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Greek and Roman Theatre

Greek and Roman Theatre

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Greek and Roman Theatre

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  1. Greek and Roman Theatre

  2. Greek Festivals • Festivals honored Olympian gods • Ritual Competitions • Olympics: Apollo • Athletics • Lyric Poetry • Drama: Dionysos • Dithyrambic Choruses • Tragedy • Comedy

  3. Greek Theatre • 6th - 4th century bce • Originated in festivals honoring Dionysos • Tragedy: • Aeschylus (524-456 bce) • Sophocles (496-406 bce) • Euripides (480-406 bce) • Comedy: • Old Comedy: bawdy and satiric • Aristophanes (c. 485- c.385 bce) • New Comedy: social situations: • Menander (342-292 bce)

  4. Theatre Festivals • There were two festivals during which dramatic productions were staged. • The Greater Dionysia took place at the end of March or the beginning of April • Three days were given over to theatrical competition. • Three playwrights each took part in the contests: Each tragedian put on a trilogy in the morning and each comic writer put on one comedy in the afternoon. • The festival at Lenaes, staged at the end of January or the beginning of February, placed its emphasis on comedy

  5. ACTORS • No play used more than 3 actors • All actors were male • Costumes included character masks, and, in later years, raised boots • Acting must have more expressive than realistic

  6. ORIGINS of TRAGEDY • Tragedy, derived from the Greek words tragos (goat) and ode (song), told a story that was intended to teach religious lessons • Arose from dithyrambic choruses: The dithyramb was an ode to Dionysus. It was usually performed by a chorus of fifty men dressed as satyrs -- mythological half-human, half-goat servants of Dionysus. • In 600 BC, formal lyrics were written for the dithyramb. • In the 6th c. bce Thespis of Attica added an actor who interacted with the chorus. This actor was called theprotagonist. • In 534 BC, the ruler of Athens, Psistratus, changed the Dionysian Festivals and instituted drama competitions. Thespis won the first competition in 534 BC.

  7. Tragic Tetralogies • Each tragic dramatist had to present a trilogy of tragedies: connected narratively or dramatically • The entire trilogy was performed in one day. • The trilogy was followed by a satyr play - mocking and lightening the seriousness of the tragedies

  8. TRAGIC STRUCTURE PROLOGOS: Introductory scene PARADOS: Entry of chorus EPISODEION STASIMON 4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes, including the PAEAN: a hymn of praise to the gods EXODOS: final scene EPODE: final ode.

  9. ARISTOTLE’STHREE UNITIES • Aristotle’s On Tragedy is usually considered the first piece of Western dramatic criticism. In it, he proclaimed that tragedy must follow the 3 unities: • UNITY OF TIME: one day • UNITY OF PLACE: one setting • UNITY OF ACTION: one plot

  10. AESCHYLUS525-456 bce • General in Persian Wars -- fought at Marathon, Salamis, Platea • Fierce proponent of Athenian ideals • The first of the great Athenian dramatists, was also the first to express the agony of the individual caught in conflict. • Credited with adding the second actor • Only extant trilogy: The Oresteia • Agamemnon • The Libation Bearers • The Eumenides

  11. SOPHOCLES 496 - 406 bce • Wrote over 100 plays, but only seven survive • Credited with adding the third actor • Known as actor as well as dramatist • Most interested in human dynamics • THEBAN PLAYS: • Oedipus the King • Oedipus at Colonnus • Antigone

  12. EURIPIDES c.480-406 bce • The last of the three great Greek tragic dramatists -- 17 plays survive • Explored the theme of personal conflict within the polis and the depths of the individual • Disgust with events of Peloponnesian War brought about disillusionment with Athens • Men and women bring disaster on themselves because their passions overwhelm their reason

  13. TRAGIC ACTION ARETE, ARISTEIA: excellence HUBRIS: arrogance HAMARTIA: fatal mistake PERIPETEIA: reversal of fortune ANAGNORISIS: understanding KATHARSIS

