Greek Theatre

  • Three types of plays: Tragedy, Comedy, Satyr
  • Three Tragedian Playwrights; Aeschylus, Euripides, Sophocles, (circa 400-500 BCE, pre-Christian)
  • Masks enabled changing characters and were also traditional
  • Chorus was comedic and also provided the perspective of the community
  • Greeks were hierarchical; they owned slaves, women were disempowered (only men acted)
  • Athens was the first ‘democracy’, saw itself as progressive – separate to other states within Greece
  • Chorus often used lyric and poetic verse; written with music (breaks the fourth wall)
  • Sophocles was one of the most celebrated playwrights during religious festivals of Lenaea and Dionysia
  • Sophocles influenced the development of drama; with three actors (separate from the chorus) and more developed characters
  • Greek Tragedy focuses directly on human suffering – universal themes
  • Antigone is the third of the Theban plays (Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone)
  • Concept of fate and destiny – is Creon destined to make certain mistakes? Is Antigone destined to act because she is Oedipus’ daughter?
  1. Structure: heroes need to be good – but not so good you cannot relate to them. Stylised genre, with a fixed structure. Starts with a prologue; the chorus comes on and sings – allowing for the passage of time and social commentary. Skilful writing – the plot is usually set over one day.
  2. Hamartia: the error of judgement; real people making bad decisions for good reasons but making mistakes (we live in a world full of injustice, and suffering, and misery – but all these are caused by our actions and therefore remedial through our actions). A lot of death.
  3. Catharsis: cleansing and purification. Pity and fear are purged and cleansed – theatre is emotionally draining. It is traumatic but one leaves feeling cleansed.