The City Dionysia and Greek Theatre

In this term’s lessons we have been continuing to rehearse our Aristophanes plays ready for our Dionysia Festival next month!

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We have also explored the Dionysia and Greek comedy and tragedy. A Dionysia Festival would have had a very different atmosphere from a theatre experience today. It started with a solemn procession of the “choregoi” (wealthy citizens who had sponsored the plays). This was followed by a second procession which was more like a revelry. There were two days of male choruses singing hymns to Dionysus in competition.

This was then followed by the plays – in each day, 3 plays (either tragedies or comedies) followed by a satyr play.

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We looked at the words “katharsis” and “hamartia” and discussed their relevance to Greek tragedy. Katharsis means “cleansing” – the experience of watching something sad and then crying and feeling better is a form of katharsis. Hamartia is a character flaw that drives the story in tragic plays.

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We looked at the opening scene of the play Oedipus, and how he came across as caring,and determined to solve problems, as well as quite confident – arrogant even. We discussed how these traits led to the unravelling of the dreadful pollution which he had brought upon the city.

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