Both Greek and Roman drama were divided into tragedies and comedies, with tragedies usually set in a distant past, being highly stylized, and addressing great and heroic themes. Greek drama was originally divided into three genres, tragedy, Old Comedy, and satyr plays.
Questions therefore arise as to what is and what is not essential to it. Is a play what its author thought he was writing, or the words he wrote? Is a play the way in which those words are intended to be embodied, or their actual interpretation by a director and the actors on a particular stage?
Is a play in part the expectation an audience brings to the theatre, or is it the real response to what is seen and heard? Since drama is such a complex process of communication, its study and evaluation is as uncertain as it is mercurial.
All plays depend upon a general agreement by all participants—author, actors, and audience—to accept the operation of theatre and the conventions associated with it, just as players and spectators accept the rules of a game.
Drama is a decidedly unreal activity, which can be indulged only if everyone involved admits it. Here lies some of the fascination of its study.
For one test of great drama is how far it can take the spectator beyond his own immediate reality and to what use this imaginative release can be put.
But the student of drama must know the rules with which the players began the game before he can make this kind of judgment. These rules may be conventions of writing, acting, or audience expectation.
Only when all conventions are working together smoothly in synthesis, and the make-believe of the experience is enjoyed passionately with mind and emotion, can great drama be seen for what it is: Drama in some form is found in almost every society, primitive and civilized, and has served a wide variety of functions in the community.
There are, for example, records of a sacred drama in Egypt 2, years before the Common Era, and Thespis in the 6th century bce in ancient Greece is accorded the distinction of being the first known playwright.
Elements of drama such as mime and dancecostume and decor long preceded the introduction of words and the literary sophistication now associated with a play.
Moreover, such basic elements were not superseded by words, merely enhanced by them. Only then can dramatic literature be discussed as such. The texts of plays indicate the different functions they served at different times. Some plays embraced nearly the whole community in a specifically religious celebration, as when all the male citizens of a Greek city-state came together to honour their gods or when the annual Feast of Corpus Christi was celebrated with the great medieval Christian mystery cycles.
On the other hand, the ceremonious temple ritual of the early Noh drama of Japan was performed at religious festivals only for the feudal aristocracy.
But the drama may also serve a more directly didactic purpose, as did the morality plays of the later Middle Ages, some 19th-century melodramasand the 20th-century discussion plays of George Bernard Shaw and Bertolt Brecht.
Plays can satirize society, or they can gently illuminate human weakness; they can divine the greatness and the limitations of humans in tragedyor, in modern naturalistic playwriting, probe the human mind. Drama is the most wide-ranging of all the arts: Common elements of drama Despite the immense diversity of drama as a cultural activity, all plays have certain elements in common.
The characters may be superhuman and godlike in appearance, speech, and deed or grotesque and ridiculous, perhaps even puppets, but as long as they behave in even vaguely recognizable human ways the spectator can understand them.
Only if they are too abstract do they cease to communicate as theatre. Thus, the figure of Death in medieval drama reasons like a human being, and a god in Greek tragedy or in Shakespeare talks like any mortal. A play, therefore, tells its tale by the imitation of human behaviour.
The remoteness or nearness of that behaviour to the real life of the audience can importantly affect the response of that audience: The second essential is implicit in the first. A situation must be represented on the stage, one recognizable and believable to a degree, which will animate the figures as it would in life.
Some argue that action is the primary factor in drama, and that character cannot emerge without it.
Since no play exists without a situation, it appears impossible to detach the idea of a character from the situation in which he is placed, though it may seem possible after the experience of the whole play.
Whether the playwright conceives character before situation, or vice versa, is arbitrary. More relevant are the scope and scale of the character-in-situation—whether, for example, it is man confronting God or a man confronting his wife—for that comes closer to the kind of experience the play is offering its audience.
Even here one must beware of passing hasty judgment, for it may be that the grandest design for heroic tragedy may be less affecting than the teasing vision of human madness portrayed in a good farce.Greek comedy was based on the theme fertility of the Dionysian rites.
Greek tragedy dealt with the theme of death and life of Dionysian rites. The Greek dramas . A Study of Theatres: Greek vs. Roman Uploaded by patbreheim a short essay comparing and contrasting Greek and Roman theatres-both architecturally and stylisticly/5(3).
Greek Island Wanderer. Spend time in Greece's bustling and historic capital, Athens, before heading off to explore the gleaming waterfront harbours, beautiful . Agathon.
Agathon (c. BCE) was an Athenian tragic poet and friend of Euripides and Plato. He is best known from his mention by Aristophanes (Thesmophoriazusae) and in Plato's Symposium, which describes the banquet given to celebrate his obtaining a prize for his first tragedy ().
This structure of the Roman army prompt is perfect for your Roman lessons, providing information ready for your children to copy and learn, and a great enhancer and visual aid to your teaching. The core of the Roman theatre, just as in the Greek one, is the orchestra, which was semicircular and called platea: it corresponds, indeed, to the stalls (platea, in Italian) of modern theatres, though it hosts the choir rather than the audience.