(Origin of Theatre) The origin of the word theatre is the Greek word “Theatron” which means “a place for viewing”. During the ancient Greek times, a cult began in Athens. A festival to worship the Greek god of wine, fertility, and harvest, Dionysus. The worshippers performed dances and sang in the honor of Dionysus. The followers or worshippers of Dionysus were called Maenads (female) or bacchants and satyrs (male). The worshippers sung hymns called Dithyrambs in the praise of Dionysus in the festival.
Origin of theatre: The beginning
Later, the disciples performed plays in 534 BC which were the part of the festival. The chorus which sang and danced wearing fawn skins with masks set acts on stage. To make it easy for the audience to see their expressions they used masks. They also organized a four-day competition for which they selected four playwrights to compete. The jury gave prizes in the honor of the winner for the performance of best plays.
The playwrights were asked to write four plays including three tragedies and one comedy that is also called Satyr play (a type of farce featuring satyrs, they are half man and half goat). Tragedy (Tragoidia), according to Aristotle is, “the imitation of an action that is serious, complete and of a certain magnitude in language embellished with each kind of artistic ornament in the form of drama, not of narrative which arouses pity, fear and catharsis of emotions”.
The performers performed the plays in a semi-circular place called Orchestra, which had two entrance side wise the stage. The audience in the hillside sat on seats made up of carved rocks and woods.
Earlier, in the play, they introduced only two characters, the chorus, and the main character. The chorus questioned the character which he answered and formed Dialogue. The characters increased with the coming of playwrights like Euripides and others. The stage used Deus ex machina to magnify the effect of the appearance of characters on stage. The famous surviving tragedies include Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone; and Aeschylus’ Oresteia etc.
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