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Antigone and the Aspects of Greek Theatre

Antigone and the Greek Goat Songs When the ancient Greek playwright Thespis first brought forward one member of the chorus to speak alone, the form of Greek drama began to change. It is thought that Greek drama began as choruses engaging in song and dance at celebrations of holidays or special events. One of the most important of those was the spring festival of Dionysus. The celebration included choral presentation and the sacrifice of an animal, most commonly a goat. The presentations grew more dramatic and tragedies (literally goat songs) began to evolve. Even the sacrificial altar was carried over when the theater of Dionysus was built in Athens. The theatre was built in the early fifth century BC, and could hold 14,000 people. I shall suggest that the conventions of the early Greek theatre influenced the form and content of Antigone. A typical stage would consist of a large, round dancing floor referred to as the orchestra. On either side of the orchestra were two long walkways, used for the exits and entrances of both the actors and the audience. Props were also used, such as the ekkuklema or moving platform. Sometimes it was used to bring a tableau depicting some event onto the stage. Because the sets and scenery were very simple, ancient Greek playwrights such as Sophocles used many descriptive passages in their writing so that the audience could conjure up a vivid image of the actors and their surroundings. For example, The stars are dancing; they pant fire. Night is talking. Youre their leader. (p. 65) Sun-blaze, shining at last, you are the most beautiful light evershone Thebes over her seven gates;and now, higher, widening gaze of gold day, you come, over the course of our west river.In whole armor, come out of Argos (his shield shone white) you have expelled the man, exiled in unbridled and blinding flight (p. 25)It was through this method that images were conveyed to the audien...

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