A blog in a blog: The Tragedies and Comedies of Ancient Greek Theatre


The Tragedies and Comedies of Ancient Greek Theatre

shared by Sarah on the USC Marshall School of Business

https://librarysciencedegree.usc.edu/the-tragedies-and-comedies-of-ancient-greek-theatre/

If you’ve ever seen the smiling and frowning masks used to represent theater and the dramatic arts, you’re looking at a tribute to the culture of ancient Greece. The Greeks’ influence on theater and literature is still found in the plays, movies, and books we enjoy today. No one is sure where exactly Greek dramas got their start; it could be through epic poetry or traditional rituals. We do know that Aristotle developed the first dramatic theory, which he explained in his work Poetics. In Poetics, Aristotle separated theater into three categories: comedy, drama, and satyr plays. The traditions and tropes of these genres appear in Shakespeare’s work and in countless modern plays and stories.

The plays of ancient Greece were performed during large festivals often held in honor of the gods. A defining characteristic of Greek theater was the use of a chorus. The chorus was a group of players who sang, danced, or spoke in unison. They could serve as funny commentators or a way to guide the audience through the plot of the play. At first, choruses contained 50 people; the writer Aeschylus lowered the number to 12, and Sophocles raised it again to 15. Today, you can still find choruses in opera and musical theater. Greek theater popularized some other features we recognize as well, like the use of masks. The members of the chorus all wore the same mask, as they were meant to represent a single character. Masks could be used to make the audience laugh or to build a sense of dread during tragedies.

Tragedies

The origins of the Greek tragedy were influenced by Roman theater and ancient ceremonies held in honor of Dionysus. The plots were often based on myths and epics. Some scholars speculate that Thespis may have been the one to first combine spoken verse with song. We call stage actors thespians today in honor of Thespis, who, as far as scholars know, was the first actor to represent a character in a play, rather than speaking as himself, when he performed in Dionysia by Pesistratus.

As tragedies developed, Aeschylus became the first writer to establish the rules of a tragic drama. We all know many stories told in three parts, like The Lord of the Rings and the original Star Wars films, and we can thank Aeschylus for creating the trilogy style of storytelling. In ancient Greece, these tragic trilogies were performed all day, often followed by a satyr play after sunset to lighten the mood. The only surviving tragedy texts were written by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

Comedies

Aristotle described comedy as story of a blunder that did not cause tragedy or disaster and involved laughable people. Scholars usually divide Athenian comedies into three categories: Old Comedy, Middle Comedy, and New Comedy. Most of the remaining Old Comedy plays were written by Aristophanes; the Middle Comedy plays have been lost except for a few pieces written by authors like Athenaus; and New Comedy is represented by the pieces that Menander wrote on papyrus. Many comedies were political satires or based on the everyday fears and mistakes of ordinary people. Audiences connected to Menander because his work gave them an escape from reality while being relatable and true to life.

Satyr Plays

Satyr plays combine elements of tragedy and comedy and inspired the word “satire.” These plays featured choruses of drunk satyrs performing gags, pranks, and bawdy jokes. Satyrs are mythological creatures or nature deities known for excessive drinking and ignoring the rules. The creatures are associated with music and dance. Performers wore masks and sometimes horns. Like tragedies, satyr plays were often based on myths and legends. A few well-known examples of these plays are HeraclesAgen, and Menedemus. The only complete satyr play that survives is Cyclops by Euripides, which is based on a portion of The Odyssey. Also surviving are large pieces of the Sophocles play Ichneutae, which tells the story of the satyrs Apollo sent to find some stolen cattle.

Library Science Degree Online

 

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I’ve got a very special e-mail about my blog! For the Love of Theatre!


Description of a Theater of 5th Century B.C. from www.greektheatre.gr


Thursday 8 November was one of those day when you don’t expect nothing exciting to happen.

A ‘normal’ day in the life of a ‘normal’ person.

But on the evening I switched my PC on and a special e-mail arrived and cheered my day up!

It made me remember the reason why I started to write this blog. I’m pleased when people remind it to me!

The e-mail says:

<<Good Afternoon,

My name is Ally F., and I just wanted to let you know how much my daughter Sarah enjoyed the performing arts and theatre info on your page, https://amovietheatregoer.net/links/ . She just joined the Drama Club at her school this year and has taken a real interest in theater and acting- She’s been working on a project for history class as well about the history of theatre, and mentioned your page was very helpful several times- and thought you’d be glad to hear!

I told Sarah it’d be great if we sent you a thank you for the info, and she wanted to share this article from USC about Ancient Greek theatre, and “Greek Tragedies”https://librarysciencedegree.usc.edu/the-tragedies-and-comedies-of-ancient-greek-theatre/ . I thought it was a really cool article, and was hoping you might be able to include it on your page? I’d love to show Sarah she could contribute some another cool article for other kids who are interested in theatre and acting, and the arts!

Thanks again for encouraging Sarah’s interest in performing arts and theatre! I think it’s great she’s found an awesome new hobby and passion, and it’s great to see her enthusiasm towards it! Hope you enjoy the article, and if you end up being able to include it, please let me know! Have a wonderful day, and hope to speak again soon!

