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What influence has Greek theatre had on Western theatre?
The earliest days of western theatre remain obscure, but the oldest surviving plays come from ancient Greece. Most philologists agree that Greek theatre evolved from staged religious choral performances, during celebrations to Dionysus the Greek God of wine and fertility (Dithyrambs). There are, however, findings suggesting the possible existence of theatre-like performances much earlier, such as the famous "Blind Steps" of the Minoan Palace at Knossos: a broad stone stairway descending to a flat stone courtyard that leads nowhere - an arrangement strongly suggesting that the courtyard was used for a staged spectacle and the stairway was in fact used as seating. The vast majority of Ancient Greek theatrical texts have not survived intact. The works of only four Greek playwrights writing during the fifth century B.C. remain fully intact. Aeschylus Sophocles Euripides Aristophanes The above-mentioned playwrights are regarded as the most influential by critics of subsequent eras including (Aristotle). The tragic and sartyr plays were always performed at the festival (City Dionysia) where they were part of a series of four performances (a "tetralogy"): the first, second and third plays were a dramatic trilogy based on related or unrelated mythological events, and the culminating fourth performance was a satyr play, a play on a lighter note, with enhanced celebratory and dance elements. Performances lasted several hours and were held during daytime. The dramas rarely had more than three actors (all male), who played the different roles using masks. There was a chorus on the stage most of the time which sang songs and sometimes spoke in unison. As far as we know, most dramas were staged just a single time, at the traditional drama contest. Such contests were always held in the context of major religious festivals, most notably those in honor of the god Dionysos, and competed for an honorific prize (such as a tripod and a sum of money) awarded by a panel of judges - usually these were the sacerdotal and civil officers presiding over the particular religious festival. The prize was awarded jointly to the producer, who had financed the staging, and the poet, who was at the same time the author, composer, choreographer and director of the plays. The actors wore large masks, which were very colourful. These masks depicted two things: the age of the character, and their mood. They also amplified sound in the same way that cupping your hands over your mouth does. Actors also wore thick, padded clothing, and shoes with thick soles. This made them seem larger, so the audience could see them better when seated in the uppermost rows of the amphitheatre. Source(s): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_theatre
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