  14. ORIGINS of OLD COMEDY • Arose from komos : songs of revelry, charms to avert evil, prayers for fertility sung to Dionysus • Chorus dressed ludicrously • Audience responded to choral komos and were gradually admitted into chorus • Chorus became two-part group with antiphonal song • Invention of comic chorus is attributed to Susarion • Dorian and Sicilian farces were precursors of Old Comedy

  15. CONVENTIONS of OLD COMEDY • Scene set on Athenian street • “Events seldom occur – they are merely talked about” • Masks and fantastic costumes • Satiric of contemporary events and public figures • Bawdy

  16. COMIC STRUCTURE Prologos: introductory scene Parados: entry of 24 member chorus dressed in fantastic costume Agon:argument “just prior to the agon, the leader of the chorus always asks - in exactly 2 lines - one contender to present his argument, and it is this contender who always loses” Parabasis:chorus’s great song 4-5 alternating scenes and choral odes illustrating the outcome of the agon Episodeion Stasimon Komos: final choral song and exit in wild revelry

  17. ARISTOPHANESc. 448 - 380 BCE • 30+ plays; 11 extant; 6 first prizes • Plays include Clouds, Wasps,Birds, Frogs, Lysistrata • Critique of Euripides & Socrates: reactionary conservative; social critic • Plato's epitaph for Aristophanes : “The Graces, seeking a shrine that could not fall, discovered the soul of Aristophanes.”

  18. New Comedy • By 317 BC, a new form had evolved that resembled modern farces: mistaken identities, ironic situations, ordinary characters and wit. • Basic plot: Boy meets girl, complications arise, bot gets girl – ends with betrothal or marriage. • 5 act structure: acts divided by interludes performed by the chorus • Stock characters: young lovers, parasite, lecherous old men, clever servants, etc. • Social rather than political satire

  19. MENANDER342-292 bce • 1905 a manuscript was discovered in Cairo with pieces of five of Menander’s plays, and in 1957 a complete play, Diskolos(The Grouch, 317 BC), was unearthed in Egypt. • The style of comedy that Menander created, with its emphasis on mistaken identity, romance and situational humor, became the model for subsequent comedy, from the Romans to Shakespeare to Broadway. • Parts of his comedies found their way into plays by the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence, Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors, Stephen Sondheim's A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.

  20. ROMAN THEATRE • Drama flourished under the Republic but declined into variety entertainment under the Empire • Roman festivals: Held in honor of the gods, but much less religious than in Greece • Ludi Romani Became theatrical in 364 B.C. Held in September (the autumn)and honored Jupiter. By 240 B.C., both comedy and tragedy were performed. • Five others: Ludi Florales (April), Plebeii (November), Apollinares (July), Megalenses (April), Cereales(no particular season). • Under the Empire, these festivals afforded "bread and circuses" to the masses – many performances. —including a series of plays or events. Acting troupes (perhaps several a day) put on theatre events.

  21. ROMAN THEATRE • Encompassed more than drama : acrobatics, gladiators, jugglers, athletics, chariots races, naumachia (sea battles), boxing, venationes (animal fights) • Entertainment tended to be grandiose, sentimental, diversionary • Actors / performers were called "histriones"

  22. INFLUENCES on Roman Theatre • Greek Drama – borrowed plots and stories: less philosophical • Etruscan influences – emphasized circus-like elements • Fabula Atellana – Atellan farces (town near Naples). • Short improvised farces, with stock characters, similar costumes and masks • based on domestic life or mythology – burlesqued, parodied • popular during the 1st century B.C., then declined • may have influenced commedia dell ‘Arte

  23. Roman Theatre Design • First permanent Roman theatre built 54 A.D. (100 years after the last surviving comedy)So permanent structures came from periods after significant writing • More that 100 permanent theatre structures by 550 A.D. • Built on level ground with stadium-style seating (audience raised) • Could seat 10-15,000 people • Awning over the audience to protect them from the sun • During the Empire around 78 B.C, cooling system installed– air blowing over streams of water

