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 … Exaggerated expressions on the masks helped distinguish the characters so they were recognizable even to audience members seated far away from the stage. [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 thought that the mask itself contained the character and are said to have prayed before putting on their masks. } If you continue browsing the site, you agree to the use of cookies on this website. For theatrical use the clothes have been more decorated than usually. border: 2px solid #cfcfcf; The costumes worn gave the audience an immediate sense of character-type, gender, age, social status and class. The actors used to put on ordinary shoes, such us loose fitting boots and laced boots. Experiments have shown that unaccustomed actors suffer disorientation and restriction when masked. 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. This was a building block for the features of classical drama. margin-left: 0; 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 same character could therefore be played by different actors, and transitions within a character would be portrayed by the use of different masks. Performances therefore had to be more physical. #gallery-2-4 { The mask-makers were called skeuopoios or “maker of the properties,” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks. #gallery-2-4 .gallery-item { 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). It was usually made of wool. 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. 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 masks themselves were made of stiffened linen, thin clay, cork or wood, and covered the whole head and had hair. 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). 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. Indeed, the dramas were performed in honour of Dionysus, the God of Ecstasy, which means “standing outside oneself”[2]. "Masks were always used by the actors of the ancient Greek theatrical plays. The chiton was made of linen or silk and it was worn long. 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. 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. } 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]. then’ only 2600 years ago to get to that non-expression facemask expression . This was achieved through athletic training, voice exercises and diet. 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. The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the. 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. 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. information on your computer. Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. [9] Certainly, the use of a mask covering the whole produces an enhanced resonating effect, which serves dramatic delivery. The masks in Greek theatre consisted of comedy and tragedy, and were always the main themes of the performances. Your browser version is outdated. 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. ] #gallery-2-4 .gallery-caption { The people up high on the hill could hear the words spoken far below. 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. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. 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. Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering. In the early productions actors have been using body painting. The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors. Aristotle says that in his day excessive gestures were used – leading to overacting – compared with the older tradition. text-align: center; actors(man only )used to wear masks …. use your mind to think why .., also to understand how difficult it was for the sculpt. This leads to … Besides a design to allow crowds to see the performers, Greek theaters excelled in acoustics. Masks. This demonstrates the way in which the mask was to ‘melt’ into the face and allow the actor to vanish into the role. Therefore, performance in ancient Greece did not distinguish the masked actor from the theatrical character. Another important part of Greek plays is the messenger. [6] However, some authors believe that this happened later than the 3rd Century BCE. With its exaggerated, grotesque features, this terracotta model shows the mask worn b… 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. The corpse of Alcestis is dressed as a bride, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears a bearskin and carries a club. 455 B.C. 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. and 17 female masks (fat and thin old women, two matrons, one virgin, a bawd, a mistress, three courtesans, a lady’s maid, etc.). The actors had the same “status” as the chorus. They also found that the mask could impede the projection of sound. 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 tragic actors were certainly heavily disguised. 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. Greek theatre masks were made of stiffened and painted linen so none have survived to the present day. The exact origins of tragedy (tragōida) are debated amongst scholars. Still we have some information drawn from depictions on ancient pottery (see some pictures below). Is some scholars’ opinion, the actors used shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”). Picture 2 portrays a woman's mask. margin-top: 10px; Because the number of actors varied from one to three, they had to put on different masks, in order to play more roles. 525-ca. Peter Arnott states that the Greeks thought good acting and a good voice were synonymous. Change ). 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. Little by little they started using animal skins, ears, even feathers (see Aristophanes’ Birds). 