Theatre of ancient Greece: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Panoramic view of the Hellenic theatre at Epidaurus.

The theatre of ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece between c. 550 and c. 220 BC. The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political and military power during this period, was its centre, where it was institutionalised as part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. Tragedy (late 6th century BC), comedy (486 BC), and the satyr play were the three dramatic genres to emerge there. Athens exported the festival to its numerous colonies and allies in order to promote a common cultural identity. Western theatre originates in Athens and its drama has had a significant and sustained impact on Western culture as a whole.

Contents

Etymology

The word τραγῳδία (tragoidia), from which the word "tragedy" is derived, is a portmanteau of two Greek words: τράγος (tragos) or "goat" and ᾠδή (ode) meaning "song", from ἀείδειν (aeidein), "to sing".[1] This etymology indicates a link with the practices of the ancient Dionysian cults. It is impossible, however, to know with certainty how these fertility rituals became the basis for tragedy and comedy.[2]

Origins

Greek tragedy as we know it was made in Athens some years before 532 BC, when Thespis was the earliest recorded playwright. Being a winner of the first theatrical contest held at Athens, he was the exarchon, or leader,[3] of the dithyrambs performed in and around Attica, especially at the rural Dionysia. By Thespis' time the dithyramb had evolved far away from its cult roots. Under the influence of heroic epic, Doric choral lyric and the innovations of the poet Arion, it had become a narrative, ballad-like genre. Thespis probably aided in the final transition from dithyramb to tragedy by adding characters who speak (rather than sing) with their own voice (rather than a single narrative chorus). Because of these, Thespis is often called the "Father of Tragedy"; however, his importance is disputed, and Thespis is sometimes listed as late as 16th in the chronological order of Greek tragedians; the statesman Solon, for example, is credited with creating poems in which characters speak with their own voice, and spoken recitations, known as rhapsodes, of Homer's epics were popular in festivals prior to 534 B.C.[4] Thus, Thespis's true contribution to drama is unclear at best, but his name has been immortalized as a common term for performer—a "thespian."

The dramatic performances were important to the Athenians - this is made clear by the creation of a tragedy competition and festival in the City Dionysia. This was organized possibly to foster loyalty among the tribes of Attica (recently created by Cleisthenes). The festival was created roughly around 508 B.C. While no drama texts exist from the sixth century BC, we do know the names of three competitors besides Thespis: Choerilus, Pratinas, and Phrynichus. Each is credited with different innovations in the field.

More is known about Phrynichus. He won his first competition between 511 BC and 508 BC. He produced tragedies on themes and subjects later exploited in the golden age such as the Danaids, Phoenician Women and Alcestis. He was the first poet we know of to use a historical subject - his Fall of Miletus, produced in 493-2, chronicled the fate of the town of Miletus after it was conquered by the Persians. Herodotus reports that "the Athenians made clear their deep grief for the taking of Miletus in many ways, but especially in this: when Phrynichus wrote a play entitled “The Fall of Miletus” and produced it, the whole theatre fell to weeping; they fined Phrynichus a thousand drachmas for bringing to mind a calamity that affected them so personally, and forbade the performance of that play forever."[5] He is also thought to be the first to use female characters (though not female performers).[6]

Until the Hellenistic period, all tragedies were unique pieces written in honor of Dionysus and played only once, so that today we only have the pieces that were still remembered well enough to have been repeated when repetition of old tragedies became fashion.

New inventions during the Classical Period

After the Great Destruction of Athens by the Persian Empire in 480 BC, the town and acropolis were rebuilt, and theatre became formalized and an even more major part of Athenian culture and civic pride. This century is normally regarded as the Golden Age of Greek drama. The centre-piece of the annual Dionysia, which took place once in winter and once in spring, was a competition between three tragic playwrights at the Theatre of Dionysus. Each submitted three tragedies, plus a satyr play (a comic, burlesque version of a mythological subject). Beginning in a first competition in 486 BC, each playwright also submitted a comedy.[7] Aristotle claimed that Aeschylus added the second actor, and that Sophocles added the third actor. Apparently the Greek playwrights never put more than three actors basis of what is known about Greek theatre.[8]

Tragedy and comedy were viewed as completely separate genres, and no plays ever merged aspects of the two. Satyr plays dealt with the mythological subject matter of the tragedies, but in a purely comedic manner. However, as they were written over a century after the Athenian Golden Age, it is not known whether dramatists such as Sophocles and Euripides would have thought about their plays in the same terms.

