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Ancient Greek Tragedy

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Ancient Greek Tragedy

In 600BC, or thereabouts, something pretty cool happened. Theatre as we know it was born! Well, that isn’t strictly speaking true. Let’s say, rather, that Ancient Greek Theatre was born! And with it came a host of legendary theatre makers. Sophocles, Aristophanes, Aeschylus, these and many others with similarly unpronounceable names took to the stage and, for the first time in the history of humanity, truly acted! Again, this isn’t, strictly speaking, true. But no matter, because this isn’t a history lesson (even though it is) but rather a workshop on how those great men and women crafted and shaped the art of theatre. In this workshop, we will look at the works of Aeschylus, renowned Greek Tragedian. We will delve into the process of producing an ancient Greek play. We will look at the styles of acting they used, what resources they had and what tricks they pulled out of their sleeves to make their productions spectacular. Along the way, we will also take a very brief look at one of the fathers of Philosophy and what he had to say about Ancient Greek Drama and specifically, Greek Tragedy.

Aeschylus Elizabethan and Jacobean Theatre. What’s the difference?

Is there even a difference? If there is, does it matter? Yes, there is a difference. In short, Elizabethan theatre is any drama produced during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and similarly, Jacobean theatre are those plays staged during the reign of her successor, King James I. Now, the “when” might not be all that interesting until you realize that one thing these two highly important eras in theatre history had in common was William Shakespeare. Elizabethan and Jacobean era England was a hotbed of theatrical excitement. Playwrights worked overtime to produce new and exciting tragedies and comedies and were hard pressed to keep up with the audiences’ demands for more. The stories were numerous, the actors were plentiful, but themes and styles of the day were largely the same. In this workshop, we’ll be looking closely at the acting style of the time and how audiences influenced arguably the greatest playwright in history, William Shakespeare and how his work, in turn, influences audiences today.

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Acting

Simply put, acting is an activity in which a person performs a story by portraying a character. Over the years, great theatre makers like Konstantin Stanislavski and Sanford Meisner developed certain techniques to help actors portray these characters. These techniques are made up of many different physical and psychological exercises to help any young actor get their name in lights. The problem is, though, that there are so many different techniques. And each technique promises to be the best and only technique to use. While this may be helpful to some, the truth of the matter is, there is no “right” way to act. In the end, an audience will see your performance, not your technique. Techniques are simply a means to an end. It’s finding the right technique for you that makes the difference

Directing

Directing is when you tell people where to be, when to be there and what to do once they get there. I mean, what can be easier than that? And then once you’ve gone mad with power, it is particularly delightful to see the fear in the eyes of the actors as you whip them into submission. Well, some say fear. But really fear is just respect disguised with a healthy sprinkle of tears, right? No. As a director, you have to leave your dictator hat at home, switch on your smiley face and put on your patience pants, because you’re going to be working with actors. Directing, while putting you in a leadership role, is not so much about giving orders as it is about understanding a story down to its core and then conveying that understanding to actors, producers, stage managers, set designers, costume makers and, ultimately, the audience. So despite what people think, the job of the director is not to give orders. The job of the director is to tell a story.

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