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On November 23, 534 BCE, legend holds that the performer known as Thespis of Icaria (now Dionysos, Greece) recited lines as someone other than himself—becoming the world’s first actor
 
Before this time, theater performances were either storytelling or “choral” productions. Storytellers not only told stories of Greek gods and heroes, they also danced and sang. A Greek chorus was a group of between 12 and 50 performers who spoke in unison and often wore masks. Thespis was allegedly performing as part of a chorus when he stepped forward. He spoke lines written for the chorus by himself, in character as the Greek god Dionysus.
 
Today, all actors are called “thespians” in his honor.
actor
Noun

person who performs a part in a play, broadcast, or other performance.

alleged
Adjective

supposed or presumed.

Dionysus
Noun

Greek god of wine and fertility.

god
Noun

one of many spiritual deities or supreme beings.

Greek chorus
Noun

group of performers who recited and danced in unison, commenting on the main action of a play.

hero
Noun

person who acts in an exemplary way and is regarded as a model.

legend
Noun

traditional or mythical story.

line
Noun

spoken words in a performance.

memorize
Verb

to learn by heart or commit to memory.

play
Noun

performance of a work written for the stage.

recite
Verb

to repeat words in a formal setting, such as a prayer or lines from a play.

theater
Noun

building or outdoor space for hosting performances.

thespian
Noun

actor or actress.

unison
Noun

at the same time or in harmony.

More Dates in History

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