Hellenistic period

The power of Athens declined following its defeat in the Peloponnesian War against the Spartans. From that time on, the theatre started performing old tragedies again. Although its theatrical traditions seem to have lost their vitality, Greek theatre continued into the Hellenistic period (the period following Alexander the Great's conquests in the fourth century BC). However, the primary Hellenistic theatrical form was not tragedy but 'New Comedy', comic episodes about the lives of ordinary citizens. The only extant playwright from the period is Menander. One of New Comedy's most important contributions was its influence on Roman comedy, an influence that can be seen in the surviving works of Plautus and Terence.

Characteristics of the buildings

The plays had a chorus of up to fifty[9] people, who performed the plays in verse accompanied by music, beginning in the morning and lasting until the evening. The performance space was a simple semi-circular space, the orchestra, where the chorus danced and sang. The orchestra, which had an average diameter of 78 feet, was situated on a flattened terrace at the foot of a hill, the slope of which produced a natural theatron, literally "watching place". Later, the term "theatre" came to be applied to the whole area of theatron, orchestra, and skené. The choragos was the head chorus member who could enter the story as a character able to interact with the characters of a play.

A blueprint of an Ancient Theatre. Terms are in Greek language and Latin letters.

The theatres were originally built on a very large scale to accommodate the large number of people on stage, as well as the large number of people in the audience, up to fourteen thousand. Mathematics played a large role in the construction of these theatres, as their designers had to be able to create acoustics in them such that the actors' voices could be heard throughout the theatre, including the very top row of seats. The Greeks' understanding of acoustics compares very favourably with the current state of the art, as even with the invention of microphones, there are very few modern large theatres that have truly good acoustics. The first seats in Greek theatres (other than just sitting on the ground) were wooden, but around 499 BC the practice of inlaying stone blocks into the side of the hill to create permanent, stable seating became more common. They were called the "prohedria" and reserved for priests and a few most respected citizens.

In 465 BC, the playwrights began using a backdrop or scenic wall, which hung or stood behind the orchestra, which also served as an area where actors could change their costumes. It was known as the skené, or scene. The death of a character was always heard behind the skene, for it was considered inappropriate to show a killing in view of the audience. In 425 BC a stone scene wall, called a paraskenia, became a common supplement to skenes in the theatres. A paraskenia was a long wall with projecting sides, which may have had doorways for entrances and exits. Just behind the paraskenia was the proskenion. The proskenion ("in front of the scene") was columned, and was similar to the modern day proscenium. Today's proscenium is what separates the audience from the stage. It is the frame around the stage that makes it look like the action is taking place in a picture frame.

Greek theatres also had entrances for the actors and chorus members called parodoi. The parodoi (plural of parodos) were tall arches that opened onto the orchestra, through which the performers entered. In between the parodoi and the orchestra lay the eisodoi, through which actors entered and exited. By the end of the 5th century BC, around the time of the Peloponnesian War, the skene, the back wall, was two stories high. The upper story was called the episkenion. Some theatres also had a raised speaking place on the orchestra called the logeion.

Advertisements

Scenic elements

There were several scenic elements commonly used in Greek theatre:

  • machina, a crane that gave the impression of a flying actor (thus, deus ex machina).
  • ekkyklema, a wheeled wagon used to bring dead characters into view for the audience
  • trap doors, or similar openings in the ground to lift people onto the stage
  • Pinakes, pictures hung into the scene to show a scene's scenery
  • Thyromata, more complex pictures built into the second-level scene (3rd level from ground)
  • Phallic props were used for satyr plays, symbolizing fertility in honor of Dionysus.

Masks

Tragic Comic Masks Hadrians Villa mosaic.

Masks and ritual

The Greek term for mask is persona and was a significant element in the worship of Dionysus at Athens, likely used in ceremonial rites and celebrations. Most of the evidence comes from only a few vase paintings of the 5th century BC, such as one showing a mask of the god suspended from a tree with decorated robe hanging below it and dancing and the Pronomos vase [3] , which depicts actors preparing for a Satyr play.[10] No physical evidence remains available to us, as the masks were made of organic materials and not considered permanent objects, ultimately being dedicated to the altar of Dionysus after performances. Nevertheless, the mask is known to have been used since the time of Aeschylus and considered to be one of the iconic conventions of classical Greek theatre.[11] Masks were also made for members of the chorus, who help the audience know what a character is thinking. Although there are twelve members of the chorus they all were the same mask because they are considered to be representing one character.

