The Theatre | E-Learning University of Athens

The Theatre

The Theatre
An Itinerary from Classical Past to Future

This online course focuses in presenting the evolution of the Ancient Greek Theater starting from the 5th century BC till the 20th-21st century. Greek theatre, mostly developed in Athens, is the root of Western tradition, while the word’s root also originates as Greek. It was part of a performance culture that evolved in classical Greece and included festivals, religious rituals, politics, funerals and many more. Tragedy is also a word originated from Greece and  as it turns out, the dramatic performances were really important to the Athenians.

The course answers to questions like: In what context was ancient Greek drama written and produced in classical Athens? What was a performance of tragedy and comedy like? What factors did contribute to the survival of a small number of ancient plays to present day? When did the first modern public production take place? Which are the most significant trends and tendencies observed in the staging of ancient Greek drama in modern times?

Furthermore, the participant will have the opportunity to learn why the Classical Period is considered as the Golden Age of the Greek drama plus how Ancient drama gets to be performed in modern times and in contemporary European productions. Once you enroll, you’ll start a fascinating journey of ancient Greek drama from the time and place of its creation until its contemporary prominence. All of the above will be analyzed further and in detail in this online course part of the Arts and Culture category. After successfully completing the lessons, the participant will receive a training certificate while acquiring a unique experience into the marvelous world of Theatre.

Professor of Theatre Studies
Associate Professor of Ancient Drama
Actor- Director
Composer -Conductor

Talking about Theater can always be a pleasure and this programme is based on talking about performing Ancient Greek Drama actually this is a programme that is based on the history of performing Ancient Greek Drama all these centuries and it has three main chapters the first chapter is connected to the history of performing Ancient Greek Drama in 5th Century before Christian era.This is the memories or the description of how a spectator, an Athenian spectator of the Dionysian festival of Athens is going to attend a performance in the theatre of Dionysus which is situated under the Acropolis. The second chapter has to do mainly with the performance of Ancient Drama in Europe during the 19th, from the first half of the 19th century until the 21st century and it has to do with all these important performers in the European Theaters throughout all these years. The third chapter is mainly based on the Greek experience on performing Ancient drama and mainly on Ancient Greek theaters and through a big number of performances that had been shown in theaters such as the theater of Delphi or the theater of Epidaurus that has been one of the main centers of performance of Ancient drama in modern times in Greece. So, the whole programme is supported by a big number of audiovisual material, films, film performances, photographs and also interviews with scholars and artists that have developed very important ideas towards approaching ancient drama in modern times.

This programme is addressed not only to those interested in ancient Greek drama who wish to explore its scenic realization through time, but also to those interested in performance history in general, given that ancient Greek drama has always been an intrinsic part of Western European theatrical culture, and thus can be regarded as a barometer of theatrical developments .  


This programme aims to provide an overview on the staging practice of ancient Greek drama in the Greek and European theatre.

The programme will:
• Seek to gain a knowledge of the context and conventions of ancient Greek drama performance in fifth-century Athens
• Identify the key factors that enabled the re-emergence of ancient Greek drama in the modern era and afterwards established its preeminence in the European repertoire
• Attempt to present the most significant artistic, cultural and ideological parameters that lead to the proliferation of ancient Greek drama performances in modern times and assess their impact in contemporary Greek and European theatre

Ancient Greek theatre in 5th Century BC

An attempt to re-create the theatre-going experience of an average Athenian citizen in the 5th century BC

Lesson 1 Recomposing a theatrical event
Theatrical practice in classical Athens was primarily a public institution. All extant dramatic plays were composed and performed within the framework of religious festivals in honour of Dionysus under the auspices of the city-State and with the participation of its citizens. Placing our focus on the performance and not the texts, we attempt to reconstruct the classical theatre-going experience based on the fragmentary material at hand. Thus, we offer an account that is narrative and descriptive, attempting a re-composition which is based on scholarly research combined with fictional supplementations. Instead of describing the general physiognomy of the theatre-going public in classical Athens, we introduce Anthemokritos an average Athenian citizen who attends the dramatic competitions at the City Dionysia sometime in fifth century BC. 

Lesson 2 Attending a performance
We follow Anthemokritos as he makes his way through Athens to attend the dramatic competition at the theatre of Dionysus and share with him the experience of watching a performance in classical Athens. He serves as a proper guide offering a wealth of information about every aspect of the ancient Greek theatrical practice, from the people involved to the elements of the performance and the institutional context in which they were presented. 

Performing Ancient Greek Drama in modern times I: Europe (16th-21st centuries)

Tracing the landmarks in the modern performance history of ancient Greek drama across Europe

Lesson 1 Ancient Greek drama emerging anew in Europe (16th-19th cent.) 
Fifth-century Athenian drama was given a new lease of life in the Renaissance with the printing of the surviving texts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes. We take a brief look at the fascinating journey of these dramatic texts through the centuries until the time of their editiones principes, which ignited a new interest in this ancient art form. At first, ancient Greek drama attracted the interest of humanists for educational purposes, thus amateur and school productions offered the occasional opportunity for the presentation of ancient Greek drama at the time. However, there are two interesting exceptions which can, in retrospect, be regarded as inaugural events in the history of staging ancient Greek drama in modern times: Aeschylus’ Persians in Zante in 1571 and Sophocles’ Oedipus King in in Vicenza on March in 1585.  Α renewed admiration for antiquity triggered by archaeological findings in the middle of the 18th century, in combination with prominent writings on classical art created an idealized image of ancient Greek culture that would prevail in the German-speaking countries and beyond throughout the 19th century. Thus, beginning from Germany in the late 18th century, Greek tragedy came to be regarded as the supreme achievement of Hellenic culture prompting an intense academic interest, which combined with theatre-related demands created a fertile ground for the establishment of a performance practice of ancient Greek drama, which was to spread across Europe. In this respect, we selectively look into theatre practitioners and performances that help us outline the context and aesthetics of ancient Greek drama performance in the 19th century.

