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Gingerbread Greek Theater

Gingerbread Greek Theater

Gingerbread Greek Theater

 

One of my all time favorite projects would be the gingerbread architecture project. Each year my students spend the week before Thanksgiving reconstructing an ancient architectural wonder entirely out of gingerbread and other edible materials. Past projects have included the Colosseum, the Pantheon, and the Trojan Horse. This year our class took on a Greek Theater.  We first engaged in a lecture on the design of the Greek theater, the various elements involved and the purpose for their design.  Students looked at the original purpose for the orchestra section, the skene (with its traditional three arches), and the theatron.  We also looked at many pictures of Greek theatres still settled into the beautiful hillsides of the Greek country side.  Our students drew inspiration from all of this to create their own theater packed with patrons who are watching a performance.  Since it is the beginning of the Christmas season, we surrounded our theatre with Christmas trees, a decorative western tradition inspired by the Roman holiday Saturnalia.

 

greektheaplan

Theatron – The theatre itself. The early theatres were nestled into a hillside that naturally provided “stadium seating.”  Later the Romans would build lofty structures that created such seating even in the midst of a city.

Orchestra – Initially this was the area in front of the stage where the chorus would recite, sing, play instruments, and dance depending upon the direction called for within the play.  The earliest plays were religious festivals in honor of Dionysus, god of the harvest.  An altar was usually placed in the midst of the orchestra for the god.

Parados – This is a special side entrance for dignitaries such as the senators, upper class, and priests. At times this might also be utilized by the actors.

Skene – This is the Greek word for “tent.” The harvest tents provided the first backdrops for theatrical productions given in honor of Dionysus.  greek-theatre-grangerEventually permanent structures took the place of tents, but retained the name.  Today we derive our word “scene” from this Greek origin.

 

The wonderful part about this project is that while the students are enjoying a fun divergence from the normal routine, they are really learning a great deal about ancient culture. Students learned the history of the theater, the key elements of the theater structure itself, and even enjoyed a reading of Euripides’ play, “Helen.”

 

gingerbread_theater_2009_orchestra

The audience is captivated as they watch the drama unfold – actors in masks, a dead body, and treasure. Oh the suspense!

 

For more lessons in gingerbread architecture, please visit the following:

Gingerbread Pantheon

Gingerbread Circus Maximus

Hadrian’s Wall

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