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Greek and Roman Theatre

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General in Persian Wars -- fought at Marathon, Salamis, Platea ... Added Roman allusions, Latin dialog, varied poetic meters, witty jokes. Some techniques: ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Greek and Roman Theatre


1
Greek and Roman Theatre
2
Greek Festivals
  • Festivals honored Olympian gods
  • Ritual Competitions
  • Olympics Apollo
  • Athletics
  • Lyric Poetry
  • Drama Dionysos
  • Dithyrambic Choruses
  • Tragedy
  • Comedy

3
Greek Theatre
  • 6th - 4th century bce
  • Originated in festivals honoring Dionysos
  • Tragedy
  • Aeschylus (524-456 bce)
  • Sophocles (496-406 bce)
  • Euripides (480-406 bce)
  • Comedy
  • Old Comedy bawdy and satiric
  • Aristophanes (c. 485- c.385 bce)
  • New Comedy social situations
  • Menander (342-292 bce)

4
Theatre Festivals
  • There were two festivals during which dramatic
    productions were staged.
  • The Greater Dionysia took place at the end of
    March or the beginning of April
  • Three days were given over to theatrical
    competition.
  • Three playwrights each took part in the contests
    Each tragedian put on a trilogy in the morning
    and each comic writer put on one comedy in the
    afternoon.
  • The festival at Lenaes, staged at the end of
    January or the beginning of February, placed its
    emphasis on comedy

5
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7
ACTORS
  • No play used more than 3 actors
  • All actors were male
  • Costumes included character masks, and, in later
    years, raised boots
  • Acting must have more expressive than realistic

8
ORIGINS of TRAGEDY
  • Tragedy, derived from the Greek words tragos
    (goat) and ode (song), told a story that was
    intended to teach religious lessons
  • Arose from dithyrambic choruses The dithyramb
    was an ode to Dionysus. It was usually performed
    by a chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs --
    mythological half-human, half-goat servants of
    Dionysus.
  • In 600 BC, formal lyrics were written for the
    dithyramb.
  • In the 6th c. bce Thespis of Attica added an
    actor who interacted with the chorus. This actor
    was called the protagonist.
  • In 534 BC, the ruler of Athens, Psistratus,
    changed the Dionysian Festivals and instituted
    drama competitions. Thespis won the first
    competition in 534 BC.

9
Tragic Tetralogies
  • Each tragic dramatist had to present a trilogy
    of tragedies connected narratively or
    dramatically
  • The entire trilogy was performed in one day.
  • The trilogy was followed by a satyr play -
    mocking and lightening the seriousness of the
    tragedies

10
TRAGIC STRUCTURE
PROLOGOS Introductory
scene
PARADOS Entry of chorus
EPISODEION
STASIMON
4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes,
including the
PAEAN a hymn of praise to the gods
EXODOS final scene
EPODE final ode.
11
ARISTOTLES THREE UNITIES
  • Aristotles On Tragedy is usually considered the
    first piece of Western dramatic criticism. In
    it, he proclaimed that tragedy must follow the 3
    unities
  • UNITY OF TIME one day
  • UNITY OF PLACE one setting
  • UNITY OF ACTION one plot

12
AESCHYLUS 525-456 bce
  • General in Persian Wars -- fought at Marathon,
    Salamis, Platea
  • Fierce proponent of Athenian ideals
  • The first of the great Athenian dramatists, was
    also the first to express the agony of the
    individual caught in conflict.
  • Credited with adding the second actor
  • Only extant trilogy The Oresteia
  • Agamemnon
  • The Libation Bearers
  • The Eumenides

13
SOPHOCLES 496 - 406 bce
  • Wrote over 100 plays, but only seven survive
  • Credited with adding the third actor
  • Known as actor as well as dramatist
  • Most interested in human dynamics
  • THEBAN PLAYS
  • Oedipus the King
  • Oedipus at Colonnus
  • Antigone

14
EURIPIDES c.480-406 bce
  • The last of the three great Greek tragic
    dramatists -- 17 plays survive
  • Explored the theme of personal conflict within
    the polis and the depths of the individual
  • Disgust with events of Peloponnesian War
    brought about disillusionment with Athens
  • Men and women bring disaster on themselves
    because their passions overwhelm their reason

