Presentation on theme: "Greek drama Golden Age of Greece was the Golden Age of drama."— Presentation transcript:
Greek drama Golden Age of Greece was the Golden Age of drama.
Greece is birthplace of drama. Athens City of greatest dramas All existing plays come from Athens. All city-states had theatres.
Tragedies Great Athenian playwrights Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides
Beginning of theatre Royal funerals? Festivals to honor gods Stories told and retold Myths grew up around characters
Festival to honor Dionysus God of wine, fertility—everything delicious. Competitions held for physical and mental skills Contests for recitations, vocal, and instrumental music Prizes awarded. Natural to celebrate gods and heroes
Delivered by a chorus. No attempt to identify with the characters of whom they sang. To transform dramatic poetry into drama, one member of the chorus had to speak the words attributed to a god/hero. Second speaker dialogue Songs
Role of chorus Serve as nameless onlookers and commentators Is at once a participant in and observer of action Considered an on-stage audience Reaction of chorus designed to shape audience’s reaction to action and characters
Chorus Action is suspended while chorus performs. Might narrate past events, try to interpret current situations, speculate about future Modern commentators Usually think of gods, but are NOT spokesmen for the gods
Chorus Usually friendly to principal characters Can be both humane and fallible Danced/performed rhythmical movements
Language of chorus All drama is written in verse, but meter of actor’s speeches mimic everyday speech. Choral odes were more complex rhythmically than dialogue (episodes). Variety of meters Lyrical nature (may have been sung) Metaphors/Figurative language Read odes as poems within the play. Song in theatre—rap music.
Thespis Playwright who created the one actor speaking in 534 BC. Significance of first actor cannot be overemphasized. Actor can take parts; chorus members can also take parts. Actor = hero; chorus=worshippers, soldiers, subjects
Themes of plays Taken from Greek mythology and legends Stories were NOT original. Man at the center. Man’s feelings, relationship with gods, preservation of human decency, preservation of household. Fate/destiny
Early plays Music and dance were integral. Much like opera today. Action=mime Dances expressed actions and moods. Actors trained in both voice and movement.
Greek plays Little action Words are more important than physical action. Themes often violent, yet violence is never shown onstage. Violence takes place offstage. Greek taste forbade representation of death in view of audience. Narration, discussion, speculation
Tragedy Modern—plane crash, tornado. Literary sense—serious drama featuring a noble, courageous, dignified character (often royal) who strives to achieve something and is ultimately defeated. Defeat may be brought about by forces beyond his control (FATE) or by his own character flaw (often hubris or ambition). Character goes from happiness to agony.
Tragedy Ends with defeat, death. Tragic hero is ennobled by his newly gained self-knowledge and wisdom. End is one of great dignity as human spirit prevails. Audience feels relief (catharsis). Audience identifies with hero—If tragedy can happen to him……
Structure of a tragedy Prologue—opening speech. Gives exposition. Parados—Chorus makes entrance and gives its perspective Episodia (episodes)—characters engage in dialogue/heated debates Following each episode is a choral ode (stasimon) in which chorus responds to and interprets preceding dialogue. Exodus—Last scene—resolution.
Physical theatre Not a commercial venture. Not run for profit. Theatre retained its religious significance. Plays presented for entertainment, but also as an act of worship. Right and duty of every citizen to attend.
Theatre Drama was a blend of worship and revel. Also occasion of great civic importance. Drama was a responsibility of state. Polis owned theatre; drama financed out of public funds.
Actors Costumes were magnificent and costly. Costumes were padded and actors wore elevated shoes—seemed larger than life. Large, wooden masks which expressed major characters’ emotions. All male
5 th century BC Time of spectacular energy and prosperity Time of harmony—political, religious and personal Aeschylus lived in extraordinary times; he was a product of a heroic age.
Aeschylus First important writer of Greek drama. Considered the “father of Greek tragedy.” First entered Dionysia (contest) in about 500 BC. First won in 484 BC thereafter he won first prize 13 times. 458 BC—his masterpiece—The Oresteia. Known to have written over 90 plays, only 7 survive. Contributed second actor. Allowed more dialogue.
Aeschylus Legend—Dionysus appeared to Aeschylus as a boy and commanded him to write dramas. Few facts—born to aristocratic parents, fought in Persian War. Aeschylus was 45 in 480 BC when Persians defeated Athens and destroyed shrines of gods on Acropolis. Fought in Greek army that defeated Persians.
Oresteia—tale of Orestes Three plays—”Agamemnon”,”The Libation Bearers”, and “The Eumenides” Theme is justice. Uses story of House of Atreus to examine how justice should be developed. Emphasizes that through suffering, one gains wisdom
Transition Civilization of tribal institution of justice must be transformed into a system of communal justice. Next of kin had to avenge a family member’s death system would eventually destroy society. Need to move to a court of law to settle disputes.