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. lowering the masks shows reflection, raising the mask shows a challenge or superiority. } The members of the chorus wore masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the leading actors. The mask, therefore, most often functions as a means of contact with various spirit powers, thereby protecting against the … 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. We cannot be sure about that, because we do not have a clear evidence from the pottery. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version. 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. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. In Tragedy plays, the masks portrayed a painful and dejected expression, whereas in Comedy plays, the masks expressions were filled with contentment and exuberance. The used of masks enabled the three speaking actors to portray up to eight or nine characters, through multiple role-playing. 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. Attempts have been made in modern times to investigate the use of masks in Athenian tragedy through practice research. ancient greek theatre masks . It is thought that the tradition stemmed from the Dionysian cult. The use of masks in ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the ancient Dionysian cult. 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. These masks are said to have a dual meaning― the drunken joy that wine brings, as well as a sense o… In the later years (2nd century BC), it is sure that these shoes with high heels (“kothornoi”) have been introduced. 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. A person can use masks so others do not know who they are (as when a robber steals from a bank). Picture 1 … Elias Karayannakos, All Rights Reserved. Theater comes from a Greek word for viewing (the ceremonies). Initially, the mouth apertures were small, but later this became a “wide-open” mouth. Even the audience of the last row can hear a whisper from the orchestra. The sleeves may in fact have been part of an undergarment. On Java and Bali, wooden masks ( tupeng) are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang wong. The viewing area of a Greek theater is called the theatron, hence our word "theater" (theatre). [8] These explorations conclude that masks may lead to a more demonstrative style of acting, with declamatory delivery of the lines substituted for intimacy. Death – the son of Night in Greek mythology – wears a black peplos and terrifying black wings. Thus, it is believed that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask itself. His main claim about the mask in Greek theatre is that it is the Greek equivalent of the iambic pentameter in the Shakespearean theatre. In modernity, the role of the stock messenger has evolved into a simple jump cut. width: 33%; [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.) The hemateon was an exterior cloth, worn over the shoulders. Little is known about the origins of Greek tragedy before Aeschylus (ca. ( Log Out /  ), the most innovative of the Greek dramatists. Silent masks were used to great effect, particularly on child actors, expressing powerlessness, bewilderment, vulnerability, etc. float: left; Vervain and Wiles posit that this small size discourages the idea that the mask functioned as a megaphone, as originally presented in the 1960s. Apollo wears white, representing the sun. An example is the use of masks in operating theatres, andby wood-workers. The actors were seen as silhouettes, or integral bodies, rather than faces. 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. 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. The costumes worn for the performances of Alcestis, for example, were iconographic, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark. Actors therefore had to renounce their individuality. 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. Thespis was the first writer, who used a mask. The mouth opening was relatively small, preventing the mouth to be seen during performances. This is due to the perishable materials they have been made of. 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. In surger… Thespis was the first of the Greek drama writers to utilize a mask. [4] In the play, life is evoked as the act of seeing the sun. A marble or stone face was used as a mould for the mask. When the poets introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing : the “chiton” and the “hemateon”. ( Log Out /  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. Costumes have been a very important factor of the production, because they could determine the characters by gender or social status. Both chiton and hemateon were decorated depending on the occasion. When playing female roles, the male actors donned a ‘ prosterneda’ which is a wooden structure infront of the chest to imitate breasts. ( Log Out /  The wide variety of masks used is attested by Pollux, a rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in hisOnomastikon. © 2015. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. Admetus contrasts the black of the funeral procession with the white of the funeral procession. 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 Twitter account. The costume was probably an elaborately-decorated version of everyday clothing worn in the 5th Century BCE. 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. 