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Greek Theatre. Drama emerged out of religion Dionysus: god ecstasy & fertility –Ec/stasy  : Greek for out/stand, so things which take people “out.

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Presentation on theme: "Greek Theatre. Drama emerged out of religion Dionysus: god ecstasy & fertility –Ec/stasy  : Greek for out/stand, so things which take people “out."— Presentation transcript:

1 Greek Theatre

2 Drama emerged out of religion Dionysus: god ecstasy & fertility –Ec/stasy  : Greek for out/stand, so things which take people “out of themselves” ie – sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll (wine, women, and song), entertainment. By the sixth century B.C., the cult of Dionysus had spread from the east across all of Greece.

3 ATTIC OLD COMEDY Athenian comedy of the 5 th century Vitally connected to Athenian democracy Highly political – intending to instruct, so political ideas, entertain. Thrived when Athens was in the extreme crisis of the Peloponnesian war 431-404bc Celebrated traditional values: peace, fertility, religion, and countryside,poetry & creativity. Against “modern” values: The new, the war, logic and sophist education.

4 Characteristics of old comdey (related to its link to the ecstatic cult of Dionysus) Chorus, masks, animal costumes Loosing one’s individual personality, and opening to the god [like student or Xmas parade] Structure centred on parodos, agon, parabasis parados – the procession of chorus into the theatre agon – the debate between 2 actors – judged by the chorus parabasis – unmasked chorus talks to the audience about the meaning of the play Serious educative purpose

5 Characteristics of old comdey (related to its link to the ecstatic cult of Dionysus) Emphasis on bawdiness Komos – (the phallic procession) - religious, not obscene. Festive return to life [winter –Lanaea, and spring – City Dionysia] Satirical attack on current trends and unpopular leaders Competitive

6 Drama built on religion The hypokrites was also known as the protagonistes (a word which means “first competitor”). Playwrights, producers Choregos, and actors hypokrites were awarded a crown of ivy (a plant sacred to Dionysus) and had their names inscribed in marble slabs called didaskaliai.

7 Theatron-”seeing place”; where the audience sat Orchestra- “The dancing place”; where the chorus performed Skene (tent)- low rectangular building with uncovered passages on either side –Gives us the word “scenery” because it was eventually painted and decorated Parados – passage way into the theatre for the choros in the ‘parados’ Proscenium- level area in front of skene; most of the action took place there; not a stage but possibly raised one step above the orchestra Altar to Dionysus- in center of orchestra; used for sacrifices; also a stage prop (tree, boat, etc.) Thymele: the focal spot acoustically of the orchestra (also called the “sweet spot”)

8 A Greek Theatre This theatre is located next to the Parthenon in Athens. The theatre is still in use today!

9 On the stage: The first Dramas were Choral and dance presentations In the mid 6 th century an actor was added to respond to the chorus. Thespis is credited with this. Aeschylus added a second actor in the early 5 th century and reduced the chorus to 15 Euripides added a 3 rd actor Often the actors took several parts – masks made this easy Aristophanes used 3 actors – though in one part of the Frogs e has a 4 th actor on stage

10 Features of Classical Theaters The skene - originally a wooden-framed tent behind the staging area Used for costume and mask changing, or for housing actors while off-stage. Eventually, stone skene buildings were constructed and used as part of the permanent “scenery.” Acted on in some plays – eg Wasps



13 The Theater of Dionysus in Athens, Greece Restored by the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. (Computer recreation)

14 theatron (embankment) parodos (wall) skene (building at rear of stage) prohedria (stone seats) proskenion (building before skene)

15 Greek Drama and Theatre - Theatres

16 The hillside on which the Theatre of Dionysus was built

17 Orchestra and skene

18 Actor’s perspective

19 Actors and chorus in Greek Theater Roles in the play The main actors (playing multiple characters each) Chorus –12 or 15 choreutes (dancers) –Later, trained to sing and dance from their youth Who could be an actor? –Young citizen males with some money or authority in society, and the approval of the Honorable Archon

20 Costumes Originally, actors smeared faces with paint to hide their identity. Later they wore elaborate costumes with wigs, makeup and masks. Stylized masks amplified emotion and acted as small megaphones to project the actor’s voice. kothornoi (high elevated boots or buskins) to add to size onkos (vertically elongated mask with a high head piece) Needed in order to allow all 20 000 of the audience to see and hear what was happening

21 Costumes in Comedy Costumes chosen by the playwight, paid for by the Choregos grotesque padding, masks, and phallus. Phallus a symbol of Dionysus – the god of theatre. A chiton – short sleeveless shirt was worn. A cloak draped around some actors - himation No fancy high buskins for comedies.

