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Greek Theatre


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Overview of Greek origins of Drama and Oedipus

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Greek Theatre

  1. 1. Greek Theater
  2. 2. The origins of drama <ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Word Origin <ul><li>The modern word “drama” comes form the Greek word dran meaning &quot;to do&quot; </li></ul>
  4. 4. Definition <ul><li>Dithyrambs: a poem, chant, or hymn of ancient Greece sung by revelers at the festival in honor of the god Dionysus </li></ul>
  5. 5. Greek Theater <ul><li>Greek tragedies and comedies were always performed in outdoor theaters. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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 </li></ul>
  6. 7. Parts of the Theater <ul><li>Orchestra : (literally, &quot;dancing space&quot;) A circular and level space where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with the actors who were on the stage near the skene. </li></ul><ul><li>Theatron : (literally, &quot;viewing-place&quot;) This is where the spectators sat. The theatron was usually part of hillside overlooking the orchestra. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Parts cont. <ul><li>Skene : (literally, &quot;tent&quot;) 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. </li></ul><ul><li>Parodos : (literally, &quot;passageways&quot;) 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. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Theatre of Dionysus <ul><li>The first plays were performed in the Theatre of Dionysus, built in the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens at the beginning of the 5th century, </li></ul><ul><li>These theatres proved to be so popular they soon spread all over Greece. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Word Origin <ul><li>The modern word “theater” comes from the Greek word theatron meaning &quot;seeing place&quot; </li></ul>
  10. 11. Why Dionysus? <ul><li>In Greek Mythology Dionysus was the son of Zeus. He is the only god born of one god and one mortal parent. </li></ul><ul><li>He was the god of wine, fertility and revelry. </li></ul>
  11. 12. Dionysis cont. <ul><li>He was raised by satyrs, killed, dismembered, and resurrected (was actually reborn). </li></ul><ul><li>Other gods had temples, the cult of Dionysis met in the wood. </li></ul><ul><li>It was believed that he could liberate and inspire man. It was also believed that he could endow man with divine creativity. Dionysus, thus, came to be considered a patron of the arts </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>In the sixth century BC, the Athenian ruler, Pisistratus, established the 'City Dionysia', a festival of entertainment held in honor of the god Dionysus. </li></ul><ul><li>This festival featured competitions in music, singing, dance and poetry. </li></ul><ul><li>The most remarkable of all the winners was said to be a wandering bard named Thespis. </li></ul>The “City Dionysia”
  13. 14. Word origin <ul><li>thespian : </li></ul><ul><li>1. Of or relating to drama; dramatic: thespian talents. 2. Thespian Of or relating to Thespis </li></ul>Does the name Thespis remind you of anything? Can you guess which modern word goes back to this early actor’s name?
  14. 15. 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
  15. 16. Essential pieces of Greek drama <ul><li>The play </li></ul><ul><li>The actors </li></ul><ul><li>The chorus </li></ul>
  16. 17. The Play: Types of Greek Drama <ul><li>Comedy </li></ul><ul><li>Tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>Satyr Plays </li></ul>Comedy and tragedy were the most popular types of plays in ancient Greece. Hence, the modern popularity of the comedy and tragedy masks to symbolize theater.
  17. 18. Comedy <ul><li>not admitted to Dionysus festival till 487-486 B.C. – late </li></ul><ul><li>The first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness. </li></ul><ul><li>The first master of comedy was the playwright Aristophanes. </li></ul><ul><li>exaggerated, farcical, sensual pleasures </li></ul>
  18. 19. Structure of the Comedy: <ul><li>Prologue — leading character conceives a &quot;happy idea&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Parados : entrance of the chorus </li></ul><ul><li>Agon : dramatized debate between proponent and opponent of the &quot;happy idea&quot; </li></ul>
  19. 20. Comedy cont. <ul><li>Parabasis : chorus addresses audience on poet’s views on topic </li></ul><ul><li>Episodes : &quot;Happy idea&quot; is put to practical application </li></ul>
  20. 21. The Greek tragedy <ul><li>Late point of attack </li></ul><ul><li>Violence and death offstage </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent use of messengers to relate information </li></ul><ul><li>Usually continuous time of action </li></ul><ul><li>Usually single place </li></ul><ul><li>Stories based on myth or history, but varied interpretations of events </li></ul><ul><li>Focus is on psychological and ethical attributes of characters, rather than physical and sociological. </li></ul>
