Ancient Greek Theatre

April 2024

Dionysus and Xanthias: The First Double Act

Episode 115:

A dive back into Ancient Greek theatre with a look at ‘The Frogs’ by Aristophanes.

A recap on the life and plays of Aristophanes.

A summary of the plot of the play.

Analysis of the main points raised by the play.

A short word on a recent production of the play by ‘Spymonkey’ played at the Kiln Theatre, London in February and March 2024.

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October 2020

Greek Conclusions Part 2

Episode 24

In the final episode on the story of Greek Theatre a further fleshing out of three big subjects in Ancient Greek theatre – The Mask, The Theatre Buildings and The audience.

The podcast will then take a short break before we start on the Roman theatre in season 2. Thanks for coming with me through the story of Greek theatre and the meantime please review, rate and like the podcast wherever you listen from so more theatre and history lowing people can find us.

and if you feel inclined you can tip me the price of a cup of coffee here

September 2020

Greek Conclusions Part 1

Episode 23

In the penultimate episode on the story of Greek Theatre a look at the final years of Greek tragedy and comedy and the Athenian festivals. Then some thoughts on the development of Mime as a dramatic form and notes on our sources.

The Satyr Play: Just for Laughs?

Episode 22

The Satyr play is one of the most enigmatic elements of Ancient Greek drama and we have few surviving examples of it. A look at the stories it told, its development and it’s place in the story of Ancient Greek theatre.

Fragments of Menander

Episode 21

A look at three substantial fragments of Menander’s plays as they have come to us through the centuries.

The Misanthrope: Sole Survivor

Episode 20

A look at the only surviving complete play by Menander and our only full representative of the genre of new comedy.

From Old to New and Menander

Episode 19

The Hellenistic world moves on into a period of domination first by Sparta and then by Macedon, but theatre survives and thrives as New Comedy. Our view of how that development progressed is entwined with the life of Menander who is the only representative poet for this period.

August 2020

Lysistrata: Women On Top

Episode 18

Perhaps the best known of the comedies by Aristophanes Lysistrata imagines a world where women take control in an attempt to force and end the Peloponnesian war. It is sex comedy with a message as the Athenian golden age nears the end.

The Wasps: Legal Laughter

Episode 17

Aristophanes takes a dig at the Athenian legal system and the city leaders who use it to their own ends. The system was part of the democratic process that Athens was still hanging on to despite the rigours of the Peloponnesian war. Citizens took part in the legal process with the same vigour that they displayed when voting or debating. From street crime to murder, how were the criminals judged and punished?

The Clouds: Serious Comedy

Episode 16

Aristophanes took a wry look at the art of philosophy that had become very trendy in Athens. In particular he pokes fun at Socrates and his philosophical method as a father and son try to escape their mounting debts. It’s a funny story, but had a bitter twist for Socrates.

Aristophanes: Comedy, Satire, War

Episode 15

The story of the life, times and plays of Aristophanes, the creator of the only complete plays that we have from the genre of ‘old comedy’. He lived in Athens during the turbulent times of the Peloponnesian war and used satire and comedy to criticise the war leaders and Athenian society.

The Bacchae: Dionysus Is Coming Home

Episode 14

Dionysus takes centre stage in a fantasy of mad women and cross dressing kings. The last and strangest play by Euripides it was a return to tragedy by this ever inventive poet, but unlike anything else that had been seen before.

July 2020

Electra: A Touch Of Realism

Episode 13

A deep dive into the Euripides version of the story of Electra and her revenge on her mother. Euripides gets down to a more human level while still injecting passages of polemic, but we can also start to get elements of realism and sibling heroes who are not quite heroic enough.

Medea: Beware a Woman Scorned

Episode 12

A deep dive into one of Euripides’ greatest plays. Is it pure melodrama, a polemic on the rights and treatment of women, or one of the greatest tragedies ever written? As ever Euripides splits opinion.

Euripides: An Outspoken Life

Episode 11

A summary of the life and times of Euripides, the youngest and most daring of the three great Greek tragedians, but who suffered from a mixed reception in his own time.

Oedipus at Colonus: Death of a Hero?

Episode 10

The story of the death of Oedipus was Sophocles’ last work and puts the role of the Greek hero into a new light. We travel to Colonus, the home town of the playwright, to see the end of Oedipus’ troubled life.

June 2020

Let’s Talk About Oedipus

Episode 9

We travel back into the heart of the Oedipus myth with Sophocles’ interpretation of this dark story. Seen by many as his greatest work it is a dark tale of unwitting patricide and incest that relentlessly leads to tragedy.

Antigone: Nomos Vs Physis

Episode 8

A detailed look at the first of the Theban plays by Sophocles. Greek drama gets personal as the end of a great family drama is acted out, but it’s also a political debate as Sophocles questions what happens when man made law bumps up against natural law.

Sophocles: That Charming Man

Episode 7

The life of Sophocles almost spanned the 5th Century BCE and included events from the defeat of the Persian invasion to the relentless grind of the Peloponnesian wars. We look at his life and times and get an overview of the surviving plays and theatrical innovations the he created.

The Oresteia part 2

Episode 6

A detailed review of The Libation Bearers and Eumenides, the second and third part of The Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus

The Oresteia part 1

Episode 5

A detailed review of Agamemnon, the first part of The Oresteia trilogy by Aeschylus

May 2020

Aeschylus: The First Tragedies

Episode 4

The situation of Athens at the time of the first extant tragedies.

The very earliest dramatists and the little we know of them

The life of Aeschylus including his service in the Persian Wars

His earliest surviving play ‘The Persians’

The Place Of Seeing

Episode 3

The vocabulary of the theatre we inherit from the Greeks

The layout of the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens and it’s main features

Developments in the theatre over time

The Chorus

Stage Machinery

Masks and costume

The judging and prizes

Dionysus and the beginning of Greek Theatre

Episode 2

An overview of the history of Greece to the 5th Century BCE including Minoan and Mycenaean periods, the Greek dark age and the rise of the city state.

The development of the religious festivals and their main features

An overview of the main playwrights and their plays:






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