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The Golden Age of Ancient Greek Theatre

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1 The Golden Age of Ancient Greek Theatre
the origins of drama

2 The Origins Of Drama The Dances Celebrating Dionysus soon evolved into dramas (or, plays). The story goes: Thespis, a popular writer of Songs, is said to have invented drama when he asked one “performer” to stand outside the chorus to engage in some “call and response.”

3 Word Origin The modern word “thespian,” meaning actor, comes from the name Thespis.

4 The Chorus Because of the Musical origins of Greek drama, the plays featured Choruses. The chorus danced and either sung or chanted their lines.

5 Functions of the chorus
an agent: gives advice, asks, takes part establishes ethical framework, sets up standard by which action will be judged ideal spectator - reacts as playwright hopes audience would sets mood and heightens dramatic effects adds movement, spectacle, song, and dance rhythmical function - pauses / paces the action so that the audience can reflect.

6 Word Origin The modern word “drama” comes from the Greek word dran meaning "to do” The Greeks understood the role of action in plays.

7 The Theatre of Dionysus
The first plays were performed in the Theatre of Dionysus, built in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens at the beginning of the 5th century, These theatres proved to be so popular they soon spread all over Greece.

8 Amphitheatres Plays were performed outdoors.
The side of the mountain was scooped out into a bowl shape, something like our amphitheatres today, and tiers of stone seats in semi-circles were built on the hill. These theatres often seated as many as 20,000 spectators, with a special first row being reserved for dignitaries.


10 Theatron The theatron (literally, "viewing-place") is where the spectators sat. The theatron was usually part of hillside overlooking the orchestra, and often wrapped around a large portion of the orchestra.

11 Word Origin The modern word “theater” comes from the Greek word theatron meaning "seeing place"

12 Orchestra The orchestra (literally, "dancing space") was normally
circular. It was a level space where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with the actors who were on the stage (called the Proskenion) in front of the skene. In the center of the orchestra there was often an altar.

13 Skene The skene (literally, "tent") was the building directly in back of the stage, and was usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them.

14 Parados The parodoi (literally, "passageways") are the paths by which the chorus and some actors (such as those representing messengers or people returning from abroad) made their entrances and exits.

15 The Actors All of the actors were men. Women were not allowed to participate. The actors played multiple roles, so a wooden, cork, or linen mask was used to show the change in character or mood.

16 Staging All killing had to occur off stage and be reported to the audience by the chorus or a messenger. The deus-ex-machina was a crane-like device occasionally used for lowering in a god to assist the protagonist in neatly solving his problems.

17 The City Dionysia Festival
In the sixth century BC, the Athenian ruler, Pisistratus, established the 'City Dionysia', a festival of entertainment held in honor of the god Dionysus. This festival featured competitions in music, singing, dance and poetry. Playwrights presented a series of three tragedies, or a trilogy. Interspersed between the three plays in the trilogy were satyr plays

18 Communal Involvement The entire city would be in attendance.
All other businesses not directly involved with the 6-day festival would shut down, so that everyone could attend. The government even offered financial assistance to those who could not afford to attend.

19 Types of Greek Drama Comedy Tragedy Satyr
Comedy and tragedy were the most popular types of plays in ancient Greece. Hence, the modern popularity of the comedy and tragedy masks to symbolize theatre.

20 Word Origin The word “comedy” comes from the Greek word “komos” which means “band of revelers.”

21 Tragedy The word tragedy came to be derived from the Greek tragos (goat) and ode (poem). Tragedy literally means goat song or goat poem.

22 Traits of Tragedy Late point of attack
Violence and death occurred offstage Frequently used messengers to relate information Stories based on myth or history, but varied interpretations of events Focus was on psychological and ethical attributes of characters, rather than physical and sociological.

23 structure of a tragedy Prologue, which describes the situation and sets the scene Parados, an ode sung by the chorus as it made its entrance Five dramatic scenes, or episodes--the last of which is called the Epilogue Each episode is followed by a stasimon, a choral ode, an exchange of laments by the chorus and the protagonist. (This ode is sometimes called a komos.) Exodus, the climax and conclusion

24 Sophocles ( bc) His plays are more character-driven rather plays that heavily use the chorus He is credited with adding a third character His works include: Oedipus Rex & Antigone

25 The Final Curtain By the time of Sophocles' death in 406 BC the golden era of Greek drama was ending. Athens was overrun in 404 BC by the Spartans, and was later torn apart by constant warring with other city states, eventually falling under the dominion of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian armies. Theatre went on but did not return to the same creative heights until Elizabethan England two millennia later.

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