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Theatre in Roman and Christian Europe

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Ilana Solomon

on 4 February 2014

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Transcript of Theatre in Roman and Christian Europe

Theatre in Roman and Christian Europe
When in Rome
For Romans, 'theatre' was always a Greek activity
Roman Theatre
There is no such thing as a typical Roman Play, however the most distinctive feature of the Roman comedy is the figure of the trickster slave
More than just the theatre
an evening seeing a play was often filled with more forms of entertainment. Festivals that began with plays often ended with a chariot-race which appealed to a mass audience.
eventally plays were moved into their own spaces and away from the political forums. Many plays were re-written in a more refined, fine-tuned manner with more subtle statements about the politics of roman society.
While Rome had military strength and will to expand, Greece retained its pre-eminence in the fields of at, literature and philosopy
Due the the established cultural works of Greece Rome chose to import and appropriate Greek art into their culture
The Romans Imported many Greek statues of gods and renamed them for their own.

The roman name for Dionysus was Liber, however the followers of Liber were a non traditionalist orgiastic Cult and so Minerva Goddess of crafts was made patron of Roman theatre
As theatre became more popular in Rome guilds for actors and writers began to form as part of the Temple of Minerva
not the sort of guy you want representing and art form...
Roman Comedy also made use of stock characters types such as 'the handsome youth' the 'father' the 'mother' and the 'braggart soldier'
Spectacle was also a big part of Roman theatre which would include: acrobatics, gladiators, jugglers, athletics, chariots races, naumachia (sea battles), boxing, venationes (animal fights)
What are some of the benefits of showing political issues in a comedy?
Many Roman plays were based mainly off of later Greek Comedies but payed greater attention to logic and a more intellectual humor.
plays were filled with "thoughtful laughter" and also relied on sentimental endings featuring reconciliations between feuding brothers, reunions of long-lost kin, and other devices that perhaps asked the audience to shed a tear amid the laughter
because of inefficient nature of a temporary theatre these more permanent structures would also be used for political assembly. this meant that plays, gladiator fights, and chariot races provided opportunity for the masses to confront politicians from the safety of the crowd.
*this meant that sometimes lines from plays could have direct bearing on politicians present that day
This combination of theatre, entertainment and politics had a way of leading to violence and mob mentality
Plays became more disciplined following something called the 3 unities
THE 3 UNITIES are:
the unity of time
the unity of action
the unity of place
Pantomime
in the later years of roman culture plays shifted more towards the 'mime' or 'Pantomime ' style
Pantomime relied heavily on costumes, masks, singing and music and often dealt with themes like adultery
The end of Roman Theatre
The Church declared a ban on dancing and mysteries performed by men and women according to an ancient custom alien to Christian life.
No man is to wear female dress, nor a woman to wear what belongs to a male. No-one is to don the masks of comedy, the satyr play or tragedy. No-one is to shout the abominable name of 'Dionysus' while treading grapes in the press, nor celebrate the wine pouring
a mystery plays so named from the latin "misterium" meaning "occupation" were christian plays which told stories of the bible (such as the creation of the world, the Flood, or the life, death, and resurrection of Christ)
Christian Theatre
since theatre could not be eliminated, the choice was to restrain or appropriate. Restraint was done by removing state funding and forcing place out of the theatre and into open air spaces without a formal audience space.
Appropriation however proved to be more successful. Christianity overcame paganism by a process of absorption, turning pagan festivals into christian festivals, pagan temples into churches, and pagan sanctuaries into cemeteries.
eventual y elements of theatre were integrated into church services, though music and dramatic enactments
Christian characters such as Mary are written in to become the heroines of the Christian tragedy, while still modeled in speech and action after greek dramatic females
plays were still used to make statements about society but were done with christian characters and stories
Mystery Plays
these plays were often performed as part of a chain of plays each being performed on a different pageant wagon
very often a different guild would be responsible for a particular biblical scene
Morality Plays
Moriarty plays were often written in regional dialects
these plays were often performed by nomadic groups in great halls, and homes. the featured Characters who represented religious ideas rather than individuals. Unlike the mystery plays they utilised the extremes of both stern religious piety and vulgarity to both preach and entertain.
these plays depicted characters who were everyday people rather than biblical figures. throughout the play other characters would try to convince them to live a life of good or evil.
Example of a list of Characters
MANKIND: represents the human race
MERCY: Represents forgiveness
MISCHIEF: Represents bad behavior
NEW GUISE: Represents fashion
NOUGHT: Represents Irrelevance
NOWADAYS: Represents Modernity
TITIVILLUS: a Devil
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