Greek Theatre Essay

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Introduction to Drama

‘Greek theatre began in festivals of religious ritual but developed into the art form that shaped theatre and drama in the western world.’ Describe and analyse the processes and historical developments that validate this assertion.

Greek theatre initially began with religious festivals, with songs, chants, and dances that in time started the revolution of drama. Greek theatre helped develop and influence theatre and drama throughout the world particularly within western society and has helped create one of the greatest play writes in history William Shakespeare. From the religious rituals and celebrations of Dionysus, a powerful and worshiped god, with hymn like songs and chants in his honor known to be called the Dithyramb and Tragedy, which over a long period of time developed to be more than just a religious ceremony devoted merely to Dionysus, but an art form enjoyed by all. This enveloped the entire western culture.

Dionysus was and still is, the God of fertility, wine, agriculture, and sexuality. It was said that Dionysus was the son of Zeus and Semele, a mortal women, to whom Zeus killed with his lightning bolt while Dionysus was still in her womb. However, Zeus then rescued him and put him through a ‘second birth’ by placing Dionysus into his thigh. As part of the Greek religious ritual, in honor of the great god Dionysus, the Athenians devoted a whole week in March, for public celebrations. These annual celebrations would consist of dances and chants performed to the god and were usually performed whilst intoxicated from the ‘sacred wines’ brought upon by Dionysus. The procession eventually grew larger in popularity to become competitions, which were held and performed in front of a large Audience. These competitions included music performances, songs and dances as well as the usual Athletics much like the events seen at the Olympics. It was said that ancient Greek theatre “…a mixture of myth, legend, philosophy,...
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