CWCAS The Poetics as a Valid Means to Analyze a Play or Film Summary

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Greek Theatre Origins A. Storytelling – There is evidence that every culture has used elements of theatre to communicate, educate or entertain. B. Religious ritual and observances – The Egyptian story of Osiris was ceremonially retold from 2500 B.C. to 500 B.C. C. The first western theatre occurred in Greece – This was a combination of rituals, religious ceremonies and storytelling. Organization A. B. C. D. E. Thespis – In 550 B.C., he stepped out from the chorus, impersonated a character and engaged in dialogue with the rest of the chorus. Dithyrambic chorus – A group of men who sang an extended hymn praising Dionysus. City Dionysia – Spring Festival for Dionysus, the God of wine, fertility and revelry, incorporated tragic drama in 534 B.C. Theatre became a state supported art form in Greece and a choragus, an ancient producer, helped the playwrights with their production. Tragedies were most popular with the citizens of Greece although comedies and satyr plays were also produced. Greek Tragedy A. Approximately 900 tragedies were produced in Greece in the fifth century B.C. Thirty-one have survived to this day. B. Tragic Dramatists 1. Aeschylus 525-456 B.C. a. Oldest of the tragic playwrights. b. Introduced the idea of the second actor and downsized the chorus to 12. c. He is a master of the trilogy (three tragedies that make up a single story). d. Master work is the Oresteia – Agamemnon is murdered by his wife, Clytemnestra, after the Trojan War. She is then killed by her children Electra and Orestia. 2. Sophocles 496-404 B.C. a. Added third actor and increased the chorus to 15 members. b. Each actor wore a mask to delineate a different character. c. d. 3. Master of dramatic construction. Master work is Oedipus Rex – Oedipus unknowingly slays his father, Laius, and marries his mother Jocasta. She then kills herself and Oedipus plucks out his own eyes. Euripides 484-406 B.C. a. Most modern of the three and believed that the themes of most plays were unsuitable for the audience. b. Sympathetically portrayed women. c. Increased realism and began mixing tragedy with comic and melodramatic ideas. d. Skeptically treated the Gods. Greek Comedy A. Comic Playwrights 1. Aristophanes 448-380 B.C. a. Wrote in Old Comedy style – makes fun of social, political, cultural conditions and uses recognizable persons. b. Wrote Lysistrata – women withhold sex until the Peloponnesian War is ended. 2. Menander 342-291 B.C. a. Wrote in New Comedy style – makes fun of romantic and domestic problems. Watch the following videos on YouTube. Greek Drama Origins Greek Playwright Sophocles Greek Comedy and Saytr Plays The invention of Theatrical Criticism A. The Poetics 1. Aristotle 384-322 B.C. A philosopher/scientist who attempted to analyze and categorize drama. 2. Six elements of Tragedy (in order) a. Plot – Arrangement of dramatic incidents b. Character – People represented in play c. Theme – Idea explored in play d. Diction – Dialogue/poetry of play e. Music f. Spectacle – Visual elements of play 3. Intent of drama is to evoke feelings of “Pity and fear” by the viewer which will lead to a catharsis and purgation of the soul. The Theatre Performance Facility alt= A. B. C. D. Amphitheatres – Large facilities that were carved into a hillside and accommodated between 10000 and 17000 spectators. Orchestra – Large circular playing area Skene – Scene house behind orchestra Theatron – “Seeing place” for the audience E. F. G. H. Paradoi – Entrance to the orchestra Ekkyklema – Rolling platform scenery Mechane – Crane for flying actors and allowing “Deus ex machina” to occur. Kothorni – Tall shoes for the performers. alt= Watch the following video on Youtube. Captioning can be enabled if you so choose. Greek Theatre Architecture Roman Theatre As Greece fell in power, Rome rose in stature. Greece was noted for its creativity and imagination – in art, philosophy and writing. Rome was noted for practical achievements – law, engineering, military conquest and other more down-to-earth endeavors. Ludi Romani – A celebration dedicated to Jupiter became the first major Roman festival to incorporate theatre in 240 B.C. Roman Society borrowed freely from Greece. Roman architecture, fashion, art, as well as theatre, all have a definite Greek influence. alt= Entertainment was geared more toward the masses. Enormous structures were constructed to house chariot races, horse shows, acrobatics, wrestling, prizefighting and gladiatorial combat. The Colosseum in Rome could be flooded for large, spectacle theatre events. alt= alt= The Circus Maximus in Rome seated more than 100,000 for chariot races. alt= alt= Although theatre flourished for nearly 700 years in Rome, the works of only three playwrights survive. Plautus, 254-184 B.C., based all of his comedies on the New Comedy style. The plays dealt particularly with the trials and tribulations of romance. There were complicated plots, mistaken identities and stock characters in all of his plays, and the dialogue was intended to be sung. The Menaechmi is his best-known work. Terence, 185-159 B.C., was quite similar to Plautus in regards to situations and mistaken identities, but his plays are more literary, less farcical and slapstick, and more emphasis is placed on verbal wit. Seneca, 4 B.C. – 65 A.D., was the most notable tragedian of Rome. Although his plays seem similar to classical Greek forms, they are different. The chorus was not integral to the action of the play and Seneca placed violent actions on stage. Seneca influenced Renaissance writers. In 337 A.D., Roman emperor Constantine adopted Christianity. The rise of Christianity within the Roman Empire led to a decree being passed in 398 A.D. by the Council of Carthage. This decree ordered excommunication for anyone who attended the theatre on a Holy Day, and the denial of any sacraments for actors. In Europe, approximately 500 years passed before theatre was legal again. As Europe decayed into the Dark Ages, the very institution that began theatre (Religion) is essentially what ends theatre. The Roman Catholic religion ended theatre in Europe. This will not be the last time religion and theatre collide. You will choose one topic from the list below and write a three to five paragraph summary. You will need to do some research. Add a photo if you would like. These are all pretty interesting so find something that interests you. If you are quoting from some source somewhere, make sure to include a "Sources Cited" page or something to that effect. 1. What was the City Dionysia? 2. What is a satyr play? 3. Why did so few scripts of Greek tragedies survive? 4. Summarize a play from Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes, or Menander. 5. What is catharsis? 6. Are The Poetics still valid as a means to analyze a play or film? Explain your answer. 7. What is significant about the theatre at Epidaurus? How does it achieve this phenomenon? 8. What does the phrase "Deus ex machina" mean when applied to storytelling, in general? 9. How many Roman "Ludi" were there and what did some of them they celebrate? 10. How is it that Colosseum survived while the Circus Maximus did not? 11. Summarize The Menaechmi and tell me of another adaptation of that plays' plot. 12. Why was Constantine's adoption of Christianity so important to the history of Rome? 13. What are the Roman Catholic Sacraments? Why was the denial of these sacraments such a powerful deterrent during the Roman Empire? 14. What was the Council of Carthage?
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