Blog 1: a, b, c responses to ritual Blog 2: a, b, c responses to masks Blog 3: theatre roots tidbits and reactions Blog 4: notable stage from the past and responses Blog 5: stock character and explanation Blog 6: Metropolis messages ideas and reactions Blog 7: three items that sparked with comments
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â??The Past Lastsâ?
Today, we will look at an overview of theatrical practices from important eras, and the
significance of performance and society. We will discuss Kleon, and youâ??ll see options for your
final project.. Let me know if you have any questions. Activities due by 8 am tomorrow.
ACTIVITY ONE: Theatre and Storytelling (Blogs 1, 2, and 3)
Ritual, Storytelling and Imitation
All cultures conduct ritual, storytelling and imitation in their lives. Ancient cultures arranged
their societies with these three areas, adding meaning and enrichment to what they
experienced. Today, all of us still learn through these three areas. And, of course, theatre
began from these three areas.
Blog Entry 1: Title your entry: 1. Ritual. Letter your responses and comment on:
a) What are some yearly and other timely rituals that we conduct today?
b) What are some rituals that were important in the past to our society?
c) What is the importance and relevance of ritual in our lives?
We consider Greece the motherland of theatre, as this cultureâ??s rituals were the first recorded
to evolve into huge, community-oriented performances. They held renowned competitions for
playwriting during the Festival of Dionysus, honoring that god. They created the two major
genres, comedy and tragedy, and created the outlines to plot and dramatic structure. Without
the Greek traditions, our theatre would not exist as it does today. All actors were male, a
convention that remained until after Shakespearean (Elizabethan) times.
We have no real artifacts of the ancient Greek masks, since they would have been poorly
stored and their materials would have disintegrated. However, we can get a glimpse of how
some may have appeared from carved mask-faces in Greece, particularly those carved near
Masks were used in Greek and Roman plays for several reasons: a) to evoke a sense of the
power of the gods, b) to allow one actor to play several roles (a main aspect in Greek theatre
was the large â??chorusâ? using movement, singing and chanting to add visual and contextual
meaning, and c) to add to the visual characterization and â??voiceâ? of each character.
Blog Entry 2: Title your entry: 2. Masks. Letter your responses:
a) What/where are some masks that we wear today (literally)?
b) What are some â??masksâ? that we â??wearâ? figuratively and metaphorically?
c) What â??performanceâ? masks (stage or other arenas) have you seen that added to the effects
and atmosphere of the event, and in what way did they add to the atmosphere?
It is most interesting that religious festivals led to the birth of theatre (the Greek Dionysian
Festival), that religion (the Church) later disbanded and outlawed theatre (era that led to the
the fall of the Roman Empire and into the dark ages), and that religion (the Church) once again
gave rise to theatre in the Middle Ages (again celebrating community with religious rites). This
perhaps speaks emphatically of two crucial societal needs: one of the need for a
cultural moral basis, and one of community investment in performance and creative
The Greek civilization and theatre lasted over a century, dating back to around 600 BCE. The
Romans borrowed, then adapted, many conventions from the Greeks, and added further
comedic styles. Farce became a standard for Roman comic entertainment, and was often
quite bawdy. The Roman Theatre, which was highly regaled around 250 BCE, lasted until the
empire fell, between 420-470 CE.
Theatre becomes almost extinct because of Christian opposition during the dark ages, then
springs back to life with the cycle (mystery plays) and morality plays of the Middle Ages, which
also originated with the church. In England and France, these cycles have become famous.
Original, surviving plays are still performed. These plays were again connected to religious
festivity, with all of the community participating. Pageant wagons toured through the
community to different â??stationsâ? for performances.
Blog Entry 3: Title your entry: 3. Theatre Roots. Surf the internet and find some
interesting tidbits about one of the above civilizations (Greek, Roman or Medieval) and their
theatre. Share your discoveries and your reactions on our blog. If there are fun pictures to
share, then add them to your blog entry. NOTE WEB SITE ADDRESS.
