Mary Louise Hart, Associate Curator of Antiquities, J. Paul Getty Museum
Theatrical performance emerged in ancient Athens from the worship of Dionysos, the god of wine and theater. From productions in the Theater of Dionysos, the tragedies and satyr plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides as well as the comedies of Aristophanes and Menander spread throughout the Mediterranean, flourishing especially in southern Italy and Sicily. There, in Magna Graecia, vase painters and sculptors created vivid depictions of dramatic scenes, representing sets, costumes, masks, choreography, and music. The Art of Ancient Greek Theater, amajor international loan exhibition, is the first exploration in nearly sixty years of the many ways Greek plays and stagecraft inspired classical artists, whose works are often the only surviving evidence of the performing arts in antiquity, bringing together some of the finest examples of objects depicting theater in the ancient world. The exhibition coincided with the Getty Villa’s outdoor theater production of Elektra.