Ancient Greek Theatre

  • Created by: BookerBea
  • Created on: 28-02-17 09:56

Special Occasions Only

There were only three festivals of for drama and it was only performed in Athens : The City Dionysia, The rural Dionysia and Lenaia

These were also competitions and dramatists and actors competed for awards. There were many rules about who competed, judged and won.

1 of 8

All Male

All of the actors, writers and sponsors were men or boys would often perform in the chorus. 

2 of 8

Old Comedy

The winter festival Lenaia was the real home of comedy and only Athenians could attend. The contest for comedy here was established in 442 BCE

Old comedy had a set structure which was that it was a political comedy of the classic period in Athens; 

The first part consisted of a prologue, during which an outrageous idea was formed. (Women ending the war) Then there would be a debate about whether or not this is a good idea (The women don't want chastity but they also want peace) Then it ended by agreeing to do the idea. 

Direct address by the chorus to the audience breaks the dramital illusion (breaking the 4th wall) 

The second part is made up of funny episodes and choral singing which shows the idea at work 

3 of 8

The Chorus

The chorus was always a group of men wgho were costumed and masked alike. They spoke and sand in unison most of the time. The chorus was often considered the main specticle of the performance. The chorus' rhythms probably indicated the changing mood within the play. 

The chorus also influenced a number of theatrical practices. It required space a space large enough to move through. Their loyalities had to be made very clear throughput the performance especially when characters shared secrets. The actors probably would have had to adjust their style of performance as to not be overwhelmed by the chorus. 

4 of 8


Masks and costume were used to display a character rather than the actor playing them. 

Chorus members all wore similar costumes and masks to appear as a grouple or 'the people' 

A costumes appearance would allow audience members to know specific traits from their costume 

  • ethnicity
  • gender
  • social role

In some comedy, the costume for certain charatcers would have used a large proststic penises. 

5 of 8

Acting Styles

Doubling (playing more than one role) was common and so the second or third characters would be expected to also play minor characters too. 

The use of an only male cast, masks and doubling suggests that the dramatic spectacle was much more important than a realistic resembence to real life. 

The audiences were huge and so an actors most prized abilities were thier vocal power and agility.

6 of 8

Masked Faces

All of the performers wore masks. they would have been full face and carriend their own hairstyle and expressions. 

In a comedy the facial expressions would have been distorted to evoke laughter from the large audience. 

Masks for actors were individual to the characters and choral masks stressed resemblence which helped to show resemblance and synchronicity. 

7 of 8


the theatres were open air and so vulnerable to the weather. audience members would have used cushions, umbrellas and sunshades. 

The athenian Hillside could hold 14,000 and the audience was just as visable as the actors in the sunshine. 

Theatre was apparently open to all even women and slaves, but these probably would have been segregated. records suggest that it could be unruly at times. 

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar Drama & Theatre Studies resources:

See all Drama & Theatre Studies resources »See all Original Performance Conditions. resources »