Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM


Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.


Greek Theater

Theater History I, Lecture II

Jessica López-Barkl

on 17 May 2016

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of Greek Theater

The Dithyramb
Was an improvised story and a traditional refrain.
Was a long hymn, sung and danced by a group of fifty men.
Its format may have been similar to a modern-day choral presentation: the leader of the chorus recited or sang an improvised story while the other members sang a popular refrain.
It detailed heroic stories. (LIVING THEATRE: A HISTORY OF THEATRE)
The Major Sources of Historical Information
City records
Drawings on vases and other objects.
The extant plays.
The writing of Aristotle concerning the theater.
The Performance Space ruins
Plato's writing on dramatic censorship.
Julius Pollux: Greek scholar who wrote a dictionary that revealed much information about Ancient Greece.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio: Roman architect that published DE ARCHITECTURA, that detailed Greek architecture, especially of the theaters and their stage devices.
Aristotle: His works came almost 100 years after the golden age of Greek Theater, and is a hodge-podge of notes (probably lecture notes inspired by his teacher, Plato, though Plato believed music to be the higher art form). Thus, it is not an authority on the origin of Greek tragedy, but does give us a taste of how tragedy was criticized.
The Chorus as a Poetical Aspect of Nature
"...the chorus often represented the common people of the city-state ruled by the tragic hero or heroine; audience members could identify with the feelings and ideas of these people." - Edwin Wilson & Alvin Goldfarb's LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THE THEATRE
The chorus was used to reflect what goes on in society.
"The Chorus thus exercises a purifying influence on tragic poetry, insomuch as it keeps reflection apart form the incidents." - From Ralph G. Allen & John Gassner's THEATRE & DRAMA IN THE MAKING: ANTIQUITY TO THE RENAISSANCE.
"...and of all external circumstances adopts nothing but what is palpable in the highest forms of humanity." - From Ralph G. Allen & John Gassner's THEATRE & DRAMA IN THE MAKING: ANTIQUITY TO THE RENAISSANCE.
Greek Theater as Sacred Spaces
The theaters were erected for a religious festival to honor Dionysus: "...the great theatres of classical Greece were magnificently orchestrated environments, open to the air, the elements, and the wide arc of the horizon that echoed their spacious circular form. Performances unfolded under the gaze of a rising and setting sun, before audiences nestled deep in the earth and exposed to vast expanses of sky. Typically, the playhouse was oriented to the nearby temple dedicated to the theatre's patron deity, Dionysus. Both situated to compliment as religious events and observances, dramatic productions bore testimony to gods as well as humans."
The care that was taken with the geometrical shape of theater was believed to create a more harmonious place that "...gods [could be] manifested in their landscape."
The time of year (March) corresponded with a "highlighted moment" in the seasonal round thus achieving some light from darker times (when spring had arrived). - From Rachel Flickinger's "Ancient Theatres as Sacred Spaces"
The festival of the City Dionysia took place at the beginning of the Athenian spring, was from the very beginning associated with tragedy, and was in its origins a religious event as well as a civic event.
Presentational vs. Representational
The Roots of Western Theater = Greece, 5th Century B.C.E.
Actors or Hypokrites (or answerer)
Theater Guilds (The Artists of Dionysus)
Theater Productions: Theater Spaces, Set Design, Costume Design, Masks...
Producers (The Archon Eponymous or Athens Chief Civil Magistrate, the Archon or who the playwright would apply to in order to hire a chorus, the Choregoi or the person who underwrote the training and costuming of the chorus)
