www.whyville.net May 16, 2003 Weekly Issue

Times Writer

Greek Theatre

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Why can't I can't stop listening to this song? It's driving me crazy, but when I'm not listening to it, I need to turn it on. Save me from myself! I guess that while I sit here and waste time I could do something productive, like write an article about... Greek Theatre!

If you haven't visited Whyville's Greek Theater yet, you can do so by clicking on the sign outside City Hall. This recent addition was established mainly to host Whyville's Media Hour.... Fortunately for me, I was able to attend the first Media Hour here, which discussed the book The House on Mango Street. Citizens were surprised to learn and experience the Greek Theatre, because you can't move there! It's like a classroom. But, I'm sure you can all check it out next Wednesday when you join us for the Media Hour. You see, I'm not really here to talk bout the Media Hour, but to ask: Why Greek?

Let me explain some ancient Greek Theatre to you (because the Whyville Greek Theatre is modeled after one of ancient times, is it not?)

There are many myths to Greek Theatre. Usually the term "Greek Theatre" is a reference to theatre in Athens during the 5th century BCE. These were more then just normal plays. They were very closely associated with religion, and therefore many people must understand their symbolism to interpret these stylized dramas.

Most of the theatres were outdoors, but certain indoor theatres were called Odeia. An Odeia was used only for musical performances, and tragic Proganes (think of these as contest qualifications).

The Orchestra, the Scene and the Main Theatre (the Koilon) where the main components of an ancient Greek theatre.

In front of the Scene, or Stage, was the Orchestra. There was an altar in the middle of the Orchestra, called the Thymeli. In the earliest years, it was used as an altar, but it later it was used as a place for the leader of the chorus (koryphaios) to stand. Some archeologists have found evidence that supports the idea of having rectangular orchestras, but because the Greeks believed that the circle held supernatural powers, it was the main shape used.

The backdrop was set as a temple or palace, for the most part. As time passed, theatrical painting and props were created. Later plays involved backdrops such as woods, army camps and other themes.

The scene would have either one or three entrances for actors. There were also two entrances between the audience and the scene. These were called Parodoi. The Parodoi were used for members of the chorus, and actors that came from "the outside". If an actor entered from the right, he was coming from the city, but if entered from the left it was assumed he came from the fields.

The Koilon, also known as the Theatron, was the auditorium. Originally, an audience would sit around the orchestra, but later wood and stone Koilons were made. The Koilon is a semi-circle, and consisted of two levels, or Diazoma, the upper and lower levels. Priests and officials sat in the front seats, also called the Proedria.

The first Greek Theatres where mobile, with the exception of the orchestras. After the 5th century BCE, Greeks built many Koilmons that were permanent, and made of stone. Some machines used in these permanent theatres were the Aeorema (a crane that gods would appear on), the Periactoi (two pillars, that when rotated, would change the backdrop) and Ekeclema (a platform on wheels which would carry dead bodies. Death was not allowed on stage (the play "Ajax" is the one exception).

All actors were men. They were really only semi-professional, but they were paid by the state all the same. Playwrights were originally actors, but as time went on, they began casting, and later, other people began doing casting. Many plays were only allowed three actors, each one playing several different roles. Masks were worn, so facial expression was not important, and all movements were broad and simple. The vocal aspect was certainly the most important part of any drama. It was very important that no matter whether they were speaking, singing or reciting something, they portrayed the right emotional tone.

It is interesting to learn that the word "theatre" originates from the word theatron, which is Greek, and means "seeing place". The word "drama" also comes from the Greek word that means "to do".

I guess that's my cue to end this article. I will see you peeps later! *Wink, Wink*



P.S. I realize now that in the U.S. theatre is spelled "theater". I was going to change it, but then I realized that it's these little things that make me a Canadian. So yes, I do know how to spell (somewhat).


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