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Theatre History I Greek Theatre

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Elizabeth Sloan

on 24 January 2018

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Transcript of Theatre History I Greek Theatre


Roman Theatre
Early Asian


Theatre of the
Italian Renaissance

Theatre of the
Spanish Golden Age
800 B.C.E-275 B.C.E.
750 B.C.E.-500 C.E
100 C.E.-1700 C.E.
475 C.E.-1525 C.E.
1400 C.E. -1625 C.E
Theatre of the
English Renaissance
1550 C.E. -1650 C.E.
1475 C.E. -1750 C.E.
1500 C.E. -1725 C.E.
Theatre of the
1650 C.E. -1700 C.E.
Origin Of Theatre
City of Dionysia
Types of Drama
Theatre Space
Special Effects
Hellenistic Age
Hellenistic Playwright
Types of Hellenistic Drama
Greek Theatre Influence on Modern Theatre
Many historians believe that theatre

has its roots in religious ceremonies

worshiping the Greek God Dionysus
Greek God of wine, fertility and revelry
Every spring in Athens the citizens would gather to honor the god
a long hymn sung and danced by a group of 50 men
believed to be the beginning of plays. These hymns evolved into a form of literature that told stories of greek heros and myth
credit for being the first actor when he stepped out of the dithyrambic chorus
it is believed that he was also the first writer of tragedy. Apparently he wrote and delivered a prologue with dialogue between him and the other members of chorus
Thespian is a modern day word for actor
Greek word for actor is "hypokrite" that literally means
emphasizes the importance of the call and answer aspect of dramatic presentations
Festival honoring the god Dionysus, it was THE significant occurrence in Athens, occurred in spring, religious and civic event
Business came to a standstill during the City of Dionysia, wars stopped, politics were not discussed- it is like the Olympics, Super Bowl and Oscars rolled into one
the festival lasted several days and other than honoring Dionysus, it was a festival of plays
Agon=a competition or challenge
an event that took place before the opening of the festival, participants of the festival had a parade to advertise the plays
the leader of the Chorus
appointed by a government official and is the equivalent of a modern day producer
they were a wealthy individual that provided the money to pay for play
the chorus is the defining aspect of Greek Theatre and also the element that modern audiences find so odd
the Dithyrambic chorus consisted of 50 men
as plays developed the chorus shrunk in size
the chorus provided exposition to the story, served as a moral compass, spoke in unison, described offstage action, gave their opinions to the characters
Greek Chorus from
Woody Allen's
Mighty Aphrodite
a tiny modern version of the Greek Chorus
plays dealt with noble families and lofty themes
added a 2nd actor that allowed for true dialogue
Reduced size of chorus-from 50 to 12
thought to be pompous, born of noble family, soldier and prominent citizen
They think he wrote 90 plays and only 7 exist
The Oresteia
his most famous trilogy
deals with the return of King Agamemnon from Troy
Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides
known for excellent construction and character development
wrote more than 120 plays and 7 exist
introduced 3rd actor which enlarged possibility of conflict
General, civic leader, ambassador, priest
devoted to Athens and was called the "Golden Boy of Greek Drama"
The Theban Trilogy
Most famous plays about the cursed family of Oedipus
Oedipus Rex, Oedipus of Colonus, Antigone
Oedipus Rex

