Ancient Greek Theater
The ancient Greeks advanced numerous areas, including philosophy, poetry, architecture, sculpture, and theater. Any student who has encountered an English 101 class will be familiar with some of the great plays of Ancient Greek theater, including the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. Sophocles is best remembered for his Theban trilogy, which includes both Oedipus the King and Antigone, while Euripides is famous for his play Medea.
Ancient Greek theater reached a zenith in Athens during the golden age, and became a central part of the celebrations at the festival of Dionysia. The Greeks developed three different forms of drama, the tragedy, comedy, and the satyr play. Tragedy emerged first, around 532 BCE. Greek actor Thespis is called the “Father of Tragedy,” lending his name to the term thespian. Ancient Greek theater kept tragedy and comedy separate, and no play exist that sought to combine elements of the two.
During the festival of Dionysia, a playwright was expected to submit three tragedies and a satyr play, a comedic version of some mythological subject. Ancient Greek theater specified that a play have a chorus, of between 12 and 15 men, performing in the traditional amphitheater. In 465 BCE, Greeks added a backdrop behind the stage, which provided not just decoration, but a place where the actors (who performed in masks) could change costumes.