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History of Theatre

Greek Theatre
The beginning and basis of
theatre as we know it
The Development of Acting
Theatre began as a a religious
festival to honor the god of wine and
fertility known as Dionysis.
In ancient Greece the small towns
and villages held yearly festivals in
the fall in conjunction with the
Before Thespis all Thespis changed
the citizens of the this by giving one
towns participated member of the
in the festivals as chorus individual
members of the lines
chorus. This individual
The chorus recited created a character
lines in unison or that acted and
chants reacted with the
Withthe development of individual
actors Dialogue began.

Wecredit Thespis with being the first


We honor this development by calling

all actors Thespians.
The Development of an
From the beginning of Some of the
Greek performances citizens became
all members of the the observers or
town performed as a the audience
part of the festivals in while others were
the chorus. performers.
The cities grew too
large to have all of the
citizens participate
Ancient Greek Theatres
The Original
The Development of Original
Formany years the Authorsbegan to
religious rituals of write new songs and
the Greeks were chants for the
performed exactly chorus each year.
the same.
Soon entire new
AfterThespis plots began to
changed the format, develop.
the festivals changed
too with addition of Eventuallynew
new scripts. plays were written.
The Development of Competition
for Theatre
The next logical The Athens festival
step in the was the largest and
formation of most respected of
theatre as we know these competitions.
it was to evaluate
the plays with Plays were performed
formal competition
in groups of three
tragedies (trilogy)
followed by a satyr
Each city had their play (comedy)
own competition
Major Playwrights in Greece
Aeschylus (525 B.C.- 456 Major

Best known for tragedies
Socrates (470 B.C.- 399
Sophocles (496 B.C.- 406 Wrote about theatre
B.C.) without giving personal
Oedipus Plays opinion
Euripides (485 B.C.- 406 B.C.) Aristotle (384 B.C.- 322
Emotional plays and vivid B.C.)
female characters Wrote The Poetics
Aristophanes (448 B.C.- 385 B.C.) Loved theatre
Comedies Plato (427 B.C.- 348 B.C.)
Menander (324 B.C.- 292 Wrote The Republic
B.C.) Hated theatre
New Comedies
Developed Greek Theatres
Plays were performed The individual actors
in enormous outdoor performed on the
amphitheatres built at back portion of the
the bottom of a hill. orchestra section on
The audience sat on a raised platform
the hillside called called the Skene
Theatron platform
The chorus performed The Skene was a
in a large flat circular narrow building used
area called the as the backdrop.
Components of Greek
Mechane (Machina or Deux Machina)
hoist like machine to make
characters appear to fly
Ekkyklema platform on wheels
Ancient Greek Theatres
Fully Developed
Performances in Greek
Actorsperformed wearing masks (made of
linen, wood, cork, or leather).
The masks had large openings for eyes and
mouth (like a megaphone) to make it easier for
the audience to see and hear the actors
Actors often wore platform shoes to make
their size comparable to their masks.
Actors made long speeches and had little
movement because the stage size was
Greek Plays
Tragedies retold legends and history and
explained how well-known people met
their fates at the hands of the gods.
Comedies Broadly satirical and often
vulgar plays that made fun of well known
people and historical characters.
New Comedies Menander wrote these
plays in which the chorus and the long
speeches were eliminated, and the stories
switched to contemporary life rather than
that of kings and heroes. Also spoken in
the language of the average person.