Festivals (City Dionysia, Anthesteria, Lenaia, Rural Dionysia)
Public Relations or Proagon (public relations preview)
Satyr plays
Aristotle: man is by nature an imitative creature – that he takes pleasure “in imitating persons, things, and actions and in seeing such imitations.”
Greek Theaters and Epidaurus
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: "The theatres of ancient Greece were set into hillsides, which made natural amphitheaters. At the base of the seating area was a circular space (orchestra) in which the chorus performed; at the center of the orchestra was an altar (thymele). Behind the orchestra was a temporary stage house (skene), at each side of which was a corridor (parados) for entrances and exits."
Also from LIVING THEATRE: "Greek theatres were outdoor with illumination provided by the sun, and the Greeks were often resourceful in the use of natural lighting in their dramas; if a play required a "sunrise effect," for example, it would be presented as the first drama of the day, at dawn..."
From greeka.com, regarding the Theater at Epidaurus: "Due to its incomparable acoustics the actors can be perfectly heard by all 15,000 spectators, as you can even hear the sound of a pin dropping. It is known from the antiquity until the present days for its size, the unique architecture and harmonious proportions. It was built by the architect Polykleitos on the side of a mountain and overlooking the sanctuary of Asklepius. This is a superb example of classical theater with an orchestra and the circular area between the seats and the stage. The highest distance of the concave is 58 metres [190 ft.], while the diameter of the stage is 20 metres [about 66 ft.]."
Other theaters that are Greek in origin that are still performed upon today are: The Greek Theatre of Taormina and The Odeon of Herodes Atticus. You can also visit the Theatre of Dionysia and the Theatre at Delphi, but performances do not occur there, though efforts to restore them are underway now.
Greek Theater
Theater History I Lecture 2
The Major Influences of the Actor on the Text
Thespis initially stepped out and made text a necessity.
In THE SUPPLIANTS by Aeschylus, the actors are simultaneously employed to motivate the exit of another actor.
The introduction of the third character contributed to the decay of the chorus.
It wasn't until the second actor was employed that true dialogue existed.
Rare occurrences of four actors on stage made dialogue seem very modern.
"The single actor could carry several roles.." The length of time to switch characters was more feasible than it is today allowing the poet to not yield to an external need.
Sometimes for a purely technical reason, the dramatist would unnaturally keep a character off the stage entirely in scenes.
Any "star" parts were reserved for the leading actor.
Split roles were to be avoided.
Alternative of a dumb-show in a two-actor scene that requires three actors.
Supernumeraries may be employed for silent parts. There may be proportional devices between the mute and another actor on stage.
All parts were played by men which makes many of the plays lack "feminine tenderness and diffidence; they are prone to such masculine traits as boldness, initiative, and self-reliance."
Children were performed in pantomime and if they had speaking parts, those lines were spoken by a grown actor backstage which explains why girls never have speaking parts and why boys often say words that are too old for them.
Actors could sometimes alter their role in order to show their talents, but there soon was a law that denied them any freedoms from the text.
Certain characters and casting relied on the actors known by the playwrights in order for them to predict ho they would split characters in scenes. - From Paul Kuritz' THE MAKING OF THEATRE HISTORY
Representational: A performance, realism, illusional. - From Bowman and Bull's THEATRE LANGUAGE

