Studying Ancient Laughs
In Ms. Dempsey’s theater arts elective, The History of Comedy, seventh and eighth graders are learning about the origins of western comedy and its influence through the ages. In an introduction to Greek theatre, they examined the differences between tragedy and comedy. The students also learned how early comedies reflected on and made fun of politics, society, literature, and war. Later comedies in Ancient Greece and Rome focused more on daily life, romance, mistaken identities, and misunderstandings. The students watched and discussed excerpts from plays by Aristophanes, Plautus, Shakespeare, and Stephen Sondheim. Next week the class will dive into the world of Commedia Dell’Arte, an improvised comedic theatre form that flourished in Italy in the 1500s.
In the photos, the students are acting out a tableau series based on the ancient Greek tragedy, The Oresteia.