Week 10 Presentation Stacy Anderson Hannah Hardwick Brynn Ligas
Theatre was born in Athens, Greece between 600 and 200 BC. Ancient Athenians created a theatre culture, and plays that are considered some of the greatest works.
The theatre of Ancient Greece evolved from religious rites which dates back to at least 1200 BC In an area called Thrace, Greece a cult arose that worshipped Dionysus, the god of Fertility and procreation. The cults most controversial practice involved uninhibited dancing and emotional display that was thought to created an altered mental state. This Altered state was known as „ecstasis‟ from which the word ecstasy is derived from.
Ecstasy was an important religious concept to the Greeks, who would come to see theatre as a way of releasing powerful emotions through its ritual power. What started out as purely religious ceremonies to worship and tell about the adventure of Dionysus evolved into theatre.
A essential part of the rites of Dionysus was the dithyramb; meaning choric hymn This hymn about the adventures of Dionysus would normally be accompanied by mimic gestures and music. It was probably performed by a chorus of about fifty men dressed as satyrs (half man, half goat)- servants of Dionysus. Introduced into Athens shortly before 500 BC it soon became a competitive subject during festivals.
Soon the Dithyramb became less about Dionysus and more about other subjects from all periods of Greek It was in Athens that Thespis of Attica added an actor to interact with the chorus during the hymn of Dionysus From there, one actor became two and now instead of a choric chant you have a play.
Plays and Drama back than were much more simpler than what we now have as plays. There were normally only two or three actors allowed on the stage at a time. And the stage settings and costumes were very simple Also most actors didn‟t wear make up, but instead used elaborately decorated mask when acting.
The first of one of the most famous play writers in Athens was Aeschylus (c. 525-456 BCE) He wrote around seventy to ninety plays though only seven survived. Second was Sophocles (c. 496-406 BCE) who was a very well know play writer and who played a significant role in Athenian social and political life. Thirdly there was Euripides (c. 485-406 BCE) who often wrote plays that were bold and irreverent. It is thought to believe he wrote ninety-two plays but only nineteen survived.
Born in 495 B.C. about a mile northwest of Athens,Sophocles was to become one of the greatplaywrights of the golden age.
In his first competition, Sophoclestook first prize--defeating noneother than Aeschylus himself. Morethan 120 plays were to follow. Aeschylus 525- 456 B.C
An accomplished actor, Sophocles performed in many of his own plays. However, his voice was comparatively weak, and eventually he would give up his acting career to pursue other ventures.
Of Sophocles more than 120 plays, onlyseven have survived in their entirety. • Ajax (447 B.C.E. ) • Antigone (442–441 B.C.E. ) • Trachiniae (437–432 B.C.E. ) • Oedipus Rex (429 B.C.E. ) • Electra (418–414 B.C.E. • Philoctetes (409 B.C.E. ) • Oedipus at Colonus (401 B.C.E. )
Ajax (447 B.C.E. )In the hero, described as second only to Achilles, ishumiliated (reduced to a lower position in the eyes ofothers) by Agamemnon and Menelaus when theyaward the arms of Achilles to Odysseus. Ajax vowsrevenge on the Greek commanders as well as onOdysseus. Except, the goddess Athena makes himbelieve he is attacking the Greeks when he is in factattacking sheep. When he realizes what he hasdone, he is so upset that he commits suicide. He isgiven a proper burial only after Odysseus steps in tomake it possible.
Antigone (442–441 B.C.E. )The title character is a young princess whoseuncle, King Creon, has forbid her to bury herbrother Polyneices. Her brother, in attemptingto seize the throne from his brother Eteocles,killed Eteocles in a fight and also died himself.Antigone has been interpreted as showing theconflict between devotion to family anddevotion to the state.
Trachiniae (437–432 B.C.E. )Heracless wife, Deianira, worries about thefifteen-month absence of her husband. Deianirasends him a poisoned robe that she believeshas magical powers to restore lost love. Herson, Hyllus, and her husband denounce herbefore dying, and she commits suicide. In thisplay Sophocles describes the difficult situationof the person who, without meaning to, hurtsthose whom he or she loves.
Oedipus Rex (429 B.C.E. )Which many have considered the greatest play ofall time, is not about sex or murder, but mansability to survive almost unbearable suffering.The worst of all things happens to Oedipus:unknowingly he kills his own father, Laius, and isgiven his own mother, Jocasta, in marriage afterhe slays the Sphinx. When a plague (a bacteria-caused disease that spreads quickly and cancause death) at Thebes forces him to consult anoracle (a person through whom a god is believedto speak), he finds that he himself is the causeof the plague.
Electra (418–414 B.C.E. )Sophocless only play whose theme is similar tothose of the works of Aeschylus ( LibationBearers ) and Euripides (484–406 B.C.E. ; Electra). Again Sophocles concentrates on a characterunder stress: a worried Electra, anxiouslyawaiting the return of her avengingbrother, Orestes.
Philoctetes (409 B.C.E. )Odysseus is sent with young Neoptolemus, theson of Achilles, to the island of Lemnos to bringback Philoctetes with his bow and arrows tohelp capture Troy. Neoptolemus has secondthoughts and refuses to deceive the old man.Philoctetes clearly shows how man andsociety can come into conflict and how societycan toss aside an individual when it doesnot need him.
Oedipus at Colonus (401 B.C.E. )Produced after Sophocless death, is the longest ofhis dramas. It brings to a conclusion his concernwith the Oedipus theme. Exiled by Creon, Oedipusbecomes a wandering beggar accompanied by hisdaughter Antigone. He stumbles into a sacredgrove at Colonus and asks that Theseus besummoned. Theseus arrives and promises himprotection, but Creon tries to remove Oedipus.Theseus comes to the rescue and foils Creon. Thearrival of his son Polyneices angers Oedipus, whocurses him. Oedipus soon senses his impendingdeath and allows only Theseus to witness the eventby which he is changed into a hero and a saint.
The works of Sophocles deal with howcharacters react under stress (mentalpressure). Sophocles heroes are usuallysubjected to a series of tests that theymust overcome.
Sophocles is credited with increasing thenumber of actors with speaking parts in aplay from two to three. He raised thenumber of chorus members from twelve tofifteen and developed the use of paintedscenery. He also abandoned the practiceof presenting tragedies as trilogies (seriesof three works) by instead presentingthree plays with different subjects. Thisled to faster development of characters.
In addition to his theatrical duties, Sophocles served for many years as an ordained priest of Alcon and Asclepius, the god of medicine. He served on the Board of Generals, a committee that administered civil and military affairs in Athens. He was director of the Treasury, controlling the funds of the association of states known as the Delian Confederacy.
Sophocles had twosons, Iophon andSophocles, by his firstwife, Nicostrata. He had athird son, Ariston, by hissecond wife, Theoris.
The Greek playwrightSophocles wasresponsible for severalimprovements in thepresentation of drama.His tragedies (plays inwhich characterssuffer because of theiractions and usuallydie) rank him amongthe greatest Greekclassical dramatists.
Merriman, C. D. "Sophocles." The Literature Network. Jalic Inc, 2011. Web. 23 Oct 2011. <http://www.online- literature.com/sophocles/>. "Encyclopedia of World Biography."Sophocles Biography. Advameg, Inc, 2011. Web. 23 Oct 2011. <http://www.notablebiographies.com/Sc- St/Sophocles.html>. Denault, Leigh. “Drama: Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides”. The Glory that was Greeece. 2003. Web. 24 Oct. 2011 http://www.watson.org/~leigh/athens.html
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