*Most films are representational.*

Presentational: Anti-naturalistic; direct; using artifices of the theatre instead of attempting to represent actual life realistical in every outward detail. - From Bowman and Bull's THEATRE LANGUAGE

*In these performances (Ancient Greek and otherwise), the actor's are aware of the audience and vice versa.*

Greek Theater went from a largely presentational style to a more representational style. From Ancient to Hellenistic...

The Plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophones as Performed on Ancient Greek Stages
Aeschylus: (From Wilson & Goldfarb's THE LIVING THEATRE) "The third element in the classical Greek theatre building was the skene, or scene building located behind the orchestra. Aeschylus' ORESTEIA trilogy, presented in 458 B.C.E., is the first time in any of the surviving plays that such a building is mentioned in the text."
Sophocles: (From Kuritz' THE MAKING OF THEATRE HISTORY) "Aristotle credits Sophocles with inventing scene painting, whereas a later Roman writer, Vitruvius, gives the distinction to Aeschylus. The practice probably began in the period when the two careers overlap. Pinakes (painted panels) and periaktoi (prism-shaped scenic units) were probably used to suggest a place or dramatic effect..."
Euripides: (From Kuritz' THE MAKING OF THEATRE HISTORY) "Technically his plays introduce the extensive use of a prologue and the deus ex machina (the appearance of a god to resolve the situation)..." From THE LIVING THEATRE: "Greek dramas often reached a climax with the sudden appearance of a deity...The mechane, a crane hidden behind the upper level of the skene, was used to effect the entrance of the actor playing the god or goddess in such a way as to suggest a descent from the heavens."
Aristophones: (From LIVING THEATRE) "Comic choruses...often required unusual masks; in two of Aristophanes's plays...chorus members represented frogs and birds."
ONAMASTIKON written by Julius Pollux, a Greek scholar from the 2nd Century C.E., was a Greek thesaurus/dictionary of terms. This alphabetical 10-Volume Collection provides invaluable knowledge on many lost Greek texts and provides rare information about Greek politics, life, and theater.
Climactic Structure and the Six Conventions
From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "Found in classical and modern plays, climactic structure confines the characters' activities and intensifies the pressures on the characters until they are forced into irreversible acts - the climax, with events of the past weighing heavily on the present situation. These events are not fully revealed until the play's final moments. Climactic structure, then, is a cause-to-effect arrangement of incidents ending in a climax and quick resolution."

