Free Term Paper on Tragedy and Greek Theater

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“Staging of A Tragic Drama

Much of our knowledge of Greek theater comes from archaeological
studies and historical writings of the time. By the 600s B.C., the Greeks were
giving choral performances of dancing and singing at festivals. Tragedies were
performed as part of an important yearly religious celebration. Greeks then later
staged performances in the Theater of Dionysus.


Ancient Greek theaters were outdoors, that seated thousands of
spectators for annual contests in acting, choral singing, and writing comedy and
tragedy. Beyond the circle and facing the audience was the scene, originally used
as a dressing area and later as a background for the action. According to Webster,
pg. 326. The theater seated about 14,000 people. It consisted of rows of
stadium like seats that curved about halfway around the orchestra. The stage
house, that was facing the audience had three doors. The action may have taken
place on a raised platform, or perhaps entirely in the orchestra. A wide central
opening, to which were added later two smaller side openings, a rolling platform
which can be pushed through the central opening, a roof, and a crane.
Greek tragedy, perhaps because it originally was associated with
religious celebrations, was solemn, poetic, and philosophic. Nearly all the
surviving tragedies were based on myths. The main character was an admirable,
but not perfect, person confronted by a difficult moral choice. According to
Webster, pg. 326. Greek tragedies were performed by a few actors, never more
than three on stage at one time. The main characters struggle against forces ended
in defeat and in most Greek tragedies, his or her death.


The actors wore masks to indicate the nature of the characters they
played. Men played women’s roles and the same actor appeared in several parts.
The acting style was probably far from realistic. The poetic language and the
idealized characters suggest that Greek acting was formal. According to Webster,
pg. 326. The dancers were men wearing a kind of jersey which held in the
padding. Sometimes they danced with women, padded, naked or clothed. Men
wear masks, tights, and over the tights any other clothing that suits his part.
Greek tragedies consisted of a series of dramatic episodes separated
by choral odes. The episodes were performed by a few actors, never more than
three on stage at a time, during the 400s B.C. A chorus danced and sang and
chanted the odes to musical accompaniment. According to Webster, pg. 327. The
performances was a unique performance to please the god Dionysus. The earliest
record of Greek drama dates from about 534 B.C. when a contest for tragedy was
established in Athens.


Of the hundred of Greek tragedies written, fewer than 35 survive.
All but one were written by three dramatists, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.
Their plays were noted for their lofty tone and majestic language. According to
Webster, pg. 327. Each playwright at the City Dionysian had to present three
tragedies and then a satyr play. The actors and chorus in the tragedies appeared in
the satyr play. The satyr play used a chorus performing as satyrs, creatures that
were half human and half animal.

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