Theatre developed from two sources 1. The need to imitate Fun to pretend to be someone or something else As a means of communication - to demonstrate a situation/storytelling through words and actions 2. The need to worship the gods in order to please them
In Greece, plays were presented out of doors on a flat place, or orchestra, at the base of a hill. At first, they just used open space, no walls or ceiling (little scenery or set). The orchestra was usually circular. The orchestra was the main performing place for actors. The auditorium, or theatron, was the hillside itself where the audience stood and watched plays. Seats were gradually added; eventually permanent sets were constructed of stone.
An alter to the god Dionysus (son of Zeus, god of wine & revelry), called the themele, was always located in the middle of each site. Later, in the 5th century B.C., a skene building, or scene house was added. Provided a place where the actors might dress & wait before going on stage Eventually, they used it to add background & scenery to the stage, as well as a prop
Attending plays was considered a civic duty. The price of a ticket was two obols, which was equal to the wages an unskilled man might earn for a day's work. There was a special fund that citizens could apply for to receive money if they could not afford the ticket on their own.
Born in Colonus, a small town outside Athens, Greece in 495 B.C.
As a young boy, Sophocles was prized for his exceptional abilities in poetry, music, and dancing. Sophocles began as a performer at age 15, as he was chosen to perform at a celebration in Athens. He went on to become an established playwright in Athens. He was first recognized as a playwright for winning 1st prize at an annual theatrical competition when he was 28 years old. This was significant because he won the prize over Athens’ predominant playwright.
Over 62 years, Sophocles wrote over 120 plays, 24 of which won first prize; the others placed in second at the competition ! Only seven exist in their entirety today. They are … Ajax445 B.C. *Antigone440 B.C. Electra 440 B.C. *Oedipus Rex430 B.C. The Trachiniae 413 B.C. Philoctetes410 B.C. *Oedipus at Colonus401 B.C.
Sophocles greatly influenced the technical aspects of Greek theatre.
Sophocles’ changes in Greek tragedies … 1. Originally, drama was performed on an open-air theatre with few props or sets. Sophocles expanded using stage machinery (utilized technological advances) and sets. He was the first to use a crane to “miraculously” lower and take away actors! He also used painted scenery. 2. Variations in the types of music sung by the chorus
Sophocles’ changes continued 3. Changed cast size (Introduced a third actor and reduced the chorus from 50 people to 12) 4. Used more elaborate costumes, including masks How do you think Sophocles’ new ideas and changes impacted drama?
Sophocles’ impact More complex plot development due to added actors, and costumes (allowed them to portray more characters) Easier to distinguish sets, more developed sets, doesn’t leave quite as much up to the imagination Easier to distinguish characters, due to costuming and elaborate masks Interesting, unexpected events by using machinery
Sophocles was said to have been especially blessed by the Greek gods because he was attractive and had exceptional abilities. Society had much admiration and deep respect for him because of the impact he made on their lives. All of Athens mourned upon Sophocles death in 406 B.C. They established a shrine called Dexion (The Entertainer) for him. Members of society paid respect to him annually by offering sacrifices in his memory.
Sophocles, playwright of Oedipus the King, is known as one of the most famous tragedians of all time. Greek tragedies are considered the theatrical works produced mainly in Greece during the 5 th century. Greek tragedies deal with universal issues and with contemporary politics/topics (themes such as war, incest, and murder). Often times, tragedies involved the hero changing between states of fortune & misfortune. The hero’s flaws and errors were pointed out followed by the hero’s recognition of their actions. Ex. Oedipus the King
Most tragedies were written as connected trilogies that carried a similar storyline. In ancient Greek times (5 th century), tragedies were intended to be performed in a theatre before a live audience. Tragedies were produced and performed during the religious festival in honor of the god Dionysus (god of fertility). The playwrights competed against one another for first prize.
Greek Tragedy A Greek tragedy is structures as follows: (each genre has a different structure) I. Prologue: Spoken by one or two characters before the chorus appears. The prologue usually gives the background information needed to understand the events of the play. II. Parodos: the song sung by the chorus as it makes its entrance III. Episodes/Scenes: the main action of the play
Greek Tragedy Con’t IV. Odes: a song (and often dance) that reflects on the events of the episodes, and weaves the plot into a cohesive whole A. Choragos: the leader of the chorus who often interacts with the characters in the scenes
B. Chorus: the singers/dancers who remark on the action; react as the playwright hopes the audience will 1. strophe: the movement of the chorus from right to left across the stage 2. antistrophe: the reaction to the strophe, which moves across the stage from left to right.
The Chorus The chorus was made up of amateur actors. In Oedipus Rex, the chorus acts like a character as well as a group of citizens. They are used to set the mood and heighten the dramatic effects. The chorus adds movement, song, & dance.
Chorus Con’t They usually entered just after the opening of the play and remained on stage until the end. During their part, they periodically stopped moving to allow the audience to consider what they are saying.
The Actors The chorus usually wore similar masks to unify them as a “group,” but actors wore them to distinguish between various characters. Since all Greek actors were men, it was necessary to wear masks in order to portray female characters.
Since there were only three parts, masks allowed for more characters to be portrayed. Each character had a different mask, so the three actors had to be highly skilled individuals to portray each role appropriately. All performers were men, however, anyone could attend theatre productions.
Greek Tragedy Con’t V. Exodos: sung by the chorus as it makes its final exit, which usually offers words of wisdom related to the actions and outcome of the play
Dramatic Irony An occasion where the audience knows more than the characters in the story do Dramatic irony makes an audience feel privileged and engaged in the play Dramatic irony is used for the first time in Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex
Oedipus the King Playwright: Sophocles 60 second recap teaser
The Sphinx There was a single Sphinx in Greek mythology, a unique demon of destruction and bad luck a winged lion with a woman's head The name 'sphinx' is derived from the Greek sphingo, which means "to strangle".
The Riddle The God Hera sent the Sphinx from her Ethiopian homeland to Thebes where she asks all passersby history's most famous riddle: "Which creature in the morning goes on four feet, at noon on two, and in the evening upon three?" She strangled anyone unable to answer to death. If anyone answered correctly, she killed herself.
Oedipus the King Oedipus solved the riddle: Man — he crawls on all fours as a baby, then walks on two feet as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age. Bested at last, the Sphinx then threw herself from her high rock and died. As a reward for his victory, Oedipus is crowned the new king of Thebes
Other Mystical Figures The Oracle The Oracle at Delphi was able to tell the future. A woman priestess would go into a trance and reveal the words of the god Apollo. Video clip The Oracle The Oracle at Delphi was able to tell the future. A woman priestess would go into a trance and reveal the words of the god Apollo. Video clip
Sacrifice The oracle warned Oedipus' parents that he would grow up to kill the father and sleep with the mother. This so shocked them that the baby was taken away to be killed from exposure on the mountainside. The baby's ankles were pierced and tied to keep him from moving. "Oedipus" means "swollen ankles" in Greek