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Greek Theatre & the origins of Western Theatre. Ritual/Storytelling Some believe that theatre grew out of Storytelling. Why would this seem natural? Some.

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Presentation on theme: "Greek Theatre & the origins of Western Theatre. Ritual/Storytelling Some believe that theatre grew out of Storytelling. Why would this seem natural? Some."— Presentation transcript:

1 Greek Theatre & the origins of Western Theatre

2 Ritual/Storytelling Some believe that theatre grew out of Storytelling. Why would this seem natural? Some believe that theatre grew out of Ritual. Five Functions of Ritual Sharing knowledge Didactic (moral) Influence or control To glorify To entertain and give pleasure.

3 Earliest known play… Around 4000B.C. in Ancient Egypt the “Abydos Passion Play” was first performed and is still performed today.

4 Theatre, as we know it, is attributed to the Greeks. Greek culture was a powerful influence in the Roman Empire, which carried a version of it to many parts of Europe. Ancient Greek civilization has been immensely influential on the language, politics, educational systems, philosophy, art and architecture of the modern world It was the basis of the Renaissance in Western Europe and again during various neo-classic revivals in 18th-19th century Europe and The Americas.

5 Golden Age of Greece (also called “classical period”) 5th century B.C.E. (Before the Common Era) was a time of great progress The Parthenon is the best-known surviving building of Ancient Greece and is regarded as one of the world's greatest cultural monuments. The building has stood atop the Acropolis of Athens for nearly 2,500 years and was built to give thanks to the Greek goddess Athena.

6 Golden age Great inventions of the Greeks: Democracy Philosophy Pythagorean theorem (math) Hippocratic oath (medicine) Art, architecture (amazing sculpture & buildings)

7 We know they revered theater… Check out the Theater at Epidaurus - obviously built to last

8 Theatron – Viewing place. Orchestra – Singing Place Skene – Dressing hut Parodos - passage

9 Theater and Culture: Greek Theater Emerges Theater and Religion Dionysus was the god of wine, fertility, and revelry. (pg 8 letter d) Most historians believe that Greek drama originated out of the dithyrambic chorus, a group of 50 men who sang and danced a hymn to Dionysus. Theater was presented at annual festivals held in honor of the gods. Thespis is credited with transforming these songs into drama when he stepped out of the chorus and became an actor. He became a character and engaged in dialogue with the chorus. Thespian, which means “stage performer,” comes from Thespis.

10 Theater and Myth Myths were the subject of these plays written for religious festivals Myths: story handed down from generation to generation Often attempts to explain human and natural phenomena (Echo & Narcissus for example, or Demeter & Persephone) Also deal with extreme family situations

11 Homer Greek poet, lived around 800 B.C.E. Wrote the Iliad (account of the war between the Greeks & Trojans, remember Helen of Troy? Achilles?) Wrote the Odyssey (voyage of Odysseus) Provided the greatest source of material for all classical tragedy

12 Progression of the actor Began with one actor & large chorus (50). Aeschylus added added a second actor who could play different parts, wearing different masks. Chorus reduced to 12. Sophocles added third actor, raised chorus to 15 (where it remained). Dramatic construction could then be much more flexible. Actors were only men.

13 Greek Masks All performers wore them Later they had devices like megaphones built in

14 Greek Chorus Really important Theater element Usually represented ordinary citizens Reacted the way people in the audience might Gave background info necessary to understand the plot (exposition) Represented a moderate balance between the extreme behaviors of the principle characters Made philosophical observations & drew conclusions about what was happening Why would the chorus be used?

15 Tragedy Most admired form of Greek drama Theatre comes from the dithyramb, a hymn sung or changed before religious rituals in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine, rebirth, and fertility. The word “tragedy” comes from the Greek work “tragos” or “Goat Song” (Since Dionysus was half human half goat)

16 Aristotle 384 -322 BCE Wrote “The Poetics,” a guide to how to write and perform theatre. The Poetics is the only text on drama that survives from that era.

