The Art of Ancient Greek Theatre

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The Art of Greek Theater
The theater and all it encompassed played an integral role in the lives of the ancient Greeks. From the architecture and costumes, to the mask, the art of the theater was a feast for the senses and inspired artists to recreate what was seen on stage on more permanent media, thus enriching the lives of future generations. It is believed that theater began as a religious experience in order to honor the gods. Drama developed out of choral dances for Dionysus, the Greek god of wine, fertility and revelry, in Athens in the mid-sixth century BCE, inaugurating the earliest vase-paintings of ancient Greek performance (Hart 1). In 534 BCE the first tragedy took place with comedy following suit around fifty years later. According to Aristotle, Thespis was the first person to appear onstage as someone other than himself, thus the term “Thespian” was most likely created to denote actors. From the performances of plays from such notable authors as Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes and Menander a collection of some of the most beautiful and historic art sprang forth.

The Greek Theater was a central place of formal gatherings in ancient Greece (Ancient Greece.org). The theater provided a forum for the comedies and tragedies, as well as for poetry readings and music. The theater structure itself was a work of art. The arrangement included the stage or scene, where the actors performed, the rounded orchestra, where the chorus would dance, and the koilon or theatron, a semicircular creation where the spectators sat and enjoyed the theatrical productions. Theaters were quite often altered in the fifth and sixth century BCE before more permanent materials were used. There is no physical evidence for a circular orchestra earlier than that of the great theater at Epidauros dated to around 330 BCE, notes Colette Hemingway. The earlier stages were made of wood, but were later replaced by a more enduring stone structure. Tiers of carved marble seats...
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