Contrast Between Ancient Greek Theatre “Antigone” and Modern Russian Theatre in “the Cherry Orchard”.

Topics: Anton Chekhov, Constantin Stanislavski, Drama Pages: 5 (1695 words) Published: April 13, 2011
Contrast between Ancient Greek Theatre “Antigone” and Modern Russian Theatre in “The Cherry Orchard”.

Theatre which is a main source of entertainment has made various stories in her womb regarding theatres in all over the world like African, Yoruba theatre, Asian Theatre, Middle-East Theatre and Western Theatre like Greek Theatres and Modern Russian Theatre. First of all, Greek theatre seems to have its roots in religious celebration that incorporated song and dance. Like this Greek theater shadowed by the religious aspects of the Greeks we can easily find the reflections of religious beliefs in the plays of Homer, Iliad, Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles. Later, a Greek philosopher who was student of Plato revealed six essential elements of theater through his seminal theatrical critique ‘Poetics’. These elements are Plot, Character, Idea, Language, Music and Spectacle. Where as in theatrical revolution of modern Russian theatre Moscow Art theatre, founded by Stanislavsky, played a very important role and drew all the wide ranges of influences and ideas, including his work and his study of modernism, naturalism, realism and symbolism. The experiment of realism makes a wide gap and contrast between Greek and Russian theatres.

In the sixth century Athenians transformed their rural celebrations of Dionysus or Bacchus into an urban festival with dancing choruses. Later it came in very uniform way of theatre and they made many experiments with this theatre using chorus with masked actors, heavy costumes, orchestra and stories related to their gods and goddesses. The reflection of these changes we can easily see in Antigone. However, in the modern plays whether it is Chekov or Henrik Ibsen who only tried to show the mirror through their works which led to their work to extreme of realism. While ancient plays which were only stuck with the religious issues and their perceptions, the modern plays, which we find in Moscow Art Theater, brought many changes in their theatrical works. Thus this complete time gap between ancient Greek Theatre and Modern Russian Theatre shows contrast in various ways.

Setting, which is an obvious part of plays, varies in Antigone to Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. We find full description of setting when The Cherry Orchard begins. It not only describes the room, weather, garden but also introduces some characters’ name like Anya, Dunyasha and Lopakhin. Even it also describes about the action of Dunyasha and Lopakhin before even a single dialogue of these characters, whereas Sophocles’s Antigone starts straight away with the dialogue of two main characters of the play Antigone and Ismene. Spectators of the theaters could only enjoy this if they know the history of the characters as many stories revolve around all the characters and in this case, we find it little difficult for the readers of modern era as readers need to put some extra efforts to understand the hidden stories of Greek plays.

Through, Antigone we come accross to the religious aspects of Greek mythology and their belief in god as we find prayers and curses both, “When we saw the body laid bare, raised a mourning cry, and called down terrible curses on those who had done the deed”. (Sophocles, Antigone line 397) In the same manner, we find prayer also, “God of many names glory of Cademeian bride, child of deep thundering Zeus!..........”. (Sophocles, Antigone, line 1124 to 1127)These mentioned lines show the strong belief in god. Many of these were presented through chorus in sing-song manner, which was another device of the Greek Theatre to entertain their spectators and to satisfy their taste and spectators were also enjoying it with chorus as they had already developed their taste accordingly and they never got bored in the long plays also as the play was already built with prose and poetry both even the hard core subjects and stories were also digested through the sing-song manner of chorus. We find it not only in...

Bibliography: (i) Antigone written by Sophocles line 397, 1124 and line 813
(ii) Leo Tolstoy from Wikipedia
(iii) Errol Durbach’s comments on Chekov
(iv) Stanislavsky’s Comments, Cambridge University Press
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