April 11, 2010

Greek Theatre

Tags: History, Podcasts

Available on iTunes and OU Podcasts

This Open University series examines theatre during the time of Classical Greece. In particular it details the production of the world’s oldest surviving play The Persians by Aeschylus, first performed in Athens at the Theatre of Dionysus in 472BC. Like the other OU podcasts, this series is a set of short documentaries to accompany lectures. There are 4 video podcasts totalling around 40 minutes in length, with the individual videos ranging from 7 to 14 minutes. They are available in iPod or a larger (640x360) format. There are also transcripts. The visuals are mainly talking heads interspersed with shots of theatre ruins, vases or in later episodes modern productions of The Persians.

The first video details what the Theatre of Dionysus would have looked like in the 5th century BC and what it would have meant culturally to attend the theatre at that time. Performances would have been important events, it is estimated that the theatre could probably hold around a third of the male citizens of Athens (it is not certain women were allowed to attend). The second video covers the actors and chorus in Ancient Greek theatre. Ancient Greek plays only had 2 or 3 actors, who would each play multiple parts while wearing masks. The next video examines how some Greek plays have managed to survive 2500 years - only 7 of Aeschylus’ estimated 90 plays still exist. The last episode discusses some modern interpretations of The Persians.

A good short podcast series, but probably only for people particularly interested in Ancient Greek theatre.