Ancient Greek Theatre Architecture Essay Research Paper

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Ancient Greek Theatre Architecture Essay, Research Paper Ancient Greek Theatre Architecture We all look for our beginnings. Whether we look for them in our personal life or in our professional life, we still look for them. As I was looking around the theatre recently, I was looking at and wondering where the idea of the theatre came from. Rather, who built it and why it is built the way it is. Who made the first one? Where do the roots of the theatre lay? All very good questions that I hope will be answered. In the beginning of time, man did not understand the complex workings of the universe. To compensate for this not understanding, man created mythical gods that held the power to cause nature to be nature. People who performed extraordinary accomplishments, like win wars,

would be elevated to a god. Prehistoric man would perform rituals to please the gods. The gods, in turn having been pleased, would ensure the success of the land and hunting as well as protect them from their enemies. These rituals were performed in many places. At times, these rituals would involve the entire community. At other times, small groups would perform for the rest of the community. From that time until the present, every type of performance has created its own environmental conditions of performer-audience relationship, and these have varied from a patch of beaten earth to complicated built structures (Leacroft 1). The various Greek tribes worshipped many different gods. Dionysus, or Bacchus, was an important god for the Thracians, a tribe who lived in the northern

part of Greece. When the Thracians discovered how to make beer, they thought intoxication divine and gave honor to Bacchus, and when they came to know wine, they thought even better of him. Greek songs honoring the god of wine, Dionysus, which were originally sung by masked choruses, developed later into a singing exchange between a leader and the choruses. During the fifth century BCE, music, costumes, and dancing all became more elaborate, and antiphonal singing between leader and chorus evolved into dramatic dialogue. Everywhere in Greece, the festivals were regarded as public acts of worship, but only in Athens did these crude beginnings develop into tragedy. The tragic performances of ancient Athens presented a magnificent spectacle. All citizens could attend freely, for the

festivals were still regarded as public acts of worship. Everybody could easily respond to the rhythms of dance and song, because the words were sung by the chorus and the actors line conformed to poetic meters. The tragic poets of Athens took advantage of the traditional celebrations handed down to them to construct stories that confronted fundamental problems of human life. Three great poets worked this remarkable transformation of the ancient wine songs: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. (Brockett 2ed 12-15) In the sixth century BCE, accompanied by singers, dancers, and flute players, the priests made sacrifices in honor of Dionysus, the god of the vine (Leacroft 3-7). There were four festivals held each year to honor Dionysus. During one these festivals, The City Dionysia,

the last of the four festivals, drama was born. This festival commemorated the coming of Dionysus to Athens. It was held each year at the end of March and extended over several days (Brockett 4ed 18-25). In 534 BCE, Athens instituted a contest for the best tragedy at The City Dionysia (Brockett 2ed 13). Thespis was the first actor to win the contest. Tragedy in its earliest stage was entirely choral until the prologue and speeches were first introduced by Thespis. Thus, Thespis was indeed the first “actor,” and tragic dialogue began when he exchanged words with the leader of the chorus. The term Thespian, which is still used today, comes from here. As theatre started to become a more accepted form of ritual, characters or roles started to become more refined. There were