Presentation on theme: "The History of Theatre Part one: The Greeks. Before the Greeks there were the Cavemen! As previously mentioned, our earliest ancestors likely re-enacted."— Presentation transcript:
Before the Greeks there were the Cavemen! As previously mentioned, our earliest ancestors likely re-enacted great hunts, harvests, feats of heroism and bravery and perhaps even some love stories for their families around the fire.
Eventually, music may have been added, such as the beat of a drum. Dancing would have almost certainly accompanied that. However – there are no written records of these performances, just speculation.
The Egyptians (surprise) The first record of a theatrical performance comes from ancient Egypt. Dating back to about 2000 BC, it describes a lengthy three day performance arranged by and starring I-Kher-Wofret of Abydos. The performance used realistic battles and high ceremony to reenact the murder, dismemberment, and resurrection of the god Osiris.
But get me to the Greek(s)… Despite the Egyptians, the Greeks are given credit for giving theatre its start. About 1400 years after Osiris met his bloody demise, the Greeks were paying tribute to their gods as well. In honor of Dionysis, the god of wine and fertility, the Greek chorus danced around an alter, upon which a sacrificed goat was placed.
The Chorus The chorus played an important role, keeping the audience informed as to what was happening on-stage. However, in 534 BC, a man named Thespis broke away from the chorus and held dialogue with them on-stage. It is from this lone wolf that we derive the word thespian.
While on stage, the Greek chorus sang a song called “goat song” or tragos. It is from this word that we derive the word tragedy. The Greeks also contributed monumentally to the development of the stage.
By the time women attended theatre around 400 BC, Greek theatres could seat up to 15000 people. Large masks worn by the actors helped those at the back hear better.
Because the plays had so few actors – up to 3 only – the masks allowed one actor to play several roles. Also, because women did not act, these devices allowed men to play women’s roles.
The roof of the ever-expanding theatre structures was used as an acting area for the gods. If the gods needed to fly, a crane-like device called a machina would hoist them into the air.
Deus ex machina (ma ke nah) The term deux ex machina refers to the plot device originating in Greek theatre in which a problem was resolved quite unexpectedly when a god would appear from nowhere and save the day.
Early Greek Playwrights Original copies of Greek plays are disintegrating with the ages, but they are still remembered and performed because of their timeless themes. Some of the famous Greek playwrights competed against each other in playwriting competitions for prizes and public favour.
Aeschylus (b.525 BC) Known as the “Father of Tragedy” Wrote about the choices men make, and the consequences that follow. Famous plays include Agamemnon, the Libation Bearers, and the Euminides.
Sophocles (b.497 BC) Oedipus, the King, Oedipus of Colonus, Electra, and Antigone. He is often compared to Shakespeare as the greatest playwright of all time.
Euripides (b. 484 BC) The last great writer of Greek tragedy The Trojan Women, the Medea, and the Hippolytus. Originated the use of the prologue as a way to summarize the play for the audience before the action.
Aristophanes (b.448 BC) The only writer of ancient Greek comedy whose works still exist in whole today. Modern audiences have less appreciation for Aristophanes, as his style of wit gets lost in translation. His plays mocked the leaders of Athens, the gods, and even his playwright counterparts.