The Beginning of Drama
There are many theories about the beginning ofdrama in ancient Greece. The on most widelyaccepted today is based on the assumption thatdrama evolved from ritual. The argument for thisview goes as follows. In the beginning, human beingsviewed the natural forces of the world-even theseasonal changes-as unpredictable, and theysought through various means to control theseunknown and feared powers. Those measureswhich appeared to bring the desired results werethen retained and repeated until they hardened into fixed rituals.
Eventually stories arose which explained or veiled the mysteries of the rites. As time passedsome rituals were abandoned, but the stories, later called myths, persisted and providedmaterial for art and drama. Those who believe that drama evolved out of ritual also argue thatthose rites contained the seed of theater because music, dance, masks, and costumes werealmost always used, Furthermore, a suitable site had to be provided for performances andwhen the entire community did not participate, a clear division was usually made between the"acting area" and the "auditorium."
In addition, there were performers, and, sinceconsiderable importance was attached to avoiding mistakes in the enactment of rites,religious leaders usually assumed that task. Wearing masks and costumes, they oftenimpersonated other people, animals, or supernatural beings, and mimed the desired effect-success in hunt or battle, the coming rain, the revival of the Sun-as an actor might. Eventuallysuch dramatic representations were separated from religious activities.
Another theory traces the theater's origin from the human interest in storytelling. Accordingto this vies tales (about the hunt, war, or other feats) are gradually elaborated, at first throughthe use of impersonation, action, and dialogue by a narrator and then through theassumption of each of the roles by a different person. A closely related theory traces theaterto those dances that are primarily rhythmical and gymnastic or that are imitations of animalmovements and sounds.