Dionysus: Influential Through Time

Twenty-five hundred years ago, Western theatre was born in Athens, Greece.
Between 600 and 200 BC, the ancient Athenians created a theatre culture that
has influenced theatre through history.They created plays that are still
considered among the greatest works of world drama. Their achievement is
Greek theatre took place in large hillside ampitheatres. The players
included a chorus and their leader, and the lines were more chanted than
spoken. The chorus performed in the orchestra, not on a raised stage. The
use of masks represented characters and high-soled boots worn added height
to the players. Thespis is where it all began. Little is known of this man.
It is uncertain whether Thespis was a playwright, an actor or a priest, yet
it is his name with which the dramatic arts are associated in our word
“Thespian”. Thespis performed his plays on wagons and seats were set up for
performances in the market place of Athens.The original word for ‘actor’
was hypokrites, meaning ‘answerer,’ for the actor answered the chorus.
Thespis is said to have introduced and been thefirst actor, later called
protagonistes ( first competitor). The introduction of a second actor
(deuteragonistes) is in thanks to Aeschylus and the third (tritagonistes) to
Greek drama was influenced by five playwrights over the 200 years following
Thespis. Thefirst three of these were tragedians. Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.),
who not only composed the plays but acted in them, directed them, and
choreographed them, is most famous for his tragic trilogy the Oresteia and
introduced the concept of a second actor.This actor was called the
protagonist, or the main character of a drama. Sophocles (496-406 B.C.)
initiated using a third actor and is most famous for his trilogy Oedipus
Rex. Euripides (480-406 B.C.) employed a far more naturalistic or human


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