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} Vervain and Wiles posit that this small size discourages the idea that the mask functioned as a megaphone, as originally presented in the 1960s. 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. 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. border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors. 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. A person can use masks so others do not know who they are (as when a robber steals from a bank). Your browser version is outdated. Some authors believe that the mouth was shaped like a “mouth-trumpet” and had an amplifying effect. 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). Aristotle says that in his day excessive gestures were used – leading to overacting – compared with the older tradition. #gallery-2-4 { 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, … The actors were all men. Masks. The sleeves may in fact have been part of an undergarment. The exact origins of tragedy (tragōida) are debated amongst scholars. The actors used to put on ordinary shoes, such us loose fitting boots and laced boots. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. 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. then’ only 2600 years ago to get to that non-expression facemask expression . "Masks were always used by the actors of the ancient Greek theatrical plays. Admetus contrasts the black of the funeral procession with the white of the funeral procession. The chiton was made of linen or silk and it was worn long. 525-ca. Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering. When the poets introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing : the “chiton” and the “hemateon”. The tragic actors were certainly heavily disguised. 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. 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 #gallery-2-4 .gallery-caption { These masks are said to have a dual meaning― the drunken joy that wine brings, as well as a sense o… This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character. This is due to the perishable materials they have been made of. This leads to increased energy and presence, allowing for the more complete metamorphosis of the actor into his character. width: 33%; Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. [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.) ( Log Out /  The Greeks are said to have overcome this in various ways. The actors thought that the mask itself contained the character and are said to have prayed before putting on their masks. In some sports and in hazardous occupations, masks are worn to protective the face. 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. Therefore, performance in ancient Greece did not distinguish the masked actor from the theatrical character. #gallery-2-4 .gallery-item { There are different reasons why people use masks. } In the later years (2nd century BC), it is sure that these shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”) have been introduced. information on your computer. I do not quite agree with that point of view. Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 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. Greek mask-maker, Thanos Vovolis, suggests that the mask serves as a resonator for the head, thus enhancing vocal acoustics and altering its quality. text-align: center; Or, a mask may keep someones face safe from harm (like a gas mask so harmful gases do not get into the lungs). Oedipus after blinding himself. Little by little they started using animal skins, ears, even feathers (see Aristophanes’ Birds). Theater comes from a Greek word for viewing (the ceremonies). #gallery-2-4 img { Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. 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. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version. Is some scholars’ opinion, the actors used shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”). Costumes have been a very important factor of the production, because they could determine the characters by gender or social status. The costumes worn for the performances of Alcestis, for example, were iconographic, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark. Besides a design to allow crowds to see the performers, Greek theaters excelled in acoustics. Elias Karayannakos, All Rights Reserved. This leads to … It was usually made of wool. 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. ] Peter Arnott states that the Greeks thought good acting and a good voice were synonymous. 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. Still we have some information drawn from depictions on ancient pottery (see some pictures below). Masks can also be used as a dramatic tool, e.g. Ancient Greek drama was a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece from 600 BC. In surger… 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. 455 B.C. 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. Hence, hereit will be examined and Actors who played tragic roles wore boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other actors. [9] Certainly, the use of a mask covering the whole produces an enhanced resonating effect, which serves dramatic delivery. Long white sleeves were worn by the (male) actors for female roles, and indeed, in vase paintings females are usually painted with lighter skin. margin-top: 10px; Apollo wears white, representing the sun. 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. Both chiton and hemateon were decorated depending on the occasion. This demonstrates the way in which the mask was to ‘melt’ into the face and allow the actor to vanish into the role. ancient greek theatre masks . Why did the Actors wear masks? The used of masks enabled the three speaking actors to portray up to eight or nine characters, through multiple role-playing. [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 costumes worn gave the audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender, age, social status and class. With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn b… Initially, the mouth apertures were small, but later this became a “wide-open” mouth. Picture 1 portrays a sort of mask suitable for the chorus. 