Greek Theater

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Greek theatre, most developed in Athens, is the root of the Western tradition. Theatre is in origin a Greek word. It was part of a broader culture of performance in classical Greece that included festivals, religious rituals, politics, law, athletics, music, poetry, weddings, and funerals. Participation in the city-state's many festivals was an important part of citizenship. The theatre of ancient Greece consisted of three types of drama: tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. The first type they invented was the tragedy. In tragedies, one or more major characters always suffered a disastrous end.  Comedies were invented next. In comedies, plays always had a happy end. The third type was the satire.  Satires were plays that made fun of mortal legends and of real people. In ancient Greece, you did not poke fun at the gods - not in a play, not in real life, not ever. But you could poke fun at your leaders. And that was uniquely Greek. Satires in ancient Greece were often political in nature, and could indeed affect people's opinions about current events. Ancient Greeks from the 5th century BC onwards were fascinated by the question of the origins of tragedy and comedy. They were unsure of their exact origins, but Aristotle and a number of other writers proposed theories of how tragedy and comedy developed, and told stories about the people thought to be responsible for their development. Attending a tragedy or comedy in 5th century BC Athens was in many ways a different experience than attending a play in the United States in the 20th century. To name a few differences, Greek plays were performed in an outdoor theater, used masks, and were almost always performed by a chorus and three actors. No matter how many speaking characters there were in the play, only three actors were used. The actors would go back stage after playing one character, switch masks and costumes, and reappear as another character. Greek plays were performed as part of religious festivals in...
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