4The Greek Theater 5th Century B. C. Golden Age of Greek Drama Dramatic festivals were popularPeople witnessed tragic and comic plays4
5The role of “drama” in the ancient Greek culture was a specific one: it played a significant part in the religious rites of the period.
6GREEK THEATREReligious festival in honor of the God DIONYSUS; the God of Wine and FertilityHeld in AthensThe festival was thought to have lasted anywhere from 7 to 15 daysPlaywrights would enter plays into a contest; the winner won money and a ivy wreath as a symbol of victory
7Greek 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 playsTragedy means “goat song” (relates to Dionysian rituals)
8The Myths – Why they were written Explained the unexplainableJustified religious practicesGave credibility to leadersGave hopePolytheistic (more than one god)Centered around the twelve Olympians (primary Greek gods)
9How do we know about the Greeks? 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.Lycurgus established a library in 330BC, which was the only way in which we have any record of any of these early Greek works.
11GREEK THEATRE COMEDY: main character achieves his goals TRAGEDY: main character suffers and does not achieve his goalsSATYR (satire): made fun of Greek legendsAll 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
12GREEK PLAYWRIGHTS SOPHOCLES: wrote tragedies; Oedipus Rex AESCHYLUS: wrote tragediesEURIPIDES: wrote tragediesARISTOPHANES: wrote comediesMENANDER: wrote comedies
14Sophocles (496-406 BC) The Ancient Greek Plays & Playwrights A performerIntroduction of the third actorHis works became more actor-lead rather than chorus-leadWrote over 100 plays – 20 won him first prizeONLY SEVEN TEXTS SURVIVEDAjax, The Trachiniae, Philoctetes, ElectraTHE THEBAN LEGEND: His only remaining trilogy consists of “Oedipus Rex,” “Oedipus at Colonus,” and “Antigone.”
15GREEK THEATREGreek 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
30The Ancient Greek Theatre Space Orchestra: a circular area with an altar in the center where the performances took placeSkene: A building behind everything in which the actors changed costumesAudience: Usually the theatre spaces were built into hillsides and the seating was arranged in a large semi-circle
31Periaktos: 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
32DIAGRAM 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.
41The 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 Video
42Some general categories of masks OLD MEN --Smooth-Faced, White, Grizzled, Black-Haired, Flaxen and More Flaxen2. YOUNG MEN--Common, Curled, More Curled, Graceful, Horrid, Pale and Less Pale3. SLAVES--Leathern, Peaked-Beard, Flat Nose4. WOMEN--Freed Old Woman, Old Domestic, Middle Aged, Leathern, Pale-Disheveled, Pale Middle Aged, Whorish-Disheveled, Virgin, Girl5. 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)
46OriginsGreek theatre evolved from ritual and dance with a strong choral focus, to greater emphasis upon dramatic action.
47DionysusThe choric dithyrambs (choral songs) were originally about the death and resurrection of Dionysus (the god of wine and fertility).
48NarrationThe 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.
49FunctionThe 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
50Music and SongThe 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.
51Chorus in-roleWhen 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).
52Objective vs. Subjective The chorus could work within the limits of the action as characters, or from outside the action as impartial commentators.
53Guide for the AudienceThe 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.
54RehearsalChoruses 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.
55Size of the ChorusAs 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.
56Civic ResponsibilityMembers 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.
57Supported 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.
58GREEK THEATRETHESPIS 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
59Gender Male actors performed all the roles Actors switched masks to play a number of roles – both female and male59