Lesson 2 Contemporary European productions of ancient Greek drama: From revival to repertoire (20th-21st cent.)
Since the beginning of the 20th century, performances of ancient Greek drama have attracted the vivid interest of theatre practitioners and have enjoyed a remarkable popularity among contemporary audiences, proven by the sheer volume of productions mounted annually across Europe. In this respect, any aspiration for a comprehensive account would be almost impossible. Therefore, in this part we attempt to illustrate trends and point to tendencies that have shaped the modern European performance history of ancient Greek drama. Based on an indicative selection of path-breaking performances, we shall try to summarize the contribution of ancient Greek drama in the development of European theatrical practice and culture, highlighting its role as a means of experimenting, proposing or affirming concepts, ideas, values and aesthetics.

Performing Ancient Greek Drama in modern times: Greece (20th-21st cent.)

Tracing the landmarks in the history of ancient Greek drama performances in modern Greece.

Lesson 1 Ancient Greek drama emerging anew in modern Greece (19th cent.) 
As one can imagine, the volume of ancient Greek drama productions in modern Greece has been utterly impressive, reflecting their key place in the country’s theatrical practice. And even though one might be tempted to highlight the ‘organic relation’ with this ancient Greek art form as a contributing factor for its modern performance history, in reality the practice of staging ancient Greek drama is intrinsically linked with the establishment of the Greek State in the 19th century and efforts to consolidate the national identity of the people of this newly-founded national entity. In this part, we will outline the first attempts to produce ancient Greek drama in this context, while exploring the impact of a Western European performance tradition that had been developing independently on the modern Greek approach to ancient Greek drama. 

Lesson 2 Contemporary Greek productions of ancient Greek drama: From revival to repertoire (20th-21st cent.)  
Given the impressive number of ancient Greek drama performances in modern Greece that have been proliferating since the beginning of the 20th century, we shall attempt to outline the staging practice that has been established in Greece guided by the most influential Greek theatre practitioners whose work reflects the most significant trends in the modern Greek staging approach to ancient Greek drama. As pointed out, modern Greek performances of classical drama in all their artistic variations have always been associated, in a sense, with ideological issues. In this regard, special emphasis will be placed on the establishment of the Epidaurus Festival (existent until today), as part of the State’s official cultural policy, and its impact on both the local staging practice and the audience reception of ancient Greek drama in Greece. 

Assessment for this programme is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the programme. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Online and distance learning at National and Kapodistrian University of Athens offers a new way of combining innovative learning and teaching techniques with interaction with your tutor and fellow students from around the world.

The e-learning programme is implemented via a user-friendly educational platform adjusted to the Distance Learning Principles. Programmes are structured as weekly online meetings; interaction with the programme tutor and other students takes place in a virtual learning environment. The programmes are designed to fit around your schedule; you access the programme whenever it is convenient for you.

The whole world becomes your classroom as e-learning can be done on laptops, tablets and phones – it is a very mobile method. Learning can be done on the train, on a plane or even during your trip to Greece!

The educational platform is a portal that offers access to electronic classrooms based on modern distance learning technologies. The computer based nature of training means new technology is being introduced all the time to help students engage and learn in a tailored way that will meet their needs. Each e-classroom is similar to a traditional teaching classroom. Students have access to e-classrooms with their personal code number in order to browse  the teaching material, to being informed about the latest news/updates and interact with their instructors. Moreover, through own personal e-mail account through which they can contact directly their mentors or the administration office of the programme and share any concerns or anxieties related to the programme and make the most form their experience.

In each programme, learners submit the corresponding tests, within the deadline given by their instructors. Final mark fluctuates from 0 to 100%. The overall grade in each programme is calculated based on the student's marks on assessment exercises that follow each unit  while their instructor might also assign them with a final assessment at the end of the programme. Finally, if the total score on one or more lessons of the programme does not exceed 50%, students can ask for reassessment.

During the programme students will be attending lectures and group seminars presented by academics and speakers from the National University of Athens as well as from other Universities, Research Institutes and Cultural organizations around Greece. In addition, when you study with us, you have online access to first-class resources relevant to your programme – plus you can browse material in other subject areas.

Every week e-learners are provided with the relevant material , either  video-lectures or  typed notes and relevant resources or a combination of both.

Interactivity, lower costs and our long experience guarantees that studying with us will offer a successful and rewarding experience. Finally, the access to a large variety of material and online resources available in each unit aims to excite your curiosity and guide you in studying further on your favourite topic will the online material which can be downloaded will give you the opportunity to quickly refresh your memory after the completion of the programme.