The beginning/Ancient Greece The History of Theatre
Just to review… • Storytelling was a precursor to theatre • It probably dates back to the beginning of verbal communication
Just to review Storytelling served three purposes To provide information To entertain To explain natural phenomenons The last purpose gave rise to myths and legends
Just to review • The earliest example of a theatrical event was in Egypt c. 2000 BC • The Festival of Osiris • Considered to be a passion play • Evidence comes from a stone tablet • Written by a man named Ikhernofret
The Greeks arrive • The Greek civilization began to create theatre around the 6th century BC • Its origins stem from the worship of the god Dionysis, the god of wine • The Diomysian festival was held every spring to bless the new grape crop • Shepherds brought goats to the temple of Dionysis to be sacrificed
The masks • The theatrical masks you see are representations of the muses of theatre • Melpomene-tragedy • Thalia-comedy
Come let us sing sad songs together • The song that the goatherds would sing was known as thetragos • Groups of herdsmen would gather into groups known as the khouros • Eventually a contest was started to see who had the best tragos
The first actor • During the first competition at the Dionysian Festival (534 BC), one man from a khouros broke away • He leapt onto an altar and played the role of a god • This man was the first actor, Thespis • From his name, we get the term thespian, another name for an actor • From the group name khouros, we get the word “chorus”
TRAGEDY! • Tragedy comes from the Greek word tragos,meaning “goat song” • They were presented in a dayof three related plays, known asa trilogy • Three of the most famous tragedy playwrights of ancient Greece were Aeschylus (The Orestaia), Euripides (Medea), and Sophocles (Oedipus Rex)
Comedy tonight • Comedy began as a play that made fun of the tragedies, known as a satyr play • Poked fun at the plays, playwrights, philosophers, politicians and priests • Eventually developed into comedy • Old Comedies were very bawdy and full of fantasy • The most famous early comic playwright was Aristophanes (Lysistrata)
Leave ‘em laughing • The Middle and New Comedy eras featured plays more reserved and coherent than their predecessors • Comedies in Roman and Renaissance times were heavily influences by New Comedy • Menander was considered one of the greats of New Comedy • He wrote over a hundred plays, but only one – Dyskolos –survives today
Parts of the Greek theatre Amphitheatre Theatron Orchestra Skene
How to end a show (maybe) • In some Greek tragedies, the play ended when a god appeared on top of the skene • This was done with a type of primitive crane called a deus ex machina • The actor playing a god was lifted into place and the play ended • This became overused when playwrights could not think of a good ending for their play • We still use the term today for any movie or play ending that comes out of nowhere
The little quiz at the end • Greek drama began with the worship of what god? • The groups of goatherds who would gather to chant songs we called what? • Tragedy comes from the word tragos, which means “______________”. • Who were the three great tragic playwrights? • Who do the theatre masks represent?
Little quiz continued • Who was the great playwright of the Old Comedy era? • How many of Menander’s plays survive today? • What was the acting area of the Greek theatre called? • What was the machine that lifted people to the top of the skene called?