15
TRAGIC ACTION
ARETE, ARISTEIA excellence
HUBRIS arrogance
HAMARTIA fatal mistake
PERIPETEIA reversal of fortune
ANAGNORISIS understanding
KATHARSIS
16
ORIGINS of OLD COMEDY
  • Arose from komos songs of revelry, charms to
    avert evil, prayers for fertility sung to
    Dionysus
  • Chorus dressed ludicrously
  • Audience responded to choral komos and were
    gradually admitted into chorus
  • Chorus became two-part group with antiphonal
    song
  • Invention of comic chorus is attributed to
    Susarion
  • Dorian and Sicilian farces were precursors of
    Old Comedy

17
CONVENTIONS of OLD COMEDY
  • Scene set on Athenian street
  • Events seldom occur they are merely talked
    about
  • Masks and fantastic costumes
  • Satiric of contemporary events and public
    figures
  • Bawdy

18
COMIC STRUCTURE
Prologos introductory scene
Parados entry of 24 member chorus dressed in
fantastic costume
Agon argument just prior to the agon, the
leader of the chorus always asks - in exactly 2
lines - one contender to present his argument,
and it is this contender who always loses
Parabasis choruss great song
4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes
illustrating the outcome of the agon
Episodeion Stasimon
Komos final choral song and exit in wild revelry
19
ARISTOPHANES c. 448 - 380 BCE
  • 30 plays 11 extant 6 first prizes
  • Plays include Clouds, Wasps,Birds, Frogs,
    Lysistrata
  • Critique of Euripides Socrates reactionary
    conservative social critic
  • Plato's epitaph for Aristophanes The Graces,
    seeking a shrine that could not fall, discovered
    the soul of Aristophanes.

20
New Comedy
  • By 317 BC, a new form had evolved that resembled
    modern farces mistaken identities, ironic
    situations, ordinary characters and wit.
  • Basic plot Boy meets girl, complications arise,
    bot gets girl ends with betrothal or marriage.
  • 5 act structure acts divided by interludes
    performed by the chorus
  • Stock characters young lovers, parasite,
    lecherous old men, clever servants, etc.
  • Social rather than political satire

21
MENANDER 342-292 bce
  • 1905 a manuscript was discovered in Cairo with
    pieces of five of Menanders plays, and in 1957 a
    complete play, Diskolos (The Grouch, 317 BC), was
    unearthed in Egypt.
  • The style of comedy that Menander created, with
    its emphasis on mistaken identity, romance and
    situational humor, became the model for
    subsequent comedy, from the Romans to Shakespeare
    to Broadway.
  • Parts of his comedies found their way into plays
    by the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence,
    Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, Stephen
    Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to
    the Forum.

22
ROMAN THEATRE
  • Drama flourished under the Republic but declined
    into variety entertainment under the Empire
  • Roman festivals Held in honor of the gods, but
    much less religious than in Greece
  • Ludi Romani Became theatrical in 364 B.C. Held
    in September (the autumn)and honored Jupiter. By
    240 B.C., both comedy and tragedy were performed.
  • Five others Ludi Florales (April), Plebeii
    (November), Apollinares (July), Megalenses
    (April), Cereales (no particular season).
  • Under the Empire, these festivals afforded
    "bread and circuses" to the masses many
    performances. including a series of plays or
    events. Acting troupes (perhaps several a day)
    put on theatre events.

23
ROMAN THEATRE
  • Encompassed more than drama acrobatics,
    gladiators, jugglers, athletics, chariots races,
    naumachia (sea battles), boxing, venationes
    (animal fights)
  • Entertainment tended to be grandiose,
    sentimental, diversionary
  • Actors / performers were called "histriones"

24
INFLUENCES on Roman Theatre
  • Greek Drama borrowed plots and stories less
    philosophical
  • Etruscan influences emphasized circus-like
    elements
  • Fabula Atellana Atellan farces (town near
    Naples).
  • Short improvised farces, with stock characters,
    similar costumes and masks
  • based on domestic life or mythology burlesqued,
    parodied
  • popular during the 1st century B.C., then
    declined
  • may have influenced commedia dell Arte

25
Roman Theatre Design
  • First permanent Roman theatre built 54 A.D. (100
    years after the last surviving comedy) So
    permanent structures came from periods after
    significant writing
  • More that 100 permanent theatre structures by
    550 A.D.
  • Built on level ground with stadium-style seating
    (audience raised)
  • Could seat 10-15,000 people
  • Awning over the audience to protect them from
    the sun
  • During the Empire around 78 B.C, cooling system
    installed air blowing over streams of water

