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Theatrical Style in the “Oedipus Tyrannus” Production

Theatrical styles used by Tyrone Guthrie

Oedipus Tyrannus was a playwork done and produced by Tyrone Guthrie in the late 1950s. The play is about the Greek tragedy with a clear focus on the Greek text and drama. It was done in mime with several choruses performed to introduce actors to the stage during the performance. The play applied satire during its performance, and the characters in the play would wear like clowns during the initial set of the play and its cast. The writer used satire to make the play hilarious and enjoyable to the audience. The use of many vulgar jokes, which were hilariously acted, and the introduction of the characters by the use of choruses was well done. The play has underlying moral and philosophical issues being addressed in the setting borrowing so much of the rich Greek culture. The play has a well-defined interaction of characters with fate and chance combined with a few twists of drama. It revolves around Oedipus a detective working to unearth the murder of his father to find himself part of the suspect list but later comes to find out that his wife was his mother. It is a story that revolves around a Greek tragedy as the producers want the audience to side with Medea. The play was edited, and it gave the audience a good taste of satirical drama through the story of Oedipus (Segal 12).

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A theatre can be defined as a structure or a place where artwork or poetry is performed or produced. The theatre structure is designed to provide support areas for the performers, as well as an area for the audience who come to watch the artwork being screened or performed. Some theatres are built for plays and drama performances whereas others are for general purposes. Theaters are either open-air theatres or Amphitheatre. Actors go to theatres to showcase their artwork such as plays and other theatrical works. A theatre should have a sitting area for the audience. The sitting area should be comfortable given that some of the shows may take long hours to be screened or performed. Stage plays are performed in an area that allows actors to demonstrate their artwork (Morford & Lenardon 34).

Types of theatrical styles

This paper reviews the various theatrical styles and identifies the style adopted in the production of Oedipus Tyrannus. There are four different theatrical styles used by actors and play writers today. These include naturalism, realism, expressionism, and impressionism. Each style is unique, and thus a play writer may choose the style that suits his or her work. A theatrical style can be defined as a strategy of how a play or an artwork is done. Mostly, theatrical styles are influenced by the artistic structure, time, and place. They are also influenced by the style of the individual and how he or she chooses to present his or her play in a theatre. Naturalism is a style used in theatre to portray a real-life observation on stage. In this case, the actors perform the play depicting real-life details on stage. Naturalism is used by actors and playwriters to portray nature and all its characteristics on a stage through performances and acting. This style depicted a three-dimensional setting on a theatre stage and created a perfect illusion of real-life events through drama and other artistic work like dances and plays. The naturalism style was influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. It helped to set up a stage of the social and natural environment on stage. Expressionism is a theatrical style used by a play writer to depict an anti-realistic appearance on stage, and it usually appears to be distorted. The truth only lies within the man, and the artwork only stages expressions through the emotions of the actor or the play performer (Goetz & Taliaferro 21).

The expressionism style was developed in the early 1850s through paintings that were exhibited in Paris. A person who uses expressionism is referred to as an expressionist. An expressionist expresses art through emotions and creates mental images among the audience. The realism style is used by actors or play-writers to portray characters on the stage that are close to real life. The artist should express his or her wishes to the audience by depicting some close-to-real and normal life situations on stage as artwork. This style attempts to portray characters on stage to exist in the third person through visual arts and pictures. The realism style was developed during the 18th century in France before spreading to the rest of the world. Nowadays, it is used by artists to depict characters that are close to real-life situations. Impressionism is the final theatrical style to be developed by artists. It tries to depict the life of people and their way of thinking through art and paintings. Mostly, it portrays the life of great men and stories of war and battles in ancient times (Wolf & Grosenick 24).

The expressionism style was adopted throughout the play. The actors had to wear clown noses to express anti-realistic appearances on stage. The faces of the actors appeared distorted, but the truth was portrayed by different actors. The play was set in a theatre with most of the actors dressed in ancient Greek attire and clown noses. This was meant to give the audience a taste of satire and learn about the tragic story of Oedipus. This gave significant information to the audience about the Greek way of life. The play depicted life in ancient Greece and the costumes worn by the actors were meant to portray that life alienated the daily lives of the audience giving them little expectations of the life of Oedipus. The play revolves around Oedipus who had been abandoned and later raised by a childless king who later came to learn of a prophecy that his son would kill him and later take his mother as his wife. The Tyrone Guthrie work of a tragedy play is revealed in Oedipus Tyrannus. The child is later abandoned in the desert but later survives and returns to Thebes not knowing of his true origin. The play has a clear line of dramatic irony because most of the characters do not know their connection. Oedipus kills his father on a roadside saves the kingdom from a sphinx and thus earns the hand of the widowed queen. The queen later knows about the truth of marrying her son and kills herself while Oedipus gouges his eyes out. (Gunderson, 29).

The style of production normally affects the meaning of the play. In this case, the producer should consider the theatrical style to use in a given play to portray his or her work and give a clear meaning to the audience. The producer of the play writer should have a preference for a single theatrical style when expressing his or her artistic abilities and talent. The setting of the play “Oedipus” by Tyrone Guthrie was depicted in ancient Greece culture. However, its meaning has not been distorted over the years. In this case, the original work is still shown on screenplays in theatres. The original production style is still used to showcase the performance of the play in theatres even today. The play was written to portray the daily experiences of people, and the life of Oedipus depicted this setting. Theoretical styles are normally influenced by artistic structure and understanding of the individual audience through how a play or an artistic work has been done and presented (Morford & Lenardon 38). Thus, a play writer should maintain a clear theatrical style while writing or directing a play or a performance.


Most ancient theatres were used by actors and the presentation of plays. Here, the actors would showcase their plays in the open air with a clear view of the audience who would come out in large numbers to enjoy the performances. In ancient Greece, theatres were used for the performance of plays, dances, and public gatherings attended by area leaders. Most of these theatres were circular or rectangular. The audience would sit in the tiers that surrounded the orchestra. In later years, closed theatres were introduced with large sitting areas for the audience. Modern theatres do not differ much from the ancient ones. However, they have only been modified to cater for sound effects and the lighting system improved. The audience can enjoy different artworks through improved performances from many talented actors and directors.

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Works Cited

Goetz, Stewart & C. Taliaferro. Naturalism. Grand Rapids, Mich: William B. Eerdmans Pub, 2008. Print.

Gunderson, Jessica. Impressionism. Mankato, MN: Creative Education, 2009. Print.

Morford, Mark P.O. & R.J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. New York, N.Y.; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

Wolf, Norbert & U. Grosenick. Expressionism. Köln: Taschen, 2006. Print.

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