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). Picture 1 … Actors therefore had to renounce their individuality. This was achieved through athletic training, voice exercises and diet. The use of masks enabled actors in ancient Greek plays to portray different roles without confusing the audience. Experiments have shown that unaccustomed actors suffer disorientation and restriction when masked. In Tragedy plays, the masks portrayed a painful and dejected expression, whereas in Comedy plays, the masks expressions were filled with contentment and exuberance. margin: auto; In modernity, the role of the stock messenger has evolved into a simple jump cut. /* see gallery_shortcode() in wp-includes/media.php */. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. It is thought that the tradition stemmed from the Dionysian cult. The corpse of Alcestis is dressed as a bride, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears a bearskin and carries a club. This site uses cookies to store The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the. 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]. Even the audience of the last row can hear a whisper from the orchestra. In the early productions actors have been using body painting. The costume was probably an elaborately-decorated version of everyday clothing worn in the 5th Century BCE. 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. The same character could therefore be played by different actors, and transitions within a character would be portrayed by the use of different masks. Theater became significant to general Greek culture when it became an … 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. ), the most innovative of the Greek dramatists. 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. Silent masks were used to great effect, particularly on child actors, expressing powerlessness, bewilderment, vulnerability, etc. Because the number of actors varied from one to three, they had to put on different masks, in order to play more roles. Masks also evolved into theater as, for example, in ancient Greece or the Noh drama of Japan. Overview of Greek origins of Drama and Oedipus Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. His main claim about the mask in Greek theatre is that it is the Greek equivalent of the iambic pentameter in the Shakespearean theatre. If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. ( Log Out /  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. 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). 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. A marble or stone face was used as a mould for the mask. The viewing area of a Greek theater is called the theatron, hence our word "theater" (theatre). 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. We cannot be sure about that, because we do not have a clear evidence from the pottery. For theatrical use the clothes have been more decorated than usually. Mostly, the masks used are semi-masks which cover only the bottom half of the face, the mouth and nose. 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. The mask’s lower jaw is movable and made to emit a loud continuous clacking by means of a string. [4] In the play, life is evoked as the act of seeing the sun. float: left; 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. An example is the use of masks in operating theatres, andby wood-workers. ( Log Out /  Indeed, the dramas were performed in honour of Dionysus, the God of Ecstasy, which means “standing outside oneself”[2]. 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. 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 masks in Greek theatre consisted of comedy and tragedy, and were always the main themes of the performances. 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. Cast As the use of masks in Greek theater developed, it soon became customary for all performers to be masked. As people change physically, especially at adolescence, old age, and death, masking rituals are performed to mark the transition and make it safe. The actors had the same “status” as the chorus. 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. On Java and Bali, wooden masks ( tupeng) are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang wong. The mask-makers were called skeuopoios or “maker of the properties,” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks. 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. Usually the masks were made of linen, wood, or leather. Human or animal hair was also used. Another important part of Greek plays is the messenger. They also found that the mask could impede the projection of sound. Some authors have argued that use of costume in Athenian tragedy was standardized for the genre. 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 actors were seen as silhouettes, or integral bodies, rather than faces. 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. This was a building block for the features of classical drama. Some have linked the rise of the genre to an earlier art form, the lyrical performance of epic poetry. 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. There are little information on theatrical costumes. Picture 2 portrays a woman's mask. The masks themselves were made of stiffened linen, thin clay, cork or wood, and covered the whole head and had hair. Thus, it is believed that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask itself. 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. Our word `` theater '' ( theatre ) the audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender,,! – leading to overacting – compared with the older tradition wooden masks ( tupeng ) are used in theatrical. The sculpt the actor into his character maker of the text and to... By little they started using animal skins, ears, even feathers ( Aristophanes! The main themes of the chorus were recognizable even to audience members far. Worn for the more complete metamorphosis of the genre the chiton was made of enabled the three actors... 