Thespis (6th Century B.C.)
*"Father of Drama"
*A Dionysian priest
*First actor and playwright, creating and performing tragedies; Thespian=actor
*Actor called protagonist ("first actor"); played hero or god
*Added prologue, and said to have invented the mask
Sophocles (496-406 B.C.)
*Added third actor--triagonist
*Fixed number of Chorus to fifteen--more dialogue between characters
*Introduced painted scenery
*120 + tragedies! Only 7 extant.
*Religiously conservative--man must find his place; Always a moral lesson.
*Sopho=wise + cleos=glory = Sophocles!
Euripides (486-406 B.C.)
*Reduced participation of Chorus in main action
*Relied on heavy prologues and the mechane (crane).
*Known for his radical themes and ideas
Actors & Acting
*Actor and dramatist originally the same-playwright took leading role (Sophocles the last to do this).
*All male performers; played female roles as well.
Costumes & Masks
*Long, flowing robes-colored symbolically
*High boots, often with raised soles (platforms)
*Larger than life masks-made of linen, wood, cork
*Identified age, gender, emotion
*Exaggerated features-large eyes, open mouth
Function of Chorus
*Sets overall mood and expresses theme
*Adds beauty through song and dance
*Gives background information
*Divides action and offers reflections on events
*Questions, advises, expresses opinion-usually through chorus leader
tragedy makes us feel a cleansing pity and fear, purging us of petty concerns and making us aware there can be nobility in suffering.
Limitations of Theater
*Continuous presence of Chorus
*No intermissions, continuous flow of action and choral odes
*No lighting; no curtain
A literary form in which the hero suffers extreme misfortune that is not accidental, and therefore not meaningless. The hero's misfortune is logically connected to his own actions. Tragedy stresses the vulnerability of man whose suffering results from a combination of human and divine actions, but is generally undeserved in its harshness.
*Protagonist should be worthy of interest, concern, sympathy
*Tragic hero is not perfect, but his supreme pride gives him a unique power and dignity.
*Tragic flaw is a fundamental character weakness (ambition, pride, jealousy...)
*His disaster is inevitable, either decreed by fate or the clear consequence of his own choices or others' actions.
*He does not accept his fate meekly, but in the end accepts with faith and courage.
*His cause must be a noble one--he believes in what he's doing and remains committed.
*He is transfigured/refined by his suffering--learns from his agony--knows himself and the human condition--humbled & enlightened