22 Masks in Greek Drama Masks portrayed character types or character emotions to the entire audience, which could be up to 20,000 people crowded onto a hillside. These masks fit over the head, with a wig attached, and had large mouth openings so that speech would not be muffled. prevented the audience from identifying the face of any actor with one specific character allowed men to impersonate women without confusion helped the audience identify the sex, age, and social rank of the characters were often changed by the actors when they would exit after an episode to assume a new role

23 Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The ekkyklema (“a wheeled-out thing”) was a cart on wheels which carried a dead body onto the stage. It was sacrilegious to show a character actually dying on the stage.

24 Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The mechane (machine) was a crane-like machine that could lift a character up as if flying, or could carry an actor, usually in the guise of a god, to the top of the skene.

25 Who were these playwrights?

26 Aeschylus Aeschylean tragedy is grand, massive, and dignified The language is heavy and often difficult to understand, full of compound forms and complex metaphors. He is still considered by many (as Aristophanes writes about in The Frogs) to be the greatest Greek playwright. Aeschylus' first victory: 484 B.C. Number of victories by Aeschylus: 13

27 Sophocles Sophocles’ heroes” (such as Oedipus or Creon) are stubborn and self-willed, they pursue their own purposes and fashion their own identities. Athenians had traditionally identified themselves through family. Now that democratic society had begun to focus on the individual, citizens were compelled to define themselves through what their own actions. His first play Triptolemos wins: 468 B.C. Number of victories by Sophocles: 18-24?

28 Euripides Euripides casts tragedy's religious foundations into question. Aristophanes portrays him as arid in his dialogue, and determined to make tragedy less elevated by introducing common people. Others call him a misogynist, an underminer of received morality, and unorthodox in his religious views. No other playwright challenged the status quo in such a controversial manner. He brought up issues for the people and for the philosophers, and not just for the literary figures. Euripides’ first victory: 442 B.C. Number of victories by Euripides: 5

29 Aristophanes Aristophanes is the only comedian from Greece’s periods of Old and Middle Comedy of whom we possess any complete plays. His wit and satire supposedly sparked many debates and angered many people, especially the politicians he parodied He won at least six first prizes and four second prizes in the contests. Number of victories by Aristophanes: 6

30 Timeline of Ancient Greek Drama c. 625 Arion at Corinth produces first dithyrambic choruses. 540-527 Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, founds the festival of the Greater Dionysia 536-533 Thespis puts on tragedy at festival of the Greater Dionysia in Athens 525 Aeschylus born 499-496 Aeschylus' first dramatic competitions c. 496 Sophocles born 485 Euripides born 484 Aeschylus' first dramatic victory 468 Aeschylus defeated by Sophocles in dramatic competition 458 Aeschylus' Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides) 456 Aeschylus dies

31 c. 450 Aristophanes born 441 Sophocles' Antigone 431-404 Peloponnesian War (Athens and allies vs. Sparta and allies) c. 429 Sophocles' Oedipus the King 406 Euripides dies; Sophocles dies 404 Athens loses Peloponnesian War to Sparta 399 Trial and death of Socrates c. 380'sPlato's Republic includes critique of Greek tragedy and comedy 380Aristophanes dies 342Menander born 291Menander dies Timeline of Ancient Greek Drama

32 Extant Works of Greek Tragedy Aeschylus –Persians (472) –Seven Against Thebes (468) –Suppliant Women (463?) –Oresteia Trilogy: (458) Agamemnon Libation Bearers Eumenides –Prometheus Bound (450-425?) Sophocles –Ajax (450-430) –Antigone (c. 442?) –Trachiniai (450-430?) –Oedipus Tyrannos (429-425?) –Electra (420-410) –Philoctetes (409) –Oedipus at Colonus (401) Euripides –Alcestis (438) –Medea (431) –Children of Heracles (ca. 430) –Hippolytus (428) –Andromache (ca. 425) –Hecuba (ca. 424), –Suppliant Women (ca. 423) –Electra (ca. 420) –Heracles (ca. 416) –Trojan Women (415) –Iphigenia among the Taurians (ca. 414) –Ion (ca. 413) –Helen (412) –Phoenician Women (ca. 410) –Orestes (408) –Bacchae (after 406) –Iphigenia in Aulis (after 406) –Cyclops (possibly ca. 410)

33 Extant Works of Greek Comedy Aristophanes –Acharnians (425 B.C.) –Knights (424 B.C.) –Clouds (423 B.C.) –Wasps (422 B.C.) –Peace (421 B.C.) –Birds (414 B.C.) –Lysistrata (411 B.C.) –Women at the Thesmophoria (411 B.C.) –Frogs (405 B.C.) –Ecclesiazusae (c. 391 B.C.) –Plutus (388 B.C.) Menander –Dyscolus (316 B.C.) –parts of: Perikeiromene Epitrepontes Samia

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