Ancient Theatre As a Space for Social Negotiation: Marginalised Groups in the Spotlight | 2024

June 27th - 29th, 2024, Mainz

'Theater' is a social burning mirror in various ways: the performance of a play involves a wide variety of social groups, from the text producers to the acting troupe and supporting personnel to the audience. The dramas themselves (as texts and in performance) as well as pictorial realizations of theatrical scenes present characters who often play no role as individuals in their own right in the lived social context, but are merely the disposal of higher-ranking persons.

This is particularly noticeable in Greek and Roman comedies: slaves/servants, so-called parasites, flatterers or hetaerae, among others, are characterized in detail through their speeches and actions as well as through the (re-)actions of other figures. In contrast to their counterparts in historical reality, they often play a prominent role in the course of events, acting as a catalyst. They appear much less frequently in the tragedies, but here they have a prominent function as confidants of the protagonists. For example, the question of social and biological motherhood and the permeability of social hierarchies are staged through the wet nurses. If these plays are now translated into other media, for example into visual representations (pictures and statuettes), the comedy actors in the costume of a slave or other figures at the lower end of the social hierarchy are represented very prominently, both quantitatively and qualitatively, among the individual figures in multi-figure scenes, while this is much less the case for the tragedy actors.

The international conference will explore the question of what function theatre played in the stabilization or softening of firmly ascribed social positions. The focus will be on the one hand on theatrical practice (text production, performance, audience, etc.) and on the other hand on the plays themselves and their reception in the imaginary of antiquity.

Scientific Organizers:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Heide Frielinghaus

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Christine Walde