Mask details

Illustrations of theatrical masks from 5th century display helmet-like masks, covering the entire face and head, with holes for the eyes and a small aperture for the mouth, as well as an integrated wig. It is interesting to note that these paintings never show actual masks on the actors in performance; they are most often shown being handled by the actors before or after a performance, that liminal space between the audience and the stage, between myth and reality.[10] This demonstrates the way in which the mask was to ‘melt’ into the face and allow the actor to vanish into the role.[12] Effectively, the mask transformed the actor as much as memorization of the text. Therefore, performance in ancient Greece did not distinguish the masked actor from the theatrical character.

The mask-makers were called skeuopoios or “maker of the properties,” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks. The masks were most likely made out of light weight, organic materials like stiffened linen, leather, wood, or cork, with the wig consisting of human or animal hair.[13] Due to the visual restrictions imposed by these masks, it was imperative that the actors hear in order to orientate and balance themselves. Thus, it is believed that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask itself. The mouth opening was relatively small, preventing the mouth to be seen during performances. Vervain and Wiles posit that this small size discourages the idea that the mask functioned as a megaphone, as originally presented in the 1960s.[10] Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character.[14]

Mask functions

In a large open-air theatre, like the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, the classical masks were able to bring the characters' face closer to the audience, especially since they had intensely over-exaggerated facial features and expressions.[14] They enabled an actor to appear and reappear in several different roles, thus preventing the audience from identifying the actor to one specific character. Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character’s appearance, ie. Oedipus after blinding himself [15] Unique masks were also created for specific characters and events in a play, such as The Furies in AeschylusEumenides and Pentheus and Cadmus in EuripidesThe Bacchae. Worn by the chorus, the masks created a sense of unity and uniformity, while representing a multi-voiced persona or single organism and simultaneously encouraged interdependency and a heightened sensitivity between each individual of the group.

Other costume details

The actors in these plays that had tragic roles wore boots called cothurnuses that elevated them above the other actors. The actors with comedic roles only wore a thin soled shoe called a sock. For this reason, dramatic art is sometimes alluded to as “Sock and Buskin.”

When playing female roles, the male actors donned a “prosterneda” (a wooden structure in front of the chest, to imitate female breasts) and “progastreda” in front of the belly.

Melpomene is the muse of tragedy and is often depicted holding the tragic mask and wearing cothurnus. Thalia is the muse of comedy and is similarly associated with the mask of comedy and comic’s socks.

See also

References

  1. ^ Merriam-Webster definition of tragedy
  2. ^ William Ridgeway, Origin of Tragedy with Special Reference to the Greek Tragedians, p.83
  3. ^ Aristotle, Poetics
  4. ^ Brockett, Oscar G. "History of the Theatre". Allyn and Bacon, 1999. Pp. 16–17
  5. ^ Herodotus, Histories, 6/21
  6. ^ Brockett, Oscar G. "History of the Theatre". Allyn and Bacon, 1999. USA. p.17
  7. ^ Paul Kuritz, The making of theatre history, Englewood Cliffs 1988, p.21
  8. ^ Kuritz, p. 24
  9. ^ Paper on the Athens Theatre
  10. ^ a b c Vervain, Chris and David Wiles, “The Masks of Greek Tragedy as Point of Departure for Modern Performance.” New Theatre Quarterly 67, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2004. p.255
  11. ^ Varakis, Angie. “Research on the Ancient Mask,” Didaskalia, Vol. 6.1 Spring 2004, [1]
  12. ^ Vervain, Chris and David Wiles, “The Masks of Greek Tragedy as Point of Departure for Modern Performance.” New Theatre Quarterly 67, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2004. p.256]
  13. ^ Brooke, Iris. “Costume in Greek Classical Drama.” Methuen, London: 1962. p.76
  14. ^ a b Vovolis, Thanos and Giorgos Zamboulakis. “The Acoustical Mask of Greak Tragedy.” Didaskalia Vol. 7.1 [2]
  15. ^ Brockett, Oscar G. and Robert Ball. “The Essential Theatre.” 7th Ed. Harcourt Brace, Orlando: 2000. p.70].

