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Greek Theatre

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Title: Greek Theatre


1
Greek 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
Theatre at Epidaurus
8
Curved seats may have aided acoustics.
9
ACTORS
  • No tragedy 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

10
Greek Theatre Masks
11
THE CHORUS the voice of the citizens
12
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. They played drums, lyres and flutes,
    and chanted as they danced around a statue of
    Dionysus.
  • 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, Pisistratus,
    changed the Dionysian Festivals and instituted
    drama competitions. Thespis won the first
    competition in 534 BC.

13
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
  • A Tetralogy, then, is a series of 4 plays 3
    tragedies and one satyr play

14
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.
15
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

16
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

17
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

18
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 Pelopennesian War
    brought about disillusionment with Athens
  • Men and women bring disaster on themselves
    because their passions overwhelm their reason

19
TRAGIC ACTION
ARETE, ARISTEIA excellence
HUBRIS arrogance
HAMARTIA fatal mistake
PERIPETEIA reversal of fortune
ANAGNORISIS understanding
KATHARSIS
20
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

21
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

22
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 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
23
ARISTOPHANES c. 448 - 380 BCE
  • 30 plays 11 extant 6 first prizes
  • Plays include
  • Clouds
  • Wasps
  • Birds
  • Lysistrata
  • Frogs (Lenaia 405)
  • 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.

24
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25
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,
    boy 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

26
MENANDER 342-292 bce
  • 1905 a manuscript was discovered in Cairo that
    contained pieces of five Menander plays, and in
    1957 a complete play, Diskolos (The Grouch, 317
    BC), was unearthed in Egypt.
  • Menanders comedy with its emphasis on mistaken
    identity, romance and situational humor, became
    the model for subsequent comedy, from the Romans
    to Shakespeare to Broadway.

27
  • Parts of Menanders comedies found their way
    into plays by
  • Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence
  • Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors
  • Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the
    Way to the Forum.

28
The End
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