Roman Theatre

By Riley Morgan and Georgia Giddens

Early Times

  • Rome conquered Greece by 146 B.C.
  • Romans had a great deal of time, they didn't spend time trying to make money
  • They were a society that loved many forms of entertainment
  • Romans enjoyed performances of short comedies or sitcoms
  • Comedies were more popular than tragedies

Greeks and Romans

  • Most of the surviving Roman plays were based upon plots of Greek plays
  • The Roman writers did more than copy the Greek's ideas, they made some important changes in dramatic form
  • They eliminated a chorus, a company of actors who comment on the action in classical Greek/Roman play, and added music to underscore the dialogue; Romans didn't limit their writers to any set of number of appearances
  • A specific famous structure called a circus maximus was built to accommodate chariot races, equestrian shows, etc.
  • The play write, Seneca, was closely associated with tragedy
  • The play writes Plautus and Terence were closely associated with comedy

Stage Settings

  • The stage setting for Roman comedies was always the same city and street regardless of play being produced
  • The backdrop was a permanent stone structure known as the Scaenae Frons; the backdrop always represented the front of several houses
  • The doorways represented the houses of the main characters as they entered and exited
  • For tragedies the backdrop would represent a palace or temple
  • Greek's didn't permit violence to be shown onstage
  • The structure facing the audience was called a skene

Designs and Masks

  • They had a strong sense of design which is reflected in their theater buildings
  • Theatre buildings were free standing structures three stories high
  • Masks played an important part in many ancient plays
  • The mask was large and covered the entire head including the hair
  • Design on the masks were very simple
  • Made out of cheap material like linen or cork
  • Large holes for the eyes and mouth
  • The faces were exaggerated
  • The masks could be seen from the back of the theater
  • Masks helped people be heard from the back of the theater
  • When preforming tragedies, masks had sad or feared expressions
  • Comic performances had masks with smiling or happy looking expressions
  • Plays were performed in amphitheaters
  • The audience sat in a Theatron (Greek term)
  • Masks were used because women weren't aloud on stage
  • Masks were worn because people expected to see stock
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