Dithyrambs and Dionysus dithyrambs= songs sung by a chorus celebrated Dionysus (the god of wine and fertility) dithyrambs evolved into plays
The Theatre of Dionysus the first plays were performed in the Theatre of Dionysus Athens, 6 th century B.C. competitive festivals that lasted for days
performed out-of-doors (daylight) stone seats built into a hillside often seated as many as 20,000 spectators a special first row was reserved for “important people”
Big Community Event!!! businesses shut down during the festivals everyone was expected to attend gov’t paid for people who could not afford to go
Greek Theatre: Main Components Theatron : (“seeing place”) where the audience sits… theatre Orchestra : (“dancing place”) circular area in which the Chorus moves; often an altar in the middle of it Skene : “scene,” or backdrop building; stage for actors in front of it
Actors “hypokrites” all men played multiple roles wore masks elaborate gestures “over-acting” with voice
Masks and Costumes Masks were linen, wood, or cork showed change in character or mood had tube in mouthpiece to amplify sound Actors wore fake chest and belly when playing a woman platform shoes and headpieces standard Greek attire for costumes
The Chorus men (reduced from the original 50) sang, chanted, danced provided exposition and commentary; served as a bridge between the actors and the audience provided sense of ritual
The Chorus, cont. chosen from the general population unpaid volunteers doing their civic duty trained and costumed by a choregos choregos = a wealthy citizen; chose this job as his way of paying taxes and raising his standing in the community (almost like a producer)
Special Effects Ekkyklema: rolling cart used for bodies (ALL VIOLENCE HAPPENED OFF- STAGE!!!!!) Mechane: crane used to “fly in” gods
“Deus ex Machina” “god from the machine” a cheap trick writers use a person or thing appears "out of the blue" to help a character to overcome a seemingly insolvable difficulty
Now let’s talk about the plays and the playwrights… (Yes, let’s!)
In a festival, playwrights entered three tragedies and one satyr play. satyr play = comic relief (mythology, physical humor, sex, drinking, etc.) Comedy began years later.
Tragedy “goat song” involves a tragic hero a major character important person has flaw/makes mistake suffers downfall causes downfall of others provides catharsis
catharsis = emotional purging or cleansing The audience liked to see the suffering of someone else! It helped them purge their emotions!
Thespis supposedly the first playwright and actor took on a role outside the chorus “thespian” = modern word for actor
Aeschylus (tragedy) playwright who added the second actor “father of tragedy” the Oresteia trilogy killed by turtle?
Sophocles ( tragedy) playwright who added third actor won most awards Oedipus Rex; Antigone more-developed characters
Euripides (tragedy) Medea; Trojan Women not popular with audiences or other playwrights strong female characters focused on inner lives and motivation of characters
Aristophanes (comedy) “father of comedy” wrote satire (made fun of politics, society, theatre, etc.) The Frogs; The Birds; Lysistrata