  24. Roman Theatre Design • Skene becomes scaena– joined with audience to form one architectural unit • S tages raised to five feet, 20-40 feet deep, 100-300 feet long, • 3-5 doors in rear wall and at least one in the wings • scaena frons – façade of the stage house – had columns, niches, porticoes, statues – painted • stage was covered with a roof • trap doors were common • Orchestra becomes half-circle • Paradoibecome vomitorium into orchestra and audience

  25. Theatre of Marcellus (drawing)

  26. TYPES of Roman Theatre • Roman Drama : 2nd c. bc - 4th c. ce • Livius Andronicus – 240 – 204 B.C. – wrote, translated, or adapted comedies and tragedies, the first important works in Latin. Little is known, but he seems to have been best at tragedy. • Gnaeus Naevius – 270-201 B.C. excelled at comedy, but wrote both • Both helped to "Romanize" the drama by introducing Roman allusions into the Greek originals and using Roman stories.

  27. ROMAN COMEDY • Chorus was abandoned • No act or scene divisions • Songs • Everyday domestic affairs: Boy meets girl, complications, boy gets girl: marriage • Action placed in the street • Bawdy • Stock characters • Only two playwrights' material survives: • Titus Maccius Plautus(c. 254-184 B.C.) • Publius Terenius Afer [Terence] (195 or 185-159 B.C.)

  28. STOCK CHARACTERS • Senex: old man in authority • Pappas: foolish old man • Bucco: braggart, boisterous • Miles gloriosus: braggart soldier • Dossenus: swindler, drunk, hunchback • Shrew: sharp-tongued woman • Courtesan • Clever servant • Young Lovers

  29. PLAUTUS (c. 254-184 B.C.E.) • 21 extant playsincluding Pot of Gold, The Menaechmi, Braggart Warrior-- probably between 205-184 B.C. • All based on Greek New Comedies • Added Roman allusions, Latin dialog, varied poetic meters, witty jokes • Some techniques: • Stychomythia – dialog with short lines, like a tennis match • Slapstick • Songs

  30. TERENCE(195 or 185-159 B.C.E.) • Born in Carthage, came to Rome as a boy slave, educated and freed • The Afer in his name may indicate that he was an African, and therefore he may have been the first major black playwright in western theater. • Six plays, all of which surviveincluding The Brothers, Mother-in-Law, etc. • More complex plots – combined stories from Greek originals. • Character and double-plots were his forte – contrasts in human behavior • Less boisterous than Plautus, less episodic, more elegant language. • Less popular than Plautus.

  31. Roman Tragedy • None survive from the early period, and only one playwright from the later period: Lucius Annaeus Seneca • 5 act structure – later adopted by Elizabethans • Elaborate speeches -- rhetorical influence • Interest in morality – expressed in sententiae(short pithy generalizations about the human condition)

  32. SENECA(5 or 4 B.C.E.– 65 C.E.) • Nine extant tragedies, five adapted from Euripides:The Trojan Women, Media, Oedipus, Agamemnon • His popularity declined, • Suicide in 65 A.D.– at the orders of Nero • Seneca had a strong effect on later dramatists. • Probably closet dramas—meant to be read to an audience rather than performed

  33. Senecan Conventions • Violence and horror onstage (Jocasta rips open her womb, for example) • Characters dominated by a single passion – such as revenge – drives them to doom: known as Senecan Revenge tragedies during Renaissance. • Technical devices: • Soliloquies and asides • Confidants take the place of the chorus • Ghosts: interest in supernatural and human connections

  34. Gladiatorial combats Chariot races Naumachia: Naval battles in a flooded Coliseum “Real-life” theatricals Decadent, violent and immoral All theatrical events banned by Church when Rome became Christianized Roman Spectacle