Please note that there are varying and differing ideas surrounding many of the pastâ??s details,
so I will include some feedback if needed about aspects that may have controversy or differing
opinions. BE SURE to put the web address where you found your information.
ACTIVITY TWO: Theatre Stages (Blog 4)
The Globe Theatre (Elizabethan, Shakespeareâ??s theatre, thrust stage)
The Swan Theatre, Elizabethan, thrust stage
1595 sketch of the Swan Theatre
modern reconstructed interior
Blog Entry 4: Title your entry: 4. Notable Stages.
Find a picture of a notable stage (performance space) from the past. Give info
regarding its era and other interesting tidbits you find. ADD the web address where
you found the info.
Into the European Domain
As theatre further evolved, and European States became compartmentalized and self-ruling,
England, France and Germany (and Spainâ??s Golden Age) became noted powerhouses for
theatrical performance. The most noted of these for the public at large is the Elizabethan era.
Shakespeare and Marlowe, among others, redefined the theatrical stage and script, creating
new life for language, dialogue, intrigue and artistry. Note that they also borrowed directly at
times from ancient Greek and Roman plots.
ACTIVITY THREE: Timeline and Shifts in Thinking and Expressing (Blogs 5, 6, 7)
Renaissance of Ideas, Arts, Sciences
As you have read above, the Middle Ages brought about the rebirth of theatre through the
pageant plays. These actually helped towns and villages to become re-established, allowing
communities to grow after the devastation caused by the dark ages. From the 500â??s through
the 1300â??s, Europeâ??s countries were solidified (in some ways), and the arts found a significant
place and voice once again. From the 1300â??s and through the 16th century, we saw an
expansion of ideas, arts and sciences with the Italian and English Renaissance that spread
throughout the continent. This was the time of Shakespeare, Italyâ??s commedia dellâ??arte,
Galileo, Martin Luther, Queen Elizabeth I, Leonardo de Vinci, Copernicus, Machiavelli, among
scores of others.
During the Elizabethan era, more permanent theatres were built to house theatre
performances, which were highly popular, and were financed through State licensing and
partial funding. There were many rules to follow with the Stateâ??s sanctions of licensing. Today,
all theatres are basically private enterprises, held aloft by the efforts of marketing, ticket sales
and fund raising.
Stock Characters and Melodrama
Much of theatrical work throughout Europe during and after the Elizabethan era was written
and performed with what we call â??stockâ? characters (the innocent maiden, the hero, the miser,
the buffoon, etc.) This grew with great favor with the commedia dellâ??arte in Italy, an improvised
method of acting â??stockâ? scenes with â??stockâ? characters:
Dottore, philosopher or doctor;
Pantalone, miser; greed and ego
Highly popular in France, these stock characters were used with great wit and with strategic,
satirical messages. Playwrights took this wit and messaging to write very popular plays with
both stock and with more intricate characters. Moliere is one of the most famous of all satirists,
using comedic treatments with powerful undertones of important messages. Moliere was a
master of satire, cleverly exposing the hypocrisy of the aristocracy and superfluous modes of
convention. Tartuffe is one of the most comical and clever productions that you can see of
classic theatre (17th century). In fact, it caused quite a big scandal during his lifetime.
Blog Entry 5: Title your entry: 5. Stock Character. What are some â??stockâ? characters in
contemporary society? Find a cartoon image on the internet of a contemporary stock
character, such as the â??workaholicâ? (see below):
Post your illustration onto the blog and explain how this â??stockâ? character is relevant in our
Important TIP: Avoid using well-known TV and film characters. Find an â??iconâ? that you can
interpret yourself that does not have any famous commercial branding.
