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University of Toronto St. George
Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
Alan Ackerman

Mon. Sept. 24 th Drama- to do - Theatre, Greek word for seeing - What does it mean to see? - Drama represents realities that are invisible - The idea of seeing is central to Oedipus Aristotle is writing 100 years more or less. Poetics was the foundational text about thinking itself. - Kind of how to manual… how to make a tragedy. Lays out an anatomy - He was a biologist - He makes an analogy between play writing, species of literature…. - Poetics a bunch of lecture notes Mimesis: Conjoins 2 notions: Imitation/representation and copying - Neither imitation and representation fully captures his use - For example, Greek tragedies were performed by actors wearing masks, which represents character - These masks were essential to the type of character - Instead of seeing mimesis as falsifying, he sees it as truth: What is the object of imitation ACTION - Drama gives us an imitation of an imitation (PLATO) - CATHARSIS: 1. Medical interpretation- is also a Greek medical term, in response to Plato; tragedy stirs up bad things (passion) in us. Aristotle argues, that tragedy doesn’t encourage these kings of passions, but rids the spectator of these passions. 2. As a moral rather than medical term- purification rather than a purgation 3. Away from the moral and psychological… It is an structural/artistic term - Tragedy means “sacrificial goat” - For Aristotle believed that thinking and feeling are interrelated - Drama is a form of knowledge, the point is to intensify our condition at its most fragile points - CHARACTER is about choice! - Tragedies have an ethical and political meaning: Rhetoric- the art of persuasion - Like rhetoric… tragedies promote a sense of shared civil life - Poetics is about thinking - Making is thinking… the characteristic activity of human beings, the relationship between form and content - Aristotle’s notes: - 1. Means of imitation: language, melody, rhythm - 2. The object of imitation: persons engaged in action - 3. The manner of imitation: narration/doing - 4. Doing - The poetics conjoins enterprises: philosophical study to analyze the structural functions of dramas as studying biology - Aristotle wants to show, good drama can promote good understanding. Rather than distort the emotions - Brings understanding boundaries and shape to human action - To define is to make a boundary - 3 unities: time (should happen in the same amount of time it should take to put on), space (one particular location), action (unity of one, beginning, middle and end… not episodic) - About the ethics of tragedy: What is the function of theatre, and how does catharsis work? - Tragedy should generate in us pity and fear… Aristotle says - Pity (painful emotion, takes the suffering of another person, acknowledges the suffering. Outward motion) and fear (Turning into ourselves. Often the thought of human vulnerability is accompanied by fear) - Arguing that a good person cannot be harmed (Sophocles). The intellect works best when we try to keep our emotions out of it - Exceptional acoustics in the Greek theatres - WORDS: Parodos, Proscenion, Scene, Diazoma A & B, Orchestra and Koilon - 5 century BCE - The playwright was also the director and producer - The south east slope of the acropolis was where the theatre was… it had that civic function - Orchestra- 20 meters in diameter: This is where the chorus was. Between 3 and 15 people… They would divide the acts. They rehearsed for months intensively. It was a privilege. A rich citizen of Athens would finance the group. - Imitation always involves collecting something, giving it boundaries and bringing it back to the play - The playwright is in charge of the entrances and exists. Frame a precise event in a play - 10 meters in distance between the front row and the middle of the orchestra - Approximately 15,000 people would sit at these tragedies PLOT AND STORY - Plot: depicts discrete events and actions as a single activity- the putting together of deeds. That is the soul of the tragedy - Poetics does what it describes - Sophiclean tragedy: How do we make sense of conspiracies - OEDIPUS: Laius and Queen hear from an oracle that their son will kill his father and marry his mother - They bring the child to the mountains, club foot- Oedipus - He is taken to the king and queen of Corinth - Oed. Hears of a rumor that he will kill his father and marry his mother - Runs away… finds himself at Thebes - Sphinx terrorizing city, asks a riddle of everyone that passes - Walking in, he gets attacked by a group of men, kills all but one - Goes into Thebes and takes over the thrown - Rules for many years, a plague comes to Thebes - WHY DOE
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