The Theatricality of Greek TragedyPlaying Space and Chorus

The Theatricality of Greek TragedyPlaying Space and Chorus

Graham Ley

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226477572

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Ancient Greek tragedy has been an inspiration to Western culture, but the way it was first performed has long remained in question. This book provides a discussion of key issues relating to the use of the playing space and the nature of the chorus, offering a distinctive impression of the performance of Greek tragedy in the fifth century bce. Drawing on evidence from the surviving texts of tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, it explains how scenes with actors were played in the open ground of the orchestra, often considered as exclusively the dancing place of the chorus. In reviewing what is known of the music and dance of Greek antiquity, the book shows that in the original productions, the experience of the chorus—expressed in song and dance, and in interaction with the characters—remained a vital characteristic in the performance of tragedy. It combines detailed analysis with broader reflections about the nature of ancient Greek tragedy as an art form.