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Roman and Medieval Theater

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    Slide 1:Roman and Medieval Theater For Friday: Test #1 Review assigned text, lecture material, and plays

    Slide 2:Roman Theater The Romans patterned their theatre after the Greeks. But they reversed the value of genres Greeks 1. Tragedy 2. Comedy Romans 1. Comedy 2. Tragedy

    Slide 3:Roman Theater Drama flourished under the Roman Republic Drama declined during the Roman Empire. This is typical throughout history. The arts tend to flourish in free societies and diminish in oppressive ones.

    Slide 4:Roman Theater Like the Greeks, the Romans performed plays as during religious festivals But the Romans had about five festivals a year The works of only three authors remain: Plautus Terence Seneca

    Slide 5:Roman Theater Architecture The Romans constructed open-air theaters for each festival, and demolished them after the festival was over Unlike the Greeks, the Romans avoided hillside theatres and built scaffolds and bleachers for the audience. Roman designers probably built and demolished 500 theatres before the first permanent theatre was built in 55 B.C.

    Slide 6:Roman Theater Architecture Eventually, during the Empire, the Romans built about 125 permanent theatres A typical Roman theatre seated 10-15 thousand people. Some may have held as many as 40 thousand. Innovations: Periaktoi - three-sided revolving scenic units at each end of the stage Use of a curtain in front of the stage.

    Slide 7:Plautus Most popular Roman playwright Father of comedy as we know it today. Depicted the domestic affairs of everyday middle and upper-middle class Roman life. Plots and stories have been borrowed by everyone from Shakespeare to Woody Allen. Plautus is especially notable for his use of stock characters and formula plots.

    Slide 8:Farce Complicated, convoluted plots Mistaken identities and confusion Broad physical humor Reversal of social roles Stock characters Formulaic stories

    Slide 9:Theater in the Middle Ages Period spans from fall of the Roman empire around 475 A.D. and the Renaissance around 1500. Medieval society revolved around the Catholic Church. The Church put an end to all forms of theater

    Slide 10:Theater in the Middle Ages First four- hundred years of the Middle Ages: no plays that we know of were written Church declared that acting and actors were forbidden. Art of the theater was kept alive by bands of mimes, jugglers, and minstrels who performed at festivals and weddings.

    Slide 11:Theater in the Middle Ages Theater began to reappear during the 10th century Churches began producing dramatic interludes called tropes as part of their Easter services. A choir chanted the early tropes in Latin. Later, priests began reciting lines in dialogue with the choir (ala Greek chorus).

    Slide 12:Theater in the Middle Ages By the 13th century completely developed plays appeared in the native language which the congregation could understand These liturgical dramas enacted stories from the Bible e.g. the nativity story at Christmas, the resurrection at Easter Priests and choirboys acted out the dramas.

    Slide 13:Medieval architecture Stage space expanded from the church alter to the long, massive sanctuary Medieval churches were built in the form of a cross. Along the aisles various scenes or mansions were set up Each mansion represented a different locale The upper room (Last Supper) Pontius Pilates quarters, etc..

    Slide 14:Medieval Theater As the play progressed, the actors and the audience moved from one mansion to the next. By the year 1200 these plays moved out of the church and into the street Sets became more elaborate The clergy turned over the task of writing, producing, and acting to various trade guilds.

    Slide 15:Medieval Theater Pageant wagons - movable mansions on wheels, arranged in a giant circle outside, not in the church Very elaborate scenery--typical setting might consist of Paradise, Nazareth, the Temple, Jerusalem, the Golden Gate, the sea, and Hell. Hell emitted smoke and fire from a monster-like mouth Trapdoors, mechanical animals, flying angels. Sometimes rain fell and lightning appeared for the scene of Christ walking on water.

    Slide 16:Medieval Theater The most widely produced kinds of Medieval drama during this period were Miracle Plays - depicting miracles and other acts performed by the saints Mystery Plays - Biblical stories performed by members of craft guilds Morality Plays - secular plays about lives of everyday people, use of allegory (people representing evil, sloth, wisdom, etc.)