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Roman Theatre


Grace Austin

on 27 August 2012

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Transcript of Roman Theatre

Roman Theatre
The Romans were the original plagiarists.
The Greeks used theatre to explore the questions
of love and fate and the God's revenge....
The Romans...
...not so much...
What did the Romans look to for entertainment?
Very simply....
...Blood and naked people...
Roman entertainment reflected the war-like culture that was so prevalent in Rome at the time...
It wasn't called "The Roman Empire" for nothing...they enjoyed nothing more than conquering other countries...
Greece is on a downward spiral...
...so much money is going to fighting wars that the government can't support the arts as much...
So as Greek culture is declining...Roman 'culture' is on the up and up!
Warlike entertainment was the most popular.
Gladiator fights
Chariot Racing
Theatre...but not the same type as the Greeks...
In Greece- was comedy or tragedy considered superior?
As opposed to the Romans who valued nothing more than laughing...usually at other people's misfortune or pain...
2 major playwrights
Stole from Greek New Comedy (domestic, sitcom-like situations
with the comedy coming from slapstick- hence the 'pain' part)
Generous use of stock characters (stereotypes)
with a very exaggerated style with sung dialouge
Less slapstick, more witty dialouge.
Where were all these entertainments performed?
Amphitheaters...just like the Greeks...shocking...
It was like a very ancient version of The Hunger Games
Often the people who lost died or were killed after.
Seneca (Tragedy)
Chorus was not necessary to the action onstage
All about violence (had to compete with the comedies somehow...)
Circus Maximus
And the most famous of all......the Roman Colosseum
Theatre Production in Rome
Plays were performed at Festivals
(just like Greece)
An acting troupe (at least 6 members- all male) would be hired to put on a show
The dominus (leader) purchased scripts,
hired muscians,
and generally oversaw the production elements
(much like the choregus- except the playwright
who sold their work was NOT involved in the production)
Romans thought "3 actors and a chorus?" Lame.
The Romans also had their performers wear masks.
The performers used large gestures - you'd have to...
the theatres seated thousands of people
Theatres were similar to Greek structure.....
However the orchestra
(which in Greece was the playing area)
was used for seating VIPs or flooded for staging sea battles.
So what happens?
Constantine decides that there should be two capitals for the empire...
The city of Rome is no longer as important...and it is conquered !
The religious feelings of people are changing....
Moving from a religion that worships multiple Gods...to Christianity that worships only one God.
The Christian Church is opposed to Theatre
because of its association
with festivals
(and multiple God worship).

The content of the plays
(and the blood and naked people)
offended the leaders of the Church.
The Church believed that people (since they still could not read or write) should not be exposed to this 'evil' influence.
But this changed when the Church realized that Theatre could be used to educate people about religious matters...
So we move into the Medieval Era....
The Catholic Church is the dominating force in people's lives
There is Theatre that is not church based (strolling players, mime, etc....)
but most theatrical activity at this time is strictly based on religious concepts.
Church based Theatre starts in the form of priests reciting 'lines' from the Bible.
This evolves into 'liturgical drama- where instead of
just reciting the lines (boring), the
priests/members of the choir act out the lines.

This evolves into a form of vernacular drama- which was when the education aspect started to kick in.
Liturgical drama was performed in Latin...which was a problem since the common people could not understand the language.
So vernacular drama was created- performed in a common language and longer than liturgical drama.
They were also performed outside in town squares.

There were 2 types- Mystery (cycle) and Morality
Mystery (cycle)- were plays about Biblical events (more than
one event put together made a cycle).
Morality- used religious themes to teach moral lessons.
So how were these plays produced?
Did they have big theatres?
No- the stages were not built to last and
in some cases moved around.
Stages set up in the town square with the scenic
units (or mansions) behind them
There were also wagon stages- which
moved through town to present shows
Performers were amateurs- craft guildsman were assigned based on their trade.
The Pageant Master oversaw production (much like a choregus or a dominus)
Next class we will be watching a play based on some
Roman Theatre concepts- no blood...but some scantily clad women.
To review-
Greek Theatre - masks, God worship, teaching lessons on morality
Roman Theatre- comedy is on top, violent entertainment, laughing at other people' sp
Medieval Theatre- relies heavily on Church concepts, sinners are punished, used as education and controlled by the Church
Roman Theatre reflected the war-like culture that surrounded its citizens..
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