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November 11, 2004

Old Comedy and Satyr Plays

1. Which of the following vase paintings appear to depict scenes from Old Comedy, and which from Satyr play

The Cheiron Vase; Comedy(Look at the slapstick)

The Choregos Vase; Comedy(Look at the big bums)

Vase 96AB113 ; Comedy

Vase 96AE112; Comedy

The Pronomos Vase; Satyr

The Aulos-playing Satyr Vase ; Satyr

The Wurzburg Orestes; Satyr

The Tarentine Vase; Satyr

2. Drawing on the evidence provided by these vase paintings, the plays you have read, and other appropriate online sources:

i. what would seem to be the main characteristics of Old Comic masks, costumes and stages?

The main chracteristics in the old comic masks is that they exagerate the lines of the face and bone stucture that present a comical personality;

For example in Vase 96AB113

You can see large stuck-out jaws, large wide eyes, large noses ; moreover the costume is made-up of body suits which emphasis the bum and the phalus.Moreover the stage seems quite small and persoanal.

ii. what appear to be the main characteristics of Satyr play masks, costumes and actors?

This vase painting shoes a satyr play which stands in contrast to that of the comedy ; here we see masks that are much morel ralistic and not neerly so exagerated. Moreover you see a number of references to Dionysus, including the feathered body suits, the pan-like instruments, the lion-skin and the mask of Dionysus himself.

3. Read the analytical descriptions for the Pronomos Vase and the Choregos Vase. Using the web-searching and site-evaluation skills that you have developed, find information about, and devise an analytical description that might accompany one of the other vases.

In this vase we see what appears to be a depiction of a comedy ; this is due to the exagerated masks and obvious genitalia . The comedies used these exagerations coupled with crude humour but they also symbolise life, regeneration and fertility. However there is also the hal human/ half beast satyr feeling to the two characters. This is supported by the playing of musical instruments and the styalised movement. Moreover the chracter on the right has a tale and his genitals although visible are not as overt as one might expect in a comedy as are neither those of the character on the left. Furthuremore the use of the winged angel seems to conjour a sense of victory and strength which would not be so relevent to comedy which would subvert these issues.

Simply this vase painting is quite confusing but if I had to argue one way or the other I would say that it depicted a satyr scene!

4. With reference to the extract from Csapo and Slater on Comic Vases, how reliable are these vase paintings as evidence for 5th-century B.C.E. staging of Old Comedy and Satyr plays in Athens?

I would say that this extract is mainly arguing that comic vases are not particulary reliable as evidence for actual plays ; there is reference to the way in which costume and mask designs can be seen and understood in the vased but these are in no way definitive . When an artist makes and impression of something it will always be somewhat unique and alien to the subject. This can be quite dangerouse in terms of what we are looking for . If the artist decided to tone downa mask that was meant to be comical we as historian may see it as tragic or from a satyr.

Also many masks have aged and no longer show exactly the scene in context.


October 22, 2004

Good, But not finished

Writing about No Purple, but lots of Greeks…..TOGA!!! from ..Speed of Brain to Mouth : Minimal..

This evaluation and analysis is good and well-rounded in the points that it addresses ; Richard and Kate (do we see a future couple?) have approached the qurstions on Ancient Greek Theatre depiction with rigour and Richard especially gave a good narrative on how the Phalyx stage can be suitable for both Comedy and Tragedy. Despite Richards good points I would still disagree that the phaylyx is an apporpriate performing space for Tragedy ; it is not of a size or significance to accomadate a chorus. Moreover tragedy is a genre that uses magnificent gestures, large masks and explicit and overt acting techniques ; Just as in some art you loose its message when to close-up the same can be said to be true with performing tragedy!

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.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

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

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

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 !

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