Drama built on religion Roman theater, Shakespearean theater, and modern theater were heavily influenced by the Greek theater of the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries B.C.
Drama built on religion By the sixth century B.C., the cult of Dionysus had spread across all of Greece with its celebrations of wine, women, and song.
Drama built on religion Eventually one brave soul felt possessed by the god himself and stood up to chant as the hypokrites, or “answerer” to the chorus. This created the first character role to play opposite the chorus, and thus drama was born. THESPIS (543 B.C.)
Drama built on religion After this great innovation, playwrights began to compete at the yearly festivals in Athens, creating tetralogies of three tragedies and one satyr play (a farce or crude comedy). THEATER CONTESTS
Sophocles The so-called “Sophoclean heroes”(such as Oedipus or Creon) dominate six of the plays of Sophocles that we possess. They are stubborn and self-willed, and they pursue their own purposes and fashion their own identities. Athenians had traditionally identified themselves through family. Now that democratic society had begun to focus on the individual, citizens were compelled to define themselves through what their own actions. His first play Triptolemos wins: 468 B.C. Number of victories by Sophocles: 18-24?
Timeline of Ancient Greek Drama c. 625 Arion at Corinth produces first dithyrambic choruses. 540-527 Pisistratus, tyrant of Athens, founds the festival of the Greater Dionysia 536-533 Thespis puts on tragedy at festival of the Greater Dionysia in Athens 525 Aeschylus born 499-496 Aeschylus' first dramatic competitions c. 496 Sophocles born 485 Euripides born 484 Aeschylus' first dramatic victory 468 Aeschylus defeated by Sophocles in dramatic competition 458 Aeschylus' Oresteia (Agamemnon, Libation Bearers, Eumenides) 456 Aeschylus dies
c. 450 Aristophanes born 441 Sophocles' Antigone 431-404 Peloponnesian War (Athens and allies vs. Sparta and allies) c. 429 Sophocles' Oedipus the King 406 Euripides dies; Sophocles dies 404 Athens loses Peloponnesian War to Sparta 399 Trial and death of Socrates c. 380'sPlato's Republic includes critique of Greek tragedy and comedy 380Aristophanes dies 342Menander born 291Menander dies Timeline of Ancient Greek Drama
Extant Works of Greek Tragedy Aeschylus –Persians (472) –Seven Against Thebes (468) –Suppliant Women (463?) –Oresteia Trilogy: (458) Agamemnon Libation Bearers Eumenides –Prometheus Bound (450-425?) Sophocles –Ajax (450-430) –Antigone (c. 442?) –Trachiniai (450-430?) –Oedipus Tyrannos (429-425?) –Electra (420-410) –Philoctetes (409) –Oedipus at Colonus (401) Euripides –Alcestis (438) –Medea (431) –Children of Heracles (ca. 430) –Hippolytus (428) –Andromache (ca. 425) –Hecuba (ca. 424), –Suppliant Women (ca. 423) –Electra (ca. 420) –Heracles (ca. 416) –Trojan Women (415) –Iphigenia among the Taurians (ca. 414) –Ion (ca. 413) –Helen (412) –Phoenician Women (ca. 410) –Orestes (408) –Bacchae (after 406) –Iphigenia in Aulis (after 406) –Cyclops (possibly ca. 410)
Actors and Masks in Greek Theater Roles in the play The main actors (playing multiple characters each) –protagonistes –deuteragonistes –tritagonistes Chorus –12 or 15 choreutes (dancers) –trained to sing and dance from their youth
Actors and Masks in Greek Theater Who could be an actor? –Males –Young males –Young citizen males –Young citizen males with some money or authority in society –Young citizen males with some money or authority in society, and the approval of the Honorable Archon
Actors and Masks in Greek Theater Who could be in the chorus? –males –trained by a poet to sing and dance –twelve or fifteen, depending on when the play was written –the leader was called the coryphaeus (“head man” or “leader”)
Actors and Masks in Greek Theater Masks were used in Greek drama to portray character types or character emotions to the entire audience, which could be up to 20,000 people crowded onto a hillside. These masks fit over the head, with a wig attached, and had large mouth openings so that speech would not be muffled.
Masks in Greek Theater prevented the audience from identifying the face of any actor with one specific character allowed men to impersonate women without confusion helped the audience identify the sex, age, and social rank of the characters were often changed by the actors when they would exit after an episode to assume a new role
Prologos The first speech of an actor (hypokrites) or actors, usually to set up the plot and explain what has happened prior to the play’s beginning.
Structure of the Play Parodos The first speech of the chorus, usually to explain their purpose in being there, or to explain the overall purpose and meaning of the play.The first speech of the chorus, usually to explain their purpose in being there, or to explain the overall purpose and meaning of the play. Be careful! The message can be well hidden!
Structure of the Play EpisodesEpisodes Actions between actors or between an actor and the chorusActions between actors or between an actor and the chorus Their purpose is to present the action or dialogue within the play.Their purpose is to present the action or dialogue within the play.
Structure of the Play StasimaStasima Songs of the chorus addressing an abstract theme of the play, or focusing upon the central theme of the play. The stasima are not necessarily focused on the action of the episodes, but may contain similar themesSongs of the chorus addressing an abstract theme of the play, or focusing upon the central theme of the play. The stasima are not necessarily focused on the action of the episodes, but may contain similar themes.
Structure of the Play ExodusExodus The final resolution of the play, and an explanation of the final actions in the play by one or more of the hypokriteis.The final resolution of the play, and an explanation of the final actions in the play by one or more of the hypokriteis.
Features of Classical Theaters Theaters (like this one at Ephesus) were in Outdoor, open spaces
Features of Classical Theaters earlier theaters had wooden benches
Features of Classical Theaters in later theaters Romans replaced these wooden benches with marble seating
Features of Classical Theaters The skene (from which we get the English word scene) was originally a wooden-framed tent behind the staging area used for costume and mask changing, or for housing actors while off-stage. Eventually, when theaters became more permanent, stone skene buildings were constructed and used as part of the permanent “scenery.”
The Theater of Dionysus Today Situated on the southern side of the Acropolis in Athens, the Theater of Dionysus was the major theater used in Athens and the surrounding country for festivals and celebrations to Dionysus.
The Theater of Dionysus in Athens, Greece Restored by the emperor Nero in 68 A.D. (Computer recreation)
Theater of Epidauros (built 330 B.C., near modern day Nauplion, Greece)
Features of Classical Theaters Thymele: the focal spot acoustically of the orchestra (also called the “sweet spot”), where the sacrifices to Dionysus would be made Theatron: the theater itself Kerkis: a wedge of wooden seats where the audience sat Eisodos: ramps where entrances were made Orchestra: the playing space; it means “place for dancing”
Features of Classical Theaters The fifth-century skene was a single-story building with one central door, which could be used to give the skene the identity of a palace, a temple, a hut, or a cave if necessary.
Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The ekkyklema (“a wheeled-out thing”) was a cart on wheels which carried a dead body onto the stage. It was sacrilegious to show a character actually dying on the stage.