The theater of ancient
Rome was heavily influenced by the Greek tradition, and Roman
dramatists tended to adapt and translate from the Greek. For
example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides,
and many of the comedies of Plautus were translations of works
by Menander. However, compared
to Greek theater, Roman theater was less influenced by religion.
War was a common theme, reflecting Roman culture and habits.
The ancient audience
was often loud and rude, shouting insults and booing. Many of
the plays were pantomimed and repetitive. The actors developed
a kind of code that would tell the audience about the characters
just by looking at them:
* A black wig meant
the character was a young man.
* A gray wig meant the character was an old man.
* A red wig meant the character was a slave.
* A white robe meant the character was an old man.
* A purple robe meant the character was a young man.
* A yellow robe meant the character was a woman. (Needed in
Early Roman Theater, as originally female characters were played
by men, however as the Roman Theater progressed, women slaves
took the roles of women in plays)
* A yellow tassel meant the character was a god.
Plays often lasted
for two hours, and were usually comedies. Most comedies involved
mistaken identity (such as gods disguised as humans).
Wilson, Edwin. Goldfarb, Alvin. Theater: The Lively Art.
Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 4 edition (June 21, 2001). ISBN 0072462817