Presentation on theme: "Greek Theater. Historical Context The Greek Theater 5 th Century B. C. Golden Age of Greek Drama Dramatic festivals were popular People witnessed tragic."— Presentation transcript:
The Greek Theater 5 th Century B. C. Golden Age of Greek Drama Dramatic festivals were popular People witnessed tragic and comic plays
The role of “drama” in the ancient Greek culture was a specific one: it played a significant part in the religious rites of the period.
GREEK THEATRE Religious festival in honor of the God DIONYSUS; the God of Wine and Fertility Held in Athens The festival was thought to have lasted anywhere from 7 to 15 days Playwrights would enter plays into a contest; the winner won money and a ivy wreath as a symbol of victory
Greek plays were performed during religious ceremonies held in honor of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and revelry (altars generally on stage) Banks would shut down for days, people would travel from all around to see the drama competitions—even prisoners were temporarily released to see the plays Tragedy means “goat song” (relates to Dionysian rituals)
The Myths – Why they were written 1.Explained the unexplainable 2.Justified religious practices 3.Gave credibility to leaders 4.Gave hope 5.Polytheistic (more than one god) 6.Centered around the twelve Olympians (primary Greek gods)
Lycurgus established a library in 330BC, which was the only way in which we have any record of any of these early Greek works. While the Greeks were great at writing plays, they were not so great at keeping them for future reading, most of the early great works were lost. How do we know about the Greeks?
GREEK THEATRE COMEDY : main character achieves his goals TRAGEDY: main character suffers and does not achieve his goals SATYR (satire): made fun of Greek legends All of these play types were written and performed during this time period… although the interpretation of these art forms has evolved they are still the general dramatic forms still written and performed at present
GREEK PLAYWRIGHTS SOPHOCLES: wrote tragedies; Oedipus Rex AESCHYLUS: wrote tragedies EURIPIDES: wrote tragedies ARISTOPHANES: wrote comedies MENANDER: wrote comedies
A performer Sophocles ( BC) The Ancient Greek Plays & Playwrights Introduction of the third actor His works became more actor-lead rather than chorus- lead Wrote over 100 plays – 20 won him first prize ONLY SEVEN TEXTS SURVIVED Ajax, The Trachiniae, Philoctetes, Electra THE THEBAN LEGEND: His only remaining trilogy consists of “Oedipus Rex,” “Oedipus at Colonus,” and “Antigone.”
GREEK THEATRE Greek philosopher ARISTOTLE wrote the work The Poetics about important topics of theatre such as… PLOT (what happens) THEME (the ideas and messages) CHARACTER, MUSIC, DICTION (speech) SPECTACLE (what is seen) were discussed… these topics are still the primary focus of theatre actors and directors in modern theatre
Main Character is of the Elite Class
Main Character suffers a Downfall – He loses everything
Main Character is Neither all good nor all bad
Downfall is the result of a Fatal Flaw – a character flaw (pride/ambition/greed, etc.)
Misfortunes involve characters who are related or who are friends
Tragic actions take place offstage
Main Character has a moment of recognition – understanding what he’s done wrong
Audience experiences pity and fear
Pity and Fear leads to a catharsis
The Greek Stage
Dionysus Theater in Athens
Orchestra: a circular area with an altar in the center where the performances took place Skene: A building behind everything in which the actors changed costumes The Ancient Greek Theatre Space Audience: Usually the theatre spaces were built into hillsides and the seating was arranged in a large semi-circle
Periaktos: Triangle prisms which could be pivoted to reveal three different backgrounds Deus ex Machina: (god from the machine) a crane-like machine that was used to lower an actor, playing the part of god, onto the stage in order to fix the problems at hand
DIAGRAM OF AN ANCIENT GREEK THEATER SPACE You might wish to copy this down, this looks strikingly similar to the diagram that you will be drawing and labeling on the test.
Modern Theater designed to look like one in Ancient Greece
The masks were worn for many reason including: 1. Visibility-- The mask was designed to be oversized in order to better convey the expressed emotion to an audience in a large theater. 2. Sound -- Some masks were designed with a megaphone-like mouth-piece in order to help the actor “project” his voice. 3. Few Actors, Many Roles -- Masks also allowed for one actor to play many different parts in the course of one play. 4. Characterization VideoVideo
Some general categories of masks 1.OLD MEN -- Smooth-Faced, White, Grizzled, Black- Haired, Flaxen and More Flaxen 2. YOUNG MEN--Common, Curled, More Curled, Graceful, Horrid, Pale and Less Pale 3. SLAVES--Leathern, Peaked-Beard, Flat Nose 4. WOMEN--Freed Old Woman, Old Domestic, Middle Aged, Leathern, Pale-Disheveled, Pale Middle Aged, Whorish- Disheveled, Virgin, Girl 5. SPECIALIST MASKS--Some made for specific characters, others for: Mourning, Blindness, Deceit, Drunkenness...etc. (The comic masks, those especially of old comedy, were as like as possible to true persons they represented, or made to appear more ridiculous)
THE CHORUS a group of actors onstage who often spoke in unison to prepare the audience for what is about to happen or what has just taken place
Greek Theatre and the Chorus
Origins Greek theatre evolved from ritual and dance with a strong choral focus, to greater emphasis upon dramatic action.
Dionysus The choric dithyrambs (choral songs) were originally about the death and resurrection of Dionysus (the god of wine and fertility).
Narration The first function of the chorus was as narrator (telling stories, providing information). The purpose of the chorus was to bridge the gap between the audience and the players and to intensify the emotion.
Function The functions of the chorus: · Maintain a sense of ceremony and ritual · Establish a lyric mood through rhythmic chanting and dance · Reinforce the passions of the dramatic action · Connect the audience and the actors by making responses and asking questions · Unite music, dance, and speech and connect dramatic episodes
Music and Song The chorus could punctuate the action of a play with bursts of song and dance, which enlarged the dramatic action and relieved tension. Instruments used to accompany choric songs and dances included flutes, lyres, horns, drums, and bells.
Chorus in-role When the first actor stepped out of the chorus and assumed a role, the chorus was then able to assume a role as well (i.e. If the actor was playing a god, the chorus could become his worshippers).
Objective vs. Subjective The chorus could work within the limits of the action as characters, or from outside the action as impartial commentators.
Guide for the Audience The chorus was the ideal spectator. It provided commentary and questions, gave opinions and warnings, and clarified experiences and feelings of characters in everyday terms. The chorus sympathized with victims, reinforced facts, separated episodes, and often served as spokespeople for the conservative members of the community.
Rehearsal Choruses probably did not rehearse in the theatres in which they later performed. Not wanting spectators to see the play before the festivals, they probably rehearsed in a closed rehearsal room. Early dramatists (Aeschylus and probably Sophocles and Euripides) taught their own choruses.
Size of the Chorus As the number of actors increased from one to three, the size of the chorus, which originally numbered 50, was reduced. The ‘Parados’ (chorus entrance) marks the beginning of the play, and the exodus (its exit) the ending.
Civic Responsibility Members of the chorus were chosen from the general population. Chorus members were unpaid volunteers doing their civic duty. The rehearsal period for a chorus was likely four months or more.
Supported by Community The chorus was trained and costumed at state expense through a choregos (a wealthy citizen) who chose this job as his way of paying taxes and raising his standing in the community.
GREEK THEATRE THESPIS is credited as the first actor; stepped away from the chorus and delivered lines independently from the chorus (International Thespian Society is named in his honor); actors are generally referred to as thespians
Gender Male actors performed all the roles Actors switched masks to play a number of roles – both female and male