17 The Rules of the Poetics Three Acts (Beginning, middle, and end) The Plot is more important than the characters. Characterization is vital though Sentiments brought about by the action to achieve Catharsis (purging of emotion) Must entertain

18 The Six Elements we still use today… 6 Elements of drama: Plot Character Moral or Theme Language Music Spectacle

19 Aeschylus 525-456 BCE Called for 2nd actor, reduced size of chorus from 50 to 12 Master of the trilogy (3 tragedies that make up a single unit) Oresteia - saga of Agamemnon, hero of the Trojan war, when he returns he is murdered by his wife Clytemnestra, who is killed by their children, Electra and Orestes (whew!)

20 Sophocles 496-406 BCE Added third actor, raised chorus to 15 Adept at dramatic construction (well-made play) Oedipus Rex (King Oedipus) Oedipus at Colonus Antigone

21 Euripedes 484-406 BCE A rebel for the following innovations: Sympathetic portrayal of female characters Increased realism Mixture of tragedy w/melodrama Skeptical treatment of the gods Medea 1:14:00 - 1:17:04 The Bacchae Electra

22 Aristophanes the comedian 448-380 BCE Wrote “old” comedies Lysistrata, The Frogs Makes fun of social, political, or cultural conditions Characters are often recognizable personalities (such as Socrates) Modern counterpart: political satire, like on SNL

23 The Frogs Enter Dionysus on foot dressed in the skin of a Nemian Lion, and the club of Heracles in his hand, and Xanthias heavily laden on a donkey. Xanthias: Master, should I tell one of those usual jokes which always make the audience laugh? Dionysus: By Zeus, say what you want--except “I'm hard pressed” - Forget that one, it's really quite annoying. Xanthias: Nothing else witty either? Dionysus: Anything but “What a strain!” Xanthias: What then? Can I say the really funny one? Dionysus: Of course, Go right ahead--but don't let me catch you saying this. Xanthias: What's that? Dionysus: That you must shift your pack to ease yourself. Xanthias: Well, can't I say I've got such a load on me, unless someone takes it off, I'll bust a gut? Dionysus: Please don't, unless you wish to make me sick. Xanthias: So why should I have to carry all this stuff, without doing any of the jokes that Phrynichus and Lycis and Ameipsias always make the baggage-carriers say in all their comedies? Dionysus: Just don't. Since when I'm in the theater and hear any of these stupid jokes, I go away just older by a year.




27 Roman Theatre Borrowed Greek ideas and improved on them. Less Philosophical. More like a carnival Acrobatics, gladiators, jugglers, athletics, chariot races, naumachia (sea battles), boxing, venationes (animal fights).

28 Roman Theatre Cont. Tended to be grandiose (way over the top). Actors were called “histriones” Comedies were “IN” We now have “stars” who were acclaimed for their acting.

29 Three major influences Greek Drama Etruscan influences – circus like Fabula Atellana – Short farces with stock characters. Think today’s sitcoms.

30 Other familiar styles that came out of Roman Theatre. Pantomime – solo dance (story telling), with music and masks. Mime: short, serious or comic, no masks. Scoffed at Christianity (Church didn’t like that) women allowed to perform.

31 Horace 65-8 BCE Ars Poetica (The Art of Poetry) Interpreted Aristotle’s Poetics. Adds: Unity of time, place, and action Genre separation Language use in tragedy (high class) and comedy (low class)

32 Terence 195-159(?) BCE Terence was born in Carthage, North Africa, taken to Rome as a slave, purchased by a Roman senator that gave him a liberal education and then his freedom. All six of his plays still exist today. Mainly adapted Greek Plays.

33 Plautus 254-184 BCE Most of his play were adapted from Greek comedies. Wrote 52 plays only 20 have survived. This makes him the dramatist with the most surviving work from the time.

34 The decline… Christian Church rises in power and as it does, almost all theatre is forbidden and dies out… …or did it?

35 Activity: In your groups, think of a serious news story that you can satirize. Create a SHORT 1-3 min satire to perform for the class.

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