Notes

The Masks of Greek Drama

The Masks of Greek Drama.  Josh tells James to, “Think of the masks of a Greek drama.” The actors in Greek dramatic productions wore masks. The masks, of religious origin, identified the characters for the audience and, in some cases, functioned as a voice amplifier or bullhorn.

Greek tragedies were often focused on murder and violent death, frequently within the family. According to Aristotle, seeing such intense emotions acted out on stage induced pity and fear in the audience’s minds, and hence purged them of those emotions. A process he called catharsis. Thespis of Icaria (6th century BC) was possibly the first actor to play a role on stage. Prior to this, people narrated events and did not assume the character. His name gave rise to the word thespian, an actor. As an aside, I think the man earned his place as the first actor – if he could say his name in front of a large audience, he must have had nerves of steel.

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