Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. #gallery-2-4 .gallery-item { Attempts have been made in modern times to investigate the use of masks in Athenian tragedy through practice research. Change ). They enabled an actor to appear and reappear in several different roles, thus preventing the audience from identifying the actor to one specific character. The exact origins of tragedy (tragōida) are debated amongst scholars. With a role similar to the chorus, “the stock Messenger, whose function is generally to report in an objective manner an actual or threatened catastrophe which has occurred offstage” (MacKinnon 26). It is thought that the tradition stemmed from the Dionysian cult. The masks were important in Greek theater to aid in disguising actors' genders because men played all roles, including those of women, who were not allowed to perform on stage. Therefore, performance in ancient Greece did not distinguish the masked actor from the theatrical character. Masks played an important role in Greek theatre, as they enabled small groups of actors to play multiple characters, and portray different feelings and emotions. The actors thought that the mask itself contained the character and are said to have prayed before putting on their masks. This demonstrates the way in which the mask was to ‘melt’ into the face and allow the actor to vanish into the role. The mask’s lower jaw is movable and made to emit a loud continuous clacking by means of a string. Masks served several important purposes in Ancient Greek theater: their exaggerated expressions helped define the characters the actors were playing; they allowed actors to play more than one role (or gender); they helped audience members in the distant seats see and, by projecting sound somewhat like a small megaphone, even hear the characters better. ( Log Out /  Apollo wears white, representing the sun. Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. information on your computer. Initially, the mouth apertures were small, but later this became a “wide-open” mouth. ( Log Out /  No physical evidence remains available to us, as the masks were made of organic materials and not considered permanent objects, ultimately being dedicated to the altar of Dionysus after performances. With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn b… Little is known about the origins of Greek tragedy before Aeschylus (ca. 455 B.C. Ancient Greek masks covered the entire face and head with holes for the eyes and an aperture for the mouth as in ancient Greek mask theatre the actors in fact spoke. #gallery-2-4 { An example is the use of masks in operating theatres, andby wood-workers. The mask-makers were called skeuopoios or “maker of the properties,” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors. Vervain and Wiles posit that this small size discourages the idea that the mask functioned as a megaphone, as originally presented in the 1960s. Both chiton and hemateon were decorated depending on the occasion. Some authors have argued that use of costume in Athenian tragedy was standardized for the genre. There are different reasons why people use masks. actors(man only )used to wear masks …. } } This leads to … The viewing area of a Greek theater is called the theatron, hence our word "theater" (theatre). structed theatre masks.Although this early study provid-ed acoustic measurements for such masks [7], it is still not fully understood how such acoustic properties of the masks were combined with the acoustic response of the theatre and how they affected the overall aural experience of the ancient drama. Why did the Actors wear masks? The mask and cloth are manipulated violently, as if the animal were in pursuit, to the taps of a small drum. These masks are said to have a dual meaning― the drunken joy that wine brings, as well as a sense o… The actors were all men. It is interesting to note that these paintings never show actual masks on the actors in performance; they are most often shown being handled by the actors before or after a performance, that liminal space between the audience and the stage, between myth and reality. ] Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. Picture 2 portrays a woman's mask. The used of masks enabled the three speaking actors to portray up to eight or nine characters, through multiple role-playing. Elias Karayannakos, All Rights Reserved. The masks were the most striking feature of the costume worn by the Athenian actors. Nevertheless, the mask is known to have been used since the time of Aeschylus and considered to be one of the iconic conventions of classical Greek theatre. Theater comes from a Greek word for viewing (the ceremonies). Their theatrical function indicates an integral connection between the performers, the plot and the acoustics of the open-air ancient theatres which has not been Masks. Because the number of actors varied from one to three, they had to put on different masks, in order to play more roles. The Greek term for mask is persona and was a significant element in the worship of Dionysus at Athens, likely used in ceremonial rites and celebrations. Even the audience of the last row can hear a whisper from the orchestra. We only know what they looked like because theatre was so popular in Greek and Roman times that models of actors and masks were made in other materials such as terracotta, stone and bronze and depicted on gems and in paintings and mosaics. One of the earliest examples is a red-figure vase painting c. 500-490 BCE that shows a tragic chorus invoking a ghost, on a crater (bowl) in the Antikenmuseum in Basle.