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The Origins of Theatre

The Origins of Theatre Theatre has been around for thousands of years dating back to the B. C. E era. There are many forms of theatre Ritual Theatre, uses theatrical techniques of song, dance, and characterization but is still firmly rooted in religion. Many scholars agree on two traits that distinguish theatre from rituals. First theatre must have an actor that plays a character, a person that takes on a role of a human, object, or animal. Second theatre usually has a story with conflict; conflict is the key to all drama.

Few religions or social rituals have scripted conflict; many rituals have a prescribed line of events but do not act out a story of conflict. When these two traits are present actors who play characters and tell stories of conflict we have theatre. Wine and Fertility: the birth of tragedy. Greece was made up of independent city states, the main cities were Sparta, Corine, Thebes, and Athens. Although there are many theories about how theatre began in Athens, many scholars accept Aristotle’s claim that theatre grew out of a ritual called the Dithyramb. Dithyramb was a hymn song at the altar of the god Diomysus.

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Goddess Diomysus was the god of wine and fertility, with dancing singing and improve. In 534 B. C. E. Thestis wrote and acted in a play that won a competition, he created theatre by playing an individual roll. Built into the side of a hill in Athens the theatre of Diomysus could seat 17,000, the largest of all Greek theatres. There are many types of structure that contribute to a theatre some of which are An Orchestra is a sizable instrumental ensemble that contains sections of string, brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments. The term orchestra derives from the Greek ???????? the name for the area in front of an ancient Greek stage reserved for the Greek chorus. A Skene was the background building which connected the platform stage, in which costumes were stored and to which the periaktoi (painted panels serving as the background) were connected. And a Theatron could refer to the place where spectator looked at sacrifices, dances or theatrical performances. A theatron came to refer specifically to semi-circular, tiered, stone seats for viewing performances. Tragedy coming from the Greek word Tragoidia meaning Greek goat song is an unfortunate or disastrous turn of events. For ncient Greek, tragedies were about the meaning of life and were designed to help the audience to understand the reason for suffering and daily dilemmas they face. These plays ask powerful questions like, what’s more important obeying family or state? What is human kind’s purpose? Are we at the mercy of fate or can we rise above destiny? Catharsis, a word often used in theatre occurs when one truly encounters life and confronts its many riddles. There is always a purpose behind a play; the purpose of Catharsis plays was not to make the audience feel somber but rather to enable them to experience an intense two fold feeling of pity and fear.

Other terms often used in plays are Prologue, is an opening to a story that establishes the setting and gives background details, often some earlier story that ties into the main one, and other miscellaneous information. Parodos , is both the first entrance of the chorus into the orchestra and the choral ode that they sing and dance as they enter (which is usually the first choral song of the drama). The parados usually follows the play’s prologue. Episode, A section of a classic Greek tragedy that occurs between two choric songs, when actors step from the scene building and plays a scene.

Stasimone, contains more songs and dances as is comments on the events in the play, a stationary song, sung after the chorus has taken up its station in the orchestra. Exodus, A sum by the chorus of the theme and wisdom of the play, final scene of a play after the last stasimon. Through out the golden age of theatre there were a few play writes stood out like Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Eurpides. Aeschylus was the earliest writer of the Greek tragedy, often considered the most theatrical of the playwrights because his plays had such a huge cast.

Sophocles was known for his complex characterization, harmonious lyrics, and effective dialogue; he often depicted human beings trapped by fate. Eurpides spoke his mind and took on the government and society. The western civilization arts and philosophies we know today only mimics those of ancient Athens, as it is said that ancient Athens is the cradle of western civilization because western democracy, art, and philosophy originated there. India on the other hand is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with Sanscript being known as the oldest form of theatre in India


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