Greek Tragedy History and the Theater
The Tragic Form • Originates from Greece. • Term means “goat-song” possibly referring to the sacrifice of a goat to the god Dionysus or the prize given to the playwright who won at the play competitions.
Dionysus Tragedies were performed in his honor
Dionysus • In Greek mythology, he was a nature god of fruitfulness and vegetation, especially know as a god of wine and ecstasy.
Drawn from familiar myths of gods and mortals found in the works of Homer and elsewhere This familiarity focused the dramatic interest on the presentation of the changing awareness and responses of those involved, rather than on plot. Greek Tragedies
Violence and Irreverence • These scenes were not depicted on stage. • Instead they were reported and commented upon
Conflict • Between the protagonist and a superior force (such as destiny, circumstance, or society).
The End (resolution) • The tragic protagonist is confronted in the end by an inexorable fate that ensures an unhappy outcome.
Dionysus Theater • Open-aired theater • Like a semicircular football stadium • Performance area at the bottom; seating extended up the hillside
Orchestra • Orchestra: circular, level space made of hard earth where the chorus would dance, sing, and interact with the actors who were on the stage near the skene. • In the center of the orchestra there was often an altar. • The orchestra of the theater of Dionysus in Athens was about 60 feet in diameter.
Theatron (seating area) • Where the spectators sat. • Usually part of hillside overlooking the orchestra, and often wrapped around a large portion of the orchestra • Spectators probably sat on cushions or boards, but by the fourth century the theatron of many Greek theaters had marble seats.
Skene • the building or “tent” directly behind the stage. • raised only two or three steps above the level of the orchestra, and was perhaps 25 feet wide and 10 feet deep. • usually decorated as a palace, temple, or other building, depending on the needs of the play. • It had at least one set of doors, and actors could make entrances and exits through them. • also had access to the roof from behind, so actors playing gods and other characters could appear on the roof, if needed.
Parodos • "passageways" or paths by which the chorus and some actors made their entrances and exits. • The audience also used them to enter and exit the theater before and after the performance.
In traditional Greek drama, little or no scenery was used. Settings today are elaborate They often consist of layers of settings including a backdrop, removable set, and layers of props Stage Setting
Costumes • They wore long robes with vertical stripes. • Costumes were always stiff, heavy, dull, and dark colored to make apparent of their character's feelings. • Wealthy characters wore very embroidered, authentic and intricately designed costumes giving the audience a sense of their character's wealth as well as personality.
Masks • The masks were typically made of very thin and delicate clay, wood, or even stiffened cloth in some cases. • Then, a thin piece of linen was stretched over the base material of the mask. • Then, the masks were carefully carved and designed to fit the role of the theatrical performances.
Purpose of Masks • Exaggerated the facial features of the actor. • Helped the audience tell whether the actor was playing a man or a woman, his or her social stature, and his or her expression. • Because the features were so much larger than those of a real human's face it was easy for the audience on the hillside to see. • In the mouth of the mask, there was a metal mouthpiece, which helped exaggerate the voice of the actor, making it heard through out the stands.