Greek Theatre
Theatre History
PowerPoint 2
Great writer of Greek tragedy
496-406 B.C.
Lived in Athens
Studied theatre arts
Entered the theatrical competition that
honored the god Dionysus as an actor and
a playwright
• Wrote 123 plays, 24 first prize, rest second
• First to have 3 actors on stage at the same
• Increased number of singers in the chorus
• Used ancient tales to comment on his own
time period
• 7 tragedies survived: Oedipus the King,
Oedipus at Colonnus, Antigone, and
Greek Theatre
• Festival of Dionysus- annual theatrical
• Chorus- group of performers who provided
commentary and moved the action of play
through song, dance, and speaking
• Linked with ritual and the social and
political system
Theatre Space
• Large open theatre that was built into the
side of a hill
• Held 14,000 to 15,000 on wooden
• Performances occurred during the day
• 4th century BC a permanent space, made
of stone, was completed
• Orchestra- circular area with an altar in the
• Skene (modern- scene): building behind
the orchestra which served as a setting
• Proskenion (modern- proscenium)- in front
of the skene, framed the stage
Sketch of a Greek Theatre
Greek Theatre in Athens
• Large theatre– needed more than facial
expression and vocal inflection
• Used large gestures and Masks
• Masks could be seen from the top row
• Theory- some believe the masks help to
project the voice like a megaphone
• Three Actors played all the leading roles
through the use of masks
• No female actors
• Chorus- approx. 15 performers
• No stage directions in the original text, so
we are not sure of the exact movement of
the actors in relation to the chorus
• Same everyday clothing with some
• They wore robes made of woven wool or
linen that were draped and layered
• Simple rectangle shape
• Consisted of different colors and
sometimes embroidery
• Used laces, pins, or belts to hold them in
• They wore sandals
• Men (esp. soldiers)- calf boots
• Lead performers would change their mask
and possibly add on a robe to portray
different characters
• The Chorus were most likely dressed alike
or in similar robes and masks
Ancient Greek Attire
Antigone by Sophocles
Winthrop University
• Taylor, Robert D. and Robert D. Strickland. Theatre Art
in Action. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2005.