The earliest origins of drama are ancient hymns, called dithyrambs. These were sung in honor of the god Dionysus. These hymns were later adapted for choral processions in which participants would dress up in costumes and masks.
Greek tragedies and comedies were always performed in outdoor theaters.
Early Greek theaters were probably little more than open areas in city centers or next to hillsides where the audience, standing or sitting, could watch and listen to the chorus singing about the exploits of a god or hero.
From the late 6th century BC to the 4th and 3rd centuries BC there was a gradual evolution towards more elaborate theater structures, but the basic layout of the Greek theater remained the same
Skene : (literally, "tent") The skene was directly in back of the stage, and was usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them.
Parodos : (literally, "passageways") The paths by which the chorus and some actors made their entrances and exits. The audience also used them to enter and exit the theater before and after the performance.
1. Of or relating to drama; dramatic: thespian talents. 2. Thespian Of or relating to Thespis
Does the name Thespis remind you of anything? Can you guess which modern word goes back to this early actor’s name?
Four Qualities of Greek Drama: 1. Performed for special occasions (festivals). Athens had four festivals worshipping Dionysus. 2. Competitive --prizes were awarded. Actors and playwrights competed ( Oedipus won 2 nd place) 3. Choral – There was singing; the chorus was made up of men (from 3 to 50). The chorus sang, moved, and danced. They moved the story along. 4. The stories were based on myth or history
Prologue , which described the situation and set the scene
Parados , an ode sung by the chorus as it made its entrance
Five dramatic scenes , each followed by a Komos , an exchange of laments by the chorus and the protagonist
Exodus , the climax and conclusion
Tragedies were often presented in trilogies. Interspersed between the three plays in the trilogy were satyr plays , in which satyrs (men dressed as half-goats) made fun of the characters in the surrounding tragedies.
a flaw or mistake that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy
The Greek term "harmartia," typically translated as "tragic flaw," actually is closer in meaning to a "mistake" or an "error," "failing," rather than an innate flaw.
The character's flaw must result from something that is also a central part of their virtue, which goes somewhat arwry, usually due to a lack of knowledge.
By the time of Sophocles' death in 406 BC (128 years after Thespis' victory in the first Athenian drama competition) the golden era of Greek drama was ending.
Athens, whose free-thinking culture had spawned the birth of theater, would be overrun in 404 BC by the Spartans, and would later be torn apart by constant warring with other city states, eventually falling under the dominion of Alexander the Great and his Macedonian armies.
Theater continued, but it would not return to the same creative heights until Elizabethan England two millenia later.