Visual Resources – Staging the Eumenides
Writing about web page http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/theatre_s/ug/courses/th106/ancient/theatrontasks/
- 1. Working in pairs, review a selection of images from the Web Resources page.
i. Is it possible to determine whether the ancient vase paintings are depictions of theatrical performances, or of the myths upon which the plays are also based?*
The people in the vase paintings aren’t wearing masks, and the depiction appears to have elements that wouldn’t realistically exist in a greek theatre production, such as live snakes. Also there are real women, or they appear to be real women –and in reality these would have been performed by men. Also, in performance, the nude figures would have worn suits to represent nudity, wheras this is not the case on the vases.
ii. In the light of your response to i. above, how significant may ancient vase paintings be as evidence for ancient theatre practice?
The vase paintings may have more significance in understanding the myths themselves, and how they may have been understood by their society, regarding the audiences involved.
- 2. View digital visualisations of the 5th-century Theatre of Dionysus in (a) the swimming pool – Greek Drama Gallery, and (b) the Theatron Module.
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 performance space appears fairly restricted and the divide between the audience and the stage seems far greater than expected. Considering the number of people onstage, especially regarding choruses, this seems inadequate. As a tragedy, a greater level of intensity of emotion would be more difficult to achieve in a stage intended for comedy.
ii. Where could Klytemnestra, Apollo and Orestes have performed in the opening scene of the play?
Apollo –downstage centre, possibly on a raised platform
Orestes –to the left of Apollo, further upstage
Kymnestra –seperated, downstage right, revealing oppsition
iii. Where could the chorus have performed?
On both sides of the main action onstage, far stage left and right, creating an slightly ominous presence as they are everywhere, yet unified in blocks.