lecture 10

Thinking about Theatre
1) Theatre as a place for «viewing» (vs. theatre for print)
Material Culture
Vase Painting
Decorative Art
History and Politics
The Greek World:
Mainland Greece, Asia Minor & The Aegean Island
Major Political/Geographic Unit: the polis or city-state
800-600 BC: Transition from Kings to Nobility
650-600 BC: An era of political authoritarianism
Approx. 508 BC: Democracy
* Political/Legislative Assembly: The Question of Eligibility
Religion and Culture
A Polytheistic World
Gods conceived in Human terms
Fate: a question for humans as well as the divine
* A society governed by law, logic and democracy?
A central tension for the 5th century BC:
Are human actions driven by relationships with deities?
Are human motivations social?
Example: Sacrifice in Euripidies’ Iphigenia in Aulis
A Culture of Competition & Tests
Physical: Olympian Ideals
Rhetorical: The Democratic Assembly
* Theatre as Sport: An Athletic-Oratorical Marathon
Testing: walking a thin line
Self-evaluation vis-a-vis an ideal (to excel honorably)
Excessive pride (to disrespect the Gods dishonorably)
The City Dionysia
Theatre’s emergence: 800-600 BC.
Around 534 BC: the City Dionysia
- Annual Celebration (March)
- Religious/Civic, organized by the Athenian State
- Addressing the Greek «world»
- A Theatre Contest
- Archon Eponymos (the head civil magistrate)
- Choregos/Choregoi (wealthy citizen-sponsor)
- Playwrights apply to the Archon for a Chorus
- Contestants join with 3 tragedies + 1 satyr play
Tragedy: tragoidia (goat-song)
Sacrificial Ceremonies?
Aristotle’s Poetics : Dithyrambs?
Son of Zeus and mortal Semele
The divine center of the City Dionysia
The Greek God of Fertility
The cycle of Seasons/ Life-Span Developments
Theatre Architecture
Public Space (Orchestra) vs. Private Space (Skene)
* The relationship between Horror and Vision
Anticipating & Imagining Violence
Ekkyklema: Rolling Platform, revealing «tableaux»
Machine: Crane showing characters suspended in air
Deus ex Machina
The Stage: Part of a Panorama
Theatrical Performance
Semi-Professional Male Actors/Athletes
Vocal Training
The «total» actor: singing, dancing, mask-play
Masks: Types vs. Individuals
The Chorus
5th century tragdies: approx. 50 members
Military Formations: diet & disipline
A character: - Setting the mood
- An ideal spectator
- An ethical framework - Rhythm
Music: Flutes, lyres, percussion
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
Tragic Form
- A well-constructed plot
- One action, short time span
- Pathos: a destructive, painful act
- Catharsis: pity & fear
Preserving the Self
The cleansing/purifying of emotions
- Necessity: the inevitability of history
Ethos (Character) vs. Daimon (Divinity manifest in person’s life)
vs. Necessity
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Kings of Athens

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