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Roman Theatre

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  1. Roman Theatre Amity Ecker Grossmont High School

  2. Roman Theatre • During 3rd century, Rome engaged in Punic Wars --> won wars--> came into contact with Greece where they observed Greek culture • Roman Entertainment expanded the Greek Festivals to include: chariot racing, equestrian performances, acrobatics, wrestling, gladiatorial combats

  3. Roman Theatre • Special buildings constructed for the festivals (Circus Maximus, Colosseum)

  4. RomanTheatre • Local government officials hired acting troupes • Dominus • Head of troupe (lead actor) • Made financial arrangements • Bought dramas from playwrights • Hired musicians • Obtained costumes

  5. RomanTheatre • Companies had at least 6 members (Greek had 3 actors) • Due to SIZE of theatres, Roman Theatre emphasized detailed pantomime and BROAD physical gestures • Stock characters used (did not value versatility)

  6. Roman Theatre • Masks worn as in Greek theatre • Why do you think masks were important? • Large theatres • Stock characters valued

  7. Roman Theatre The Roman theatre was shaped with a half circle or orchestra space in front of the stage. Most often the audience sat here in comfortable chairs. Occasionally, however, the actors would perform in this space.

  8. Roman Theatre • The audience was usually more interested in their favorite actors than the play itself. • The actors would try to win over the audience's praise with decorative masks, costumes, dancing and mime. • If the play scripted an actor's dying, a condemned man would take the place of the actor at the last moment and actually be killed on stage. The Romans loved the bloodthirsty spectacles

  9. Decline of Roman Theatre • Roman Empire became so large that 2 capitols were established: Rome in the west and Constantinople in the east • Center of activity shifted away from Rome to Constantinople • Rome was conquered by Northern Barbarians which signaled end of theatrical and cultural development

  10. Decline of Roman Theatre • Rise of Christianity--> Christian Church opposed to theatre b/c of connection with pagan religions (Remember: was founded originally by Greeks to celebrate god Dionysis) • Christian Church felt immoral characters were portrayed and taught immorality to audience (sexual content of plays) • 1000 years of theatrical development at an end

  11. Creativity, imagination, art, philosophy, theatre Concrete achievements, law, engineering, military conquests Greek vs Roman Theatre: Differences • Comedy central focus (romantic situations) • Tragedy central focus (concerning gods) • Theatre houses carved into hillsides only • Both built amphitheatres (larger cap.) and had hillside theatre houses • Orchestra was circular and used as a performance space • Orchestra was semicircular and used as a seating space • Limited to 3 actors and a chorus • Unlimited number of actors

  12. Greek vs Roman TheatreSimilarities • Masks worn • Semicircular/circular seating • Theatrical entertainment highly valued

  13. Reference • Wilson and Goldfarb. Theater: The Lively Art, 4th edition: Chapter 10, pages 209 - 231