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Theatre of Rome: Are You Not Entertained?

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on 2 February 2017

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Transcript of Theatre of Rome: Are You Not Entertained?

Theatre of Rome: Are You Not Entertained?
How were the Roman ludi festivals different from the Greek festivals?
more activities like acrobatics, mime ,rope walking; initially only a single play but that grew over time
mime was a favorite form of entertainment
Plautus (254-184 BCE)
wrote comedies that emerged from traditions of Italian farce
very farcical, not political (Greek playwrights tended to be more political)
depict the trials and tribulations of romance
THE MENAECHMI is still produced and is the basis for Shakespeare's COMEDY OF ERRORS and the musical THE BOYS FROM SYRACUSE by Rodgers & Hart
Other plays include MILES GLORIOSUS and PSEUDOLUS
notorious for stock characters such as The Sponge or Parasite, The crafty servant, the braggart soldier
visually ridiculous looking and behaving characters
direct audience address
NO CHORUS
Terence (185-189 BCE)
Born in Carthage to Libyian parents and brought to Rome as a slave; some speculate he was African. His owner, a senator freed him and likely introduced him to literary circles & philosophers
based most of his work on Greek models
he tended to combine plots from two Greek plays
he was accused of plagiarism and he did not deny it and said "he meant to do it again" reworking previous playwrights' work was common
he tended to use his prologues to defend his work rather than offer exposition or summarize the plot; he was an early dramatic theorist
His more famous plays are THE EUNUCH and THE MOTHER-IN-LAW
Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE)
He was Nero's tutor & chief advisor for almost a decade until he lost Nero's favor and Nero ordered him to commit suicide, which he did.
as a writer he espoused stoicism but in fact was rather a hedonistic voluptuary in his life
his plays were likely not intended to be staged--"closet dramas"
similiar to Greek tragedies in some ways; he used the chorus but not as integrally; he emphasized violent spectacle, (scenes of violence that the Greeks would have banished onstage were central to his plots)
His characters were consumed by one motive--a driving passion
His works were written in Latin and therefore more accessible when first rediscovered in the Renaissance
MEDEA, THE TROJAN WOMEN, PHAEDRA, THYESTES
Two Key Texts:
DE ARCHITECTURA
by Vitruvius
Guidelines for building theatres & scenery
ARS POETICA
by Horace
keep comedy & tragedy separate
Unity of time, place, and action (The Unities)
drama should teach as well as please
Which did Romans Prefer? Tragedy or Comedy?
When we think of Roman Theatre we should also think of POPULAR ENTERTAINMENT
Mime
gladiatior contests
chariot races
naumachiae
A Scene from Shakespeare's COMEDY of ERRORS based on THE MENAECHMI
Are you NOT entertained?
Full transcript