Video clip from National Theatre's

Considered the most modern playwright; sympathetic portrayal of women, greather realism, mix of tragedy and comedy, skeptical treatment of the gods
He was criticized in his own time for modernism- his characters behaved too much like real life
he was reclusive and moody- and some consider him the bad boy of Greek Drama
18 plays exist
one of his most famous plays. Medea kills her own children to get revenge on her cheating husband
The Bacchaea
written while in exile in Macedonia
about Dionysus seeking revenge on his Mortal family
involves a nice scene of the ruler of Thebes being torn to shreds by his own mother
Best known Comic Playwright of the Greek Golden Age
Subject matter reflects the social and political climate in Athens as it declined in power
Son of a wealthy citizen, member of a prosperous conservative Athenian middle class
Bawdy wit that is a reflection of an open attitude toward sex in Athenian society, inventive comic scenes, witty dialogue and pointed satire
involved in the social scene of Athens, parties, he out drank and out talked all the guests at the party
wrote about 40 plays and 11 survive
woman of Greece go on a sex strike to end the Peloponnesian War--it works
The Birds
commentary on the Gods and Athenians
The festivals had three types of Drama
Greek word is
which literally means "Song of the Goat"
Greek word is
and it literally means "festival"
deals with reversal in fortune and eventual downfall of a royal figure
a Satyr is a mythological creature who is part goat, they hung around with Dionysus
Satyr plays were bawdy, naughty, funny comical interludes that would be played in between comedies and tragedies as a "palette cleanser"
the only existing satyr play is The Cyclops by Euripides
Great philosopher and theatre critic
Studied with Plato at the Academy (the first place of higher learning in the western world). Plato in turn studied with Socrates
Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great when he was a kid
He opened his own school- The Lyceum
Plato argued that drama, especially tragedy, is a danger to society because it encourages irrationality
Aristotle, as if to answer Plato, argues that tragedy is positive and helpful because it not only arouses pity and fear but also purges these emotions restoring harmony to the soul
Aristotle's book that discusses drama
it was not really studied during his lifetime but was the basis of dramatic criticism when Renaissance scholars rediscovered it
6 Elements of Drama
the arrangement of dramatic incidents (what happens when and to whom)
the people represented in the play
Thought or Theme
the ideas explored and expressed
the dialogue and poetry of a play
scenery and other visual elements
tragedy should produce the emotions of pity and fear but that there is a purge of emotions
means "carrier of action"
Aristotle calls the protagonist main character who is the tragic hero (royal figure who suffers)
literally means "missing the mark", the Hero suffers from a tragic flaw or Hamartia which is caused by Hubris (excessive pride)
audience seating
literally means "seeing place"
performance space
literally means "dancing space"
3 separate architectural units that were used for dressing space for actors, prop storage, basic setting for all plays
building that was adjacent but unconnected to the orchestra
the etymology of Proscenium originates from skene ("before the stage")
the alter space
Dues ex machina
triangular stage device which consisted of three painted flats hinged together each showing a different scene
means "God from a machine"
it was a machine that would lift a character from the stage to represent the hand of god
now it is a literary device used to unravel a tricky plot situation
a wagon that would be wheeled from behind the skene, character who had died offstage would be laid out on the ekkyklema and would be rolled out to audience
violence was not seen on stage-it was only talked about
"machine", a crane hidden behind the upper level of the skene, was used to effect the entrance of the actors playing the god or goddess in such a way as to suggest a descent from the heavens
actors may or may not have been paid
probably doubled roles
the state conducted a lottery that determined which star performers would appear in which plays-fairness
hard to determine exact acting style-not realistic and did not conform to everyday realistic speech or gestures
Aristotle thought actors were "less moral"
All performers wore masks, they covered the entire head and included hair, beards and other facial features
the knowledge of costumes comes from vases they found
in comedies and satyr plays they would wear a fake phallus
Hellen is the Greek word that the greeks used for themselves
this time period refers to the later part of the Greek age before Rome absorbed Greece
There were a few changes to theatre during this time period
Known mostly by reputation through the best known Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence
The only complete play was discovered in the 1950's-
The Grouch
New Comedy
Became popular 100 years after Aristophanes
Comedy of manners, domestic situations, more realistic, more down-to-earth, depicted complications of every day life, recognizable stock characters, reduction of role of the chorus, they danced and sang in between acts
the actor started to begin to have more focus (before it was only the playwright)
the need for more actors arose as theatre became popular
Artists of Dionysus
guild established for actors, chorus members, playwrights and other theatrical personnel-provided them with professional security
earliest professional performers in Greece and one of the first examples of pop cultures
they were not like the mimes we think of-they were traveling players who did a little of everything (juggle, acrobatics, wordless dance, sketches with dialogue)
the mask became larger and had even more exaggerated facial features
since actors became more important the costumes put the spotlight on them
shoes worn by tragic characters that were elevated that made them larger than life
Permanent theatre space
Audience seating area
Performance space
Theatrical design elements
Scene Painting
Special effects-like scene rigging
Types of Drama
Modern day sitcom
Modern day sketch comedy
Stock characters and types
Dramatic conflicts
Theatrical Structure
Professional theatrical guilds
Plays are still produced
Full transcript