There is no right or wrong place to start when teaching theater history, it is up to the preference of the teacher. For this summary, the starting place will be Ancient Greece, traditionally described as the birthplace of “Western Theater.” In addition, some of the earliest records of dramatic texts and “play” come from classical Greece. While historians can not time travel to see what life was like in Ancient Greece, they can draw conclusions based on the written and visual material preserved through the years. From this information, historians can draw two conclusions: Greeks were fixated on human existence and order. Philosopher Protagoras explained the Greek ideal perfectly in this quote, “Man is the measure of all things,” but this does not dismiss the religious beliefs of the Greeks. The Greeks believed that man had godlike potential and the gods are can still fall victim to the imperfections of humans. When the world is out of order, it is believed that it is because someone messed up in a large way. Dikē is the spirit of justice and moral order. “The furies” are like the minions of Dikē, who find the person at the cause of the chaos and bring he or she to justice, usually through death. One thing that separated the greeks from other societies is there openness and encouragement of debating ideas.
The fifth century BCE is referred to as “The Golden Age of Athens” or “The Age of Pericles”. In this era, the Persians were defeated and an abundant outpour of intellectual and artistic activity came out. This is the beginning of Western theater as we commonly think of it today. Also in this time period came a new political system, democracy. In Athenian democracy, only men who had completed milita...
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... artifacts to make assumptions about the style. It should be noted that historians have made the assumption that the performances of the actors had to louder in sound and visually, due to the size of the performance space. One play from ancient Greece that is still performed today, is Oedipus the King written by Sophocles. This play exemplifies the meaning of a tragedy through its tightly constructed plot and the truthfulness of the script. Sophocles’ most notable impact in Greek theater was his choice to lessen the part of the chorus and put more focus on the individual characters. While the action of the show was nothing new to the Greeks, the skillful way that Sophocles wrote the play is what is most notable. It takes true skill to take a storyline that most of the audience knows the ending to and write it in a way that keeps the audience engaged and entertained.
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