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An Introduction to Greek Theater

This is a presentation that delivers a quick overview to Greek theater; including a brief introduction to Sophocles.
by

Andrea Kemper

on 4 January 2013

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Transcript of An Introduction to Greek Theater

An Assemblage of Worshipers The Theater Performed outside in an amphitheater In the Beginning... The Rise of the Actor Interesting Theatrical Facts Sophocles Be ready to take notes!
Choose 3 details from each section! An Introduction to Greek Theater Skene A wooden structure that houses costumes and provided entrance/exit for actors Orkestra The main performance area was called the "Orkestra" or "dancing place" from which we get the modern word "Orchestra." Theatron Plays were performed at midday as part of a festival Attendance was mandatory as part of civic duty The audience sat in the "Theatron" from which we get the modern word "theater." Wore elaborate masks, wigs, and goat skins to portray the story The theater contained an altar to Dionysus in the center of the stage. Early Greek drama featured a chorus that spoke in unison and delivered all action. A Religious Experience:
Written and performed as a form of worship to the God Dionysus, god of Wine and theater
The word "tragedy" derived from the Greek word tragoidia meaning "goat song" Spring festival of Dionysus (God of wine and theater) Originated in Athens around 500 B.C.E Began as a choir program in a religious festival. Eventually it evolved into an elaborate festival with an attendance of 15,000 people. It became a competition of plays. Before 534 B.C.E, plays were performed by the chorus Thespis (534 B.C.E) becomes the first actor by stepping out in front of the chorus.
The word "thespian" meaning actor is derived from his name. The actor's role was to interact with the chorus leader and deliver monologues. Aeschylus (525 - 435 B.C.E) introduces the revolutionary 2nd character. The plays now contain both a protagonist and antagonist. Sophocles (496 - 406 B.C.E) wrote the plays Oedipus Rex and Antigone. He added one more character to the mix. His plays were about traditional religious stories. Euripedes (485 - 406 B.C.E) is the third of the three major playwrights. His plays become more humanistic than those of his predecessors. All actors wore masks to show different characters and/or emotions. These became exaggerated over time. Greek theaters were built into hillsides to allow for good acoustics.
Greek plays were written so that they connected with religious ritual, not entertainment.
Prisoners were released from prison to view the plays and slaves were given permission to attend the performance. Chorus in Greek Drama:
Could have up to 50 members, usually had about 15.
Had two main functions:
Sang and danced during the interludes between the dialogues
Carried out many dramatic functions in the tragedies
Was the "ideal spectator" (means they embodied the moral ideas of society and often admonished characters against breaking these moral laws.
Performed technical functions (announced entrance and exit of characters, foreshadowed events, recounted history or past events for clarification of the plot). Born in 496 B.C.E in Colonus, Sophocles studied music and literature. In his plays he stressed character development Sophocles used creative scenery, costumes and props in his plays. He was the first to paint scenery. He wrote 125 plays, 7 completed plays have survived. Sophocles was gentle, caring, and religious. He lived to 90 years of age. He is thought of as one of the greatest writers of tragedy. All Actors were men All actors wore masks to show different characters and/or emotions. These masks became more exaggerated over time. All plays could have only three actors plus the chorus. Violence occurred off stage and was shared with the audience by a messenger.
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