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Theater of Dionysus, Birthplace of Theater

Theater of Dionysus, Birthplace of Theater

EUROPE, GREECE, SITES TO SEE, TOURS

Since we are in Athens, of course we went to see the Parthenon up on the Acropolis.  As we climbed up, our guide pointed out to us an open air theater known as the Theater of Dionysus.

 

Theater of Dionysious
Theater of Dionysus, Athens
Theater of Dionysious, Athens
Theater of Dionysus, Athens

 

As the guide started to describe what it was, tingles went down my spine. You see, The Theater of Dionysus is the birthplace of theater. It’s where all the big plays opened.  I couldn’t put enough exclamation points or use enough superlatives to give you an idea of what this means so allow me to rave about it for a second.

 

Theater of Dionysious
Theater of Dionysus, Athens
Theater of Dionysus
Theater of Dionysus, Athens
Theater of Dionysus
Theater of Dionysus Seats

 

There are some plays  produced today which were written over 2000 years ago. Frogs, Oedipus Rex, Antigone, Lysistrata, and so on.  These are big hits which makes todays hits: Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Rent, and so on, pale in comparison. Will any of these modern plays still be produced in a hundred years? Maybe or maybe not.  Shakespeare admittedly has plays that have made it a few hundred years but that too is small fry compared to the great Greeks. The Greeks for instance, invented the concept that plays were either comedies and tragedies and they laid out the formula for each of them, a formula which Shakespeare followed.

 

Theater of Dionysious, Athens, Greece
Theater of Dionysus, Athens
Theater of Dionysious
Theater of Dionysus, Athens

 

Greek theatre is where it all started and all the plays opened in the same theater during the same summer festival.  Should I compare their summer theatre festival to our little ones like Cannes or Sundance? Should I compare their awards to our little ones like the Tonys?  And of course, it dwarfs them.

The theater was mostly used during their summer theatre festival.  The festival was religious in nature with the plays being considered homage to Dionysus, the god of theatre, religious ecstasy,  grape harvest, wine, and ritual madness.  The city leaders would pick a rich person each year and invite him to “sponsor” ie, underwrite the festival each year.  Think of this theatre as Broadway, it’s where everything opened.

 

Theater of Dionysus
Theater of Dionysus

 

They also had a summer festival which is where the plays that were popular were produced again. Think of this as Broadway on Tour or summer stock.

Do old Greek plays sound boring? Actually, depending on the translation, they are great.  Lysistrata is the story of women who got tired of their men constantly making war and they want on a sex strike until their husbands agreed to end the war. It’s a hoot and could hardly be more modern in how it explores the relationship of public policy and people’s family situations.

My brother-in-law was in the Frogs and when my husband texted him that we were in the Theatre of Dionysus, he texted back his lines as a member of the chorus when he performed in the Frogs:

We’re the Frogs, we’re the Frogs.  We’re the fun-loving Frogs!”

 

 

About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder and Senior Editor of Carmen’s Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Our travels allows her the opportunity to pursuit her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.

11 Comments

  1. Kelly
    October 25, 2014 at 8:17 am
    Reply

    This is so great to read after just having visited! I love your photos too 🙂

    • Carmen
      October 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Kelly, Glad you enjoyed it! I found the whole visit to the Acropolis very interesting. I just wish we had more time to wonder around.

  2. Vanessa
    October 26, 2014 at 10:10 pm
    Reply

    Interesting post. I always love learning something about Greek history and mythology.

    • Carmen
      October 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm

      Thanks Vanessa, As a theatre fanatic I was really excited to hear that this was the first theatre that people would come to see performances of plays.

  3. Jolanta
    October 27, 2014 at 2:11 am
    Reply

    Thank you for writing this post. We’ve visited some Roman ruins when we were in Spain, but haven’t seen anything Greek (yet, I hope). It’s so nice to travel through travel proxies like you. 🙂

    I do hope you will also write about TBEX as well, because I’m actually clueless as to what it’s all about.

    Keep writing!

    • Carmen
      October 27, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      Hi Jolanta, That’s very sweet of you to say. Greece has many ruins to see. Look for my next post in the next few days, because I’ll be talking about a few of them. I will also do a write up about TBEX and my experience. BTW..Loved you TripAdvisor post.

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders}
    October 29, 2014 at 5:42 am
    Reply

    My teen really wanted to visit Athens this summer, and this is exactly the type of place that was drawing him there. I like how you related the past to the present. I wonder if anyone has done a modern day interpretation of Lysistrata. It’d make an interesting movie.

    • Carmen
      October 30, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      Hi Michele, I would love to see Lysistrata performed in a theatre. I don’t believe anyone has done a modern version of it. That’s great that your teen is interested in coming to Athens. I wish my kids would show some interest.

  5. Lisa Goodmurphy
    October 31, 2014 at 5:08 pm
    Reply

    This was one of our favourite sites when we visited Athens a couple of years ago! Our entire family is very involved in community theatre and my daughters were thrilled to be able to visit the Theatre of Dionysus!!

    • Carmen
      October 31, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Lisa, That’s great! I’m also on the board of a local theatre group at home. My husband was over the moon when he realized it was the first theatre where all these performances were acted out.

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