Staging and adaptation is around us everywhere today, but not too many people put much thought into where the origins of our modern television, movies, and theater come from. We as the 21st century have come a long way from the beginning of theater to where we are now but not all the elements have changed. In fact one could say that most of the elements have stayed the same, the only real big changes come from the technology that's always increasing. It's easy to criticize an early Greek play as being boring, or a Shakespearian play as being irrelevant in today's modern world, but what we have learned from these two period behemoths of stage is still going on today, even in modern translations of the plays of the time. The Greek and Elizabethan theater eras were some of the greatest of all time and I will look at how Greek theater influenced Elizabethan/Shakespearean Theater and how in turn both of these influenced the adaptations from the movie age.
[...] As I mentioned Greek plays were pretty simple, they had a more than actor on stage at the same time rule, plus the chorus. This kept the chaos and movement on the stage to a minimum. They also wore masks to symbolize different facial expressions and different characters. Therefore these 3 actors would go offstage and change into another mask and become a different character. These plays, unlike today, were usually staged in one place and one time only. They were normally staged as part of a competition during the religious Dionysius festival. [...]
[...] After that their most important duties were to interact with the characters on stage, most often through the leader of the chorus who spoke the lines by himself; and the rest of the chorus often sang and dance choral odes to let the audience know what was happening off stage, or musings on the happenings on stage, becoming a voice for the people. They would often express words or feelings that the characters on stage would have a fear of saying and provided a link to help the audience understand unspoken feelings. [...]
[...] The theaters of this time also were much smaller and enclosed than the ancient Greek theater which allowed for the audience to be a lot closer to the action. But as the action was so cramped, there wasn't a lot of room for props or scenery so often the audience would be expected to imagine the scenery based on what the actors said, much in the same way that the audience in ancient Greece would have to imagine the scenery and props through the actors acting skills and through the words of the author. [...]
[...] In Thyestes by Seneca we can see the revenge tragedy plot as Atreus gets revenge on his brother Thyestes by cooking his children and serving them to him, in Hamlet we can see some of the same plot lines as Hamlet seeks revenge for his father's murder and systematically tricks everyone into believing he was crazy just as Atreus tricks Thyestes to believe he is over his anger. Again Elizabethan tragedy was influenced by the guidelines set down by Aristotle as he said “[tragedy is] a form of drama characterized by seriousness and dignity, and involving a great person whose downfall is brought about by either a character flaw or a conflict with some higher power such as the law, the gods, fate, or society. [...]
[...] Although he does use a voiceover and writing on the screen in order to give his own background feelings on the story of a man who cannot make up his mind which detracts from the original intent of Shakespeare not having the play set up for the audience. Also different is the way is which Olivier takes out certain total elements of the play, totally disregarding any political elements and heightens the psychological frustrations as he is driven into madness as well as other characters psychological tortures. [...]
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