Additional Literature

  • Brockett, Oscar G. and Robert Ball. The Essential Theatre. 7th Ed. Harcourt Brace, Orlando: 2000
  • Brooke, Iris. Costume in Greek Classical Drama. Methuen, London: 1962
  • Buckham, Philip Wentworth, Theatre of the Greeks, London 1827.
  • Davidson, J.A., Literature and Literacy in Ancient Greece, Part 1, Phoenix, 16, 1962, pp. 141-56.
  • ibid., Peisistratus and Homer, TAPA, 86, 1955, pp. 1-21.
  • Easterling, P.E. (editor) (1997). The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521412455. http://books.google.com/books?id=Fy4iSjY2VTYC&printsec=frontcover. 
  • Easterling, Patricia Elizabeth; Hall, Edith (eds.), Greek and Roman Actors: Aspects of an Ancient Profession, Cambridge University Press, 2002. ISBN 0521651409
  • Else, Gerald P.
    • Aristotle's Poetics: The Argument, Cambridge, MA 1967.
    • The Origins and Early Forms of Greek Tragedy, Cambridge, MA 1965.
    • The Origins of ΤΡΑΓΩΙΔΙΑ, Hermes 85, 1957, pp. 17-46.
  • Flickinger, Roy Caston, The Greek theater and its drama, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1918
  • Freund, Philip, The Birth of Theatre, London : Peter Owen, 2003. ISBN 0720611709
  • Haigh, A.E., The Attic Theatre, 1907.
  • Harsh, Philip Whaley, A handbook of Classical Drama, Stanford University, California, Stanford University Press; London, H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1944.
  • Lesky, A. Greek Tragedy, trans. H.A., Frankfurt, London and New York 1965.
  • Ley, Graham. A Short Introduction to the Ancient Greek Theatre. University of Chicago, Chicago: 2006
  • McDonald, Marianne, Walton, J. Michael (editors), The Cambridge companion to Greek and Roman theatre, Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2007. ISBN 0521834562
  • Moulton, Richard Green, The ancient classical drama; a study in literary evolution intended for readers in English and in the original, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1890.
  • Pickard-Cambridge, Sir Arthur Wallace
    • Dithyramb, Tragedy, and Comedy , Oxford 1927.
    • The Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, Oxford 1946.
    • The Dramatic Festivals of Athens, Oxford 1953.
  • Rabinowitz, Nancy Sorkin (2008). Greek Tragedy. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. ISBN 9781405121606. 
  • Ridgeway, William, Origin of Tragedy with Special Reference to the Greek Tragedians, 1910.
  • Riu, Xavier, Dionysism and Comedy, 1999. review
  • Ross, Stewart. Greek Theatre. Wayland Press, Hove: 1996
  • Schlegel, August Wilhelm, Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, Geneva 1809.
  • Sommerstein, Alan H., Greek Drama and Dramatists, Routledge, 2002.
  • Sourvinou-Inwood, Christiane, Tragedy and Athenian Religion, Oxford:University Press 2003.
  • Varakis, Angie. “Research on the Ancient Mask”, Didaskalia, Vol. 6.1 Spring 2004, .
  • Vervain, Chris and David Wiles, The Masks of Greek Tragedy as Point of Departure for Modern Performance. New Theatre Quarterly 67, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2004.
  • Vovolis, Thanos and Giorgos Zamboulakis. The Acoustical Mask of Greak Tragedy, Didaskalia Vol. 7.1.
  • Wiles, David. Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: 2000
  • ibid. The Masked Menander: Sign and Meaning in Greek and Roman Performance, 1991.
  • Wise, Jennifer, Dionysus Writes: The Invention of Theatre in Ancient Greece, Ithaca 1998. review
  • Zimmerman, B., Greek Tragedy: An Introduction, trans. T. Marier, Baltimore 1991.

External links


Simple English

File:Antalya Museum - Sarkophag 8a
Theatre mask: stone, 2nd ed century AD
File:Hearst Greek Theatre (Berkeley, CA).JPG
Reproduction of a Greek theatre: Hearst Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley.
File:Syracusa01(js).jpg
The Greek Theatre at Syracuse.
File:07Delphi
The Greek theatre at Delphi: in the most dramatic natural setting.

The theatre of ancient Greece was at its best from 550 to 220 BC. It was the beginning of modern western theatre, and some ancient Greek plays are still performed today. They invented the genres of tragedy (late 6th century BC), comedy (486 BC) and satyr plays.

The city-state of Athens was a great cultural, political and military power during this period. Drama was at its centre. Theatre was part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. In the Dionysia, the playwrights presented their work to an audience. It was a competition, with a winner and prizes. These two main genres were never mixed: they each had their own typical structure. Athens exported the festival to its numerous colonies and allies in order to promote their way of life.

Only men were allowed as actors. The actors wore masks, so that the people would know which person the actor played.