[2]. Masks also evolved into theater as, for example, in ancient Greece or the Noh drama of Japan. The mask was therefore necessary to let them play the female roles. [4] In the play, life is evoked as the act of seeing the sun. Overview of Greek origins of Drama and Oedipus Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Silent masks were used to great effect, particularly on child actors, expressing powerlessness, bewilderment, vulnerability, etc. ancient greek theatre masks . Effectively, the mask transformed the actor as much as memorization of the text. Certainly that was a result of the use of the mask but I am not quite convinced that it was one of the purposes of its use. It is also thought that the “teetering gait” is a misapprehension.[7]. "Masks were always used by the actors of the ancient Greek theatrical plays. The sleeves may in fact have been part of an undergarment. Facial expression was lost anyway due to the huge size of the Greek theatres, but the masks were also a means of blotting out expression, so visual meaning was expressed by the entire body. In a large open-air theatre, like the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, the classical masks were able to bring the characters’ face closer to the audience, especially since they had intensely over-exaggerated facial features and expressions. The chiton was made of linen or silk and it was worn long. Long white sleeves were worn by the (male) actors for female roles, and indeed, in vase paintings females are usually painted with lighter skin. The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the. Human or animal hair was also used. use your mind to think why .., also to understand how difficult it was for the sculpt. Some have linked the rise of the genre to an earlier art form, the lyrical performance of epic poetry. #gallery-2-4 .gallery-caption { Hence, hereit will be examined and ), the most innovative of the Greek dramatists. Still we have some information drawn from depictions on ancient pottery (see some pictures below). Indeed, the dramas were performed in honour of Dionysus, the God of Ecstasy, which means “standing outside oneself”[2]. In some sports and in hazardous occupations, masks are worn to protective the face. I do not quite agree with that point of view. It was usually made of wool. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the ancient Dionysian cult. © 2015. In Tragedy plays, the masks portrayed a painful and dejected expression, whereas in Comedy plays, the masks expressions were filled with contentment and exuberance. Due to the visual restrictions imposed by these masks, it was imperative that the actors hear in order to orientate and balance themselves. The actors used to put on ordinary shoes, such us loose fitting boots and laced boots. [9] Certainly, the use of a mask covering the whole produces an enhanced resonating effect, which serves dramatic delivery. } In surger… We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version. The Greeks called these physical stances schemata (forms). The wide variety of masks used is attested by Pollux, a rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in hisOnomastikon. Performances therefore had to be more physical. [5], Around the time of Aeschylus, the boots or buskins worn by the actors were flat. The corpse of Alcestis is dressed as a bride, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears a bearskin and carries a club. This was a building block for the features of classical drama. This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character. Greek dramatists surely made the most of the extreme contrasts between the gods up high and the actors on stage, and between the dark interior of the stage building and the bright daylight. width: 33%; Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. Theater became significant to general Greek culture when it became an … We cannot be sure about that, because we do not have a clear evidence from the pottery. float: left; Greek theatre masks were made of stiffened and painted linen so none have survived to the present day. Much later, Athenian actors used now famous happy masks of Comedy and sad masks of Tragedy to celebrate gods (especially during a festival called Dionysia, which honored the Greek god Dionysus, god of fertility, harvest, wine-making, religious ecstasy, myth, … Thus, it is believed that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask itself. ( Log Out /  The mask, therefore, most often functions as a means of contact with various spirit powers, thereby protecting against the … Actors wore masks so that the audience may see the facial expression clearly, allow them to tell the characters apart and make the theme of the story (comedy or tragedy) clearly obvious to the spectators. Greek theater is still one of the most important and long-lasting theatrical influences in the world, dating from around 700 BC and with some Greek plays still being performed to this day. Some authors believe that the mouth was shaped like a “mouth-trumpet” and had an amplifying effect. Unique masks were also created for specific characters and events in a play, such as The Furies in Aeschylus’ Eumenides and Pentheus and Cadmus in Euripides’ The Bacchae. The eyes were fully drawn but in the place of the pupil of the eye was a small hole so that the actor could see. Peter Arnott states that the Greeks thought good acting and a good voice were synonymous. Your browser version is outdated. Another important part of Greek plays is the messenger. Others suggest a strong link with the rituals performed in the