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The Greek Theater. Closely adapted from: Bill Worthen. The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Gassner, John. Introducing the Drama. New York: Holt, Reinhart.

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Presentation on theme: "The Greek Theater. Closely adapted from: Bill Worthen. The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Gassner, John. Introducing the Drama. New York: Holt, Reinhart."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Greek Theater

2 Closely adapted from: Bill Worthen. The Harcourt Brace Anthology of Drama. Gassner, John. Introducing the Drama. New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, Inc Gassner, John. Introducing the Drama. New York: Holt, Reinhart and Winston, Inc Pickering, Kenneth. Studying Modern Drama. 2nd edition. London : Palgrave MacMillan, 2002.

3 Ancient Drama Great drama arises where the theater occupies an important place in the life of the community. Theater as we know it has its origins in the early days of Greece; in many respects, Western understanding of drama originated in fifth-century classical Athens, where the theater played a central role in politics, religion, and society. Great drama arises where the theater occupies an important place in the life of the community. Theater as we know it has its origins in the early days of Greece; in many respects, Western understanding of drama originated in fifth-century classical Athens, where the theater played a central role in politics, religion, and society.

4 City Dionysia The city of Dionysia, the most prominent of the four religious festivals honoring Dionysus, was held between December and April in Athens and the surrounding province of Attica. Although its purpose was primarily religious, the City Dionysia was structured around a series of contests between individual citizens and between major Athenian social groups—the ten (later twelve to fifteen) “tribes” that formed the city’s basic political and military units. The city of Dionysia, the most prominent of the four religious festivals honoring Dionysus, was held between December and April in Athens and the surrounding province of Attica. Although its purpose was primarily religious, the City Dionysia was structured around a series of contests between individual citizens and between major Athenian social groups—the ten (later twelve to fifteen) “tribes” that formed the city’s basic political and military units.

5 Dionysus Dionysus (or Bacchus, as the Romans called him) was the god of wine and fertility. Every year the Greeks held a number of festivals in his honor. On these occasions, the worship of Dionysus took the form of a combination of dance and song, accompanied by music and wine. Dionysus (or Bacchus, as the Romans called him) was the god of wine and fertility. Every year the Greeks held a number of festivals in his honor. On these occasions, the worship of Dionysus took the form of a combination of dance and song, accompanied by music and wine. itsa.ucsf.edu/.../greece/ hetairai/dionysus.jpg

6 Aeschylus These festivals, at first improvised in a spirit of lively religious fervor, became formalized in the seventh century BCE. The first great writer for this theater was Aeschylus, who lived from BCE; he is considered the father of Greek Tragic Drama. These festivals, at first improvised in a spirit of lively religious fervor, became formalized in the seventh century BCE. The first great writer for this theater was Aeschylus, who lived from BCE; he is considered the father of Greek Tragic Drama. itsa.ucsf.edu/.../greece/ hetairai/dionysus.jpg

7 Sophocles The first great rival of Aeschylus was Sophocles, who appeared in annual theatrical competitions beginning in 471 BCE. The first great rival of Aeschylus was Sophocles, who appeared in annual theatrical competitions beginning in 471 BCE. ball.tcnj.edu/pols270/plato/ tour/gallery.htm

8 Oedipus Rex Oedipus Rex was first staged in 429 BCE as one of a group of plays presented at the City Dionysia. Oedipus Rex was first staged in 429 BCE as one of a group of plays presented at the City Dionysia. fall00/crazy.htm

9 Dramatic Contests Three days were set aside for these dramatic contests; each competitor wrote three plays (hence the name trilogy), which usually dealt with tragic events befalling one family. The dramatist was also expected to write a fourth play—a humorous, satiric drama dealing with the same or loosely related material. The four plays together made up a tetralogy. Three days were set aside for these dramatic contests; each competitor wrote three plays (hence the name trilogy), which usually dealt with tragic events befalling one family. The dramatist was also expected to write a fourth play—a humorous, satiric drama dealing with the same or loosely related material. The four plays together made up a tetralogy.

10 Greek Chorus The Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides—and the comedies of Aristophanes—included a CHORUS. The chorus of tragedies was composed of fifteen men who were all highly trained in “declamation,” music, and dancing. In the comedies, the chorus numbered about twenty four. The Greek tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides—and the comedies of Aristophanes—included a CHORUS. The chorus of tragedies was composed of fifteen men who were all highly trained in “declamation,” music, and dancing. In the comedies, the chorus numbered about twenty four. greece/delphi.html

11 Audience All citizens, however poor, were entitled to see the plays. The audience was composed of all classes of society except slaves, and totaled between fifteen and twenty thousand spectators. All citizens, however poor, were entitled to see the plays. The audience was composed of all classes of society except slaves, and totaled between fifteen and twenty thousand spectators.

12 A Public Spectacle Greek theater was a public spectacle—a kind of cross between Inauguration Day, the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, Memorial Day, and a major religious holiday. Greek theater was a public spectacle—a kind of cross between Inauguration Day, the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, Memorial Day, and a major religious holiday. photos.html focus15.html

13 Agora Plays were first produced in the AGORA (marketplace), which often served as a performance place for festivals in Athens and elsewhere. Plays were first produced in the AGORA (marketplace), which often served as a performance place for festivals in Athens and elsewhere.

14 The Acropolis The size and importance of the City Dionysia, however, required a separate site, and a theater was built on the slope of the Acropolis, near the precinct of Dionysus. The size and importance of the City Dionysia, however, required a separate site, and a theater was built on the slope of the Acropolis, near the precinct of Dionysus. pics/acropolis.jpg

15 The Original Theater The original theater, a ring of wooden seats facing a circular floor, was later refined, enlarged, and constructed of stone. The original theater, a ring of wooden seats facing a circular floor, was later refined, enlarged, and constructed of stone. pompeii/slide70.htm

16 The Amphitheater By the time of Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, the Athenian theater had achieved its basic design: a circular floor for dancing and acting, ringed by a hillside AMPHITHEATER and backed by a low, rectangular building. By the time of Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, the Athenian theater had achieved its basic design: a circular floor for dancing and acting, ringed by a hillside AMPHITHEATER and backed by a low, rectangular building. postcards/ppcs-alameda.html

17 Theater and Civic Life The experience of theater in classical Athens was in some ways akin to participation in other institutions of civic life; attendance at City Dionysia was like other aspects of public life in Athens—a privilege and an obligation mainly reserved for citizens. The experience of theater in classical Athens was in some ways akin to participation in other institutions of civic life; attendance at City Dionysia was like other aspects of public life in Athens—a privilege and an obligation mainly reserved for citizens.

18 Athenian Tribes At the theater, citizens sat together with members of their tribe. In a way, the theater mirrored the organization of Athenian society because the tribes formed the basis for political participation outside the theater. At the theater, citizens sat together with members of their tribe. In a way, the theater mirrored the organization of Athenian society because the tribes formed the basis for political participation outside the theater.

19 Fifth-Century Athens The fifth century BCE was the era of Athens’ greatest political power and cultural vitality and an era of intense reciprocity between Athenian theater and society. The fifth century BCE was the era of Athens’ greatest political power and cultural vitality and an era of intense reciprocity between Athenian theater and society.

20 Influence of Greek Theater Theater became one of Greece’s most widely disseminated cultural products. When Alexander the Great conquered Greece, the Near East, and northern Africa, he took Greek culture—including theater and drama—with him throughout his empire. Theater became one of Greece’s most widely disseminated cultural products. When Alexander the Great conquered Greece, the Near East, and northern Africa, he took Greek culture—including theater and drama—with him throughout his empire.

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