Presentation on theme: "Ancient Greece: The Start of it All. Western drama began to develop in the 6 th century to worship the god Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. The."— Presentation transcript:
Ancient Greece: The Start of it All
Western drama began to develop in the 6 th century to worship the god Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. The first theatre consisted of a group of chanters (the chorus) dancing around a sacrificial goat. Their song was called the tragos – where the word tragedy comes from.
Ceremonies honoring Dionysus evolved into 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.
Dramatic contests became part of a festival to honor 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.
The first theatres began as circular or semicircular areas called orchestras, surrounded by a hillside on which the audience sat. Eventually, stone seats and a stone building called a skene were added.
The skene (origin of our word “scene”) was where they built masks and costumes. Scenery was painted on the front. The roof was called the “god walk,” for actors playing gods.
The Greeks used the machina, a crane- like hoist that allowed actors to “fly.” Usually characters lowered by the machina represented gods come to earth to solve the problems of man. From 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. (Examples: Unexpected inheritance; long-lost letter, etc.)
The chorus was a very important part of Greek plays. The chorus served to explain the situation and to comment on the action. The chorus also interacted with the actors.
The Greek chorus is alive and well in theatre and film today! There are many modern examples, including: The Stage Manager in Our Town by Thorton Wilder El Gallo in the musical The Fantasticks The Muses in Disney’s animated Hercules An actual chanting Greek chorus in Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite
The 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 us how to fight fate.
Aeschylus Noted for the majesty of his writing Writer of the only surviving Greek trilogy, The Oresteia Sophocles Ranked with Shakespeare as one of the great playwrights of all time His 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; Antigone; etc.
Euripides Emphasized human relationships and became a master of pathos (mixture of sorrow and compassion) Wrote The Trojan Women; Medea; etc.
Aristophanes Considered nothing sacred Skilled satirist “Old Comedy” style – wild comic fantasy Wrote The Frogs; The Clouds; Lysistrada Menander “Middle Comedy” style – everyday life Wrote Dyskolos