. All killing had to occur off stage and be reported to the audience by the chorus or a messenger. § The deus-ex-machina was a crane-like device occasionally used for lowering in a god to assist the protagonist in neatly solving his problems.
The City Dionysia Festival § In the sixth century BC, the Athenian ruler, Pisistratus, established the 'City Dionysia', a festival of entertainment held in honor of the god Dionysus. § This festival featured competitions in music, singing, dance and poetry. § Playwrights presented a series of three tragedies, or a trilogy. § Interspersed between the three plays in the trilogy were satyr plays
Communal Involvement § The entire city would be in attendance. § All other businesses not directly involved with the 6 -day festival would shut down, so that everyone could attend. § The government even offered financial assistance to those who could not afford to attend.
Types of Greek Drama § Comedy § Tragedy § Satyr § Comedy and tragedy were the most popular types of plays in ancient Greece. Hence, the modern popularity of the comedy and tragedy masks to symbolize theatre.
Word Origin § The word “comedy” comes from the Greek word “komos” which means “band of revelers. ”
Comedies § not admitted to Dionysus festival until very late into the Greece’s golden age----487 b. c. § The first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness § The first master of comedy was the playwright Aristophanes § Style: exaggerated, farcical, focus on sensual pleasures
Structure of a Comedy § Prologue — leading character conceives a "happy idea" § Parados: entrance of the chorus § Agon: dramatized debate between proponent and opponent of the "happy idea"
Structure, Cont’d § Parabasis: chorus addresses audience on poet’s views on topic § Episodes: "Happy idea" is put to practical application
Tragedy § The word tragedy came to be derived from the Greek tragos (goat) and ode (poem). Tragedy literally means goat song or goat poem.
Traits of Tragedy § Late point of attack § Violence and death occurred offstage § Frequently used messengers to relate information § Stories based on myth or history, but varied interpretations of events § Focus was on psychological and ethical attributes of characters, rather than physical and sociological.
structure of a tragedy § Prologue, which describes the situation and sets the scene § Parados, an ode sung by the chorus as it made its entrance § Five dramatic scenes, or episodes--the last of which is called the Epilogue § Each episode is followed by a stasimon, a choral ode, an exchange of laments by the chorus and the protagonist. (This ode is sometimes called a komos. ) § Exodus, the climax and conclusion
Satyr Plays § These were short plays performed between the acts of tragedies. They made fun of the plight of the tragedy's characters. § The satyrs were mythical half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus.
Word Origin § Does the term Satyr remind you of any modern day term? § The Satyr and the Satyr plays spawned the modern word “satire”.
Important Playwrights § § § Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides Aristophanes Menander
Aeschylus (525 -456 bc) § Considered the “father of greek tragedy” § Famous works: Prometheus Bound; Seven Against Thebes; The Oresteia (a trilogy consisting of: agamemnon, the libation bearers, and the eumenides) § His plays feature a chorus and one actor.
Death by tortoise Aeschylus has one of the strangest claims to fame. He was bald, and the story goes that a passing eagle, looking for a rock on which to drop and crack open a tortoise in order to eat it, dropped it on him by mistake, killing him outright. The fate of the tortoise was not recorded.
Sophocles (496 -406 bc) § His plays are more character-driven rather than choric § He is credited with adding a third character § His works include: Oedipus Rex; Antigone; Electra
The Final Curtain § By the time of Sophocles' death in 406 BC the golden era of Greek drama was ending. § Athens was overrun in 404 BC by the Spartans, and was later torn apart by constant warring with other city states, eventually falling under the dominion of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian armies. § Theatre went on but did not return to the same creative heights until Elizabethan England two millennia later.