All entries for Friday 15 October 2004

October 15, 2004

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

6. Taking into account your findings in the above explorations, suggest one or more ways in which the voting scene, and the final hymn by the Women of Athens have been staged in the Eumenides.

I would stage the voting scene with the furies to stage-left of the central skene doors and orestes stage right ; Athena would stand central to the skene doors and the judges would sit in the orchestra.
When each persona makes their case they come to the front of the stage. The final hymn could involve everyone filling down to the orchestra and slowly orbiting it befroe exiting.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

iii. Read the short note on Greek Audiences, and the longer text by Csapo and Slater. How might a style, or styles, of performance have evolved in response to the scale and sight-lines of the theatre, and the nature of the spatial and emotional relationship between Athenian spectators and performers?

"If someone beside you sobbed or shuddered or trembled, you would feel it directly, and a wave of physical reaction could pass like an electric shock through all your neighbours . . mass emotionalism flourishes in compact crowds of that kind."Greek Tragedy and the Emotions, W.B. Stanford .

The relationship betwwn the Athenian spectator and performer evolved as the Thetare Dionysos became more prestigious, more grand quickly becoming only second to the olympics. The whole of Athens became united, and the performance provoke fever pitch excitement coupled with patrioarchy and nationalism.

iv. Might different parts of the theatre have demanded different styles of performance? When one was in the centre of either the orchestra or infornt of the Skene doors they would be required to perform at a higher level, with the greatest chanelling of emotion. However when perfroming as stage right, stage left the perfomance could be toned down a little – still with might projection and stron movement but with a more human side.

v. How might the style of choral performance have differed from that of the character actors?

A chracter actor will need to find and present their chracter whereas a chorul actor needs to find and present a certain mood, emotopn or psychological process . Thus the character actor will need to employ a more naturalistic perfromance, yet the chorus can use symbolism and expressionism more to their advantage.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

ii. Do these differences suggest a fundamentally, or merely superficially different theatrical experience?

I would argue that these differences would suggest a fundamental as opposed to superfically different theatrical experince ;

The Athenian audience saw theatre as a huge part of culture, society and the underlying fabric of their civalisation . This consequently led to huge productions for literally the whole of Athens and this would have significantly altered their theatrical expereince from our own.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

5. Where are the best and worst seats in the 4th century theatron? Why?

i. How did the physical conditions of spectatorship for ancient Athenian audiences differ from the usual conditions of spectatorship in a conventional theatre building today?

An athenian audience would have sat in different seat according to their status (which we would find outrageous today, although in a conventional thetare there is still sometimes the Royal Box, and better seats to cost abit extra). Alos the Athenian audience would have sat in the open air( we have very few open air theatres in Britain). Finally the size of the Athenian audience (15,000 – 17.000) would surpass our conventional thearre audience (300–600) significantly.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

ii.How might different spatial relationships have affected the meaning of the scene, or the characterisation and status of the characters and chorus

In the binding scene if the chorus had been situated infornt of the main doors of the skene then the spectator would have dound it harder to draw comparison with what was happening on stage and what was happeing in their lives . However with the scene in the orchestra the spectator would have had a much more personal experience . Moreover the furies are very earth raw creatures and thus in the orchestra this would have been represented . Furthuremore with Orestes in the middle of them we would see a symbolisation of how in his in the furies midst due to his blood-kin murder of his mother.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

4. Traditionally, it has been assumed that the theatrically 'strongest' position for an actor was directly in front of the central doors of the skene. Recently, however, in Tragedy in Athens, David Wiles has argued that, for Athenians, the most symbolically potent position was the centre of the orchestra. Explore both of these theories by considering the 'binding scene' in the Eumenides:

i. What kinds of spatial and choreographic relationships between theatre, spectators, actors and chorus, could have been established in each case?

'down, down, down I dive from a great height and fall on him with all my weight' ( the 'binding scene' part three of Aeschylus 'The oresteia')

The binding scene is a very physical scene which invokes great passion form the Furies(chorus). If it were perfromed infornt on the central doors of the skene then I think that alot of the movement, and emotion would be lost as it would be too distant form the audience. However in the centre of the orchestra that spectator would be able to do laot more action with the knowledge that the audience could see it. Moreover the orchestra is at the centre of the whole theatre and those in teered seating would more naturally have their sight drawn down to the orchestar as opposed to the skene!

