Write an essay in Word, using APA style. (Title page, Body of Paper, References Page) The essay should be approximately 500 words. Choose one of the following topics for your paper:

Discuss the similarities and differences between Classical Greek and Elizabethan Theater as it relates to one of the following:

Women in the theater

What the theaters looked like

When were plays performed

Use of the “chorus”

The role of violence

An Overview of Classical Greek Theater

A. Classical Greek Tragedy and Greek Comedy

According to Aristotle, the Athenians developed tragedy first, with comedy following a generation or so later. While this assessment is essentially correct, the truth seems to have been somewhat more complicated. Comic dramas as opposed to comedy itself—that is, humorous plays versus the formal genre of “comedy”—appear to have evolved alongside their tragic counterpart, perhaps even before it. The satyr play, in particular, a farcical rendition of myths more often treated seriously which featured a chorus of rowdy, irreverent satyrs (half-human half-animal spirits of the wilderness notorious for their lust and gluttony), emerged early in the tradition of Greek theatre, though exactly how early is not clear. Nevertheless, the historical sources for theatrical performances in the Classical Age focus largely on tragedy as the hub of early dramatic activity, even if its pre-eminence probably looks clearer in hindsight than it seemed in the day.

Tragic choristers (click to see larger image)Three tragedians emerge from the fifth century BCE as the principal practitioners of classical Greek tragic drama: Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Theirs are the only tragedies preserved whole. First and foremost, Aeschylus lived a generation earlier than the other two so his work provides our first hard look at Greek drama. If to modern viewers his plays seem static and slow-moving, there can be little doubt they were exciting and controversial in their day.

The elder of the later pair, Sophocles is often seen as the best playwright of the three—in the general estimation of many in the scholarly community, Sophocles remains the finest exponent of tragic arts ever—and certainly his polished dramas were very well-respected in the Classical Age, as they have been for the most part ever since. It is somewhat ironic to note, then, that interest in his drama in performance seems to have waned fairly soon after his lifetime.

Conversely, Euripides, while alienating his contemporaries and considered by many a distant second to Sophocles when the two of them were alive, left behind a body of drama which commanded the stage after the Classical Age. There can be little doubt why: Euripides had a knack for putting on stage eye-catching situations and creating memorable characters with extreme personality disorders. Accordingly, theatrical records show that his works were very frequently produced in later ages, outstripping both Sophocles and Aeschylus.

No Greek tragedy from the fourth century or later (the Post-Classical Age) has been preserved intact, making it hard to determine the course of tragic drama in Greece after the lifetime of Sophocles and Euripides (note). We can, however, follow the evolution of its

Comparison of Ancient Greek, and Elizabethan Renaissance Theatre



From 5th century BC – 200B.C approx.

In England from 1560 – 1642



· Aeschylus 525 – 456 B.C

· Euripides 480 – 406 B.C

· Sophocles 495 – 406 B.C


· Aristophanes 448 – 338 B.C

· Menander 342 – 291 B.C

· Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593) – great poet; spy; atheist; homosexual; controversial; best playwright ever before Shakespeare; stabbed to death in a fight

· Ben Jonson (1572 – 1637) – famous for his comedies; moral

· William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616) – brilliant characterisation; wrote 37 plays; bisexual


· Guilt; emphasis on the individual facing challenges with the gods, himself, others, or the state; complex characters who have psychological motivation; choices NB; suffering and challenges leading to self-recognition and a higher law above man; justice; disharmony as a result of choices; closely associated with religion – often stories based on myth or history; deeds of heroes; good and evil; wars; marriages and adulteries; conflict between parents and children

· Deals with man’s relationship with man rather than with God

· Subject matter dealt with new knowledge and scientific discoveries

· Comedy dealt with contemporary events

· It required interpretation

· Clear genres – comedy and tragedy




· At first role of CHORUS all important and this gets reduced over time as actors introduced

· Thespis introduced first actor

· Aeschylus introduced the 2nd

· Sophocles introduced the 3rd

· Playwrights originally acted but by 449 B.C. with contests for tragic actors, they didn’t

· Three-actor rule

· Main actors chosen by lot and the others by the main actors and playwrights

· Actors paid by the State

· Only leading actors eligible for the competition

· Vocal acting – declamatory – to project emotional tone, mood and character

· Three kinds of delivery – speech, recitative and song

· No facial importance – masks used

· Gesture and movement broad and simple

· Actors usually played more than one role

· Men played all the parts

· Stylized – masks, choral

· Chorus from 50 at first down to 12-15

· Only 3 dramatists were granted choruses by the civi

Bottom of Form

Elizabethan Theater: A Brief History

APRIL 22, 2014 BY 

elizabethan theatre
In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, English theater blossomed in London. Elizabethan theater – or more properly, English Renaissance theater – flourished between the years of 1562 and 1642. (This spanned the reign of three monarchs, in fact, and not just that of Queen Elizabeth the First – hence the broader term is more accurate.) This is the time when 

William Shakespeare 

was writing and performing, along with other legendary playwrights of the era.

The era of early modern theater begins with “Gorboduc,” a play about civil war and succession to the throne of a kingdom. (These were topical and sensitive issues at the time, coming on the heels of the 

English Reformation 

brought about by Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII.) “Gorboduc”, which was written by both Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, is significant for being the first dramatic work to be written in blank verse. Blank verse is metric poetry that uses unrhymed iambic pentameter. An iamb is a chunk of a line that contains an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable. There are five of them in each line of iambic pentameter blank verse. (The meter gives it poetic structure and makes it easier to memorize, as well.) As a natural extension of this writing, 

playwrights like Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare were also known for writing poetry, such as their well-known sonnets.

Within the early modern era when drama flourished, there are three periods named after each of the monarchs at the time. Elizabethan Theater only spans, properly, from 1562 to 1603. Jacobean Theater runs from 1603 to 1625. And Caroline Theater extends from 1625 to 1642.

The English Renaissance theatrical era came to an end in 1642, with the Puritanical parliament banned the performance of plays. During the interregnum, or this period between kings, public theater was not allowed by law. When Charles II returned to the throne, theater flourished in a new era dubbed the Restoration.

Venues: Inns and Theaters

The first plays of this era were not performed in permanent theaters – there were none at that time. Instead, shows were put on in the courtyards of inns by traveling troupes of actors. A permanent theater, The Red Lion, opened i