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Storytelling, Egypt, the Bible and the Greek stage

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Presentation on theme: "Storytelling, Egypt, the Bible and the Greek stage"— Presentation transcript:

1 Storytelling, Egypt, the Bible and the Greek stage
The birth of Theatre Storytelling, Egypt, the Bible and the Greek stage

2 This oral tradition was a form of entertainment and education.
Ancient Storytelling The teller of stories has everywhere and always found eager listeners. Whether his tale is the mere report of a recent happening, a legend of long ago, or an elaborately contrived fiction, men and women have hung upon his words and satisfied their yearnings for information or amusement, for incitement to heroic deeds, for religious edification, or for release from the overpowering monotony of their lives. —Stith Thompson ucandoit/story.html This oral tradition was a form of entertainment and education.

3 In time, people probably began acting out stories of hunts or religious events.
The earliest record of a theatrical performance was in Egypt over 4000 years ago. The earliest actors were probably hunters who retold their adventures. These early actors later started wearing masks to represent animals or characters and used rhythmic chants and dances to tell their stories. More and more this acting began to resemble drama as we know it. Eventually, this storytelling became a way to worship gods and earthly leaders. (The Book of Job and Song of Solomon in the Old Testament are dramatic forms/dialogue.) First record of theatrical performance—carved on a stone tablet 4000 years ago, told of a man who arranged and played in a 3-day pageant of actual battles, ceremonies, etc. that told the story of the murder and dismemberment and resurrection of the Egyptian god Osiris Little is known about these Egyptian performances, but it is believed that they were based on actual events or religious beliefs, not fictional stories. museum-zerotolerance.htm

4 All five types of Egyptian plays are serious, and all were performed in special tombs or in temples.
Pyramid plays were about the ascent of the soul to become a star. They were written on tomb walls and performed by priests. Pyramid plays include plot, characters and basic stage directions. Medicinal play—Goddess Isis has child who is bitten by a scorpion. Isis heals her son by using artificial respiration and a magic cure.

5 All five types of Egyptian plays are serious, and all were performed in special tombs or in temples.
Pyramid plays The Coronation Festival Play was performed at the crowning of a new pharaoh.

6 All five types of Egyptian plays are serious, and all were performed in special tombs or in temples.
Pyramid plays The Coronation Festival Play also known as the Coronation Jubilee play, enacted events of the pharaoh’s reign during his thirtieth year on the throne. The Heb Sed

7 All five types of Egyptian plays are serious, and all were performed in special tombs or in temples.
Pyramid plays The Heb Sed The Coronation Festival Play The Medicinal Play told the story of magical healing from the goddess Isis.

8 All five types of Egyptian plays are serious, and all were performed in special tombs or in temples.
Pyramid plays The Heb Sed The Coronation Festival Play The Medicinal Play The Abydos Passion Play tells the story of Set, the god of evil, who kills his brother Osiris, who is resurrected and becomes King of the Dead, ruling over mortals who ascend to heaven. The annual production of this play lasted several days as part of a religious festival. It included a mock water battle on the Nile and a funeral procession in which the audience participated.

9 What common thread runs through all five types of Egyptian plays?
Pyramid plays The Heb Sed The Coronation Festival Play The Abydos Passion Play The Medicinal Play Egyptian plays reflect their concern with life after death and their worship of pharaohs and the gods.

10 Ancient Hebrew writings in the Old Testament mention dance and ritual and read much like drama…
The Book of Job is almost like a five-act drama with a prologue and epilogue. cantique_det1_en.htm The Song of Solomon contains poetic dialogue spoken by a bride and groom. Codes/Nations/main_gir.html …but there is no evidence that these writings were performed.

11 Ancient Greeks held ceremonies to honor the gods
In one ceremony, to honor the god Dionysus, a group of chanters called a chorus danced around an altar upon which a goat was sacrificed. mg/html/ html The members of the chorus were called the “goat singers” and their ritualistic chant was called the tragos or “goat song.” Still, these performances were not truly “plays.” The art of words appeared long before the art of writing These ceremonies evolved into dramatic contests with written plays.

12 Who? Average citizens What? Performances When? c. 500 B.C.
Where? Greece Who? Wealthy citizens bore the cost of production as a means of paying income tax. Audiences watched from sunrise to sunset, brought lunch and entire families. Everyone was expected to attend because drama was such a religious spectacle. (Actors were only men. For hundreds of years, men performed only for men. Women were only allowed to attend after 4 B.C. and were never allowed to perform) What? Performances lasted 7 days. Plays and chants. When? Several times a year, especially at religious holidays Where? Several theatres around Greece. The Theatre of Dionysus was just below the Acropolis in Athens.

13 One of these celebrations paid tribute to Dionysus,
Why ? ? ? ? To worship the gods Greeks worshipped their gods by performing on religious holidays One of these celebrations paid tribute to Dionysus, God of Fertility, Wine and Rebirth Other gods include Apollo, Athena, etc. (pagan, worshipped several gods) The competition was held once or twice a year, on religious holidays Festival of Dionysus held in spring for 3-6 days Statue of Dion. Was placed at the front of the stage so “he could enjoy” Centuries later, actors were considered heathens, on the same level as prostitutes, etc. because acting was associated with pagan worship

