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Ms. Yates Theatre Arts 2B. Theatre in Ancient Egypt Though the Ancient Greeks are often given credit for inventing the theatre, the real credit belongs.

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Presentation on theme: "Ms. Yates Theatre Arts 2B. Theatre in Ancient Egypt Though the Ancient Greeks are often given credit for inventing the theatre, the real credit belongs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ms. Yates Theatre Arts 2B

2 Theatre in Ancient Egypt Though the Ancient Greeks are often given credit for inventing the theatre, the real credit belongs to the Ancient Egyptians. While they did not build performance spaces or create theatre festivals the way the Greeks did, they did perform public, ritualistic events, which included many characteristics of theatre. Records indicate that these performances included plot, props, costumes, and scripts. Details of these performances have been found carved into temple walls, such as the temple of Edfu, shown below.

3 Today, you can see the ruins of ancient theatre’s in Egypt. However, these are from the Roman period. In Ancient Egypt, theatre was performed in the temples.


5 About Ancient Egypt The term “Ancient Egypt” refers to Egypt’s earliest time, as it developed in Northeastern Africa along the Nile River around 3150 BC. Egypt’s history is divided into periods of Kingdoms. It was most powerful during the New Kingdom period, but then declined steadily and was taken over by the Greeks who established the Ptolemaic Dynasty (ruled most famously by Cleopatra). Egypt later became a Roman province in 30 BC. Early Egyptians made great contributions to science, art, math, architecture, agriculture, and government. Many of their ideas were copied by their conquerors. The Egyptian were polytheistic, and their gods and goddesses are the main characters in Egyptian theatre.

6 Anubis HorusIsisOsiris

7 The Earliest Plays 3100 BC- Egyptian Coronation Festival Play 2750 BC- Egyptian ritual dramas 2000 BC- Passion Play of Abydos The first recorded Passion Play took place in Egypt, around 2000 BC. The play was about the king-god Osiris. Though he was a good king, Osiris was brutally murdered and pieces of his body were scattered throughout Egypt. His wife Isis and his son Horus gathered up the pieces and created sites where pilgrims worshipped Osiris. Osiris was later resurrected. Passion plays were performed annually in his memory at sites throughout Egypt.

8 Plays and Stories - Pyramid Plays Early ritualistic dramas performed at a pharaoh’s death to help send him to the Underworld. -Religious Plays These included morality plays and creation dramas. They generally took place inside the temple. - Osirian Mysteries (Passion Plays) The festivities were divided into three parts: the defense of Osiris by his son, the fight and death of Osiris, and the triumph of Osiris when his enemies were defeated. The famous Abydos Passion Play falls into this category, as does the Memphite Drama, which chronicles the life and resurrection of Osiris and the coronation of his son Horus. -Satires During the later portion of the Egyptian period, performances based on humorous local myths started to appear.

9 Acting and Audience - Little is known about the actors in these plays, but apparently the acting was very realistic. There are several accounts of actors dying due to wounds they received during onstage battles. - Roles were generally performed by elders and priests. This means that only males performed. - As theatre was part of the ritualistic, religious ceremony, the audience was expected to give these plays the proper reverence and attention. - However, plays were often interactive, meaning they required audience participation. Stories survive of audience members becoming so caught up in the drama of a performance that riots ensued.

10 Costumes and Make-up The costume and make-up in these performances can only be inferred from the reliefs and hieroglyphics of the time. It is likely that the priests and elders who played the roles had ritual pieces that audience would recognize as belonging to certain characters. This piece of ritual is later adapted into the masks used in Greek Theatre. It is also known that make-up was used by both men and women in Ancient Egypt. Black, lead-based eye make up called kohl was popular. It was believed that the gods Horus and Ra would protect the wearers of this make- up.


12 Vocabulary Passion Play: a play depicting the suffering and death of a god. Today, we think of these as Christian plays, depicting the end of Jesus’ life, but they were performed in Egypt about the god Osiris. Kohl: Egyptian eye make up. Satire: a literary form that uses irony, sarcasm and ridicule to expose vice and folly Morality Play: an allegory play, in which a character is met by the personification of moral characteristics. Today, these plays are mostly associated with the medieval period. Pharaoh: the title used to discuss rulers of Ancient Egypt. In reality, this term was not used until the New Kingdom.

13 Bibliography Fort, Alice, and Herbert Kates. "Egyptian "Passion" Plays." Grosset and Dunlap, n.d. Web. 14 Oct Glencoe Online. "Interactive Theatre History Timeline." Interactive Theatre History Timeline. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct "Life in Ancient Egypt." Inside the Temples. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct

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