Theatre in the New World took its cues from these stock characters and performed much
melodrama for the stage. Stock characters, especially in melodrama, have little depth to
layers. They portray main, outer traits. In the 18th and early 19th centuries, both satire and
melodrama were popularly produced genres of theatre. If you have ever seen the original
Dudley Do-Right cartoons (an example of famous, commercial branding), this is an example of
melodrama with stock characters in a simple conflict between good and evil:
Snidely, Dudley, Nell, Horse
Many plots in melodrama plays defined characters by this simple conflict. Melodrama was
well-used even into the film era of the 1920â??s and 1930â??s (and beyond). However, as society
shifted and the population grew, other nuances merged with melodrama to offer deeper
themes and more powerful statements of meaning, as you will see in the next film clip.
German Expressionism and Metropolis
In the film Metropolis, the famed 1927 film directed by Fritz Lang, there are two classes: those
who live above the ground in health and splendor, and those who live and work below ground,
keeping the city â??alive,â? It is an iconic example of German Expressionism, a genre known to
arise from the horrors and mass weaponry of WWI, the banning of foreign films, and the harsh
societal and workday pressures among lower classes. The genre grew to represent an outcry
In this scene, Freder, the wealthy son of the city’s mayor, goes into the under-city for the first
time and sees the plight of the workers. After witnessing an accident, Freder sees the massive
machine seem to transform itself in Moloch, a pagan god that demands human sacrifice.
This scene is a good example of fears and conditions in the early 20th century â?? that factory
work had become increasingly dehumanizing, turning workers into little more than parts of a
machine. Remember that melodrama was still in fashion with silent films of the day.
Blog Entry 6: Title your entry: 6. Metropolis. Give some ideas and reactions to messages
that are seen and evoked; look at visuals.
Blog Entry 7: Title your entry: 7. Sparks. Find three items of interest from the information
read today about notable eras. Comment on those items and why they are of interest to
ACTIVITY FOUR: Kleon (Blog 8 and Email doc)
It was very nice, as I expected, to read your comments from Sections 5 and 6. Using email
helped you to delve a bit more deeply into your reactions and viewpoints. Yay!
1. Open the Kleon Questions doc. See comments from the class and the questions posed
with last weekâ??s sections 5 and 6.
Blog Entry 8: Title your entry: Kleon Question (letter your responses)
a) Read the comments by classmates and respond more to an idea that intrigued you.
b) Choose one question from a classmate. Post that question, and respond to it on the blog.
Add your viewpoints and insights, taking time to respond to the query.
2. Read Sections 7 and 8. Open a new document and be sure that your name is on the
document that I will open.
Email doc: Title your email doc: Kleon Sections 7 and 8. Find two points of interest in
each section. Respond with your reactions, any personal connections, and perspectives.
SPECIAL NOTE: I will post these comments on a doc for Thursday activities.
If there are any personal connections that you do not want to be posted, please let me
know what portion not to
ACTIVITY FIVE: Preparation for Final Project
Open the â??Final Project Menuâ? document on Canvas in the Final Project Module.
Read through the choices, and be thinking about what you would like to do.
Let me know if you have any questions.
When you have time today and tomorrow, read through the other documents regarding the
Final Project (Masks, Puppetry, Monologues and Found Space Theatre).
Tomorrow, Iâ??ll post the â??Discovery Paperâ? document/guidelines.
Blog 1: a, b, c responses to ritual
Blog 2: a, b, c responses to masks
Blog 3: theatre roots tidbits and reactions
Blog 4: notable stage from the past and responses
Blog 5: stock character and explanation
Blog 6: Metropolis messages ideas and reactions
Blog 7: three items that sparked with comments
Blog 8: Kleon question response, comments on a classmateâ??s idea
Email document: points of interest in Kleon sections 7 and 8
emailed me if you have any questions about the Final Project menu
Finale, Wednesday, Week 3
Â© Carol Collins, 2011, 2013, 2018
all visuals and sites are compliments of the internet;
ownership of these properties remains with the
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