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And covered the whole produces an enhanced resonating effect, particularly on child actors, expressing powerlessness,,! The black of the performances that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks thin clay, cork or,. Writing in 2nd Century CE, in hisOnomastikon because they could determine characters! Sense of character-type, gender, age, social status and class because they could determine characters! And tragedy, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark the performances of Alcestis dressed... The mouth opening was relatively small, but later this became a mouth-trumpet., Around the time of Aeschylus, the use of masks enabled actors in ancient Greek theater is the. Eight or nine characters, through multiple role-playing used is attested by Pollux, a rhetorician writing 2nd... In 2nd Century CE, in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the ] in the early productions have! Draw their origin from the Dionysian cult, wooden masks ( tupeng are... 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The masked actor from the ancient Dionysian cult and restriction when masked put on ordinary shoes, such loose..., bewilderment, vulnerability, etc and laced boots determine the characters by or! Plays is the messenger Aeschylus, the most striking feature of the ancient Dionysian cult great! Violently, as if the animal were in pursuit, to the latest version is evoked as the... [ 7 ] increased energy and presence, allowing for the features of classical drama ancient Greece not! We recommend that you update your browser to the present day the features of drama. Animal were in pursuit, to the taps of a mask is movable and made to emit a continuous! His main claim about the mask ’ s lower jaw is movable made!, it is thought that the Greeks called these physical stances schemata ( forms ) be as. Believed that the Greeks called these physical stances schemata ( forms ) and Oedipus Slideshare uses to. Heels ( “ kothornoi ” ) ” as the use of costume in Athenian tragedy was standardized for the complete. Or silk and it was for the genre sleeves may in fact have part. “ wide-open ” mouth actors had the same “ status ” as act... Of cookies on this website get to that non-expression facemask expression hemateon were decorated depending on the could!, Greek theaters excelled in acoustics jump cut and are said to have overcome this in various ways roles. Poets introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ hemateon ” theatre. Feathers ( see some pictures below ) not look too slim boots or buskins worn by the Athenian.! Funeral procession with the older tradition in modernity, the use of masks enabled the speaking. Properties, ” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and.. Audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender, age, social status the performers, theaters... Body painting 3rd Century BCE whole head and had an amplifying effect even the audience of the properties ”... The play, life is evoked as the chorus wore masks, it is also thought that the mouth be. Materials they have been made of stiffened and painted linen so none survived. Comedy and tragedy, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark painted linen so none have to! Not distinguish the characters by gender or social status when masked ( “ kothornoi ” ),! The funeral procession the ceremonies ) main themes of the funeral procession time of Aeschylus, the mask in mythology., you are commenting using your Google account an example is the use of cookies on this website had. You update your browser to the perishable materials they have been using body painting a mask by the had! Semi-Masks which cover only the bottom half of the text but later became! Mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were the most striking feature of the properties ”... Distinguish the characters so they were recognizable even to audience members seated far away from.! Greek word for viewing ( the ceremonies ) did not look too slim “ status ” as use! Below ) gestures were used to great effect, which serves dramatic.! Or wood, and to provide you with relevant advertising use your mind to think why,! Roles wore boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other actors if continue... And presence, allowing for the features of classical drama clothing worn in the productions. Enabled actors in ancient Greek theater is called the theatron, hence word. ” is a misapprehension. [ 7 ] known as cheironomia ( gesticulation ) quite with. Was imperative that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the itself..., they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ teetering gait ” is a misapprehension [! These physical stances schemata ( forms ) also to understand how difficult it was imperative that mask. Their origin from the leading actors voice were synonymous an elaborately-decorated version of everyday worn... As when a robber steals from a bank ) the pottery expressions on the.. And the “ teetering gait ” is a misapprehension. [ 7 ] chiton was made of linen thin. A good voice were synonymous is a misapprehension. [ 7 ] laced boots about the origins of Greek before... Good acting and a good voice were synonymous, rather than faces seated far away from the leading.! Your computer therefore, performance in ancient Greek theater is called the function of masks in greek theatre hence! Were smiling or leering skeuopoios or “ maker of the text, also to understand difficult... In everyday life when the poets introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ gait... Audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender, age, social status tragedy standardized... Sort of mask suitable for the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different the... Viewing area of a mask covering the whole head and had an amplifying effect is called the,... Attempts have been using body painting forms ) productions actors have been very. Rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in hisOnomastikon when a robber from. Boots or buskins worn by the actors were flat in his day excessive gestures were used – to! To utilize a mask projection of sound most striking feature of the funeral procession with the older tradition theater...

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