Free research paper example on Greek Theater:
Theater has been a means of art and entertainment for thousands of years dating back to the fifth century B.C. The beginning marked with the ancient Greek and Roman theaters. Over the vast years of cultural and technological evolution many things have changed. Just the same, many things have remained unscathed. In comparing and contrasting different aspects such as theater writing, technology, and theater costumes, we will become more aware of the differences and similarities between modern and ancient Greek and Roman theater.
There are only three Classic Greek playwrights whose work has survived from the fifth century B.C. They were Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. These writers were mainly remembered for their dramatic tragedies. During the same timeframe, Roman playwrights were writing comedy. One of the more popular Roman playwrights was Plautus.
Tragedy and comedy seemed to be the only forms of theater writing during the ancient Greek and Roman era. Today we still have comedy and tragedy, but we also have drama, horror, and documentary writings. The writings today that involve tragedy are similar to the ancient writings in that they typically involve actual true happenings or depict close to true stories about modern day individuals. Roman comedy, like today’s comedy was “wild, unrestrained, lewd and highly realistic” (Sporre 1).
In today’s world, we typically think of theater as the more technically advanced motion picture. This is obviously a major difference from the ancient Greek and Roman time frame. However, we still have live acting in plays and/or live theater in many professional and amateur theaters around the world. These theaters are more similar to the ancient Greek and Roman theater as you will probably have a orchestra playing the music for the plays. Some of the differences are the use of several to sometimes hundreds of actors portraying the different characters. In Ancient Greek and Roman times, it was not unusual to only have one individual acting as all characters. Even when the use of more than one actor occurred seldom were there more than two or three actors used to convey the story. Another difference is that women were not aloud to act, so all characters in the play were portrayed be men. In ancient Greek and Roman theater the “author was also the director, choreographer, and musical composer and often played the leading role as well” (Sporre 2). In today’s theater, we sometimes will see the author acting as the director, or at least assisting the director, and sometimes they will act as one on the characters in the film or play. However, in modern times, the author will almost never compose the music for his work.
The costumes in the ancient theater were somewhat different then than they are now. In the ancient Greek and Roman times, the costumes were padded to give a “larger-than-life” effect. They also “wore thick soled boots called kothurnoi” and wore masks with fixed expressions (Sporre 3). In today’s theater, we seldom see this style of costume unless it is a story depicting ancient Greek and Roman theater or the works of the playwrights in that period. Today’s plays will typically have extravagant costumes as the ancient playwrights had their characters wear, just not as a larger-than-life portrayal. We also have more advanced ways of allowing the actors to look more life like in their character through the use of advanced make-up and very talented make-up artists and their use of silicone to shape an actors face into whatever look they want. While the thought of what the character would look like or portray, may still be the same, today’s writers have the luxury of technology to formulate their ideas in a more realistic manner.
While many of the basic characteristics of theater are the same now as they were thousands of years ago with the ancient Greek and Roman playwrights, there are several major differences as well. Through comparing and contrasting theater writing, technology, and theater costume, we can see the many differences as well as the many similarities between modern theater and that of ancient Greek and Roman theater. These comparisons can help us to better understand how theater has evolved into what we know it to be today.
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