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Ancient Greek Theatre Combo

  1. Ms. Aixa B. Rodriguez World Cultures Theme Mythology Unit ESL L5 and Art in Literature Class High School for World Cultures Bronx, NY
  10. … In an amphitheatre … With a chorus who described most of the action. … With masks
  17. Plot Diagram/ Freytag’s Pyramid

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  1. Nosebleed Seats The core of any Greek theater is the orchestra, the “dancing place” of the chorus and the chief performance space. Almost nothing remains from the fifth-century structure of the Theater of Dionysus in Athens, but later theaters suggest that the original orchestras were full circles; see, for example, this aerial view of the theater at Epidaurus. This is the best-preserved of all extant Greek theaters; the ancient plays are still being performed here, …. Although this theater was built at the end of the fourth century BCE and rebuilt and enlarged in the second century, it does enable us to visualize what the ancient theaters must have been like. The orchestra is approximately 66 feet in diameter ; this photo shows the orchestra at Epidaurus with a modern set for a production of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound . An altar of Dionysus was usually located in the center of the orchestra . The audience sat in the theatron , the “seeing place,” on semi-circular terraced rows of benches (in the earliest theaters these were wooden; they were later built of stone). The Greeks often built these in a natural hollow (a koilon ), though the sides were increasingly reinforced with stone, as can be seen in this overhead view of Epidaurus. Scholars often use the Latin word for hollow, cavea , to designate the seating in an ancient theater. Stairs mounting to the highest levels divide the sections of seats into wedges; at Epidaurus there are 55 semi-circular rows, providing an estimated seating capacity of 12,000-14,000. Although the name theatron suggests an emphasis on sight, in reality actors and chorus would look rather small even from seats only part-way up, and from the top rows one would see mostly colors and patterns of movement rather any details of costuming or masks. The acoustics in this theater, however, are magnificent, and words spoken very softly in the orchestra can be heard in the top rows (as long as your neighbors are quiet).
  2. #6 SPECTACLE: Staging The mechane was a large crane which could swing a platform containing one or more actors from behind the stage building up over the heads of the actors and chorus, creating the illusion of flying. The earliest known use of this device was in Euripdes’ Medea (431 BCE), when Medea flew off with the bodies of her children in a dragon-chariot supplied by the sun-god. The Latin expression deus ex machina (“the god from the crane”) refers to inferior playwrights’ practice of suddenly having a god fly in to resolve all the difficulties of the plot, but clever dramatists could use the crane very effectively without marring the unity of their plays, as indeed Euripides did in Medea . Note: Gods who intervene in fifth century tragedies probably appeared through a trap-door on the roof of the skene to address mortals from a higher level.
  3. In this tragedy a prophecy told by the Delphic Oracle comes true even though the protagonists try to avoid it. The main character, the tragic hero Oedipus leaves his home to avoid a terrible fate, runs into some men at a crossroads, kills them. Arrives in a town beleaguered by a mythical violent beast the Sphinx and correctly answers her riddle and slays it. The prophecy comes true and Oedipus ends up punishing himself to save his people/city. His children Eteocles and Polyneices, Ismene and Antigone also suffer in future plays.
  4. Aristotle's Poetics and Oedipus His favorite play and the one he used as a model for the POETICS is OEDIPUS, so the following should apply: 1. CATHARSIS: Pity and fear Pity alone is not enough to make a play a tragedy. The kind of drama that depends solely on its capacity to provoke pity are likely to be "tear-jerkers." Pathos requires humour, irony, or something more disturbing, which we may call fear (or "admiration"), to prevent it from lapsing into sentimentality. Fear alone is similarly inadequate. An average suspense-thriller may hold attention, but if we know the ending or have seen it already we rapidly become aware that the thriller is simply melodramatic. Melodrama is to tragedy what farce is to comedy: the plot is all-important, and the characters tend to be stereotyped, fitting into prearranged roles (goodies and baddies). 2. HAMARTIA: Good men ought NOT to be shown passing from prosperity to misfortune, for this does not inspire either inspire pity or fear, but only revulsion; NOR evil men rising from ill fortune to prosperity.. neither should a wicked man be seen falling from prosperity into misfortune.. We are left with the man whose place is between these extremes. Such is the man who on the one hand is not preeminent in virtue and justice, and yet on the other hand does not fall into misfortune through vice or depravity. He falls because of some mistake or imbalance in his character :'[often mistranslated as a tragic (moral) flaw] and Anagnorisis (an-ag-nor-ee-sis) Protagonist BECOMES AWARE OF HIS ERROR (therein lies the tragedy itself– memory) In Aristotelian definition of tragedy it was the discovery of one's own identity or true character 3) Universality: Tragedy is BASED in history (real events, settings, circumstances) HOWEVER, dramatic poetry's function is.. not to report things that have happened, but rather to tell of such things that might happen.. .to express the universal." CAPITAL “T” truth privileged over little “t” truth.
  5. Plot Diagram: Aristotle’s Poetics influenced the concept of more modern plot structure. Gustav Freytag was a Nineteenth Century German novelist who saw common patterns in the plots of stories and novels and developed a diagram to analyze them. He diagrammed a story's plot using a pyramid like the one shown here: In his book Technique of the Drama (1863), The German critic Gustav Freytag proposed a method of analyzing plots derived from Aristotle's concept of unity of action that came to be known as Freytag's Triangle or Freytag's Pyramid. In the illustration above, I have borrowed from both critics to present a graphic that can be employed to analyze the structure and unity of a narrative's plot.