In this research I plan to analyse ‘A funny thing on the way to the forum’ I will do this so I understand the story better myself. If I can understand the story then the audience will hopefully understand what is going on a bit better, I know this because I will be able to portray my character a lot better which means that the story will be clearer.
Synopsis: This is a side splitting musical which will have you rolling on the floor laughing. It is taken form the very roots of comedy which entwines the the ancient comedy of Plautus with a ‘vaudevillian’ ( comical theatre piece which combines elements of pantomime, dialogue, dancing, and song ). Pseudolus helps Hero, son of Sanex and Domina to marry a maid Phelia who has been promised to a Soldier. Upon succeeding Hero’s quest to marry Phelia Pseuslous is promised freedom of servitude.
- Pseudolus: Roman slave owned by Domina and Sanex who seeks freedom form Hero for helping him to be with Phelia.
- Hysterium: Another slave who is usually with Pseudolus and known as the less intelligent out of the pair. the gender in the show is usually mistaken or just ruled out as being unimportant as it can be changed through out for humour reasons or can be played by a man or a woman but the gender is not highlighted of this character frequently enough to be noticed.
- Hero: Son of Domina and Sanex, handsome, heart-throb of the show and is deeply in love with Phelia.
- Phelia: Maid of Sanex and Domina. Known as the ‘dumb blonde’ type character in the sense that all she knows is how to stand there and look pretty while she does her duties. She falls in love with Hero but is already betrothed to a soldier.
- Miles: Boastful soldier who is captain of the Roman army and has been promised marriage to Pheila.
These are the named characters we are using in our shortened versions. the rest of our cast including me are playing the ‘comedy soldiers’ and the ‘saucy maids’. The reason why we have not included all of the stories is because we are doing a very brief 20 minuet version of the show at the ‘Christmas fayre’ in November. We do not have the time to do the entire show so we are cutting it down as much as possible and including the most important parts of the story. This happens to be the story of Hero winning the hand of Phelia.
The songs we are including are…
- “Comedy Tonight” – Pseudolus and Company
- “Lovely” – Philia and Hero
- “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” – Senex, Pseudolus, Hysterium and Lycus.
“Greek comedy was a popular and influential form of theatre performed across ancient Greece from the 6th century BCE. The most famous playwrights of the genre were Aristophanes and Menander and their works, and those of their contemporaries, poked fun at politicians, philosophers, and fellow artists. In addition to maintaining their comic touch, the plays also give an indirect but invaluable insight into Greek society in general and provide details on the workings of political institutions, legal systems, religious practices, education, and warfare in the Hellenic world. Uniquely, the plays also reveal to us something of the identity of the audience and show just what tickled the Greeks’ sense of humour. Finally, Greek comedy and its immediate predecessor Greek tragedy would together form the foundation upon which all modern theatre is based”
“Old Comedy, initial phase of ancient Greek comedy (c. 5th century bc), known through the works of Aristophanes. Old Comedy plays are characterized by an exuberant and high-spirited satire of public persons and affairs. Composed of song, dance, personal invective, and buffoonery, the plays also include outspoken political criticism and comment on literary and philosophical topics. The plays, consisting of loosely related episodes, were first performed in Athens for the religious festival of Dionysus. They gradually took on a six-part structure: an introduction, in which the basic fantasy is explained and developed; the parodos, entry of the chorus; the contest, or agon, a ritualized debate between opposing principals, usually stock characters; the parabasis, in which the chorus addresses the audience on the topics of the day and hurls scurrilous criticism at prominent citizens; a series of farcical scenes; and a final banquet or wedding. The chorus often were dressed as animals, while the characters wore street dress and masks with grotesque features.”
Through reading these two articles I have come to the conclusions that these are both about the very foundations of comedy and are very early time periods. Some of the elements of both articles do take part in ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum’, such as satire. Satire is used as a tool of exaggeration in our peiece as it is very over the top ans has a pantomime appeal to it. In ‘A funny thing happened on the way to the forum’ we have to be really over the top and make fun of our characters as we have to grab the attention of our audience as soon as we start as we are performing to an unpaid audience. We also use the entrance of the characters as a comedy tool as well for example that maids entre aprearing slightly weary of Sanex but make fun and laugh at him and Domina in front of them, then they are very suggestive to Hero as they all like the look of him. This includes a lot of shimmying and ‘accidental’ dropping of objects to make Hero help them. we have used these ideas of the maids being purposefully clumsy so the audience can relate to a time when they have done that to get their crush to help them but when they look back its slightly embarrassing which makes them have a little giggle to them selves out of embarrassment.
I do however think that these articles are a little early in the sense that they are talking about such old comedy and I personally don’t think that this piece is that far back with the comedy. I think that with certain characters this is closer to “new comedy”.
“Menander was the most successful of the three comedians. His comedies not only provided their audience with a brief respite from reality, they also gave them an accurate but not too detailed picture of life. This led an ancient critic to ask if life influenced Menander in the writing of his plays or if it was vice versa. Unlike his predecessors like Aristophanes, Menander’s comedies tended to be more about the fears and foibles of the ordinary man, his personal relationships, family life and social mishaps rather than politics and public life. They were supremely civilized and sophisticated plays which were less farcical and satirical than the plays before them. This sophistication was what made him more successful than the other Greek comedians who wrote in the same genre.”
I think this is closer to “new” comedy because it does focus in on personal relationships, (Hero and Pheila), family life,(Domina, the overbearing wife) and social mishaps (Pheila being promised to Miles). The story line has more of a relateable comedy value to it which is why I believe that is has a newer comedy with a sprinkling of the older material.