Blog # 4 Wrap Up

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From watching the other groups present on our day, I liked the group about Russian theater because of the way there presentation took shape based off of frustrations in the research. I thought that even though they couldn't very much information on their specific topic, they found a way to make a presentation on why that might be. Also, I liked how they dug deep into the history of Russia during that time. I felt that all group members were really knowledgeable and drew specific conclusions from the project. The other group that really stood out to me what the presentation on Mexican Theater. What I remember about this presentation was its tie to the present day. This story was about the Clinton's coming to Mexico and how the dance was used to insult them without them knowing it. I thought this group did a great job of narrowing their scope and catching interest with this story, because then after that they went on to explain more specifics about the theater and dance. The other group of Elizabethan Theater that focused on Marlowe and his play Faustus was a great example of how to narrow the scope. I did feel that this was a kind of bland presentation with just a powerpoint. Maybe the group could have acted out something from Faustus or tied it in with a present day example?
I feel that our presentation was one of the more engaging and interesting presentations just because it was one of the only ones that was interactive. I think a lot in our presentation went well, specifically people in the audience were responsive and I felt like our point that ancient Roman Spectacle was spectacle and not theater was clear. Looking back, I feel that maybe we still could have narrowed our focus a little bit. We could have focused on just Chariot racing and gone further in depth about its significance and how it relates to theater, instead of focusing on all different kinds of spectacles. If we had done that I also think our closing argument would have been tighter and less broad.

Kelsey Blog #3

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This week we have been focusing on getting the script of our presentation outlined and specified. We have pooled together different aspects of our research to add to the script, but focused on the event of Anicius's games. We have Anicius as the main speaker during this event which is based off of an actual event that we researched. We are focusing on the music behind the event, chariot racing (which is mainly what I researched about) animal hunts, public executions, and gladiator fights. At the end we will explain the significance of these spectacles and how it isn't theater. These week has been interesting for me because I have learned more about the other topics that I didn't research such as animal hunt, and gladiatior fights from my group members. I am hoping that our idea of an interactive skit will work, because I think it will make the presentation more lively and exciting to watch...just like the games would have been.

Assignment #4: Sculpt

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1. We will assure each member participates by focusing on an event that pulls all of our research together, touches on everyone's research, and then have action/speaking parts for everyone. Equal involvement as far speaking,acting, musical instruments,etc.
2. We will try to touch briefly on everything we researched, (even if it is a quick list of on spectacles), and then primarily focus on the spectacle of 166B.C., the celebration of Anicius Gallus's victory of Greece. We won't drown the class in information because we will have them focus on one event that ties in the themes of Greek entertainment vs. Roman entertainment, what spectacle is (and how it isn't theatre), and how spectacle relates to political power.
3. Our presentation will be acting/musical/speaking on our part and require audience participation. The speakers will narrate the story of the Spectacle of 166 B.C. and explain the themes shown in the story. The audience will act as the Roman audience present at the spectacle and be asked to respond as the Roman audience would. We will utilize signs and music to help create this environment. We've played with the idea of working outside but have concerns about weather and time limits (however the space between Anderson and Ferguson would make a great arena like space).

Argument: The bloody spectacles in Ancient Rome have a direct tie to political power. Ancient Roman spectacle is NOT theatre, and is in fact very different from the performance aspect found in Greece at the same time. The Spectacle of 166 B.C. is an example of the bloodshed and violence found in Roman spectacle and also represents the ties to the political and sociological environments of Ancient Rome. Every spectacle happened for a reason.

Kelsey Blog #2

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This week I have been focused on trying to find a balance between finding specifics, narrowing my scope, but also keeping in mind some of the bigger questions about ancient roman spectacle. The first part of the book that I read was Donald G. Kyle's Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, this had a lot of good information, but not many specifics. It focused on bigger questions like- why Roman were so comfortable with death? How can we begin to dissect ancient roman spectacles when it is so different from the way our modern world works? This book even highlighted that philosophers, like Seneca, weren't really bothered with death, they were just concerned with that the public was okay with viewing it. They were also an avid part of the audience. The other article that I read was much more specific about the racers themselves. I read about the clothes that they wore and what this meant, the specifics about the race itself, and how racers were treated. This helped me as I feel like I want to just focus on something like the racers themselves and how they trained and their significance at the time. I still think I need to get to a more specific place with my research. This research highlighted the fact that in acting we also have to take off our modern lenses to dissect a character and society that is very different than our own.

Kelsey Annotated Bib

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Kyle, Donald G. Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome. London: Routledge, 1998. Print.

