The Theater: Where Laughing and Crying Meet



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The Theater: Where Laughing and Crying Meet

The Greeks knew that a good drama (a story about a conflict that is acted out) touches the hearts of people. A good drama gives an audience an emotional workout, called a catharsis. It’s as if the emotions of the story were happening to the audience, too. Feelings of pity, fear, sadness, and joy are released in tears and laughter. Most important, the wisdom of the drama can be taken home.

In classical comedy, there may be trouble, but it’s the kind that makes us laugh. In the end, we know everything will turn out right for the characters in the play.

But a tragedy is a very different experience. In ancient Greece, tragedies were about the terrible mistakes that people make, and how many lives are hurt by them. Tragedies don’t have happy endings, but they do teach valuable lessons.

At festivals, tragedy played in the morning, and comedy in the afternoon – by then, everyone needed a good laugh!

Excitement! Conflict! Drama!

From that humble beginning, the art of theater developed into plays –stories with characters played by actors. Ancienct Greek drama eventually led to today’s TV shows, movies, cartoons, plays, and operas (plays where the words are sung).

To the Greeks, theater (in Greek, “viewing place”) was a spiritual event where people learned important lessons about life. People are still learning from theatre today.

1.What is a drama about?

2. What is a catharsis?

3. What happens in a tragedy?

4. What are plays?

5. What do we have today because of Greek drama?

6. What does theater mean?

7. What did people learn from theater?

8. Do people still learn from theater today?

The Importance of Theatre!!!

The ancient Greeks took theatre very seriously. At theater festivals, thousands of people filled the seats at dawn and didn’t leave to go home until dark!

Everyone came to the theaer: rich, poor, Athenians, foreigners, masters, and slaves. Though it sounds unbelievable to us, the government let prisoners out of jail to go to play festivals!

Wealthy Athenians paid for the lavish productions, sometimes serving lunch to the entire audience. Actors were treated like royalty, and big parties were given in their honor.

The ancient Greeks applauded, just as we do, when we approve a performance. Sometimes they’d hiss and boo, too, or even toss fruit at an actor when they disapproved of a performance!

After the theatre, people would get together and talk about their experience, discussing the characters and the play. Judges voted for the prize winners, but they kept the audience’s reaction in mind.

Theater was the lifeblood of Athens in the Golden Age, a holy art of the highest importance to the Greeks.

10. Who went to the theater in ancient Greece?

11. Who paid for the theater productions?

12. If you were an actor, how would you have been treated?

13. What might be thrown at the actors if it was a bad performance?

14. How important was theater to the Greeks?



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