Best,

Ally F.>>

 

How pleased I am!!! I’m trying to imagine her working to her project, looking through the blog to get information! Best wishes to Sarah for her future! It’s also great she have the support of her mother, who thought to send this message!

I find great that young people get interested in Theatre and Performing Arts and if I can give even a little contribution, my aim is made. I’m only sorry I was lazy and I don’t update my blog for some time, due to work. And I’m quite slow writing in English, I make a lot of changing while reviewing it.

The e-mail gave me more determination to continue with the blog and I’ll be more than happy to share more writings by Sarah!

Have a look at her beautiful article on the Ancient Greek Theatre, link in the message. I will also share it in full in the following blog.

About Ancient Theatre, I thought to send Sarah and her mother the link to this article about an Italian festival taking place at 65 km from where I live: http://www.comune.sarsina.fc.it/inglese/storia/plauto.htm

Their official site is in Italian only, I’m afraid http://www.plautusfestival.it/. It would be great to attend to it with some fellow theatregoers.

So I got another e-mail after my reply:

<<Thanks so much for getting back to us! I know Sarah really enjoyed your page, and we just thought it was really cool web site for anyone interested in theatre and performing arts, so wanted to send you a note- so glad you got it !

…………………

I will definitely show Sarah the article about the Italian renaissance festival- she is really interested in history, especially theatre history, so I’m sure she will enjoy it- thanks for sharing!

Thanks agin so much for getting back to us- and I cannot wait to check out your post and show her when you have had a chance to do it- Sarah will be thrilled and proud to be able to contribute!!

Ally F.>>

Now we want to keep in touch, we are exchanging more e-mails. 🙂


Btw, today 14 November 2018 is #LoveTheatreDay, so I wanted to share this nice story with you!

Follow the hashtag all day for amazing stuff theatres and people of theatre will share for everybody’s pleasure, enjoy the moment and go to see something on stage if possible! It’s because we love Theatre that we met on here!

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Three new radio plays are coming this way!


Three new radio plays have been announced, all with terrific actors!

In order of time, there will be:

  • Friday 23 December 2016 at 2.15 pm on BBC Radio 4, “Midnight At Christmas with Luke Newberry in the role of Matt. “A magical drama, set when Christmas Eve turns into Christmas Day. Caught in a snowstorm on the way to see his ex, Matt is taken on an unexpected journey by a series of strangers with a surprising interest in his love life” – Written by Elliott Kerrigan. Produced by Charlotte Riches. Link www.bbc.co.uk

midnight-at-christmas

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  • Friday 23 December 2016 at 8 pm on BBC Radio 2, “A Christmas Carol” for “Friday Night Is Music Night – Merry Christmas!” with Lee Ingleby as Bob Cratchit, Mark Gatiss as Scrooge and others actors, recorded at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert includes six scenes from the Dickens classic, recorded in a new process that aurally puts the audience into the supernatural world of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Here some images Ingleby and Gatiss shared on Twitter:

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  • We have to wait a little bit more for the BBC Radio Drama play “Love (sic)“, the first work by Jessica Swale, with John Heffernan in the role of Tom. It should be broadcast on Wednesday 22 March 2017. There’s no a page on their website bbc.co.uk, yet, but here two images shared by the writer on Twitter:

  • And, last but not least, the radio play “Home Front” is back with season 9 on BBC Radio 4 from today, available to listen on mp3 as single episode or as omnibus as well: bbc.co.uk

home-front

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I love radio plays!

Living The Dream: Act 5


I miss this play already! You were all great and hilarious! Thank you!

Read what John Chapman/Bottom has to say:

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I always knew this would be the hard one to write – the last day of performance week – and so it has turned out. A combination of extremely long days, euphoria, massive physical exertion, poor eating habits, lack of sleep and high levels of concentration have taken their toll, hence this last piece is a bit later than originally promised. Anyway, let’s to it and see if it doesn’t provide some sort of catharsis.

Touch tour 2Lucy and Maria helping out at the touch tour

The day began with yet another new experience as the RSC was offering a “touch tour” for those attending the matinee performance and who would be using the audio description facility. The tour gave audience members the opportunity to meet some of the cast, explore the set and handle some of the key costumes and props. This was a really interesting half hour and it was evident…

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Living The Dream: The Prologue


Seeing this play very soon at the Barbican! Yay!

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D16 Call Monday 16th May

Walking through the stage door of The Barbican theatre at 10.30 am and signing in for the day is the first action of a desperate man – desperate to get things right that is. The RSC have devoted so much time and support to this project and it has been going so well so far that none of us want to go down in infamy as the one who “mucked up”. So it’s a deep breath and then down into the bowels of the Barbican to the rehearsal room. We’re in the rehearsal room because up above us the stage is being fitted up ready for the performances to start the following day.

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It’s just the Tower Dreamteam in the morning with Erica and Kim. Voice guru Michael is feeling unwell and we hope he can return to the fold really soon; I have a…

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