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Theatre History I Roman Theatre

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Elizabeth Sloan

on 16 February 2016

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Transcript of Theatre History I Roman Theatre

Greek Theatre
Roman Theatre
Early Asian Theatre
Medieval Theatre
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.
French Neoclassical
1500 C.E. -1725 C.E.
Theatre of the
English Restoration
1650 C.E. -1700 C.E.
Maps of Ancient Roman Empire
Influences and Types of Roman Entertainment
The Ludi
Atellan Farce
Roman Comedy
Fabula Palliata
Dramatic Criticism in Rome
Theatre Space
Popular Entertainment

Circus Maximus
Decline of Roman Theatre

Romans not known for innovations or advancements to theatre
Instead they adapted theatrical trends from the Greeks, The Etruscans and Atellans
North of Rome, Modern Day Sienn and Pisa
Neighboring town of Rome, modern day Naples
Romans did, however advance popular entertainment that influenced Renaissance Theatre and modern entertainment
Romans had more money and more free time (half the population of the empire were slaves)
Entertainment for the masses became popular and accessible
Oldest of the Official Festivals that honored Jupiter, established by an Etruscan Ruler of Rome
At the height of the empire, 100 days were devoted to theatrical
festivals and another 75 days to chariot races and gladiatorial
Festivals became political, emperors used them to influence the masses, the term "Bread and Circus" (panem et circenses)
Term used to describe almost any kind of theatre

Often bawdy and obscene in subject matter, improvised, performed by small group of masked actors
Reflected taste of the time period, sometimes elaborate with spectacle
Improvised theatre that dealt with exaggerated family problems, made fun of historical and mythological figures
Short, 300-500 lines, presented by a touring actors
Plays featured recurring stereotyped characters who wore masks and stock costumes
Bucco-a vivacious, boisterous braggart
Pappus-a comic old man
Maccus-gluttonous fool
Dossenus-scary hunchback
Forerunner to modern ballet- it was basically storytelling with dance and music
Started in Greece, and the Romans added more dancers and more music
Elimination of Chorus
Addition of musical accompaniment to much of the dialogue
Emphasis on eaves dropping, which led to frequent misunderstanding and complications
Any Roman comedy that are translations or adaptations of Greek New Comedy plays
The name is derived from the
which is Latin for "Greek Cloak", the term Fabula Palliata roughly means "Play in Greek Dress"
Most popular of all the Roman comic playwrights
Plays often depicted the ups and downs of romance
His play in performance may have looked like Modern musicals because much of the dialogue was sung
His plays were copied by Shakespeare and Moliere
His character Miles Gloriosus (soldier braggart type) inspired the musical
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
The Menaechmi
His most famous play about mistaken identity and twins
Some of the characters in The Menaechmi:
Sponge-the parasite boot-licker
Erotium-comic courtesan
Messenio-comic servant
Domineering wife, doddering father in law, quack doctor
Boldly admitted to plagiarizing and stealing from Greek comedies (Poor Menander)
Complicated plots, more verbal comedy, less physical comedy like Plautus,Middle Ages and Renaissance held his plays in great esteem
Was a Roman Slave, owner freed him and helped educate him
Believed to be the first major black playwright
The only Roman Tragedy Playwright of note
Caligula exiled him because he was so jealous of his oratory skills
He tutored Nero- Nero later forced him to commit suicide because he thought he was involved in a plan to kill him
9 plays exist
The Phoenician Women
most famous
He was a major influence for Renaissance playwrights:
5 act tragedy, ghosts and witches, violence onstage (In his play
, Jocasta rips her womb open), soliloquies and asides, his characters often obsessed with revenge
considered to be a Senecan Revenge Tragedy

Considered the "Roman Aristotle"
The Art or Poetry or Ars Poetica
Renaissance scholars discovered this work before Aristotle
His Rules:
Comedy and tragedy must never be combined
He held that a play should have 5 acts, & only 3 speaking characters at the same time
Chorus should be used to forward the action and set a high moral tone
Purpose of drama is to profit and to please
Horace wanted writers to avoid extremes of emotion and to attempt the truth. Nothing fantastical should happen on stage
Stressed beautiful vocal delivery
Perfected one type of stock character and played that their whole career
Reputation of actor is debatable- some say they were slaves and the director was a free man who would buy them to act
Others think actors were "stars" and were paid very well
De Architectura
Written by Marcus Vitruvius
10 volume study of architecture
Most of what we know about Roman theatre comes from this book
This book strongly influenced the Renaissance
The Vitruvian Man by Leonardo Da Vinci
Similar to Greek Theatres:
Audience Seating Space=Theatron=Cavea
Performance Space=Orchestra
Scene House=Skene=Scaena
Additions & Differences from Greek Theatres:
Romans used awnings to protect the audience
Orchestra was semicircular
the front of the Scaena had elaborate and ornate facades'
They used curtains to conceal the actors from the audience (Auleum)
Vomitoriums used to help the audience exit
3 examples of Roman theatres exist today (outside of Rome)
France, Lybia and Isreal
Examples include:
Chariot racing
Equestrian performances
Hand to hand Combat
Gladiatorial combat to the death
Animals in combat
Blood sports
Risque skits and dances
Roman mime

Flooded the amphitheaters and reenacted navel battles
Oldest and largest amphitheater, originally designed for chariot races
It was built to hold 12 chariots deep
Held 60,000 people
Most famous amphitheater, originally built to house gladiator events
Caverns beneath the Colosseum may have held slaves & Christians to be sacrificed
Emperor Constantine
He was the first Christian Emperor
He established a second capitol in Constantinople (modern day Turkey) which took power away from Rome
Church condemned theatre and participants
Festivals worshiping gods were offensive
They objected to mimes bawdy performances
Mimes often ridiculed Christian practices like baptism
The Church decreed that anyone who went to the theatre rather than church on holy days would be excommunicated and performers were not allowed to take part in holy rites
Christianity and invaders were two reasons of theatre's decline
Tradition of theatre unbroken for nearly 1000 years, from Greeks in the 5th Century B.C. was coming to an end
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