26
Roman Theatre Design
  • Skene becomes scaena joined with audience to
    form one architectural unit
  • S tages raised to five feet, 20-40 feet deep,
    100-300 feet long,
  • 3-5 doors in rear wall and at least one in the
    wings
  • scaena frons façade of the stage house had
    columns, niches, porticoes, statues painted
  • stage was covered with a roof
  • trap doors were common
  • Orchestra becomes half-circle
  • Paradoi become vomitorium into orchestra and
    audience

27
Theatre of Marcellus (drawing)
28
TYPES of Roman Theatre
  • Roman Drama 2nd c. bc - 4th c. ce
  • Livius Andronicus 240 204 B.C. wrote,
    translated, or adapted comedies and tragedies,
    the first important works in Latin. Little is
    known, but he seems to have been best at tragedy.
  • Gnaeus Naevius 270-201 B.C. excelled at comedy,
    but wrote both
  • Both helped to "Romanize" the drama by
    introducing Roman allusions into the Greek
    originals and using Roman stories.

29
ROMAN COMEDY
  • Chorus was abandoned
  • No act or scene divisions
  • Songs
  • Everyday domestic affairs Boy meets girl,
    complications, boy gets girl marriage
  • Action placed in the street
  • Bawdy
  • Stock characters
  • Only two playwrights' material survives
  • Titus Maccius Plautus (c. 254-184 B.C.)
  • Publius Terenius Afer Terence (195 or 185-159
    B.C.)

30
STOCK CHARACTERS
  • Senex old man in authority
  • Pappas foolish old man
  • Bucco braggart, boisterous
  • Miles gloriosus braggart soldier
  • Dossenus swindler, drunk, hunchback
  • Shrew sharp-tongued woman
  • Courtesan
  • Clever servant
  • Young Lovers

31
PLAUTUS (c. 254-184 B.C.E.)
  • 21 extant plays including Pot of Gold, The
    Menaechmi, Braggart Warrior -- probably between
    205-184 B.C.
  • All based on Greek New Comedies
  • Added Roman allusions, Latin dialog, varied
    poetic meters, witty jokes
  • Some techniques
  • Stychomythia dialog with short lines, like a
    tennis match
  • Slapstick
  • Songs

32
TERENCE (195 or 185-159 B.C.E.)
  • Born in Carthage, came to Rome as a boy slave,
    educated and freed
  • The Afer in his name may indicate that he was an
    African, and therefore he may have been the first
    major black playwright in western theater.
  • Six plays, all of which survive including The
    Brothers, Mother-in-Law, etc.
  • More complex plots combined stories from Greek
    originals.
  • Character and double-plots were his forte
    contrasts in human behavior
  • Less boisterous than Plautus, less episodic,
    more elegant language.
  • Less popular than Plautus.

33
Roman Tragedy
  • None survive from the early period, and only one
    playwright from the later period Lucius Annaeus
    Seneca
  • 5 act structure later adopted by Elizabethans
  • Elaborate speeches -- rhetorical influence
  • Interest in morality expressed in sententiae
    (short pithy generalizations about the human
    condition)

34
SENECA (5 or 4 B.C.E. 65 C.E.)
  • Nine extant tragedies, five adapted from
    EuripidesThe Trojan Women, Media, Oedipus,
    Agamemnon
  • His popularity declined,
  • Suicide in 65 A.D. at the orders of Nero
  • Seneca had a strong effect on later dramatists.
  • Probably closet dramasmeant to be read to an
    audience rather than performed

35
Senecan Conventions
  • Violence and horror onstage (Jocasta rips open
    her womb, for example)
  • Characters dominated by a single passion such
    as revenge drives them to doom known as
    Senecan Revenge tragedies during Renaissance.
  • Technical devices
  • Soliloquies and asides
  • Confidants take the place of the chorus
  • Ghosts interest in supernatural and human
    connections

36
Roman Spectacle
  • Gladiatorial combats
  • Chariot races
  • Naumachia Naval battles in a flooded Coliseum
  • Real-life theatricals
  • Decadent, violent and immoral
  • All theatrical events banned by Church when Rome
    became Christianized
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