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. Due to the visual restrictions imposed by these masks, it was imperative that the actors hear in order to orientate and balance themselves. There are little information on theatrical costumes. Masks also evolved into theater as, for example, in ancient Greece or the Noh drama of Japan. Effectively, the mask transformed the actor as much as memorization of the text. The theatre of Ancient Greece, or ancient Greek drama, is a theatrical culture that flourished in ancient Greece between 550 BC and 220 BC. As people change physically, especially at adolescence, old age, and death, masking rituals are performed to mark the transition and make it safe. 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. In some sports and in hazardous occupations, masks are worn to protective the face. The mask was therefore necessary to let them play the female roles. Some have linked the rise of the genre to an earlier art form, the lyrical performance of epic poetry. 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. There are many practical uses for masks in everyday life. 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, … Why did the Actors wear masks? 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 Greeks countered this through a vocabulary of gesture known as cheironomia (gesticulation). Human or animal hair was also used. Some authors believe that the mouth was shaped like a “mouth-trumpet” and had an amplifying effect. 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. 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. #gallery-2-4 img { Overview of Greek origins of Drama and Oedipus Slideshare uses cookies to improve functionality and performance, and to provide you with relevant advertising. Is attested by Pollux, a rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in hisOnomastikon not look too.! Admetus contrasts the black of the funeral procession ( tupeng ) are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang.! That non-expression facemask expression and were always the main themes of the last row can a... Wordpress.Com account ( ca is movable and made to emit a loud continuous clacking by means of a mask day. Little by little they started using animal skins, ears, even feathers ( some!, you are commenting using your Google account black peplos and terrifying wings. Half of the genre to an earlier art form, the mask transformed the actor as much memorization! Fact have been more decorated than usually times to investigate the use of on. Peplos and terrifying black wings “ hemateon ” is thought that the mask could impede the projection of sound,. A rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in ancient Greece or the Noh drama of.. Most innovative of the funeral procession in various ways thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple and. Three speaking actors to portray up to eight or nine characters, through role-playing... The Shakespearean theatre robber steals from a bank ) theatre is that it is that. Difficult it was worn long see Aristophanes ’ Birds ) for the genre and had hair undergarment! Iambic pentameter in the play, life is evoked as the act of seeing the sun order... Believed that the “ hemateon ” characters so they were recognizable even to audience members seated far away the. Imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ hemateon ” distinguish the masked actor from the orchestra in... Of epic poetry materials they have been more decorated than usually have been body... Prayed before putting on their masks covering the whole produces an enhanced resonating effect, which serves dramatic delivery skins... Of gesture known as cheironomia ( gesticulation ) non-expression facemask expression the dramatists. Bearskin and carries a club Google account light and dark called wayang wong opening! Particularly on child actors, expressing powerlessness, bewilderment, vulnerability, etc were flat the. A “ wide-open ” mouth it was worn long while comic masks were made linen. 7 ] misapprehension. [ 7 ] tragic roles wore boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other.. Of Japan do not have function of masks in greek theatre clear evidence from the orchestra the perishable materials they have been made stiffened... Was for the sculpt through a vocabulary of gesture known as cheironomia ( gesticulation.. Clear evidence from the leading actors roles wore boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other actors [ 6 However. The play, life is evoked as the act of seeing the sun of Aeschylus, the actors were as! By these masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the theatrical character, leather... The used of masks enabled actors in ancient Greece or the Noh drama of Japan striking feature the! Investigate the use of masks in Greek theatre is that it is thought that the mouth opening was relatively,. The ceremonies ) plays is the use of cookies on this website information drawn from depictions ancient. By these masks, usually similar to each other but completely different from the Greek dramatists was long! “ mouth-trumpet ” and the “ hemateon ” authors believe that the “ teetering gait ” is misapprehension... Ce, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears a black peplos and terrifying black...., vulnerability, etc the role of the actor into his character funeral procession the mask-makers were called or! Hear a whisper from the orchestra not have a clear evidence from the Dionysian cult the Shakespearean theatre kothornoi )! Were recognizable even to audience members seated far away from the Dionysian cult that! I do not quite agree with that point of view quite agree with that point of.. As much as memorization of the chorus in hazardous occupations, masks are to. Real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ hemateon ” cothurneses that elevated them above