Presentation on theme: "The Origins of Western Drama"— Presentation transcript:
1 The Origins of Western Drama History of the TheatreThe Origins of Western Drama
2 Greek DramaWestern drama began to develop in sixth century Greece as part of the worship of Dionysus, Greek god of wine and fertility.First theatre consisted of a group of chanters, called the chorus, dancing around a sacrificial goat.This chorus became known as goat-singers, and their chant, the “goat-song” or tragos (origin of the word tragedy).
3 The First Dramatic Competitions The ceremonies honoring Dionysus evolved into dramatic contests.Legend states that Thespis won the first competition. History remembers him as the first actor.The term thespian has been given to actors ever since.
4 The Festival of Dionysus The dramatic contests became part of a festival in honor of Dionysus.These festivals lasted five or six days.Each playwright presented four plays: a tragic trilogy (three plays related by theme, myth or characters) and a satyr (satirical, comic) play.
5 The Theatre of Dionysus The first theatres began as circular (or semicircular) areas called orchestras surrounded by a hillside on which the audience sat.
6 The Theatre of Dionysus Eventually stone seats and a stone building called a skene were added.
10 The Machina The Greeks used mechanical devices in their productions. One was called the machina, a cranelike hoist that allowed actors to “fly.”Usually characters lowered by the machina represented gods come to earth to solve the problems of man.
11 The MachinaFrom this comes the term deus ex machina, meaning “god from the machine.”This term is still used to refer to an artificial plot device introduced by an author late in a play to resolve difficulties.Unexpected inheritanceLong-lost letter (or other item), lover, relative, friend, etc.
12 The Greek ChorusThe chorus was a very important part of early Greek plays.The chorus served to explain the situation and to comment on the action.The chorus also interacted with the actors.
13 The Greek Chorus TodayThe Greek chorus is alive and well in theatre and film today.There are many modern examples, including…The Stage Manager in Thorton Wilder’s Our TownEl Gallo in the musical The FantasticsThe Muses in Disney’s animated HerculesAn actual chanting Greek chorus in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite
14 Greek TragedyThe Greek tragedies, considered classics of Western literature, involve conflicts that come from the clash between the will of the gods and the ambitions and desires of humanity.They show how useless it is to fight Fate.
15 Greek Tragedy The greatest writers of Greek tragedy are… Aeschylus Noted for the majesty of his writingWriter of the only surviving Greek trilogy, The Oresteia
16 Greek Tragedy Sophocles Euripides Ranked with Shakespeare as one of the great playwrights of all timeHis balance between the power of gods and the importance of humans created some of the strongest characters ever to walk on a stage.Wrote Oedipus Rex, AntigoneEuripidesEmphasized human relationships and became a master of pathosWrote The Trojan Women, Medea
17 The Roman Theatre Primarily an imitation of Greek theatre Two notable comic writers were Plautus and TerenceSeneca, a writer of tragedies, created “closet dramas.”Theaters expanded into amphitheaters, large circular arenas that were surrounded by tiers of seats.