Greek Tragedy: Scenery and Costume Minimal Scenery and props Platform shoes, and elongated togas with high waistbands Masks stood for characters: – Grief-Happiness – Anger-Bearded King – Old Man-Young Girl
Masks in Greek Theater Masks portray character types or character emotions Fit over the head Wig attached Large mouth openings for speech
Greek Tragedy: 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.
Greek Tragedy: Theatrical Machines (mechanai) The mechane (machine) was a crane-like machine that could lift a character up as if flying, or could carry an actor, usually in the guise of a god, to the top of the skene.
Greek Tragedy: 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”) – All men – Chanted or danced
Greek Tragedy: Chorus Chorus – Provided “emotional bridge” How? Through its five functions.
Greek Tragedy: Chorus Five Functions of Chorus – Set the mood – Represent common person – Takes a moral side/stand – Will warn characters – Expresses itself in common language, which is usually in contrast with hero
Greek Tragedy: Actors Who could be an actor? – Males
Greek Tragedy: Actors – One to three actors For most of the 5 th century, no more than three were used
Greek Tragedy: Conventions Play Observed Aristotle’s unities of time, place, and action – Time: Took place during a twenty-four hour period – Place: One setting – Action: No subplots
Greek Tragedy: Conventions All violence took place off stage Emotions of characters most important elements of play
Greek Tragedy: Tragic Hero/Protagonist Worthy Mature Imperfect Disaster will befall him/her Believes in his freedom to make choices Hubris Suffers Transfiguration—Becomes a better person His/her tragedy causes a life reflection
Greek Tragedy: Structure Encroachment – Bites off more than he can chew
Greek Tragedy: Structure Complication – Forces build up against the hero – Events become so complex that no single action can resolve them
Greek Tragedy: Structure Reversal – Clear to audience that hero’s expectations are mistaken – Hero might have a suspicion as to where his actions will take him. Usually, he/she is ignorant though.
Greek Tragedy: Structure Catastrophe – Moment hero realizes full guilt – Hero realizes helplessness in the hands of the gods
Greek Tragedy: Structure Recognition – Chorus suggests a larger order and sense of life exists beyond the hero’s downfall – Catharsis
What is Catharsis? Literally means “to purge” or “to purify”—to cleanse. For a tragedy, catharsis references – The release of pent up emotions or energy (many times negative)