14 The Festival of Dionysus
The Festival was held in Athens, Greece each Spring Each year three playwrights were chosen to present 3 tragedies and 1 satyr play (comedy) in the festival competition Satyr play provided comic relief and rounded out the festival with mirth. The satyr play is so called because of its chorus which consists of satyrs, grotesque woodland spirits having human form with a horse's ears and tail. Only one satyr play survives, the Cyclops of Euripides, which parodies the story of Odysseus and Polyphemus in the Odyssey. Playwrights submitted scripts to jury of 10 citizens—those judged most worthy were performed—1 playwright/day ~our Oscars or Tony Awards, but the award was a little different—the winning playwright was given a goat which was then sacrificed. Later, gold was given as a prize Question: Do we worship in the same way? Yes, Easter, Christmas programs often incorporate dramatic performances. Some churches even incorporate dance, flags, skits as regular Sunday worship. Lots of church groups have drama troupes. vienne/en/theatre3.htm

15 The Language of Theatre
comes from the Greek word(s)… meaning… The word… dran “to do, to act” Drama Tragedy tragos seido “goat” “song” Dran—not pronounced “drahn” Seido—pronounced “saydo” (When tragos seido appears, ask students if they remember those words from earlier in the presentation. Do they remember what they meant?) Goat was sacred to Dionysus, so a group of chanters (chorus) danced around an altar in goat skins and goat tails, while they sacrificed a goat—they were “goat singers” whose chant was the tragos seido or goat song, a sort of dance-rhythm poem The Greek influence can also be seen when we look at the ancient Greek stages Comedy komos seido “revel” “song”

16 The Greek Stage was in an Open Amphitheatre or Hillside
Full costume No curtain No lighting effects No microphones As many as 15,000 people in audience (Photo: Theatre of Dionysus) Originally, seats and stage were in wood, but through the years, the theatres were “remodeled” in stone Why so many people? Only form of entertainment=storytelling,theatre, chariot racing, gladiator fights ) no Internet, no TV, no books for most bc no printing press and many people =illiterate What would be the difficulty for such a large audience? Seeing and hearing

17 Say what?? Who’s that?? To help the audience see and hear…
Only 2 or 3 actors were on stage at a time Stages were designed to provide the best acoustics Actors wore masks Small # of actors on stage so won’t confuse aud. trying to see far away

18 These masks helped audiences see a character’s…
∞Gender ∞ Age ∞ Emotion ∞Personality ∞Social status Some historians argue that the masks were also designed to act as megaphones to help carry voices of the actors Look at the two masks in the top right hand corner. What can you tell about their gender, age, emotion, personality, social status? Some masks were built with one face on front (maybe happy) and one on back (maybe scared) to allow more versatility in actors Masks worn as helmet/hat (covered entire head) First made of lead, then linen dramadir.html

19 The Greek Stage

20 The Greek Stage Skene—long, low building that served both as dressing room and conventional backdrop for action Proskenion—raised platform in front of skene Orchestra—main circular acting area Thymele— platform on which an altar was placed, usually at the center of the orchestra Paradoi—side entrances or ramps onto the orchestra Skene—(pronounced “skeenee”) a changing house built behind the orchestra to make changing masks or costumes easier Later had scenery painted on the side facing the audience This is the basis for our word SCENE Scenery was always stylized. This meant that is was NOT realistic. A lightning bolt might represent a storm, A sun might represent a pleasant day, etc Orchestra - Literally "the dancing place", circular or nearly circular space of the Greek theater situated in front of the stage, in which the chorus went through its evolutions Had altar for Dionysus in center THEATRON - The curved seating or viewing area of a theater, also referred to as the auditorium or the CAVEA –Theatron means literally “to see” or “to hear”—the seeing place Paradoi—side entrances or ramps onto orchestra, used by chorus (similar to our word Parade) Thymele –A place for sacrifice, an “altar," the platform at the center or at some point along the periphery of the orchestra. Theatron—semicircular seating area surrounding three sides of stage

21 Epidaurus: The best-preserved Greek theatre
The acoustics are so perfect that even a person sitting in the worst seat can hear a coin drop in the center of the performance area. Extremely well-preserved outdoor stone theatre, home to a famous sanctuary of the god of medicine, Asclepius Audiences are transported back to life in ancient Greece with revival Influential on modern theater design Semi-circular theater is built into a hillside and can seat up to 15,000 spectators for performances of dramatic plays (Originally seated 6,210, until the expansion of 21 rows) On Friday and Saturday evenings in the summer, the theater fills with modern audiences who come to see performances of classic ancient Greek dramas. Hist-Greece/location.htm

22 Greek stage conventions and devices
Divinities were sometimes characters in plays. Mechane—simple crane used to swing characters from a trap door in the roof of the skene down onto the proskenion or orchestra. The earliest known use of the mechane was in the year 431. Deaths were not permitted on stage. Eccyclema—literally, “a wheeled out thing” used to roll out the effects of violence Periaktoi—(pronounced “pariahktoy”) Thespis—was originally part of the chorus, but he stepped out and spoke to the chorus, becoming the first “actor” in 534 B.C. From his name, we get the word “Thespian” Eccyclema aerial view and side view Periaktoi—3-sided sets that revolved to change scenes Stages had no wing space or fly space to store scenery.

23 “Travel through time” to the beginnings of theatre
Choose one of the following activities: Construct a mask similar to the ones used in the ancient Greek theatre and present it to the class. Explain to the class the character’s personality, social position and age as symbolized in the mask. For simple one-dimensional masks, use posterboard and decorate with magic markers, yarn, etc. For three-dimensional masks, decorate a blank mask, or brown paper bag for two-sided masks. Prepare a poster (22”x24”) which illustrates the major features of Egyptian or Greek theatre and present it to the class. Include at least seven accurate facts and three graphics.

24 Amy Pugh Patel Created by S.R. Butler High School Huntsville, AL

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