The best known writers of plays are Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides for tragedies, and Aristophanes for comedies.

Contents

Origins

Some think early Greek religion and theatre were influenced by Central Asian shamanistic practices. A large number of Orphic graffiti discovered in Olbia seems to show that the colony was a major point of contact.[1] Eli Rozik points out that the shaman can be seen as an early type of actor influencing the rituals of early Greek theatre.[2][3]

Greek tragedy as we know it was made in Athens some years before 532 BC, when Thespis was the earliest recorded playwright. He won the first theatrical contest held at Athens, so he was the leader of the dithyrambs performed in and around Attica.[4] Dithyrambs were ancient hymns sung in praise of the god of wine and fertility, Dionysus. They had a wild and ecstatic nature.

By Thespis' time the dithyramb had evolved far away from its cult roots. It had become a narrative, ballad-like genre. Because of this Thespis is often called the "Father of Tragedy". The statesman Solon is said to have created poems in which characters speak with their own voice. Spoken recitations, known as rhapsodes, of Homer's epics were popular in festivals before 534 BC.[5] Thespis's contribution to drama is unclear, but his name is remembered in the common term for performer—a 'thespian'.

The dramatic performances were important to the Athenians – this is made clear by the Dionysian festival. This was organized perhaps to foster loyalty among the tribes of Attica. These had been recently created by Cleisthenes, who founded Greek democracy. The festival was created roughly around 508 BC.

Phrynichus was the first poet known to use a historical subject – his Fall of Miletus, 493, told the fate of the town of Miletus after it was conquered by the Persians.[6] He is also thought to be the first to use female characters (though not female performers).[5]

Until the Hellenistic period, all tragedies were unique pieces written in honour of Dionysus and played only once, so that today we only have the pieces that were still remembered well enough to have been repeated when repetition of old tragedies became fashion.

The Classical Period

After the Great Destruction of Athens by the Persian Empire in 480 BC,[7] the town and acropolis were rebuilt, and theatre became an even more major part of Athenian culture and civic pride. The centre-piece was the competition between three tragic playwrights at the Theatre of Dionysus, twice a year. Each submitted three tragedies, plus a satyr play (a comic, burlesque version of a mythological subject). From 486 BC, each playwright also submitted a comedy.[8] Aristotle claimed that Aeschylus added the second actor, and that Sophocles introduced the third. Apparently the Greek playwrights never used more than three actors.[8]

Tragedy and comedy were viewed as completely separate genres, and no plays ever merged aspects of the two. Satyr plays dealt with the mythological subject matter of the tragedies, but in a purely comedic manner. However, as they were written over a century after the Athenian Golden Age, it is not known whether dramatists such as Sophocles and Euripides would have thought about their plays in the same terms.

Hellenistic period

The power of Athens declined following its defeat in the Peloponnesian War against the Spartans. From that time on, the theatre started performing old tragedies again. Although its theatrical traditions seem to have lost their vitality, Greek theatre continued into the Hellenistic period (the period following Alexander the Great's conquests in the fourth century BC). The main Hellenistic theatrical form was not tragedy but 'New Comedy', comic episodes about the lives of ordinary citizens. The only playwright from the period whose work has survived is Menander. One of New Comedy's most important contributions was its influence on Roman comedy, an influence that can be seen in the surviving works of Plautus and Terence.

Buildings and performances

The plays originally had a chorus of up to 50 people,[9] who performed the plays in verse accompanied by music, beginning in the morning and lasting until the evening.

The performance space was a simple semi-circular space, the orchestra, where the chorus danced and sang. The orchestra was on a flattened terrace at the foot of a hill, the slope of which produced a natural theatron, (watching place). Later, the term "theatre" came to be applied to the whole area of theatron, orchestra, and skené (scene).

The theatres were built on a very large scale to accommodate the large number of people on stage, as well as the large number of people in the audience, up to fourteen thousand. Actors' voices needed to be heard throughout the theatre, including the very top row of seats. The Greeks' understanding of acoustics compares very favourably with the current state of the art.

In 465 BC, the playwrights began using a backdrop or scenic wall, which hung or stood behind the orchestra, which also served as an area where actors could change their costumes. It was known as the skênê (scene). In 425 BC a stone scene wall, called a paraskenia, became a common supplement to skênê in the theatres. The proskenion ("in front of the scene") was columned, and was similar to the modern day proscenium.

