Athenian Drama

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  • Athenian Drama
    • City Of Dionysia, a massive drama festival in Athens
      • Preparations:  Playwrights present a synopsis of the play to the eponymous Archon, 3 tragedie and a satyr, or a comedy Three tragic playwrights and three comic playwrights are chosen a choregos and (protagonistes) actors are chosen for each writer
      • Choregos: the supervisor and infancial backer of the play, 6 were chosen, one for each writer. It was a form of liturgy, but a great honour for the citizen as they could gain fame they had to pay for everything, and select the chorus and provide training. He would pay for an afterparty and a monument if his writer won It is said that more was paid to produce plays about the wars, than on the actual wars
      • Judging was a highly democratic system to avoid bribery or influence before the festival, the names of people in each tribe were put into urns, they were selected on the first day as he judges each jusdge wrote down the plays in order of merit on a tablet and they were placed in an urn The Eponymous archon drew 5 of the ten tablets at random and the playwrite with the most votes counted won a garland
      • Preliminary rituals: The Proagon took place two days before the beginning of the festival, it was held in the Odeion. The plays were announced and a short synopsis was delivered, like a trailer. On the evening before the festival, a torchlight procession (eisagoge) would accompany a statue of Dionysus to the theatre, where a statue would take place
      • Processions: on the morning of the firts day, a pompe (large parade) would make its way through Athens to the theatre, the men would carry large leather phalluses as this was the sign for Dionysus. A bull would be sacrificed and later a komos (wild street party) was held, full of drinking and partying.
      • Programme: every day, 3 tragedies, a satyr and a comedy was performed. On the first day an opening ceremony was held, The priest of Dionysus would sacrifice a piglet and 3 important presentations were made. Including the parade of tribute (like Athen's colonies), the parade of Orphans and the proclamations of honours (like a prize day)
      • The final review: A few days after, the assembly met in the theatre to review the festival, if there were any complaints, the archon could be fined, but if it went well, they could vote him to have a crown.
    • Buildings
      • Theatron: The theatre of Dionysus was located on the south side of the acropolis and could hold 15-17,00 people. The theatron was the seating area, was built onto the hillside and was semicurcular. The front row was reserved for preiest and officials. A diazoma would split the theatron into a top and lower half.
      • Orchestra: dancing are for the chorus, a circular ditch where the chorus would remain throughout the play, they would enter through the parados, allyways between the skene and the theatron. In the middle was an altar.
      • Skene: behind the orchestra was a low wooden stage called the proskene, behind would be a building called the skene, it was originally a tent or booth for actors to store props and change outits in. and scnery was often painted onto the fron of it. A ladder was inside leading to the roof, where the deus ex machina would often take place
    • Actors and chorus
      • Masks: made out of linen, cloth or wood, they would have been used to make sure far away audiences members could see facial expressions. They had opening for mouth and eyes with hair stuck on top. Mask would have allowed for character transition and to make a visual impact
      • Costumes: the chiton (robe) and himation (knee length cloak) were worn by actors, they had sleeves and became ornate and colourful over time. some say that actors went barefoot whilst others say that kothornos, short boots were worn with thin soles and could be worn on either foot.
      • Actors: there were no more than 3 main actors with speaking parts, the playwrights themselves used to act but this died out of fashion. Thespis was the first to act, leaving his role as a chorus member and actually acting out the myths
      • Chorus: made up of 12-15 member, selection was probably a great honour and members were spared military service. they were accompanied by a musician. They had 5 ain roles: actors (like the corinthian women), scene setters (giving background info), commentating (offering moral or popular opinions on the play), mood (helping to build suspense) and a scne break (their choral odes would be a time for costume changes)
    • Special Effects
      • ekkyklema: a wooden platform that would be wheeled out of the skene doors to show something that had happened inside, like a body
      • mechane: A crane positioned on the left of the sken operated offstage by pulleys and ropes, used to hoist characters like gods, Medea would have used this in her final scene.
      • Props: few props were used in tragedies, sometimes weapons of even body parts would soetimes be required
      • Sound: sometimes chorus members would create non human noises like wind or animals


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