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The Theatre of Ancient Greece … where Drama begins.

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Presentation on theme: "The Theatre of Ancient Greece … where Drama begins."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Theatre of Ancient Greece … where Drama begins

2 The Purpose of Drama Ritual worship of the gods became the beginnings of what we now think of as Drama – the performance of a story in front of an audience for the express purposes of entertainment and education. The celebrations that were held in honour of the god Dionysius were the first festivals of theatre.

3 Who was Dionysius? Dionysius was the god of fertility and wine. His sacred animal was the goat. Wine and alcohol were believed to contain great power—enough to alter human behaviour. The festivals celebrated spring and harvest and worshippers drank wine and sang hymns of praise.

4 The Festivals … The festival commenced with a procession bearing an image of Dionysius to the theatre. Participants carried phallic symbols and other sacred objects. At the end of the procession animals were sacrificed, bloodless offerings were made.

5 The Festivals … Dramatic competitions were held in local theatres. Each day's performance included three tragedies followed by a comedy (a Satyr play). Performances were judged by priests, who declared winners at the festival’s end. The winner wore the laurel crown for the entire year. This tradition still holds true today.

6 The Ritual Priests assembled in a sacred grove where a small temple had been built. They sacrificed animals and sang dithyrambs (goat songs) or chanted in honour of Dionysius, retelling stories associated with him. The priests formed what we now call a chorus.

7 The Theatres … By the 5 th century B.C., the small temples in sacred groves had been replaced by much larger wooden or stone otheons (odeons). They were built into natural hillsides close to cities (Athens) or in sacred sites (Delphi, Epidauros). They held many thousands of people.

8 The Ancient Theatre of Delphi

9 The audience sat in the theatron (“seeing-place”), a semi-circle around an open area called the orchestra (“dancing ground”) where the chorus danced and sang. These theatres were acoustical marvels.

10 The Skene Behind the orchestra, there was a long low building, serving as both scenery and backstage, called the skene from which we get the word “scene”.

11 The Paradoi The audience entered and exited the theatre by way of the aisles. The actors entered the stage through two large arches, called paradoi.

12 The Actors …

13 The Actors They were always male—women were not allowed onstage. Originally, there was only a chorus, but a priest named Thespis may have stepped away from the chorus and performed a solo speech, becoming the first actor. Thus the term, “thespians”. Every actor was capable of playing both male and female roles, and any one of five ages: child, youth, young adult, mature adult and old age.

14 The Three Actors The Agonists The word agon means “to suffer” (agony) or “to compete.” Remember this!

15 The Protagonist The first actor or leading man. The “first competitor” or (as an ancient pun), “first sufferer”, since all tragedies concerned the suffering and fall of a hero. Oedipus and Creon are both referred to as the protagonists of their stories. This actor usually played only one role.

16 The Duotagonist The second actor who plays the supporting role, or the person with whom the protagonist has at least one important conflict. These actors usually played more than one role in a tragedy, portraying characters such as Ismene, Jocasta, Electra (sisters and wives to the various heroes.)

17 The Antagonist The character with whom the protagonist is most often in conflict – e.g.Tereisias the blind prophet in Oedipus or Antigone in Antigone. These characters give the protagonist the opportunity to make a major error in judgment, and so suffer misfortune. Nowadays, the term means “villain”.

18 The Chorus Originally, the plays were solely the chorus. The chorus interacted with both audience (helping spectators follow the performance) and players.

19 The Masks … Every actor on the Ancient Greek stage wore a mask. Masks offered –Visibility –Acoustic assistance –Limitless role potential –Characterization –Safety from the gods’ wrath

20 The Purpose of Tragedy: Catharsis Now cracks a noble heart … Goodnight, sweet prince, And flights of angels Sing thee to thy rest! ~ Horatio, Hamlet Emotional purging— particularly of pity and fear.

21 Aristotle’s Tragic Structure Hubris Hamartia Anagoresis Peripeteia Epiphany Nemesis

22 Hubris Overarching pride Icarus

23 Hamartia Literally “missing the mark.” Hamartia results in the fall of a noble due to some excess or mistake, not a deliberate violation of the gods’ laws.

24 Anagoresis Recognition—a shocking discovery, made by the tragic hero that reveals the truth of his identity or actions, as when Oedipus is told of his true identity after he has fulfilled his fate.

25 Peripeteia Reversal of fortune, positive or negative. Aristotle’s Poetics explains this as a shift in the protagonist’s fortunes from good to bad— essential for a tragedy. Moves the plot to its denouement. The action/event produces an effect contrary to what is intended or expected.

26 Epiphany A sudden occurrence or experience resulting in an intuitive insight or perception into the reality or meaning of something.

27 Nemesis “Dispenser of dues.” Avenger: The goddess of fortune and fate dispensing divine retribution—retributive justice. Warranted punishment, not poetic justice.

28 Nemesis (cont.) A person or force that inflicts punishment or revenge. “Coolly and methodically, [Tom] Horn went about tracking rustlers down and shooting them …”

29 The Tragic Hero Great and noble, but not perfect Identifiable, we view them with a mixture of “pity and fear” Tragic flaw—hubris Commission of some error (hamartia) that dooms our hero

30 The Unities Place – the setting is in one location. Time – the passage of no more than one day (thus some of Shakespeare’s plays were considered scandalous) Action – actions and scenes should contribute directly to the main plot

31 Five Essential Sections of Greek Tragedy Parados – chorus enters to explain what has happened leading up to this point Episode – actors speak about the plot and interact with the chorus Stasimon – chorus comments on the episode Exodus – final chorus chant discussing the moral of the tragedy Prologue – monologue or dialogue presenting the topic


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