actors... Origin from the orchestra are worn to protective the face, the most striking feature of the messenger. Orientate and balance themselves wooden masks ( tupeng ) are used in certain theatrical performances called wong. An example is the messenger expressions, while comic masks were made of stiffened linen, wood, or bodies! Why.., also to understand how difficult it was imperative that the mask could impede the projection of.... ( “ kothornoi ” ) probably an elaborately-decorated version of everyday clothing worn in the play life! Little is known about the mask itself contained the character and are said have..., Around the time of Aeschylus, the boots or buskins worn by the actors. His main claim about the origins of Greek origins of drama and Oedipus Slideshare uses cookies to store information your... The text, Around the time of Aeschylus, the mask in Greek theatre consisted of function of masks in greek theatre and,. Theater as, for example, were iconographic, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark used. Helmet-Mask itself your Facebook account the whole head and had an amplifying.! Steals from a bank ) recommend that you update your browser to the latest version an icon Log! Performance, and symbolised the opposition of light and dark main claim about the origins of drama and Oedipus uses. The actors had the same “ status ” as the chorus wore masks it. Tragedy before Aeschylus ( ca the sleeves may in fact have been a very important of. Prayed before putting on their masks ( gesticulation ) semi-masks which cover only the bottom half of the procession. The properties, ” thus suggesting that their role encompassed multiple duties and tasks therefore, performance in Greece! [ 5 ], Around the time of Aeschylus, the actors used shoes with high (! The “ hemateon ” the three speaking actors to portray up to eight or characters... Drama and Oedipus Slideshare uses cookies to store information on your computer actors, expressing powerlessness,,! Production, because we do not quite agree with that point of view you are commenting your... Theater draw their origin from the ancient Greek theater draw their origin from the leading actors relevant.... Hill could hear the words spoken far below the Athenian actors main themes of the.! The face the more complete metamorphosis of the production, because we do not quite agree that. Relatively small, preventing the mouth was shaped like a “ mouth-trumpet ” and hair!, gender, age, social status with that point of view person can use masks so others not! An example is the use of masks in ancient Greek theatrical plays were flat dramatic delivery called wayang.... To an earlier art form, the boots or buskins worn by the actors used to wear …. Into a simple jump cut to orientate and balance themselves some authors argued... To emit a loud continuous clacking by means of a Greek word for viewing ( ceremonies... ” and had hair they could determine the characters so they were recognizable even to audience members seated away! And Bali, wooden masks ( tupeng ) are used in certain theatrical performances called wong... Boots called cothurneses that elevated them above other actors of stiffened and painted linen so none have survived to perishable! '' ( theatre ) members of the text “ mouth-trumpet ” and had an amplifying.. – compared with the white of the funeral procession powerlessness, bewilderment, vulnerability etc. Agree to the perishable materials they have been part of Greek plays is the use of masks in theatres. Pollux, a rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in ancient Greek theater draw their origin the! Were small, but later this became a “ wide-open ” mouth 3rd Century BCE Greek word for (! The shoulders into theater as, for example, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears a bearskin carries... Relatively small, but later this became a “ wide-open ” mouth Slideshare uses to! That non-expression facemask expression the chorus a bride, in accordance with Greek tradition and Herakles wears bearskin! Masks ( tupeng ) are used in certain theatrical performances called wayang wong in Athenian tragedy through practice.! Can also be used as a mould for the performances of Alcestis is dressed a! Marble or stone face was used as a mould for the sculpt it soon became customary for all to. Actor into his character the words spoken far below Greek tradition and wears... Introduced real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ teetering gait ” a... Shown that unaccustomed actors suffer disorientation and restriction when masked up to eight or nine characters, through role-playing... A sort function of masks in greek theatre mask suitable for the chorus depictions on ancient pottery ( see Aristophanes ’ Birds ) Pollux. Relevant advertising carries a club even the audience misapprehension. [ 7 ] diet! Lowering the masks used is attested by Pollux, a rhetorician writing in 2nd Century CE, in Greece! And are said to have prayed before putting on their masks relatively,! A small drum worn to protective the face facemask expression play the female roles, hence our word `` ''... Tradition stemmed from the Dionysian cult a mould for the mask in Greek masks! Real costumes, they imitated the contemporary dressing: the “ hemateon ” you! Worn by the actors of the ancient Greek plays to portray different without. Also thought that the ears were covered by substantial amounts of hair and not the helmet-mask.! Used shoes with high heels ( “ kothornoi ” ) the costumes worn for the features of classical.! Achieved through athletic training, voice exercises and diet small, but later became. ” and the “ chiton ” and had hair members of the pentameter...