  21. 22. Tragedy cont. <ul><li>Tragedy dealt with love, loss, pride, the abuse of power and the fraught relationships between men and gods. </li></ul><ul><li>Typically the main protagonist of a tragedy commits some terrible crime without realizing how foolish and arrogant he has been. Then, as he slowly realizes his error, the world crumbles around him. </li></ul><ul><li>The three great playwrights of tragedy were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. </li></ul>
  22. 23. Word Origin <ul><li>The word tragedy came to be derived from the Greek tragos (goat) and ode (poem). Tragedy literally means goat song or goat poem. </li></ul>
  23. 24. The Structure of Greek Tragedy <ul><li>Prologue , which described the situation and set the scene </li></ul><ul><li>Parados , an ode sung by the chorus as it made its entrance </li></ul><ul><li>Five dramatic scenes , each followed by a Komos , an exchange of laments by the chorus and the protagonist </li></ul><ul><li>Exodus , the climax and conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  24. 25. Tragic flaw <ul><li>a flaw or mistake that brings about the downfall of the hero of a tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>The Greek term &quot;harmartia,&quot; typically translated as &quot;tragic flaw,&quot; actually is closer in meaning to a &quot;mistake&quot; or an &quot;error,&quot; &quot;failing,&quot; rather than an innate flaw. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Satyr Plays <ul><li>These were short plays performed between the acts of tragedies. They made fun of the plight of the tragedy's characters. </li></ul><ul><li>The satyrs were mythical half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus. </li></ul>
  26. 27. Word Origin <ul><li>Does the term Satyr remind you of any modern day term? </li></ul><ul><li>The Satyr and the Satyr plays spawned the modern word satire . </li></ul>
  27. 28. The Actors <ul><li>All of the actors and playwrights were men. Women were not allowed to participate. </li></ul><ul><li>The actors played multiple roles, so a mask was used to show the change in character or mood. </li></ul><ul><li>Gestures and body movements were controlled and stately </li></ul><ul><li>If playing female role — need for female appearance — wore the prosternida before the chest and the progastrida before the belly </li></ul>
  28. 29. The Chorus <ul><li>Functions of the chorus </li></ul><ul><li>an agent: gives advice, asks, takes part </li></ul><ul><li>establishes ethical framework, sets up standard by which action will be judged </li></ul><ul><li>ideal spectator - reacts as playwright hopes audience would </li></ul><ul><li>sets mood and heightens dramatic effects </li></ul><ul><li>adds movement, spectacle, song, and dance </li></ul><ul><li>rhythmical function - pauses / paces the action so that the audience can reflect. </li></ul>
  29. 30. Sophocles <ul><li>Sophocles: (496-406 B.C.) The son of a wealthy merchant, he would enjoy all the comforts of a thriving Greek empire. </li></ul><ul><li>By the age of sixteen, he was chosen to lead a choir of boys at a celebration of the victory of Salamis. </li></ul><ul><li>By age 28 his studies complete, and he was ready to compete in the City Dionysia--a festival held every year at the Theatre of Dionysus in which new plays were presented. </li></ul>
  30. 31. Sophocles cont. <ul><li>won 24 contests, never lower than 2 nd </li></ul><ul><li>Added a third actor and scenery </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with the relationship between gods and human fate </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with tragic irony, the contrast between human fate and human ignorance </li></ul><ul><li>Concerned with the importance of free will/moral choice </li></ul><ul><li>Struggle even if struggle is hopeless; each character embodies a certain moral ideal </li></ul><ul><li>Portrays humans as they OUGHT to be </li></ul><ul><li>Believed evil/moral failings stemmed from ignorance </li></ul>
  31. 32. <ul><li>complex characters, psychologically well-motivated </li></ul><ul><li>emphasis on individual characters </li></ul><ul><li>characters subjected to crisis leading to suffering and self recognition - including a higher law above man </li></ul><ul><li>exposition carefully motivated </li></ul><ul><li>scenes suspense fully climactic </li></ul><ul><li>action clear and logical </li></ul><ul><li>poetry clear and beautiful </li></ul><ul><li>few elaborate visual effects </li></ul><ul><li>theme emphasized: the choices of people </li></ul>Characteristics of Sophocles' plays:
  32. 33. We will be looking at: <ul><li>Oedipus: </li></ul><ul><li>The story of Oedipus was well known legend to Sophocles’ audience. </li></ul><ul><li>Aristotle used this play and its plot as the supreme example of tragedy </li></ul><ul><li>Sigmund Freud famously based his theory of the “Oedipal Complex” on this story </li></ul><ul><li>Antigone: </li></ul><ul><li>Antigone was probably the first of the three Theban plays that Sophocles wrote, although the events dramatized in it happen last. </li></ul><ul><li>Antigone is one of the first heroines in literature, a woman who fights against a male power structure, exhibiting greater bravery than any of the men who scorn her. </li></ul>
  33. 34. The Final Curtain <ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul><ul><li>Theater continued, but it would not return to the same creative heights until Elizabethan England two millenia later. </li></ul>