Theatre probably arose as a performance of ritual activities that did not require initiation on the part of the spectator. This similarity of early theatre to ritual is negatively attested by Aristotle, who in his Poetics defined theatre in contrast to the performances of sacred mysteries: theatre did not require the spectator to fast, drink the kykeon, or march in a procession; however theatre did resemble the sacred mysteries in the sense that it brought purification and healing to the spectator by means of a vision, the theama. The physical location of such performances was accordingly named theatron. According to the historians Oscar Brockett and Franklin Hildy, rituals typically include elements that entertain or give pleasure, such as costumes and masks as well as skilled performers. As societies grew more complex, these spectacular elements began to be acted out under non-ritualistic conditions. As this occurred, the first steps towards theatre as an autonomous activity were being taken. Western tradition
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History of theatre
The best-preserved example of a classical Greek theatre, the Theatre of Epidaurus, has a circular orchêstra and probably gives the best idea of the original shape of the Athenian theatre, though it dates from the 4th century BCE. [show] v t e
Classical Athenian drama
Main articles: Theatre of Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek comedy, and Satyr play 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 theatricality and performance in classical Greece that included festivals, religious rituals, politics, law, athletics and gymnastics, music, poetry, weddings, funerals, and symposia. Participation in the city-state's many festivals—and attendance at the City Dionysia as an audience member (or even as a participant in the theatrical productions) in particular—was an important part of citizenship. Civic participation also involved the evaluation of the rhetoric of orators evidenced in performances in the law-court or political assembly, both of which were understood as analogous to the theatre and increasingly came to absorb its dramatic vocabulary. The theatre of ancient Greece consisted of three types of drama: tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. Athenian tragedy—the oldest surviving form of tragedy—is a type of dance-drama that formed an important part of the theatrical culture of the city-state. Having emerged sometime during the 6th century BCE, it flowered during the 5th century BCE (from the end of which it began to spread throughout the Greek world) and continued to be popular until the beginning of the Hellenistic period. No tragedies from the 6th century and only 32 of the more than a thousand that were performed in during the 5th century have survived. We have complete texts extant by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The origins of tragedy remain obscure, though by the 5th century it was institutionalised in competitions (agon) held as part of festivities celebrating Dionysos (the god of wine and fertility). As contestants in the City Dionysia's competition (the most prestigious of the festivals to stage drama), playwrights were required to present a tetralogy of plays (though the individual works were not necessarily connected by story or theme), which usually consisted of three tragedies and one satyr play. The performance of tragedies at the City Dionysia may have begun as early as 534 BCE; official records (didaskaliai) begin from 501 BCE, when the satyr play was introduced. Most Athenian tragedies dramatise events from Greek mythology, though The Persians—which stages the Persian response to news of their military defeat at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE—is the notable exception in the surviving drama. When Aeschylus won first prize for it at the City Dionysia in 472 BCE, he had been...
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