EGYPT & NEAR EAST
[The origin of Theatre and practice].
Egypt among other countries is so peculiar in its own sense due to its ritual which could be traced back to the human history. However this was, our knowledge of this ritual began to take dwfinite shape(that is:make sense) in the 4000B.C when thw civilization of Egypt and ita counterpart(near east) entered an advanced stage of transformation.
Now, much of the information about Egypt practice and rituals are been derived from hieroglyphic((chiefly) a writing system of ancient Egypt, Minoans, Maya and other civilizations, using pictorial symbols to represent individual sounds as a rebus.) & artifacts which were hidden and preserved in the pyramid(ie.An ancient massive construction with a square or rectangular base and four triangular sides meeting in an apex, such as those built as tombs in Egypt or as bases for temples in Mesoamerica.) which was built as a tomb for pharaohs and in the temples of the numerous Egyptian gods. Many of this discovered documents relate to Egyptian myths concerning the re-current circle of life and seasons. In turn, these myths seems to have utilized(used) in various rituals about which 3 has been much controversial(ie. Debated uponn)concerning the extent to which they carry some dramatic elements.
Now, some scholars emerged with various argument to this and which was that:”More than 50 surviving pyramid texts composed of hieroglyphic and scenes which depicts the circle or chain through which the human spirit must pass through before achieving an honourable place in the after life are dramas that were enacted by the priests”. Despitethis motion moved by this scholars, there was actually no concrete evidence to support this view, which made other scholars deny to the dramatic elements of the text and its enactment.
Now in addition to this rituals (Egyptian), records of others(dating from i guesd about C.2,500B.C or so) in the near east was discovered. This, were concerned with the seasonal pattern of birth,growth,maturity,death, and rebirth. Although some historians have suggested that the rituals of egypt and the near east influenced the development of drama in greece(but no direct connections to this assertion/claim has been found).
However these claims, even if a direct influence could be found between both countries, an important difference would still set greece off from its neighbours.
The Egyptians on the other hand, maintained an advanced stage of civilization for about a thousand years(this was a period longer than dat which seperates us from the beginning of greek drama) and never progressed dramatically beyound ritual. The greece on their own part, took steps dat established theatre as an autonomous activity. In conclusion, it is to the Greece one must look into to find the beginnings of western tradition in theatre and drama, So having looking at this can we then agree that theatre and drama began from Greece??
“Theatre emerged from Greece and not Egypt. There was no documentation and facts traced to Egypt. They never progressed beyound ritual(which means drama didnt evolve or develop) while that of greece was highly in practice and its origin yraced to the 3theories(play instinct, story telling, e.t.c)
The greece first started and developed the form of drama and theatre.
ROMEN THEATRE & DRAMA
Now Rome as a country was founded in the 8th century B.C. at first it was a small town of lil consequence(less recognised) but then it began to asumme prominence(recognition and fame)in the 3rd century B.C wen the christain era began to emerge and it(Rome) ppwers began to extend to most of the then known world.
One thing the Romans were peculiar for was for their ability to assimilate easily whatever attracted them elsewhere and when they found drama in the Greece colonies in Silicy and Southern Italy, they imported it(their drama and practice) over to Rome. Now, long before this drama was imported to Rome, the Romans(Rome)had other types of theatrical entertainment and practice which was well established in Rome around 364 B.C. In an attempt to appease the gods when a plague was ravishing the city, musical anf dancing performances were imported from neighbouring etruria(An ancient country located between the Arno and Tiber rivers, corresponding to modern day Tuscany in Western Italy; the home of Etruscans) and there after flourished. From the Etruscans, the romans also borrowed chariot racing, boxing and gladiatorial contests, all of which were to be presented alongside drama, creating the circus like atmosphere that surrounded theatre in rome.
The Ludi, or festivals, at which plays were performaned in rome, were not associated with the worship of dionysus but we’re of various types.
Most were official religious celebration, but some were financed by wealthy citizens for special occasions such as funeral of a distinguished figure or the triumphal entries of a victorious army, Now in the ti.e of plautus and terence(2nd century B.C), plays were given principally at 4festivals:the ludi romani, hled in september, with at least 4days devoted to drama; the ludi plebeti, established in 220B.C held in November, with at least 3days given over to plays; the ludi Apollinaries, begun in 212B.C and held in july with approximately 2days devoted to drama, and the ludi megalenses, initiated in 204B.C and held in april, with 6days of theatrical entertainment.
Now all this festivals (which was financed) by the state were religious celebrations in honour of the gods, but the romans were more concerned with the later(celebration) than the spirit of the celebrations. This people believed that each festival, to be effective must be carried through according to prescribed rules and that any mistake necessitated the repitition of the entire festivals, including the plays, Since this repetition was frequent, many more days were attributed to this drama than might be supposed.
THEATRE BUILDING OF ROMAN EMPIRE.
Now having looked at the theatre and practice of rome, it is to be noted that the permanent theatres of both Greece and Rome were constructed after their great dramas were written. Now the first permanent theatre(rome) were built at pompie about 75 B.C; rome itself did not have a permanent theatre not until 55 B.C.
After this time, new theatres were built wherever rome dominance extended and most of the existing Greek theatres were now remolded along roman lines.
The latter structures were often called GREECO-ROMAN theatres, since they display characteristics of both types. The typical roman theatre were constructed on level ground – unlike that of greek: which used a hillside to support its seats.
Now, the stage house and auditorium were of the same height and they formed a single architectural unit(this means that in greek theatre, the scen building and auditorium werw not joined and were, ineffect, two seperate structures).
The auditorium typically seated btwn 10,000 and 15,000 spectators . Although some are said to have accommodated many more.
Now 2 features could be said to have distinguished the greek from the roman stage which are:
1) Sometimes btwn 133 and 56 b.c, a curtain was introduced in roman theatre and was dropped into a slot at front of the stage at the beginning of a performanceand was raised at the end.
2) The roman theatre stage had no roof, and this served as two subordinate functions which are: It protected the elaborate scaenae from the weather, and it improved the acoustics.