In Donald G. Kyle's Spectacles of Death in Ancient Rome, Kyle explored how citizens of Rome would have viewed the blood shows, gladiatorial combats, and animal hunts. He challenges our modernized western lenses that would shutter at the thought of cheering on violence and stats that "we have to look at them [the games] in their own light". Kyle also examines how popular the games were, people from all social classes came. The seating arrangement of the arena was actually used as showing a hierarchical way of society. Also, Kyle highlights that there was no simply no widespread opposition to the games, in fact, sometimes complaints were made about the lack of money going into the event .Kyle emphasizes how and why the games were important to the Roman citizens and that death was comforting to them, while asking the reader to look at their world differently without judgment or comparison to our modern one.

"Ancient Roman Chariot Races." Ancient Roman Chariot Races. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .

In the online article "Ancient Roman Chariot Races" I found a lot more specifics about the chariot riders and the types of Chariots themselves. I liked this article because it was more specific and helped me narrow my focus a little more. Charioteers wore leather helmet, kneepads, and shin pads. They also wore colored tunics that were colored according to their team. Horses would also be magnificently decorated; even their manes would be threaded with pearls. Chariots that were drawn by two horses were called "bigae" and those drawn by four horse were "quadrigae". Trumpets started races, and when the cheering ceased a handkerchief called "mappa" would be dropped from the imperial box. A full race included seven laps, and there could be as many as twelve competitors. The racers could make a huge fortune through winnings and could be the equivalent of Roman millionaires.

1. Based on what you've read, what contextual information must your group necessarily communicate to the class in order to help us better understand the theatrical material you plan to discuss?

Our group will have to communicate the Roman distaste for Greek theater (dance, music, plays) and preference toward less subtle and more barbaric displays of violence and slapstick. We also have to show the reason behind putting on these spectacles: usually to gain political sway or as a celebration of defeat of a political leader. It's crucial we discuss WHY Roman spectacle and first and foremost discuss how political leaders could manipulate the crowds. We need to touch on why it's about entertainment, food, punishment, and interaction between the people and the political power. "These spectacles of bloodshed were carried out in public often to exhibit the power of the state and to deter potentially disobedient citizens", "For example, Gaius Gracchus, seeking popular support for his office as tribune, took down the barriers around an arena, which allowed all Roman citizens to enter the gladiatorial combats for free". Also on the notion of attaining further political achievements "one could assume a connection between sponsorship of handsome spectacles as aedile and subsequent attainment of the highest offices" (Beacham, 3). We should also not forget to inform the class on where most of this information is taken from because a lot of it is not taken from written down personal accounts of Roman citizens. For example, a lot of information about chariot racing---a popular form of spectacle and sport in Ancient Rome---is actually taken from various interpretations on the carvings on vases or pottery or other forms of art and decoration. On the British Museum's website, there is an online tour which shows a few items---a coin, a lamp, a bust---which is what a lot of the information on what we know of the chariot races in that time period is taken from.

2. How does your topic express the philosophies, ideologies, political circumstances, and/or social movements occurring in the specific time and place you are investigating?

Our topic shows the chaotic, aggressive, and common changes in political power and also the power spectacle had to control the masses to gain support, to appease, or to distract. Games as a basis for political ritual, manipulation of masses, "here was public pleasure as well as law and order" (in the arena, the idea that all people were welcome and enjoyed the games. "The ritual performance in the arena was a means of Imperial control through directed attitudinal change, the creation and manipulation of mass emotional response, renewed regularity at the behest of the ruling hierarchy". Cicero had a particularly interesting view on games: "A gladiatorial show is likely to seem cruel and brutal to some eyes, and I tend to believe that it is as currently practiced. But in the time when it was criminals who fought with swords in a struggle to the death... there could be no better instruction against pain and death" (Beacham, 16).

3. Given that you only have 20 minutes to present, what big ideas/contextual elements will you have to leave out?

We will have to leave out or gloss over the contrasting Greek theater and culture. We will also most likely leave out anything that doesn't relate to spectacles of death and political and social issues that specifically surround these games. We might also have to sacrifice either a lack of specific detailing in order to talk about more kinds of spectacle; it'll force us to focus on a few or to be less general in order to discuss more.


Beacham, Richard C. Spectacle Entertainments of Early Imperial Rome. New Haven: Yale UP, 1999. Print.

Cowles, Lauren E. (2011) "The Spectacle of Bloodshed in Roman Society," Constructing the Past: Vol. 12: Iss. 1, Article 10.

Futrell, Alison. Blood in the Arena: The Spectacle of Roman Power. Austin: University of Texas, 1997. Print.

"Chariot-racing in Ancient Rome." British Museum. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2012. .