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

ii.The action of the Eumenides is set in three locations. What are they?-

The temple of Apllo at Delphi

The inner shrine revealed


iii.How might these scene changes have been staged?

The scene changes could have occured by having three seperate locations on the stage ; or the chorus could have quickly changed certain props or scenery in their monologues.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

3. In Theatron, explore the model of the Theatre of Dionysos, which represents the theatre as it may have been during the Lycurgan period (338 – 326 B.C.E.). Compare and contrast its stone skene with the wooden Phlyakes stage.

i.What possibilities and limitations for performance does each type of scene building allow or impose?

The phylax has the advantage invoking intimate and close actor/audience proxemics which is useful for comedy and satyr ; it would be very easy for an actos to focus attention, to use facial expression and more subtle nuonces. However tragedy would not be transfered very succesfully to this staging.

In the Thetaron software on the Theatre of Dionysos once gets a strong sense of its size and grandeur:

A great tragedy such as the Orestia which has a huge cast, melo-drmatic scenes and higher political importance would be very much suited to the theatre Dioysos which could accomadate a large audience forn religious festivals ; yet this would be unsuited to farce ; the theatres size would have meant that key jokes would have been lost!

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

iii. Where could the chorus have performed?

On the same stage the chorus ( the furies) could have filled alot of the front of the stage, swamping the enire space tor represent their constand presence on earth . However it would not be right for them to enter the skene whcih would have been the temple of Apollo and thus beyond there power.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

ii. Where could Klytemnestra, Apollo and Orestes have performed in the opening scene of the play?

In the portico of the skene it would be good to perofm the opeining scene of the Eumenides with Klytemnestra, Apollo and Orestes . This temporary structure could represent the front of the temple of apollo and would be a good contrast to the Furies who could fill the whole of the stage!

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

2 i)The 4th century B.C.E. Phlyakes vases from the south of Italy show temporary wooden stages which we believe are similar or identical to those that would have been used for comic performance in the 5th century B.C.E. How adequate or appropriate would such a stage have been for the performance of tragedy in the 5th century B.C.E., in particular the Eumenides?

The stage depicted in the phalyax vases would not have been adequate to stage the performance of tragedy in the 5th century B.C.E . The Phylax stage was constructed for comic/satyr productions as opposed to tragedy . They were small perfoamnce areas that looked very simple in design as though they could be dismantled quickly as part of a traveeling troupe (although some historians have said that this was simply due to the limited space available to phylax vase painters) . Tragedies would have consisted of a huge cast, with many chrous members and the phylax stage would not have been able to accomadate such a number!

Comedies could be more intimate whereas tragedies needed more space in there grandeur and melo-drama.

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

1 ii) Despite the factthat the vases depict the myth they can still be taken significant evidence for ancient theatre practice for the play would undoubtedly be influenced by myth inspired pictures.

Thus the vase paintings could be taken as direct evidence of how the ancinet theatre performance would have been carried out!

Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides

1 i) If you look at the ancient vase paintings you eill see subtle evidence that shows the vases depict the greek myth as opposed to the myth-influence play.

In this vase painting you will see woman ; woman would not have been part of the male orientated Thetare Dionysos in ancient greece. Moreover the nakedness and the depiction of snakes would not be conducive to an ancient greek play.

Good Evaluation ….... Not As Good As Mine

Writing about an entry you don't have permission to view

This is a brilliant evaluation of web resources for a theatre historian ; there si alot of useful informatiin which guides you through each web-site , insightful information, good pictures that dont just take up space for there is a mass of textual material.

The website that she added to the links '' acient theatre'';http;//

Good Evaluations …..... Not As Good As mIne

Julia Maynard – This is a genuinely good site; the site has be designed to mimic the Greek Tragedy Verse . There are links to pictures and a concise analysis of what makes a good site for a theatre historian.

Good Evaluation ….... Not As Good As Mine

Hester Bond – A very nice evaluation, with a good range of material ; however she can't fool us ; three wapping great pictures made it look like alot work when actual it was a pitifule excuse for degree level standard !

Good Evaluations …...... Not As Good As Mine

Vaughan Jacob – Quite a good anlysis of internet resources for a theatre historian ; Vaughan has given an in-depth critique with a good balnce of information. For example given time to advanatges and disadvantages of different sites , included pictures and maps, and discussed the techinical difficulties of some sites .

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