Theatre!

Ancient Greek Style

Where did it come from?

Beliefs about the origins of Greek Theatre are slightly mixed however the majority tends to associate the beginning of Greek Theatre with festivals honouring of their Gods. In the city of Athens, a god called Dionysus was honoured with a festival. It was only during this time that the earliest plays were performed. This culture that began in circa 800 BC has lasted over 2000 years to form the basis and foundations of what today’s modern plays are built upon.

The Cast

In the earliest Greek plays the actors, directors and play writers – all male – were all the same person. Later, only three actors were allowed to perform in the one play. Afterward, several non-speaking roles were introduced on stage. However, because of the small number of actors allowed on stage, music played an integral role in Greek theatre. Music was often played as an interlude or introduction to something.

What happened back then?

There were two types of plays in Ancient Greece. These were tragedies and comedies.

Both were important to the people of that time. Tragedies were more religious relating to sacrifice to honour the gods and comedies were also to honour the gods but involved imitation and exaggerated acting.

The stage for these plays consisted of a large circular or rectangular area in the center of the theatre called an orchestra (this is where all the acting would occur).

Because the actors were so far away from the audience that they needed to use extravagant masks and costumes to give more emphasis and meaning to their characters. Masks for tragedies were often sad and had painful looks but the masks for comedies were often painted with a wry smile.