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Roman and Medieval Drama Vocabulary Words • • • • • • Plautus Terence Seneca Closet play Liturgical drama Vernacular drama • • • • • • Mystery plays Miracle Plays Morality Plays Mansion Pageant Wagon Cycle of plays Evolution of Theatre - Roman • Time period roughly 200 BC to 476 AD • Romans conquered and assimilated cultures of surrounding areas • Roman Theatre conventions were heavily based on Greek theatre conventions Roman Plays - Comedy • Comedy more popular than tragedy • Comic playwrights - Plautus, Terence • Characteristics of Roman Comedy: Chorus was abandoned No act or scene divisions Songs or music with the dialog Subject: Everyday domestic affairs, often bawdy Action placed in the street Roman Plays - Tragedy • Tragic Playwright - Seneca • Closet plays written to be read not performed • Characteristics of Roman tragedy: Plot Structure - five episodes / acts divided by choral odes Elaborate speeches Violence and horror seen onstage Characters dominated by a single passion (such as revenge) – drives them to doom Roman Theatre Conventions • Plays took place outdoors about 2 hours long • Actors were men who wore Roman dress, with wigs and makeup - eventually no mask • Chorus not important eventually abandoned • Scenery was a street with 3 or 4 houses behind • A place of entertainment not of worship Roman Theatres • First permanent theatre built of stone in 55 BC • Seated 17,000 people - on level ground, not in hillside like Greeks • Had half-circle shape orchestra - chorus less important • Larger proskenon to feature actors Other Roman Entertainments • Romans loved sports chariot racing • Romans loved animal fights - bear-baiting, lions eating Christians • Romans loved combat - gladiators The Dark Ages • Rome Fell in 476 AD to conquering Germanic peoples • Roman Catholic church dominated religion, education and often politics • Church was a vital part of civic, economic and religious life • Common people were kept ignorant and illiterate to have power over them The Dark Ages • Theatre activities were outlawed due to violence and sins of Roman entertainment • Little is known about the theatre between 600-1000 A.D • Only drama in dark ages was traveling troupes based on Greek and Roman performing art: mime, minstrels and jugglers. Medieval Drama • Reborn as liturgical drama to “act out” stories so they could be understood by all • Text was written in Latin (as was mass) • Subject was stories from the Bible • Performers were priests or church members • Purpose to teach Catholic doctrine Medieval Plays • Mystery/cycle plays based on bible • Miracle plays based on lives of saints • Morality plays taught a lesson • Characteristics in common: Aimed to teach or reinforce Church doctrine Melodramatic: good rewarded, evil punished Vernacular Drama “Noah’s Ark” presented as part of a cycle of plays • Vernacular drama (spoken in common language) took place in town squares outside the church • Scenery was mansions in church then wagons wheeled platforms that could move from place to place • Costumes were church clothing with accessories