The Six Conventions/Elements of Climactic Structure are from Aristotle's THE POETICS:
Plot - the arrangement of dramatic incidents
Characters - the people represented in the play; the physiological and psychological makeup of the persons in the play.
Thought or theme - the ideas explored/play's meaning; which may or may not be more than one basic theme.
Language - the dialogue and poetry
Spectacle - scenery and other visual elements - From LIVING THEATRE
The Social Function of Catharsis
The social function of catharsis in Greek Theater was, first of all, that it appealed to the people as entertainment.
Secondly, it served as a way to worship the God Dionysus. From Kuritz' THE MAKING OF THEATRE HISTORY: "Through the worshiping of gods, the celebrants (which was open to everyone) were allowed to cease being themselves and to experience freedom."
Thirdly, politicians used this appeal to the entertainment and freedom to heighten their popularity. Also from Kuritz: "In this way Dionysus, aided and abetted by Pisitratus, brought his illusions, ecstasy, and freedom to the patronage of a new art."
This freedom [the catharsis, or purging/clearing] also, according to E.R. Dodd allowed the emergence for the first time, of the individual and this individual was learning the burdens of individual responsibility. Through the catharsis, the individual could escape their burdens.
Tragedy and Emmelias
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: "The first Greek writer of whom we are aware who attempted to create dramatic pieces appeared in the sixth century B.C.E. Though their works have not survived, we know the names of a few writers, including Arion and Thespis. It was in the fifth century B.C.E. that the drama that we still read and perform took shape."
Tragedy often leads to a realization or Anagnorisis.
An emmelia was a stately dance with sung or spoken accompaniment that highlighted and reflected the tragedy that was being performed.
Euripides' MEDEA as Tragedy - From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "Produced in the City Dionysia festval (Athens) in 431 B.C.E., Euripides' MEDEA tells the story of Jason's betrayal of his wife, Medea, to further his fortunes (and those of his two small sons) by marriage to the Princess of Corinth. The Athenian audience would have known the story of Medea, the barbarian princess and sorceress, related to the gods, who helped Jason and the Argonauts steal the Golden Fleece from her father. To help them escape, she murdered her brother and threw the pieces of the body into the sea so that her father's pursuing fleet would be slowed in order to collect the fragments for burial. With a background of violence, passion, and sorcery, Euripides' play begins in Corinth, where Jason and Medea have taken refuge. Whether because he wants to strengthen his economic and social position or because he has grown tired of his dangerous foreign wife, Jason decides to put her aside and marry the daughter of Creon, King of Corinth. At this point the action begins, Medea's jealous rage and desperate sense of betrayal of a husband for whom she sacrificed all spurs her revenge. She uses her magical powers to destroy both Creon and his daughter by means of a poisoned robe that clings to their flesh and melts them in a fiery death. Despairing of her children's safety and wishing to injure Jason totally, she kills her sons and escapes with their bodies in a supernatural chariot drawn by dragons to take refuge with the elderly Aegeus, King of Athens, who has promised asylum in exchange for her powers to restore his manhood. Euripides uses the MEDEA story of unrequited love, unreasonable passion, and catastrophic revenge to depict a world where order is ever tenuous and where human beings are subject to the irrationality of gods and other humans."
From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "Horace Walpole said, "The world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." In comedy the playwright examine the social world, social values, and people as social beings. Frequently, comic action shows the social disorder created by an eccentric or foolish character who deviates from reasonable values such as sensibility, good nature, flexibility, moderation, tolerance, and social intelligence. Deviation is sharply ridiculed in comedy because it threatens to destroy revered social structures such as marriage and family."
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: "Old Comedy uses fantastical and improbable plots to underline its satire."
Concerned itself with and was centered around misers and gluttons.
Satyrs (or the early "tragicomedy")
Provided a kind of comic relief for serious plays.
Resembled tragedy in structure
Was invented by Pratinas who shared the title of the best satyr writer with Aeschylus.
Shares some traits with a later form called the tragicomedy: which is associated with the reversal from bad fortune to good.
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: "A satyr play was a comical play involving a chorus of satyrs, mythological creatures who were half-goat and half-man. It was structured like a Greek tragedy but parodied the mythological and heroic tales that were treated seriously in tragedies. Satyr plays poked fun at honored Greek institutions, including religion and folk heroes, and often had elements of vulgarity. For example, these plays often included explicit sexual material, and the costumes worn by the actors usually consisted of a short tunic, below which protruded a false erect phallus. The only complete satyr play still in existence is THE CYCLOPS by Euripides. It is a comic, satiric version of the story of the one-eyed cyclops who captures Odysseus and his companions and is about to devour them when they get him drunk and escape."
The Makings of Ancient Greek Theaters
Orchestra: "Dancing place"
Thymele: The altar
Skene: The scene house, "hut."
Parodoi: Passageways into the orchestra, from which the chorus emerged to singe their first ode or Parados.
Theatron: "Seeing place"
Pinakes: painted panels
Periaktoi: Triangular prisms with a scene painted on each side.
Thyromata: Three huge doors or openings.
Logeion: A low platform
Onkos: Headdress
Ekkyklema: Rolling or revolving platform
Charon's steps: A device on which ghosts ascended from hell into the orchestra's center.
keraunoskopeion: a lightning machine
bronteion: a thunder machine
hemikuklion: a device showing a distant view of cities or of people swimming.
anapiesma: a trapdoor to lift up a river.
Chiton: Long sleeved, loose-fitting tunic-like garment.
Hypocrite (Answerer/Actor): Thespis a playwright and actor added the first actor to the chorus. Aeschylus added the second actor and Sophocles added a third actor.
chorodidaskalos: a choral trainer
strophe: The first part of an ode in a chorus' lines. In its literal translation it means: "turn, bend, twist". Thus, many scholars think that it meant that the chorus had to cross the orchestra (dancing place) from east to west on foot while saying the first part of their lines.
antistrophe: The second part of an ode in a chorus' lines. In its literal translation it means: "a turning back". Thus, many scholars think that it meant that the chorus had to cross the orchestra (dancing place) from west to east in response to the strophe.
Stasimon: A stationary ode for the chorus to sing and dance, or, as some scholars believe the place where the chorus stayed during the performances. All chorus songs after the Parados were called Stasimon.
Meta (beyond/after): "Metahistory is the study of how and why scholars create their historic narratives; it focus us to recognize that history can never be completely objective." - From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE
From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "Aeschylus (525/4-456 B.C.E.), Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes are four Greek playwrights whose work has survived. Aeschylus began at an early age to write tragedies for annual festivals in the Theatre of Dionysus, Athens, winning thirteen first prizes during his lifetime.

