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Ancient Greek Theatre

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Kerry Bland

on 30 March 2014

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Transcript of Ancient Greek Theatre

All You Need To Know!
All were men or boys
Amateurs not professionals
All chorus, dancers and singers
Over time solo lines were given - to actors - only 3 who had to play lots of parts
Had to use big gesture so large audience could see
Wore masks for facial expression and to amplify the voice through hole
In 534 BC Thespis of Attica became the first person to speak solo lines
First version of the Oscars!
Most famous poets (playwrights) from this time were Sophocles (496 -406BC), Euripides (484 - 407BC) and Aristophanes (448 - 385BC)
Plays publicly funded by wealthy families
Aristotle says...
Discuss with the person next to you all the similarities and differences between ancient greek theatre and theatre today - note them down!
Built on hillsides in the open air
Hold more than 14,000 spectators
Audience semi-circular shape and tiered
All could see and hear
Orchestra - for dancing and chorus
Proskenion - Raised stage area
Skene - building used as backstage, became painted
Periaktoi - first changeable scenery
Where did it begin?
Records suggest theatre became a part of Greek culture during the 5th Century BC
It began through religious festivals where the Greeks honoured their Gods - they danced, chanted and drank
Dionysus was the God of fertility and wine and was celebrated at an annual festival in March
This took place in Ancient Athens
The Festival was called 'City Dionysia'
2 Main genres to come out of Greek Theatre?
Often about the past - stories from the mythic past
Actors wore dark clothes
means 'goat song'
Evolved from dithyrambs, songs sung in praise of Dionysus.
Began as improvisations
Poet Arion credited with developing the dithyramb into a narrative sung by a chorus
Downfall of a noble hero or heroine
Hero's wish to achieve a goal encounters limits from either themselves, other people, the gods or nature.
Tragic hero should have a flaw or make some mistake
Most Greek tragedies the hero dies - along with many others! Hero doesn't always need to die, maybe a change in fortune
spoken by one or more characters
usually gives the mythological background necessary to understand the play
Chorus enters singing and dancing
Dialogue between characters and chorus
Sung sections where chorus danced
(Repeat last two until)
Chorus exit singing song usually offering words of wisdom
Antigone by Sophocles - written around 441BC
Theban Princess Antigone buries her brother Polynices against the will of the King Creon, her Uncle.
She gets caught and is sentenced to death by live burial and starvation.
But she hangs herself rather than draw out the death agony.
Prince Haemon, Antigone's first cousin and husband-to-be, is distraught when he finds Antigone dead and kills himself with his own sword.
Queen Eurydice, Haemon's mother and Creon's wife, kills herself with a sharp knife.
Creon loses everything and everyone that gives his life meaning even though he backs down, has Polyneices buried and plans to release Antigone.
More about current and everyday life
Bright and colourful clothes
Came from imitation
Aristophanes wrote most of the comedy plays
Choral dancing, masked actors and poetry were still incorporated into comedy
Showed caricatures, slapstick and mockery of political figures
Aristotle (Greek philosopher 384 - 322BC):
Comedy is a representation of laughable people and involves some kind of blunder or ugliness which does not cause pain or disaster
"comedy represents men as worse than they are in real life, whereas tragedy shows them better. Tragedy uses real people, whereas comedy uses stereotypes".
Old Comedy
arose around 450 BC.
Included strong abuse and personal vilification
Used against people and objects the Greeks didn't like
Mocking jokes against a certain person were degrading and ridiculous and included a lot of sexual and insulting remarks
Middle Comedy
mostly lost and no clear timeline
Towards the end of Aristophanes
Took out the chorus
Switched from mockery of a certain person to humanity's bad habits in general
Comedy dealt with classes rather than individuals - mocking the social classes
Ended fourth century BC
New Comedy
Began after the death of Alexander the Great in 323 to 260 BC
Menander (344 - 292BC) was the most famous playwright
Used ordinary characters from everyday life experiencing social mishaps
Less farcical than Aristophanes plays
Including: strict fathers, young lovers, interesting slaves
First time that love was one of the main topics
Lysistrata by Aristophanes written in 411 BC
Two thousand five hundred years ago, two thousand years before Shakespeare, theatre was born in Athens, Greece. Between 500 and 200 BC

Aristophanes' comedy "Lysistrata" is the last of his War and Peace trilogy. The play focuses on one woman, Lysistrata, who manages to end the Pelopennesian War almost single-handedly. She convinces the women of the Greek provinces to band together in order to end the war. Lysistrata's group of women seize the Acropolis, Athens' treasury. Perhaps more important to the male characters of the play is the fact that they also refuse to have sex with their husbands until the peace is returned. The plot of the play is relatively simple, the women are beseiged by a group of old men whom they ridicule. They break the siege effortlessly, and also restore peace to Athens. The manner of comedy used by Aristophanes, however, is relatively complicated. Although at its heart it is a surprisingly raunchy sex play, one of the most important comedic devices that Aristophanes uses is that of inversion. The men throughout the play are seen as weak, stupid warmongers who run around with erections the entire play. The women, on the other hand, are truly in control. They posess all the qualities that were attributed to men at the time: resolution, strength of character, intelligence, the ability to strategize.
What's more, they are they only thing holding the men's households together. With their abstinence from the house, all the domestic affairs fall to pieces. One man shows up to the Acropolis with a baby who hasn't been bathed in a week. In addition to painting the men as complete imbeciles, the Spartans too are looked down upon. They are ridiculed for their lack of a "dignified civilization" like Athens was famous for. This is reflective of the time of the piece, as Athens had just reached its pinnacle before it became entangled in the Pelopennesian War, which it would lose to Sparta about seven years after the play. Despite our tendency to white-wash the sexuality of the past, it is still evident here. The entire play is laced with obvious sexual connotations and jokes (the men even run around wearing leather phalluses). Although some of the humor has lost its touch, the majority of the play is still good for a laugh, if you enjoy raunchy comedy.

Source: http://www.shvoong.com/books/2181-lysistrata/#ixzz2Lqvg7LX5
1. Religion - multi-cultural
2. Mythical - realism
3. Orchestra
4. Seating status
5. Buildings - roofs!
6. Wires - flying
7. Entertainment - money-making
8. Women!
Your first task...
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