It’s Oscar time again, and I’m thinking about my recent trip to Greece and my discovery of who won the first Oscar for best actor. Luckily, I was guided by the wonderful, and effervescent Betsy Filiotis on my trips to the ancient ruins, a fantastically well educated volunteer at the Greek Archaeology Society. She made everything I saw come alive. And late one evening as we were losing the sun, we stopped at the site she was working on – the rural sanctuary of Dionysus. And she told me the story of Thespis…
In the 6th century BC, history has it that Thespis became the first actor ever. Up to that point, there were storytellers, but one evening, Thespis got an idea… He disappeared to put a mask on his face, and then reappeared as – the character of the story! Oh, my God, could you imagine! The people sitting on the hillside must have been bowled over, and rolled down the hill!
Well, Thespis went on to enter the first documented acting contest, and he won first prize. Capitalizing on his success, he got together a group of actors, and set up a wagon to tour and perform. And today actors are often referred to as Thespians.
I love it that since time immemorial, people have been telling stories, that in 534 BC, a big breakthrough in the acting art form came through Thespis, and then in 1911, there was the acting breakthrough with Stanislavski, then another with the Actor’s Studio…
Hey look, it’s said that there are only seven plot lines in all of storytelling, and those fit into only three main themes – Man against Man. Man against Nature. Man against Himself. And to this day, we are still fascinated.
For thousands of years our interest has never waned in developing and improving our storytelling and performing skills – from campfires to theaters to film, we still indulge in elevating, informing, and entertaining though this ancient, ancient art. And when it works, we, audiences, never cease to be surprised, delighted, and changed.
Bravo to all. And a special bravo to the thespians.
Here’s a fun video, titled “Trailer for Every Oscar-Winning Movie Ever” Love it!