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The Greek Theatre

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Introduction

The amphitheatres of Ancient Greece were located on hillsides. A bowl shape was dug into a north facing slope for maximum sunlight. The amphitheatre complex contained the koilon, orchestra, proscenium, skene and parados. The koilon was the semi-circular, stacked seating area for the audience and was split into two sections; upper and lower diazoma. The area closest to the stage of the lower diazoma was reserved for priests, members of the council and officials. The upper diazoma operated under a free seating scheme. This communicated to the audience that official people should be respected and have certain perks. This might have made ordinary people work harder and aspire to hold a position of power. In front of the koilon was the orchestra: a circular piece of land approximately 60m in diameter. The orchestra was used by the chorus for their choral odes and stasimons. The chorus were a group of fifteen amateur performers who acted as a united group. The chorus entered at the beginning of a play chanting a song and marching at a slow pace. The acting then commenced from professional actors. After a section of acting had taken place the chorus performed a stasimon; commenting on what has just been seen. Stasimons included singing and dancing which added movement and spectacle to the play. ...read more.

Middle

"Prosternada" were worn by men to give the appearance of female breasts and "Progastreda" were worn to give the appearance of a bigger belly (most women were larger than men or pregnant). For the very same reason masks were also worn. Male masks, such as Haemon's, would have had bigger heads but no decoration around the face whilst female masks, such as Antigone's, were more petite in size yet had the appearance of make up. Actors' masks were a lot more decorated than the chorus' masks. Creon's mask would have been highly ornate and contained gold leaf, feathers, jewels or crystals whereas the Watchman's mask would have been plainer. Behind the proscenium was the skene: a building made to look like a castle or palace. The buildings had doors built into it so that it gave the appearance that characters were entering from different areas. There were two other entrances called "Paradoi" located between the skene and koilon. If a character entered from the left parados then it meant he was coming from the fields or abroad whilst if it was the right parados signified the city or port. The Watchman enters from the left parados as he comes from the hill/field where Antigone is buried. The skene building was also used for costume changes and makeup as well as storing props. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, it would also make sure that the actors faces looked natural under the strong lighting used in modern plays. Without make up actors often look pale which might communicate to an audience as a sick actor. As for staging, a solitary rostra block would stand in the middle of the stage and would be used by high status characters and the dead. High status characters would be able to stand on the block to gain height and to show the audience that they are greater than the other characters in terms of status. The block would be mainly dominated by Creon who is of highest status, being the king, but Tiresias would also use the block as he is the fountain of knowledge. Death was never shown on stage but the bodies of the dead character were presented on stage to convince the audience that the person had died. Once the death has occurred offstage, two chorus members will carry on the dead character and place them on the rostra block for thirty seconds. All acting would cease whilst the dead person was presented to mimic a mourning period. The body would then be taken offstage. Spatially, there movement would be kept to a minimum on stage as this would make it hard for audiences to concentrate. As the acting space isn't very large the chorus would have to stand up stage with their backs to the audience. ...read more.

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