worship of Dionysos such as the sacrifice of goats - a song ritual called trag-ōdia - and the wearing of masks. The costume was probably an elaborately-decorated version of everyday clothing worn in the 5th Century BCE. I think it's enough for someone to attend a modern performance of a play in the ancient theater of Epidaurus to feel the perfection of the acoustics in an ancient theater. This slit made for the mouth, along with the shape of the mask itself helped to project and amplify the the actors voice so it could be heard in the large amphitheatre. and 17 female masks (fat and thin old women, two matrons, one virgin, a bawd, a mistress, three courtesans, a lady’s maid, etc.). margin: auto; then’ only 2600 years ago to get to that non-expression facemask expression . An interesting idea (Wiles 1991) is that the mask could give to the character some sort of universality, creating an average figure, so that the audience would judge him on his actions and not his appearance. The costumes worn for the performances of Alcestis, for example, were iconographic, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark. This site uses cookies to store Most of the evidence comes from only a few vase paintings of the 5th century BC, such as one showing a mask of the god suspended from a tree with decorated robe hanging below it and dancing and the Pronomos vas, which depicts actors preparing for a Satyr play. It is widely believed that theatre masks have originally been attributed to Dionysus, the Greek God of wine, grape harvest, fertility, and theatre, and were used in ancient Greek theatre as a homage to him. Little by little they started using animal skins, ears, even feathers (see Aristophanes’ Birds). The garments included: The chiton worn by the actors differed from that worn in everyday life because it incorporated sleeves, which were coloured and patterned. Actors therefore had to renounce their individuality. Costumes have been a very important factor of the production, because they could determine the characters by gender or social status. Usually the masks were made of linen, wood, or leather. A marble or stone face was used as a mould for the mask. Illustrations of theatrical masks from 5th century display helmet-like mask, covering the entire face and head, with holes for the eyes and a small aperture for the mouth, as well as an integrated wig. Masks are also used to prevent recognition while showing membership of a group: Masks are use by penitents in ceremonies to disguise their identity in order to make the act of penitence more selfless. As people change physically, especially at adolescence, old age, and death, masking rituals are performed to mark the transition and make it safe. When playing female roles, the male actors donned a ‘ prosterneda’ which is a wooden structure infront of the chest to imitate breasts. Experiments have shown that unaccustomed actors suffer disorientation and restriction when masked. #gallery-2-4 img { Picture 1 … The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors. 525-ca. In the 3rd Century BCE, the actors were raised to the status of heroes and “platform” soles began to be used, together with a head-dress called an onkos. Exaggerated expressions on the masks helped distinguish the characters so they were recognizable even to audience members seated far away from the stage. margin-top: 10px; In masks worn for socially significant rituals, the change in identity of the wearer for that of the mask is vital, for if the spirit represented does not reside in the image of the mask, the ritual petitions, supplications, and offerings made to it would be ineffectual and meaningless. The raised soles may have induced a stylised way of walking, suited to the rhythm of tragic verse, and the onkos made the actors taller, enhancing visibility. There are little information on theatrical costumes. Aristotle says that in his day excessive gestures were used – leading to overacting – compared with the older tradition. The Greeks are said to have overcome this in various ways. In modern theater tradition, the masks represent two of the nine muses (Mousai), Greek goddesses who inspired mankind in efforts such as music, poetry and dance. The hemateon was an exterior cloth, worn over the shoulders. ( Log Out /  Admetus contrasts the black of the funeral procession with the white of the funeral procession. Their bodies were padded so that they did not look too slim. The mouth opening was relatively small, preventing the mouth to be seen during performances. They also found that the mask could impede the projection of sound. [10] He lists 30 different male masks (old age with white or grey hair, the tyrant with thick black hair, a fair, pale masks indicating sorrow or sickness, a boastful soldier, a rustic, servants, a cook, etc.) As far as the vase paintings are concerned, most of these are dated later than the 5th Century BCE and their relationship with theatrical practice is unclear. The use of masks enabled actors in ancient Greek plays to portray different roles without confusing the audience. Actors who played tragic roles wore boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other actors. border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; margin-left: 0; The costumes worn gave the audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender, age, social status and class. This had a religious purpose, for the actor was supposed to give up his identity in order to let another speak and act through him. Mostly, the masks used are semi-masks which cover only the bottom half of the face, the mouth and nose. lowering the masks shows reflection, raising the mask shows a challenge or superiority. Some people claim that the masks had one more significance : they added resonance to the voice of an actor so that everyone in the huge ancient theater could hear him (Baldry 1971). On Java and Bali, wooden masks ( tupeng) are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang wong. Ancient Greek actors wore masks to represent the various characters they played, to help them project their voices and to help people sitting in seats far from the stage have some sense of character expression. This is due to the perishable materials they have been made of. For theatrical use the clothes have been more decorated than usually. Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. Worn by the chorus, the masks created a sense of unity and uniformity, while representing a multi-voiced persona or single organism and simultaneously encouraged interdependency and a heightened sensitivity between each individual of the group. Death – the son of Night in Greek mythology – wears a black peplos and terrifying black wings. Picture 1 portrays a sort of mask suitable for the chorus. The masks were most likely made out of light weight, organic materials like stiffened linen, leather, wood, or cork, with the wig consisting of human or animal hair. Ancient Greek drama was a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece from 600 BC. In the later years (2nd century BC), it is sure that these shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”) have been introduced. This was achieved through athletic training, voice exercises and diet. Brockett, however, disputes this, arguing that the evidence we have is based on archaeological remains, some few references in the texts, and the writings of later authors. [1] This is said to have consisted of a full-length or short tunic, a cloak and soft leather boots, and may have been derived from the robes of Dionysian priests or invented by Aeschylus. The actors had the same “status” as the chorus. [8] These explorations conclude that masks may lead to a more demonstrative style of acting, with declamatory delivery of the lines substituted for intimacy. Their variations help the audience to distinguish sex, age, and social status, in addition to revealing a change in a particular character’s appearance, ie. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. In modernity, the role of the stock messenger has evolved into a simple jump cut. Masks can also be used as a dramatic tool, e.g. This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character. The theatre of Ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece between 550 BC and 220 BC. The tragic actors were certainly heavily disguised. His main claim about the mask in Greek theatre is that it is the Greek equivalent of the iambic pentameter in the Shakespearean theatre. } The actors were seen as silhouettes, or integral bodies, rather than faces. Besides a design to allow crowds to see the performers, Greek theaters excelled in acoustics. A person can use masks so others do not know who they are (as when a robber steals from a bank). The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the ancient Dionysian cult. Oedipus after blinding himself. /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */. The masks in Greek theatre consisted of comedy and tragedy, and were always the main themes of the performances. [6] However, some authors believe that this happened later than the 3rd Century BCE. There are many practical uses for masks in everyday life. In order to play female roles, since the actors were always men, they were wearing a “prosterneda” (in front of the chest, to imitate female breasts) and “progastreda” in front of the belly. Is some scholars’ opinion, the actors used shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”). The city-state of Athens, which became a significant cultural, political, and military power during this period, was its centre, where the theatre was institutionalised as part of a festival called the Dionysia, which honoured the god Dionysus. When the poets introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing : the “chiton” and the “hemateon”. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Thespis was the first of the Greek drama writers to utilize a mask. The masks themselves were made of stiffened linen, thin clay, cork or wood, and covered the whole head and had hair. In the early productions actors have been using body painting. Or, a mask may keep someones face safe from harm (like a gas mask so harmful gases do not get into the lungs). Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. The people up high on the hill could hear the words spoken far below. Create a free website or blog at The Greeks countered this through a vocabulary of gesture known as cheironomia (gesticulation). The same character could therefore be played by different actors, and transitions within a character would be portrayed by the use of different masks. Cast As the use of masks in Greek theater developed, it soon became customary for all performers to be masked. text-align: center; In a large open-air theatre, like the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, the classical masks were able to bring the characters’ face closer to the audience, especially since they had intensely over-exaggerated facial features and expressions. Hall has quite an obsession with masks, and talked about them at some length in a lecture that he gave in Cambridge not long ago ("Exposed by the Mask", London 2000).