Our presentation will include video clips, vignettes, skit type demonstrations, audience involvement and participation, occasional lecture, the "feel" of a spectacle-keeping the audience entertained, won't be in classroom
We may borrow formal elements from the object of our study, especially if we choose to demonstrate actions that occurred during gladiator battles or public executions.
There may be ethical implications when borrowing. There is a possibility that borrowing will lead to misunderstandings in today's time and place. Public killings and other aspects of our study may be misinterpreted by the class. We will assist our classmates in thinking critically about the performance by engaging them in the performance itself, making them the audience of the "spectacle" we create. we will provide them information while also displaying our topic visually, in hopes that both types of presentation will help them understand our topic.
We will ensure that we stay within the 20-minute time period by these methods: Practice, continuous narrowing of our topic, constant group critique of what is "important" to portray/explain, and timing our performance each practice.
We will present textual and visual materials in an engaging way by using Video clips, active participation on our part (and the audiences)
We will structure our argument by proposing the argument or thesis at the beginning and then support it throughout our presentation (the idea that spectacles were intended to placate the masses and were used for political advancement, then support it.)
We will make sure our ideas are landing with our audience by preparing for little response, hoping for lots of response. Make feedback a necessary part of the presentation.

The idea of spectacle doesn't imply a passive audience or passive participants, and therefore we have chosen to begin to create a presentation that will represent the idea of "spectacle" to the best of our abilities. To reach this goal, we won't have a seated, formal, note-taking lecture.

roman spectacle.jpeg

Due: By noon on Saturday, November 10, you must post a proposal on your group's blog.

This proposal must contain the following information:

1. What specific time period do you plan to research? [100 BCE-476 CE] Roman Empire [27 BC - 476 AD]

2. What artist(s) and/or work(s) do you plan to focus on specifically? [Plautus, Terence, Seneca... Lucius Annaeus Seneca-- Seneca the Younger; 4 BC - AD 65], Circus Maxiumus playwrights(?)]

3. What social [Circus/private games] and/or political events [holding private games for better (?) political standing] are happening at the time you are investigating? Wars (see timeline on "Links" page), political leaders...

4. Briefly describe how you reached consensus on the scope of your group project.
After thorough research in the library and Jstor, we were able to find topics within the broader topic that we are interested in, and will work from there.
We started with a google search to find out what "Ancient Roman Spectacle" is... the spectacle part, anyway. It's violence. We went on to see who would have been a part of "Spectacles", was it simply games? Did it have anything to do with political things at the time. Were things more Grecian or Roman? Was one adopted be another. >>Mostly taking place during the Roman Empire [27 BC - 476 AD]

5. What materials did you consult to help you make your decision (MLA)
Boatwright, Mary T. "Theaters in the Roman Empire." The Biblical Archaeologist 53.4 (1990): 184-92. American Schools of Oriental Research. JSTOR, Dec. 1990. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. .

Damen, Mark. "413 Roman Theatre, Classical Drama and Theatre." Classical Drama and Society- USU EDU. N.p., 2012. Web. 08 Nov. 2012. .

Hammer, Dean. "Roman Spectacle Entertainments and the Technology of Reality." Arethusa 43.1 (2009): 63-86. Project Muse, 2010. Web. 8 Nov. 2012. .

Klar, Laura S. "Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History." Theater and Amphitheater in the Roman World. Metropolitan Museum of Art, n.d. Web. 08 Nov. 2012. .

Parker, Holt N. "The Observed of All Observers: Spectacle, Applause, and Cultural Poetics In the Roman Theater Audience | Holt Parker -" Studies in the History of Art. Ed. Bettina Bergmann and Christine Kondoleon., 1 Jan. 1997. Web. 08 Nov. 2012. .

So far we have looked at: The Roman Empire, Seneca the Younger, gladiator battles, relationship between theatre and politics, chariot racing, circuses, mime and pantomime, Masadonian Wars, amphitheatre vs coliseum, Circus Maximus

rough breakdown:
Grace: circus and playwrights, Circus Maximus
Kelsey: structure of theatre, politics
Josie: spectacles themselves, chariot racing,
Jane: gladiators, spectacles of death, public killings
Britty: The Roman Empire, Rome at time

what is meant by spectacle?: spectacle in ancient Rome may refer to spectacles of death, gladiator battles, and public executions. (we have chosen to focus on the spectacles of death and not chariot racing/circus)
What is the difference between theatre (proper) and spectacle?: spectacle: unscripted, brutal killings,higher stakes, stark reality, blood/violence in front of audience, less predicability. Theatre: scripted, killings not seen onstage, less violence, not reality.

This proposal must do two things: 1.) It must reveal the work you've done to make your decision.
2.) It must begin to map a research agenda that will bring your final presentation to fruition.

Ancient Rome-started 8th century (spans 12 centuries)
Plautus, Terence, Seneca-tragedies
Native Italian, literary drama, popular entertainment-(100BCE-476CE) Renaissance of popular entertainment
Define spectacle!

types of spectacle:
death and violence
public executions
circuses (chariot racing)

political, social issues: Magistrates use public games to gain support in elections

Links from today (11/6)

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