The Playing Space

in The Theatricality of Greek Tragedy

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9780226477572
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226477565 | DOI:
The Playing Space

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This chapter examines the playing space of Greek tragedy in the fifth century bce in Athens, and presents evidence that the tragic scripts from this period were composed for performance in the open playing space. With some minimal exceptions, the texts of Greek drama do not contain original stage directions of the kind we have come to expect in modern printed drama. We are therefore dependent on references in the verbal script to its own implementation or on inferences we can draw from the verbal script about the presence of material objects and about the proximity of performers to each other or to a material object. Oliver Taplin's influential study The Stagecraft of Aeschylus exemplifies the difficulty of studying the open playing space. Taplin's consistent focus was placed on what he called “entrances and exits,” which he applied to the chorus as well as to the actors/characters. The chapter considers some of Taplin's discussions, as well as other modern discussions of the tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

Keywords: Greek tragedy; drama; playing space; Oliver Taplin; Aeschylus; Sophocles; Euripides; exits; entrances; choros

Chapter.  51955 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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