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Roman Theater

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Kendall Mead

on 7 April 2011

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Transcript of Roman Theater

Roman Theatre The Beginning of Roman Theatre There were three major influences on the Ancient Romans' perspective of theatre, the Greeks, Etruscans, and the Oscans. The two major influences were the Greeks and the Etruscans. The beginnings of Roman theatre recorded: the first record of drama at the Ludi Romani (Roman Festival or Roman Games). By 345 A.D., there were 175 festivals a year, 101 devoted to theatre.In 55 B.C., the first stone theatre was built in Rome (by Julius Caesar) Types of Characters in Roman Plays Stock characters were very important in Roman comedy. A stock character is one that the audience will be familiar with and that is used in many plays. Some examples are a braggart soldier, a strong victorious soldier, a clever and scheming slave, a strict father, a playboy son, a cheap slave dealer, and a cook. A purple robe meant the character was a rich man.
A yellow robe meant the character was a woman. (Needed in early Roman theatre, as originally female characters were played by men, however as the Roman theatre progressed, women took the roles of women in plays.)
A yellow tassel meant the character was a god.
A red wig meant the character was a servant.
White robes and white wigs meant the character was an elderly character.
A green cape meant the character was a senator or civil servant.
A sword meant the character was a soldier. Types of Roman Plays The Roman theatre consisted of many different types of plays. The Romans copied and modified many aspects of Greek culture such as their religion and drama to suit themselves As a result there is no such thing as a 'typical' Roman play, like in Greek Tragedies, except for the later comedies. The Romans preferred comedies, especially exaggerated ones. Mime, or performing without speaking, was popular with the audiences. Such mimes recreated and made fun of middle class citizens, as well as famous myths. Features included drunkenness, obscenity, dances, greed, acrobatics, and jokes. By the end of the Roman Empire, a particular type of mime began to emerge. One actor played all the parts in the performance (wearing masks), danced and mimed while a chorus narrated or told the story he was acting out to music. This became known as pantomime, and still survives today in children's plays. Buildings The Roman Theatre buildings were designed in the shape of a half circle and built on level ground with stadium-style seating where the audience was raised. The Roman Theatre buildings were large and could hold up to 15,000 people. The theatre itself was divided into the stage (orchestra) and the seating section (auditorium). The auditorium was occasionally constructed on a small hill or slope in which stacked seating could be easily made mimicking the tradition of the Greek Theatres. The surrounding Roman corridor (praecinctio) separated the galleries of a theatre were used for the walkways, concentric with the rows of seats, between the upper and lower seating tiers in a Roman theatre. The Roman theatre did not have a roof instead an awning was pulled over the audience to protect them from the sun or rain. Another innovation was introduced to the Roman Theatre c 78 B.C - a cooling system which was provided by air blowing over streams of water. The audience seating portion of the Roman theatre was called the Cavea and arrange in wedge-shaped seating sections. There was a threefold distinction of the seats, according to the ordinary division of the people into senators, knights (equites) and the commons. The first range was called orchestra because in that part of the Greek theatres the dances were performed; the second range of seating was called the equestria and the third range of seats were called the popularia. Stages The stage in the Roman Theatre was raised to about five feet high. The Roman theatre stage measured 20-40 feet deep and 100-300 feet long. The stage was covered with a roof. There was a stage house, or building, behind the stage. The stage wall was called the ' Frons Scenae '. There were doorways to the left and right and a curtained central doorway from which the actors made their entrances in the Roman Theatre. The two doors on either side of the central door in the Roman scaenae frons were called the portae hospitales. The door on right reserved for second actor, the left door for person of less importance. In addition there were 3-5 doors in the rear wall of the stage. The stage wall included columns, niches, porticoes, statues all of which were brightly painted. The dressing rooms were located in the side wings. The portico or passageway behind the scaenae (scene building) of a Roman theatre was called the portus post scaenas. Roman Theatre Gods The first Roman stage plays were mounted as part of both political and religious celebrations and followed on from earlier Greek culture. Roman drama was acted out on stage during the ludi or festival games. Because the ludi were religious in nature, it was appropriate for the Romans to set up temporary stages close to the temple of the deity being celebrated . The Roman theatre is therefore often associated with religious festivals of pagan gods. The ludi Romani (Roman Games) were a religious festival in ancient Rome held annually during September. This festival first introduced drama to Rome based on Greek drama. The ludi Romani honored the god Jupiter
The ludi Apollinares honored god Apollo. The ludi Megalenses Cybele honored the Mother Goddess

The Roman god Bacchus was the patron god of Roman theatre. Roman Theatre Stage Props Roman Theatre props would have included easily moveable objects such as weapons including swords and daggers, goblets and plates, stools, torches, blood soaked clothing, wine or ale containers, whips, helmets, armor, false jewels, crowns and wreaths, skulls and bones, animal furs, standards and banners, caskets and containers and flowers and petals Larger props might include larger items of furniture, statues, exotic plants and even trees. The scena was a partition reaching across the theatre and was made either to turn round or draw up, to present a new prospect to the spectators. Roman Masks Roman Masks played an important part in Ancient Roman Plays and the Roman Theatre. An actor's entire head was covered by his mask, which included his hair, so the Roman mask was quite large. The design of the mask was quite simple and they were made from were made cheap materials such as linen or cork. They had big holes for the mouth and the eyes. The Roman masks, like the Greek masks that they emulated, were used for many reasons: The masks were large and portrayed exaggerated expressions which could be seen from the back of the theatre so the audience could tell how the character was feeling The Mask amplified the actor’s voice, making it possible to hear him everywhere in the theatre

The mask easily conveyed emotions to the audience so they knew if a character was happy, sad, upset, tired, or scared

The masks were color coded, brown for men and white for women
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