Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Greek Theatre

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1. How did Greek theatre evolve?

Greek theatre began as rites performed in honour of the God Dionysis. To begin with choirs performed to Dionysis, they began to become far more formalized and far more complex. The first orchestra pit was a threshing floor worn down by oxen who trod upon it. The evolution of the audience began as people sitting on the ground to watch the rites performed, and then eventually became concreted sitting areas. They were always built on hills to accommodate large quantities of people. They eventually turned into the ampitheatre of today. To accommodate the actors needing to get on and off the stage area a skene was built away in a forest to help them with the changing of costumes. These skenes then eventually turned into wooden house located behind the orchestra area and stage. To hide the skene painted scenery was put up in order to try and represent the surroundings, and eventually the central performing area was created.

Who was Thespis?

Thespis was the first recorded actor in Greek theatre. There is written proof that he performed in the first dramatic festivals in Athens around the time of 54 b.c.e. Thespis was also a playwright and production manager.

Name three dramatic playwrights and comic playwrights abd the period of time in which they lived.


-Aeschylus (55-456 b.c.e.) -Aristophanes (c.a. 448- c.a. 80 b.c.e.)

-Sophocles (46-406 b.c.e.) -Menander ( c.a. 4- b.c.e)

-Euripides (480-406 b.c.e.)

 Name 7 ways that Greek theatre can be characterized.

- Use of limited characters which were performed by up to three actors.

- Use of singing dancing choirs.

- Use of iambic trimeter verse for dialogue and for choral odes.

- Use of superhuman heroes.

- Use of idealized characters with human problems, where the audience can identify.

- Use of ordinary characters with everyday problems in which thought and emotion were unified.

- Use of sexual themes to portray the beginning struggle with society and his mind and emotions.

 How did Greek plays deal with violence?

Greek plays tried to avoid the use of violence within their plays onstage and preferred for the action to be portrayed offstage where the audience can not see the actions actually being performed. The use of a narrator was also used to tell of violence.

Greek costume consisted usually consisted of a large mask which had an exaggerated facial expression on it. The tragedy masks were larger and more exaggerated then the comic masks, while the comic masks were far more grotesque. They wore long robes which were really colorful. They also wore really thick soled shoes to give the impression that they were bigger then what they were.

 What was Greek acting style like?

Acting in Greek style was very simple, clear, direct action- clear, controlled and orderly. It was said by Plato that acting could and should not be learned. The concept of characterization back then was thruthful and very loud, larger then life style performances.

How did Greek actors move?

Greek actors used their hands in a majestic style. They consistently were walking up and down the stage and always using flowing hand movements in an almost melodramatic style. It was really over the top and it was one of the reasons why realism and naturalism were created.

Describe the use of music in Greek tragedy.

In the beginning music was used in the theatre to underscore choral passages. Like the plays of today music was used as a form to get across emotions at times where vocal interpretation aren’t necessary, it was much the same in greek theatre. The flute was used predominantly to precede the chorus into the orchestra and also was used to maintain emotional levels throughout. Its main aim nonetheless was to keep harmony in the choral interludes.

 How was Greek comedy different.

Greek comedy took what was happening in Greek society at the present time and portrayed it in a comedic way.

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