Although Aeschylus wrote more than seventy plays, we have inherited scripts for only seven: THE SUPPLIANTS, THE PERSIANS, THE SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, PROMETHEUS BOUND, AGAMEMNON, THE LIBATION BEARERS, and THE EUMENIDES. These last three make up THE ORESTEIA (458 B.C.E.), the only surviving Greek trilogy, or sequence of three tragedies. Its satyr play is missing.

We know little about Aeschylus as a person except tat he fought at Marathon (490 B.C.E.) and probably at Salamis (480 B.C.E.) during the Persian Wars. His epitaph, which he wrote himself, shows that he was most proud of his military record:

Under this monument lies Aeschylus the Athenian, Euphorion's son, who died in teh wheatlands of Gela. The grove of Marathon with its glories can speak of his valor in battle. The long-haired Persian remembers and can speak of it too."
From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "One of several Greek playwrights whose work survives today, Sophocles wrote three plays about Oedipus. OEDIPUS THE KING (427 B.C.E) is generally considered the greatest of Greek tragedies. (ANTIGONE, 441 B.C.E., and OEDIPUS AT COLONUS, 406 B.C.E., are the other two.)

OEDIPUS THE KING tells the story of a man who flees from Cornith to avoid fulfilling a prophecy that he will kill his father and marry his mother. On his journey, at a place where three roads meet, he kills and old man (an apparent stranger but actually his real father, the king of Thebes). He then proceeds to Thebes and solves the riddle of the sphinx. As a reward, he is made king and married to the widowed queen, who is actually his mother, Jocasta. He rules well and has four children.

The play opens with Thebes stricken by a plague. Declaring that he will rid the city of this infection, Oedipus sends his brother-in-law Creon to consult the Delphic oracle about the cause of the plague. As he pursues the plague's source, Oedipus comes face to face with himself as his father's killer, as his mother's son and husband, and as his children's father and brother. When the truth is learned, Jocasta kills herself and he puts out his eyes. By his own decree, Oedipus is exiled from Thebes and wanders blind, as a lowly beggar, into the countryside.

OEDIPUS THE KING explores human guilt and innocence, knowledge and ignorance, power and helplessness. Its fundamental idea is that wisdom comes to us only through suffering."

From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING: "Euripides (c. 480-406 B.C.E.), one of the three great fifth-century B.C.E. writers of tragedy, won only five dramatic contests during his lifetime. Scholars attribute his relative unpopularity to his innovations with play structure and to the characters and subjects of his plays. The son of aristocrats, Euripides held political office in Athens, where he became a member of the unpopular peace party during the Peloponnesian War and an opponent of Athenian imperialism. Toward the end of his life he sought exile at the court of Macedonia and died there, rumored to have been killed by the Macedonian king's hunting dogs. He is credited with writing eighty-eight plays (twenty-two sets of four), of which nineteen have survived. His best known are MEDEA, HIPPOLYTUS, ELECTRA, THE TROJAN WOMEN, and THE BACCHAE. His play THE CYCLOPS is the only complete satyr play that now exists. Aristotle, surveying Greek drama decades later, called Euripides the "most tragic of poets," presumably because of Euripides' dark materials: sexual repression, irrational violence, human madness and savagery. Twentieth-century critics consider him the most modern and innovative of the Greek tragic writers, for he speaks, to audiences of the hero's demoralization and savagery and the barbarity of armies at war."
Failed to gain popularity during his lifetime because of his innovations with play structure, his "realistic" use of characters, his subject matter (which often gave women a strong position in the household). Euripides also did not like war and his pacifism made him unpopular.
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: (c. 448-380 B.C.E.) "The son of a wealthy citizen Aristophanes was a member of the prosperous, conservative Athenian middle class. His plays indicate that he came from a cultured, old-fashioned home. Life in Athens was changing rapidly during his lifetime - greed for an empire was undermining the traditional simplicity, stability, and moral order - and he used his plays to ridicule the ideas and people that he felt were leading Athens to ruin. One of his targets was the Peloponnesian Wars with Sparta, a conflict that drained Athens of wealth and destroyed its social order. His death came after these wars had reduced Athens to poverty and disarray...Aristophanes's political satire remains relevant in the twenty-first century. On March 23, 2003, there were thousands of public readings of LYSISTRATA internationally as a way to voice opposition to the war in Iraq."

Aristophanes was also a pacifist, like Euripides, which (often) made him unpopular.
Athenian to Hellenistic
Athenian/Classical Greece: Based on religion, the plays incorporated ritualistic aspects, the chorus (which gave life to the plays) was an integral part of the society's way of understanding the plot/theme, a presentational form, the orchestra was used for the chorus to dance and sing upon, the Logeion or low platform is connected to the Orchestra, there is an importance set on the "obscene"/costume with phallus for comic plays, and the action of the play deals with the Gods and ties that story to the chorus.

