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Summary - History of the theatre
2 Theatre and Drama in Ancient Greece
Who were the Aegean forerunners of the Greeks?
The Minoan an the Mycenaean.
What ad the Aegean civilizations to do with the development of the theatre?
Indirect influence; their gods, heroes and history supplied the material for Homerus' Illiad and Odyssey. Therefor, most Greek drama.
For some time, the city-states were ruled by kings, but after 800 B.C. nobles were able to assume considerable power. The more ambitious nobles soon learned they could win support through promises of improved rights for tradesmen and farmers, who had few priveleges.
Peisistratus promoted farming and foreign trade, made Athens the leading center of the arts, and established or enlarged numerous festivals, including the City Dionysia, which was to be the major home of drama.
2.1 The origin of tragedy
Who is credited with the invention of tragedy and why?
Thespis, because he won a competition in the year 534 B.C. in the city-state of Athens and tradition has it that this was part of their City Dionysia.
Where does the word tragedy come from?
Tragoidia (goath song)
What is a dithyramb
A hymn sung and danced in the honor of Dionysos
Thespis was grom Icaria, near Athens. When Thespis invented tragedy, 'a cart was the scene'.
The great innovation attributed to Thespis is the creation of the dialogue. This made him the first actor and dramatist, what the Greek called hypokrites , meaning interpreter or answerer.
Late sixth century: the first actor/dramatist appeared. The second major step occurred early in the next century when the actor/dramatist Aeschylus added a second actor, thereby permitting face-to-face conflict on the stage.
2.1.1 Tragedy in the fifth century
What are the four actor/dramatist of the sixth century, known to us?
Made unspecified innovations in costumes and masks
Said to have invented the bawdy farce form known as 'satyr plays'
Who is credited with introducing female characters
Name three playwrighters of the fifth century
By the time the surviving plays were written, each dramatist submitted a group of three tragedies (a trilogy) and one farcical satyr play for the competition at the City Dionysia festival.
- Prologue: provides information about events that have occured prior to the opening of the play.
- Parados: the entrance of the chorus
- Main action a series of episodes, varying in number from three to six and seperated by choral dance songs (or stasima)
- Exodus: departure of all the characters and the chorus.
Why is the frequent use of messengers required?
Because most of the tragedies place scenes of death and physical violence offstage; the messengers relate what has occurred elsewhere.
Tragedy's are based on myth. Each writer was free to alter the stories and to invent motivations for characters and actions. Thus the basic stories ended with widely different interpretations of it.
The point of attack in the plays is late, the story is usually taken up just prior to the climatic moment, and only the final part is dramatized.
Aeschylos (c. 523-456):
- The Persians
- Seven Against Thebes
- Oresteia (trilogy):
- The Suppliants
- Prometheus Bound
Sophokles (c. 496-406):
- Oedipus at Colonus
Sophokles is credited with the introduction of the third actor and with the first use of scene painting.
What is difference between Sophokles' tragedies and Aeschylos' tragedies?
Sophokles placed increased emphasis on individual characters and reduced the role of the chorus.
Sophokles' characters are complex and psychologically well motivated. The protagonists are usually subjected to a terrible crisis that leads to suffering and self-understanding, including the perception of a higher than human law behind events.
Euripides (c. 480-406):
- The Trojan Women
- Iphigineia in Aulis
- The Bacchae
Euripides often introduced subjects thought unsuited to the stage and questioned traditional values. His characters often questioned the gods' sense of justice, since they seemed sources of misery as often as of hapiness.