1. Tragedy revolves around a tragic hero who suffers misfortune.
2. In his Poetics, Aristotle wrote about the qualities of tragedy, which include a catharsis or cleansing. See:Aristotle’s Tragedy Terminology.
3. Greek tragedy was performed as part of an estimated 5-day Athenian religious festival, which may have been instituted by the tyrant Peisistratus in the second half of the sixth century B.C.
4. The Great Dionysia, the name of this festival, was held in the Attic month of Elaphebolion, from the end of March to mid-April.
5. The dramatic festivals were centered around competitions, agones.
6. Three tragic playwrights competed for the prize for the best series of three tragedies and a satyr play.
7. The subject matter was usually from mythology.
8. The first surviving full play was not mythological, but the recent history-based play The Persians, by Aeschylus.
9. Violence usually occurred offstage.
10. The first competition is thought to have been held in 535 B.C. at which time Thespis, the person credited with the first speaking role, won.
11. There were rarely more than a chorus and 3 actors, regardless of how many roles were played. Actors changed their appearance in the skene.
12. The theaters were so capacious that actors couldn’t count on people in the back rows seeing their facial expressions; hence, masks.
13. Actors needed good projecting voices, but the theaters had impressiveacoustics.
1. Greek Comedy is divided into Old and New.
2. Since the only Greek comedy comes from Attica — the country around Athens — it is often called Attic Comedy.
3. Old Comedy tended to examine political and allegorical topics while New Comedy looked at personal and domestic themes. For comparison, think of the The Colbert Report vsHow I Met Your Mother.
4. Euripides (one of the 3 great writers of tragedy) is considered an important influence on the development of New Comedy.
5. The primary writer of Old Comedy is Aristophanes; the primary figure for New Comedy is Menander.
6. The Roman comedy writers followed Greek New Comedy.
7. The relatively modern “Comedy of Manners” can be traced to Greek New Comedy.
General Information on the Greek Theater
• Theatrical performances were religious and political.
• Always competitive, the winning Greek choregos and playwrights accrued great prestige.
• Men played the role of women.
• Actors wore masks and costumes.
• Performances were outdoors often on hillsides.
• The word “theater” comes from the word theatron which was the viewing area for the Greek audience. gedy.Athenian Drama
Athenian drama or Western drama was originated in Greece. The city-state of Athens is credited with the production of tragedy, comedy, and satyr. Drama in Athens was institutionalized through competitions. The Greeks came up with the idea of an actor who speaks and impersonates. The main lead was expected to deliver dialog while interacting with the chorus. This form of drama involved non-dramatic poetry and complete texts.
The Persians, by Aeschylus, is a historical tragedy that is also the oldest surviving drama. Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented inperformance. The term comes from a Greek word “dran” meaning “action” (Classical Greek: δρᾶμα, drama), which is derived from “to do” or “to act” (Classical Greek: δράω, draō).
The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stagebefore an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a collective form of reception. The structure of dramatic texts, unlike other forms of literature, is directly influenced by this collaborative production and collective reception. The early modern tragedy Hamlet (1601) byShakespeare and the classical Athenian tragedy Oedipus the King (c. 429 BCE) by Sophocles are among the masterpieces of the art of drama. A modern example is Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill (1956).
The two masks associated with drama represent the traditionalgeneric division between comedy and tragedy. They are symbols of the ancient Greek Muses, Thalia and Melpomene. Thalia was the Muse of comedy (the laughing face), while Melpomene was the Muse of tragedy (the weeping face). Considered as a genre ofpoetry in general, the dramatic mode has been contrasted with the epic and the lyrical modes ever since Aristotle’s Poetics (c. 335 BCE)—the earliest work of dramatic theory.
The use of “drama” in the narrow sense to designate a specifictype of play dates from the 19th century. Drama in this sense refers to a play that is neither a comedy nor a tragedy—for example, Zola’s Thérèse Raquin (1873) or Chekhov’s Ivanov(1887). It is this narrow sense that the film and television industry and film studies adopted to describe “drama” as a genre within their respective media. “Radio drama” has been used in both senses—originally transmitted in a live performance, it has also been used to describe the more high-brow and serious end of the dramatic output of radio.
Drama is often combined with music and dance: the drama in opera is generally sung throughout;musicals generally include both spoken dialogue and songs; and some forms of drama have incidental music or musical accompaniment underscoring the dialogue (melodrama and Japanese Nō, for example). In certain periods of history (the ancient Roman and modern Romantic) some dramas have been written to be read rather than performed. In improvisation, the drama does not pre-exist the moment of performance; performers devise a dramatic script spontaneously before an audience.