Ancient Greek Theatre

Modern Theatre has elements of Ancient Greek Theatre.

Introduction

Almost every Greek city had a theatre because plays were part of many religious festivals. The Greeks enjoyed singing and dancing. At first, theatres were only used for festivals.


Origins

Greek theatre history began with festivals honoring their gods. A god, Dionysus, was honored with a festival called by "City Dionysia". In Athens, during this festival, men used to perform songs to welcome Dionysus. Tribes competed against one another in performances, and the best show would have the honor of winning the contest. Plays were only presented at City Dionysia festival.

Actors

Only men could perform in plays. At the early Greek festivals, the actors, directors, and dramatists were all the same person. Later only 3 actors could be in one play then they allowed non speaking actors too. Because in ancient greek theatre there was limited actors the chorus evolved to be used a lot of the time in Greek theatre. Though the number of people in the chorus wasn't always clear, the chorus was given as many as half the total of lines in the play. Music was often played during the delivery of the chorus.

Plays

Plays in ancient greek theatre were either tragedies, comedies or satyrs. Both tragedies and comedies were 2 different genres while a satyr was dealt with the mythological subject in comic manner.

Stage

Theatre buildings were called a theatron which were generally large, open-air structures constructed on the slopes of hills. The stage would be at the bottom of the hills and the audience would be on stone seats going up the hill. There were 3 main parts or the theatre: the orchestra, the stage, and the audience.

Masks/Costumes

In ancient greek theatre actors had to wear over the top costumes and masks because the audience were quite far away. This allowed the audience to tell who was who.

Most masks were either made from linen or cork. Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering.

The masks were shape so the mask amplified the actor's voice, making his words easier for the audience to hear.

By Matt Stuart