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Greek Theatre (H408/21)

Warwick Drama Festival Resources

The Warwick Ancient Drama Festival is a yearly event which gathers together pupils and teachers from all over the country. For the Drama Festival website we have collated a large number of resources, including videos, blogs, essays, interviews and much more. These resources are best navigated using the Warwick Ancient Drama Festival site. Recent productions have included Medea, Antigone, Lysistrata. In 2019 we will be performing Aristophanes' comedy Frogs.


Other Resources

The theatre at Argos

[Source BBC Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth]


Prof. Michael Scott visits one of the biggest theatres of Ancient Greece and finds out what took place there.

Kings of the Theatre

[Source: BBC Ancient Greece: The Greatest Show on Earth]


Prof. Michael Scott looks at how actors would rise to become the stars of the theatre in Ancient Greece.


[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of the ancient genre of tragedy and examines whether we have a psychological need for it, either as catharsis or Schadenfreude. You could be forgiven for thinking that in our century, of all centuries, the notion of the death of a tragedy would be comical. But there is a view that in its broad theatrical sense, tragedy, as defined by Aristotle and accepted to the time of Racine, has indeed lost its place and power as a form. Aristotle in his poetics held that tragedy figured men and women, often greater than ourselves, heroic, whose fall excited sensations of pity and fear which purged the emotions in the spectator, provoking a catharsis. And Chaucer defined it as a story “of hym that stood in greet prosperitee/And is yfallen from heigh degree/Into myserie, and endeth wretchedly”. Tragedy has been redefined many times and in many ages, but does it have a place in our own time? Or is the genre “dead for a ducat”. Not in life - the twentieth century is a monument to tragedy - but in art.With Professor George Steiner, critic, Extraordinary Fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge and author of The Death of Tragedy; Professor Catherine Belsey, Chair of the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory, University of Cardiff and author of The Subject of Tragedy.

Comedy in Ancient Greek Theatre

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss comedy in Ancient Greek theatre including Aristophanes and Menander. In The Birds, written by Aristophanes, two Athenians seek a Utopian refuge from the madness of city life and found a city of birds located between Earth and Olympus. Unfortunately, the idealism of their perfect new City - christened (in 414 BC) 'Cloud Cuckoo Land' - becomes corrupted and its decline was portrayed by one man (the chorus) playing 24 different species of bird. In one of Aristophanes' other politically anthropomorphic plays, The Wasps, was devised as an attack on the failures of Athenian democracy. It featured a chorus of actors dressed in black and yellow stripes who swarmed the stage stinging each other. Crammed with absurd images and satirical barbs, Comic theatre was a popular art form where mass appeal and coarse humour was combined with men in drag lambasting political figures and local big wigs. And from the fifth century BC onwards, Greek comic theatre fizzed and flourished, crossing boundaries of time and space, often informed by a savage political spleen. But how did Greek comedy evolve? Why did its subsequent development differ so radically from that of Greek tragedy? To what extent did it reflect the anxieties and preoccupations of a nascent democracy? And can it be said to have left any lasting legacy? With Paul Cartledge, Professor of Greek History at the University of Cambridge; Edith Hall, Professor of Drama and Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London; Nick Lowe, Senior Lecturer in Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Aristotle's Poetics

[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]


Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Aristotle's Poetics. The Poetics is, as far as we know, the first ever work of literary theory. Written in the 4th century BC, it is the work of a scholar who was also a biologist, and treats literary works with the detached analytical eye of a scientist. Aristotle examines drama and epic poetry, and how they achieve their effects; he analyses tragedy and the ways in which it plays on our emotions. Many of the ideas he articulates, such as catharsis, have remained in our critical vocabulary ever since. The book also contains an impassioned defence of poetry, which had been attacked by other thinkers, including Aristotle's own teacher Plato.Translated by medieval Arab scholars, the Poetics was rediscovered in Europe during the Renaissance and became a playwriting manual for many dramatists of the era. Today it remains a standard text for would-be Hollywood screenwriters.With:Angie HobbsAssociate Professor of Philosophy and Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of WarwickNick LoweReader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of LondonStephen HalliwellProfessor of Greek at the University of St AndrewsProducer: Thomas Morris.


[Source: BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time]


Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the myths and history of the ancient Greek city of Thebes and its depiction in Athenian drama. In myths it was said to be home to Heracles, Dionysus, Oedipus and Cadmus among others and, in history, was infamous for supporting Xerxes in the Persian War. Its prominence led to a struggle with the rising force of Macedon in which the Thebans were defeated at Chaironea in 338 BC, one of the most important battles in ancient history. The position of Thebes in Greek culture was enormously powerful. The strength of its myths and its proximity to Athens made it a source of stories for the Athenian theatre, and is the setting for more of the surviving plays than any other location. The image, above, is of Oedipus answering questions of the sphinx in Thebes (cup 5th century BC). With Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King's College London; Samuel Gartland, Lecturer in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford; and Paul Cartledge, Emeritus Professor of Greek Culture and AG Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge.