Theatre of ancient Greece facts for kids

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Delphi Composite
The Ancient Theatre of Delphi
Antalya Museum - Sarkophag 8a Maske
Theatre mask: stone, 2nd century AD
Hearst Greek Theatre (Berkeley, CA)
Reproduction of a Greek theatre: Hearst Greek Theatre, University of California, Berkeley.
Syracusa01(js)
The Greek Theatre at Syracuse.
3304 - Athens - Stoà of Attalus Museum - Theatre mask - Photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Nov 9 2009
Greek terracotta mask, 3/4th century BC.

The theatre of ancient Greece was at its best from 550 BC to 220 BC. It was the beginning of modern western theatre, and some ancient Greek plays are still performed today. They invented the genres of tragedy (late 6th century BC), comedy (486 BC) and satyr plays.

The city-state of Athens was a great cultural, political and military power during this period. Drama was at its centre. Theatre was part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. In the Dionysia, the playwrights presented their work to an audience. It was a competition, with a winner and prizes. These two main genres were never mixed: they each had their own typical structure. Athens exported the festival to its numerous colonies and allies in order to promote their way of life.

Only men were allowed as actors. The chorus were men, as were the actors and the audience. Technically, they had to be citizens of Athens, which only applied to free-born men plus a few special cases. The actors wore masks, so that the people would know which persona (character) the actor played.

The best known writers of plays are Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides for tragedies, and Aristophanes for comedies.

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