*The most dramatic changes in Greek theatre architecture were from the Classical to the Hellenistic period. - From Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING

Hellenistic: The plays lost all of its religious association and thus lost all its ritualistic associations, the chorus declines as an important part of the productions, it becomes a representational form, the orchestra loses its importance as a part of the staging of the production, the Logeion or low platform is no longer "low" - it is raised to the height of ten to thirteen feet, the "obscene" costume declines in popularity and there is a move toward the individualization of character and domestication of action. - From Paul Kuritz' THE MAKING OF THEATRE HISTORY
Later Comedies and Menander
From LIVING THEATRE: HISTORY OF THEATRE: "By 336 B.C.E., Old Comedy had given way to a form called New Comedy...New Comedy differs from its predecessor in a number of important ways. Gone are the fantasies, the political satire, the sharp topical observations of the plays of Aristophanes. Gone, too, is the vital role of the chorus in its flights of fancy and its active participation in the contemporary political debates of Old Comedy...In place of these was another kind of play: a more subtle comedy of manners and well-wrought intrigue, which focused on domestic - that is, family - situations and bourgeois life in the cities. In short, New Comedy was more realistic, more down-to-earth, and its comedy arose not from satire and extreme exaggeration but from the foibles, pretenses, and complications of the everyday life of Greek citizens. A typical romantic plot can be summarized as "Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl."
Menander (c. 342-291 B.C.E.) Athenian playwright known for his New Comedy that influenced the Roman writes of Plautus and Terence. Very little is known about him except that he wrote with Aristotelian rules and was a proponent of the New Comedy.
Drama's Conventions
All the following definitions are from Milly S. Barranger's THEATRE: A WAY OF SEEING:
Classical Exposition: In a play's opening scene we are frequently given certain information (exposition) about what is going on, what has happened in the past [i.e. secrets], and who is to be seen [exposing the characters]. Exposition is usually conveyed through dialogue in short scenes or between several characters. In Euripides' THE TROJAN WOMEN, a formal prologue is spoken by the gods Poseidon and Athene. The sea god Poseidon describes the treachery of the Greeks' use of the Trojan horse to gain entry into the city of Troy, the city's collapse, and the fate of its defenders. Athene, the goddess defender of Troy, describes how the Greeks defiled her altars. Then, Troy's Queen Hecuba tells of the physical and mental suffering of the Trojan people. Following this background information, the action begins.
Point of Attack (Confrontation): The moment early in the play when the story is taken up is the point of attack, or inciting incident.
Complication, Crisis, Climax: The middle of a play is made up of complications - new information, unexpected events, or newly disclosed facts accompanied by increasing emotional intensity...A play's complications usually develop into a crisis, or turning point of the action. The crisis is an event that makes the resolution of the play's conflict inevitable...A play usually ends when the conflict is resolved in the climax, or point of highest emotional intensity, and any loose strands of action are then tied off.
Resolution: The resolution usually restores balance and satisfies the audience's expectations.
The Performance of the Plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes
Epidaurus is the theater we use to conjure up how the plays written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophones, were performed.

"When the play begins, there will only be three actors on the stage at once. They will wear very elaborate costumes, and a strange-looking wooden sole called a cothurnus or buskin, about six inches high, on their shoes, to make them look taller and more impressive, and over their faces a curious mask with a wide mouth, so that everyone in that vast audience will hear them. [Note: Scholars today do not believe that the masks worn in Greek drama were used as "megaphones." The acoustics in Greek ampitheatres were excellent and the wide mouths of the mask were only intended to allow clear speech, not to amplify sound. Rather, the exaggerated expressions on the masks were part of the stylized "look" of Greek theatre, a style that combined ritualized exaggeration with simplicity to better convey the sense of the drama to a large audience. -- Leigh T. Denault] There will be no curtain and the play is not divided into different acts. When there is a pause in the action, the Chorus will fill up the time with their song. If it is a tragedy, we shall not see the final catastrophe on the stage, but a messenger will appear who will give us an account of what has happened. All this is very different from the way in which a modern play is given, but some of the greatest dramas the world possesses were written by Athenian dramatists and acted on this Athenian stage more than two thousand years ago."

Denault, Leigh T. "The Glory That Was Greece: History and Culture in Ancient Athens". Watson.org, 2003. Web, 28 May 2015. <http://www.watson.org/~leigh/drama.html>
Full transcript