Ancient Greek Theatre. By Hollie joiner. Where did Greek theatre start?. Ancient Greek theatre started in the fifth centaury. Greek theatre originates from Athens. But these plays were not just performed as stories!.
By Hollie joiner
Ancient Greek theatre started in the fifth centaury. Greek theatre originates from Athens. But these plays were not just performed as stories!
The performances started out as religious ceremonies. They were preformed to worship the gods. They especially performed them for the god Dionysus.
Some religious ceremonies performed were changed and turned into plays. This was so they could be performed at other times in the year not just on certain holidays.
Most of the performances took place in the theatre of Dionysus in Athens.
This is the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens.
Dionysus was a ancient Greek god!
Dionysus was mainly worshipped as the god of fertility, but he also had other role as the gods of agriculture, sexuality and wine.
In Athens on the month of march every year the had a festival to celebrate Dionysus‘ birth and the great grapes used to make their wine.
They celebrated the festival in march, so it occurred annually across Athens.
The festival was mainly known as the fertility festival but also was known as ‘the festival of the wine jugs’ and ‘old Dionysus’.
They performed a ancient ritual, where they would perform dances and chants for Dionysus.
When they performed the ritual they were normally all drunk!!
This is what a theatre would have looked like when in use!!
The chorus would usually dance and sing in this area.
This was where the chorus was located. It was one of the very main parts of the stage.
The orchestra was located in front of the skene, it had a thymeli (a altar) where the leader of the chorus would stand
The skene was basically the main part of the stage.
It had a back ground, which had a scene painted upon it(like many modern day theatres) and a foreground which was where the main actors performed.
The foreground sometimes continued props (tables, chairs) to help the performance.
Under the skene was located various machines.
What was a Deus ex machina used for?
What was a Ekeclema used for?
This was one of the machines located under the skene
It was used to carry dead bodies on and off of the stage.
It was just a simple platform which would should the body to the audience.
Who was Thespis and why was he important to Greek drama?
A chorus normally contained about fifty members.
The chorus was there to enforce the story and provide background.
They sung, danced, narrated and acted.
The chorus allowed the audience to follow the story easier.
They told hidden tales and narrated the play.
The chorus enforced the main actors emotions .
They were used as background for the performance, and could easily change into main actors because of their costumes
They sung and danced making the performance more interesting
They were also used to express vivid emotions from them main character (the masks were easy to change). They were basically mirroring the actors emotions to the audience.
They wore masks to disguise who they were, this meaning they could play multiple roles
Wearing masks added mystery to the performance as you couldn’t tell there actors actually emotions or expressions.
The masks grouped them to together making it easier to perform and more interesting to watch.
The chorus all wore the same clothes
They wore long pieces of cloth to cover their whole bodies, so that only their masks could be seen.
They all wore the same colours.
The cloth was normally a faded colour or just white.
What sort of plays were performed?
There was two main types of play
They contained violence and death. (but sadly they could only be performed off of stage)
One of the most popular types of play.
The name tragedy comes from the word tragos. This means goat and relates to how it was performed.
They were normally based on myths or legends, which were adapted to create plots for the plays.
They traditionally performed these plays where the men wore goats skins and danced around like goats.
They even gave out a prize for the best performance and they were given…………A GOAT!!
Deaths were not allowed to be performed on stage
So they would be performed off stage.
They would do actual human sacrifices sometimes!!!
They would then use theEkeclema to bring the dead bodies out to show the audience!
It was seen as barbaric and they believed it related to the pagan religion, so they banned it!
They began being performed by priests, this was because between 500- 1000 AD the catholic church banned theatre.
Small groups of actors worked on the way the priests were performing plays (still image theatre) and soon adapted it to their own.
They were originally stories from the bible, but most were adapted to make the play more interesting.
Some plays were about real people, they would use people from the local community and they would then copy and make fun of them!
They were generally performed by priests as any other theatre was in fact banned by the catholic church.
They would act out scenes from the bible in Latin, the only problem was that not many spoke that language.
Medieval drama was adapted by travelling actors and they started to travel the world performing in this way.
As the plays advanced they need more actors so many normally people joined in as amateur actors.
The wagon was their stage, but it also doubled as a wheeled vehicle.
The pageant wagon was vital for medieval theatre.
They wagon had wheels as this made it easy to move from town to town. They also then used it to transport the rest of the props and actors to the next town.
The stage was only small but it was easy o use and had a simple design.
The only time they really had more detailed costumes was if they were playing roles like angels, the devil or god.
They wore simple costumes as this made it easy to more around the play and perform different roles.
For the more advanced costumes hey used vibrant colours and face paints as these made the parts show they were in fact more important and stood out.