A production of a play in the Ancient Greek festival, The City Dionysia, would have been quite different from production preformed in a modern theatre. We will consider these differences by looking at a number of techniques and procedures from an Ancient Greek play.Special affects in a modern theatre are very complicated compared to the sound and visual effects used in an ancient production. For example, in a modern theatre electronic sounds may be used to make thunder effects but in the ancient plays a large stone was simply rolled down a tunnel that ran underneath the theatron. This caused a low rumbling sound which sounded like thunder to the audience above.
Another example is the sound imitating horse’s hooves. Two hollow, wooden cups would have been clapped together to create the “clip, clop” noise of horse hooves. A further example is the sound of rain. Pebbles or dried peas were placed into a bowl and were gently rattled around. Other than these very few other props were used.
Though these effects were very effective for the time, the people in the audience were expected to have used their Imagination, this is not as necessary in a modern production because of the high quality special effects and props.The rules on who could perform have also changed. In ancient time only males were aloud to act. Even the members of the chorus had to be male. The actors needed to be able to change their voices for different roles, such as the elderly or women. Only 3 actors were involved with the performance. A actor took the main lead role and the other 2 shared the minor parts.
Costumes in a Greek theatre were very different to the costumes worn by actors now. For example, every actor had to wear a mask so roles could easily be changed and people at the back of the theatre could easily recognise the character. The mask also had a device built into the moth to help the actors project their voice, even though the acoustics were already perfect in the theatre. The masks were different depending on what type of play was being preformed. In a tragedy the mask would be made to look sorrowful and in comedy they would have been made to look happy.Special characters such as a god or famous mythological character would be given special props to help with recognition, for example Heracles would be wearing a lion skin and be carrying a club and a King would be wearing a crown and holding a sceptre. As only males were aloud to act in plays, long sleeved costumes were worn by them to cover their arms.
The costumes were virtually the same as everyday clothes, but they were designed for easy mobility.The audience was largely made up of males in Ancient Greece. Now however anybody may attend a play or production. Special seats were designated to important people such as magistrates and priests, similar to the boxes of a modern theatre.
People had different reasons for attending the theatre. Now people attend for mainly entertainment and sometimes education, but in ancient times people attended for religious reasons, it was a state occasion, for the spirit of competition, (as the festival was a contest between playwrights) and for education and entertainment.The audience used to make their feelings known. They would shout comments to the actors. It is thought that their behaviour would have deteriorated throughout the day, so by the last play it would have been more like a modern pop concert or cup final.In conclusion, there are a few similarities between the modern and ancient theatre, however there are also a lot of great deal of differences between the two.