Newark Boys Chorus School

Chorus Greek Theatre

Chorus Greek Theatre

Chorus in Greek theatre is an important part of the theatrical experience. It has been around for centuries and continues to be a crucial element of dramatic performances today.

The chorus provides an essential narrative device for the actors and helps to carry the story forward, creating an immersive experience for audiences.

In this article, we will explore how chorus was used in ancient Greek theatre and what its purpose was then, as well as how it influences modern performances today.

The Origin Of Chorus In Greek Theatre

Chorus has been an integral part of Greek theatre since its inception. The earliest form of the chorus dates back to 700 BC, in the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles.

Not only was it a crucial part of the storytelling process, but it also helped to create an atmosphere of communal participation and engagement.

At its core, the chorus was a group of actors who sang and danced throughout the performance, often wearing masks and costumes that conveyed their characters’ emotions. In some cases, they were used to explain or amplify the action on stage.

This allowed them to provide commentary or even foreshadow events that would take place later in the play. The chorus was also responsible for providing comic relief, as well as offering moral advice or challenging audience members to think more deeply about certain themes presented in the play.

As such, they were highly regarded by both audiences and performers alike. By serving as an intermediary between audience and character, they helped to bridge any gaps that might otherwise exist between them.

The Role Of Chorus In Ancient Greek Theatre

The role of the chorus in ancient Greek theatre was paramount, providing artistic and emotive support to the story’s protagonists. As a storytelling entity, the chorus was an integral part of the performance, with its members moving, singing and speaking in unison to narrate events. In this way, they often provided commentary on past events and set the stage for what was to come.

The chorus typically consisted of between 12-15 performers who were dressed in matching costumes. They were often considered symbols of wisdom as they acted as a collective voice of reason: reflecting on situations, offering insight into character motivations and guiding audiences through complex plot lines.

Though their function has changed over time, the power of the chorus remains just as strong today – allowing audiences to relate more deeply to characters and better understand dramatic themes. Through its engaging mix of music, movement and dialogue, it continues to be an invaluable tool for connecting with viewers emotionally.

Chorus In Modern Theatre

The chorus has been a part of theatre for centuries, and its influence and importance in modern theatre is just as strong. The chorus provides a unique perspective to the audience and creates a sense of community that allows each audience member to feel connected.

A chorus in modern theatre can take many different forms, depending on the production. It can be used to provide background information, create atmosphere, or even act as a separate character with an important role in the story.

Here are some examples of how choruses are used today:

  • As a group of narrators who comment on the action onstage
  • To create musical transitions between scenes
  • To provide comic relief or additional drama
  • To act as a powerful symbol representing the collective voice of society

The chorus is an important tool for any director looking to enhance their production and add something special to their storytelling. With its ability to evoke emotion from an audience, it’s no wonder why the chorus is still used in theatre today.

Chorus Techniques

The chorus has been a part of the theatre since ancient times, and the use of choruses in modern theatre has kept these traditions alive. In fact, it is estimated that over 70% of Broadway musicals incorporate a chorus.

Chorus techniques vary widely depending on the type of performance they are used in, but all share a few common elements. A typical chorus will consist of many singers and dancers that take center stage to add emotion, color, and energy to a scene or song. Choreography is often used to create patterns or show relationships between characters and enhance the overall effect. Costumes can also be used to emphasize emotions or give an abstract representation of ideas.

Many choruses will also have multiple layers for backup singing or harmony parts to further enrich the music. Choruses are also often employed to tell stories through dance or provide commentary on what is occurring in a scene. For example, in Greek tragedies, the chorus would often take on an omniscient role as they sang and danced about what was happening around them.

More contemporary performances may use less traditional forms like rap battles or hip hop dances to communicate messages about current events or social issues. No matter what form it takes, using a chorus in modern theatre helps bring stories alive and engage audiences more deeply with their production.

The Impact Of Chorus On Audience Experience

The impact of the chorus in Greek theatre can be seen in its ability to captivate an audience. The chorus provided an emotional outlet for the audience, as its members sang, danced and acted out the roles within a play. They often served as a bridge between the characters onstage and the audience, connecting the audience to what was happening on stage. Through their presence and performance, they could draw a crowd in and keep them engaged.

The use of choruses also offered audiences a unique form of entertainment that was not available outside of theatre. It gave them an interactive experience that many other forms of entertainment lacked at the time. This allowed audiences to become emotionally invested in the stories being told on stage, as they watched and listened to the chorus perform their roles.

This emotional connection that audiences felt with the chorus enabled them to better absorb and understand what was happening on stage. Not only did it add to their overall enjoyment of the show, but it also gave them more insight into the themes being explored by the playwright. As such, chorus had a great influence over audience experience in Greek theatre.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is The Typical Size Of A Chorus In Ancient Greek Theatre?

The typical size of a chorus in ancient Greek theatre may seem daunting, but it was actually quite manageable!

Choruses typically consisted of between 12 and 15 members, with a few exceptions that had as many as 24.

This small size allowed the chorus to move easily around the stage and interact with the audience in an intimate way, creating powerful imagery that would last long after the performance ended.

How Does The Chorus Contribute To The Structure Of A Play?

The chorus is an integral part of the structure of a play, providing commentary and helping to move the story along.

It’s made up of a group of singers and dancers who enter from the side at key points in the play and provide a different perspective on what is happening on stage.

They often act as a link between scenes, offering information that could not be conveyed through dialogue alone.

The chorus also helps to create suspense by narrating events as they unfold and can be used to help build tension or to add comedic relief.

How Has The Use Of Chorus Changed Over Time?

The use of chorus in theatre has evolved over time, from being an integral part of the structure of Ancient Greek plays to being used as a more symbolic presence in present day performances.

In ancient times, the chorus was essentially a narrator that sang and moved around the stage to help explain the story and provide commentary on the action.

Over time, their role has shifted away from this narrative function and become more symbolic, often serving as an additional layer of characterization or interpretation for the audience.

To emphasize this point, it’s almost like they’ve gone from being a narrator to being a metaphor – their presence reminding us all that there is something bigger than us at play here.

What Is The Purpose Of The Costumes Worn By A Chorus?

The purpose of costumes worn by a chorus is to create a unified look and help with the formation of a sense of togetherness. By wearing similar garments, the chorus is able to appear as one entity, rather than separate individuals.

The costumes also help to evoke an emotional response from the audience, making it easier for them to connect with the story being told. Additionally, they can be used as a visual representation of the characters or themes within a production, helping to deepen understanding and engagement with the performance.

How Does The Size Of The Chorus Affect The Dynamics Of A Performance?

The size of a chorus can play an integral role in the dynamics of a performance.

As the size increases, so does its capacity to captivate an audience with its collective presence and create a larger impact through powerful sound.

A larger chorus also allows for more intricate harmonies and an increased dynamic range, enabling it to achieve greater heights of emotion and drama.

Figuratively speaking, the size of the chorus is like adding fuel to fire; as it grows, so does its ability to captivate and mesmerize.


The chorus is an integral part of the ancient Greek theatre, and its impact on the performance cannot be overlooked. Through their costumes and their presence in a play, they add a layer of depth that keeps audiences engaged.

Their size is often determined by the director and can even influence the dynamics of a performance. As we watch the chorus members move as one unit and hear their voices harmonizing together, it’s easy to feel captivated by their presence.

The use of chorus has evolved over time but its importance in theatre remains unchanged. They create suspense and a sense of anticipation which builds up until the final scene, leaving us with an unforgettable experience.