Greek theatres also had entrances for the actors and chorus members called parodoi. They were tall arches that opened onto the orchestra, through which the performers entered. By the end of the 5th century BC, around the time of the Peloponnesian War, the skênê, the back wall, was two stories high. Some theatres also had a raised speaking place on the orchestra called the logeion.

Scenic elements

There were several scenic elements commonly used in Greek theatre:

  • machina, a crane that gave the impression of a flying actor (thus, deus ex machina, meaning, 'the god from the machine').
  • ekkyklema, a wheeled wagon used to bring dead characters for the audience to see
  • trap doors, or similar openings in the ground to lift people onto the stage
  • Pinakes, pictures hung to create scenery
  • Thyromata, more complex pictures built into the second-level scene (3rd level from ground)
  • Phallic props were used for satyr plays, symbolizing fertility in honor of Dionysus.

Greek chorus

Although in the early days the chorus was much larger, the numbers settled down to 12 or 15 in tragedies and 24 in comedies. They usually play a group character, such as 'the old men of Argos'. The chorus offers background information, summaries and comments. In many of these plays, the chorus expresses to the audience what the main characters cannot say, such as their hidden fears or secrets.[10]

The chorus might sing, or might speak in unison (say the same thing together). The chorus made up for the fact that there were only one, two or three actors, who played several parts each (changing masks).

Before the introduction of several actors by Aeschylus, the Greek chorus was the main performer opposite a solitary actor.[11] The importance of the chorus declined after the 5th century BC, when the chorus began to be separated from the dramatic action. Later dramatists depended less on the chorus.

Masks

The mask is known to have been used since the time of Aeschylus in the 6th century AD. It is one of the typical things they did in classical Greek theatre. Masks were also used in the worship of Dionysius, and that is probably how the tradition started.

Most of the evidence comes from a few vase paintings of the 5th century BC which depict actors preparing for a Satyr play.[12] No physical evidence survived: the masks were made of organic materials. They were not considered permanent objects, and were dedicated to the altar of Dionysus after performances. There are, however, examples of statues of actors carrying a mask in hand.[13]

Masks were made for the actors and for the chorus, who help the audience know what a character is thinking. The chorus all wear the same mask, because they represent the same character.[13][14]

Mask functions

In a large open-air theatre, like the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, the masks brought the characters' face closer to the audience, as they had exaggerated features and expressions.[14] An actor could appear and reappear in different roles, since the audience did not identify the actor with one character. Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status. Also, they could show a change in a character’s appearance, for example, Oedipus after blinding himself.[5]p70 Unique masks were also created for specific characters and events in a play, such as The Furies in AeschylusEumenides and Pentheus and Cadmus in EuripidesThe Bacchae. Worn by the chorus, the masks created a sense of unity and uniformity, a sort of multi-voiced persona or single organism.

References

  1. West M.L. 1983. The Orphic poems. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0198148542. p146
  2. Dr. Eli Rozik page - Tel Aviv University
  3. Rozik, Eli 2002. The roots of theatre: rethinking ritual and other theories of origin, Iowa City: University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0877458170. Chapter 4: The Shamanistic Source.
  4. Aristotle, Poetics
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Brockett, Oscar G. 1999. History of the theatre. Allyn and Bacon, London. 16–17
  6. Herodotus, Histories, 6/21
  7. The Battle of Thermopylae and its aftermath.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Paul Kuritz 1988. The making of theatre history, Englewood Cliffs. p.21
  9. Jansen, Jan 2000. Lebensqualität im Theater des demokratischen Athen. Kult, Politik und Alte Komödie. (E-Book): ISBN 978-3-638-29187-3 Paper on the Athens Theatre
  10. Bear in mind that facial expressions could not be seen, as performers wore masks, and the audience was at a distance.
  11. Haigh, Arthur Elam 1898. The Attic theatre: a description of the stage and theatre of the Athenians, and of the dramatic performances at Athens. Oxford: The Clarendon Press. p319
  12. Vervain, Chris and David Wiles, 2004. “The masks of Greek tragedy as point of departure for modern performance.” New Theatre Quarterly 67, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. p255
  13. 13.0 13.1 Many references on ancient Greek masks and modern performance in Varakis, Angie 2004. “Research on the ancient mask,” Didaskalia, 6.1 Didaskalia.net
  14. 14.0 14.1 Vovolis, Thanos and Giorgos Zamboulakis. 2005. The acoustical mask of Greak tragedy. Didaskalia 7.1 Didaskalia.net
Error creating thumbnail: sh: convert: command not found
Wikimedia Commons has images, video, and/or sound related to:


Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message