Pericles (in Plutarch Moralia 813F) advised himself to "imitate the actors, who, while putting into their performances their own passion, character and reputation, yet listen to the prompter and do not go beyond the degree of liberty in rhythms and metres provided by those in authority over them." Could the property-altar on stage double as a prompter's box?
The playwright Thespis, traditional inventor of the actor ("thespian"; literally, 'inspired speaker'), acted in his own plays. By 499 B.C. a prize for acting was introduced in the festival. By this point, presumably, the age of the actor-playwright was over. Consider the anecdotes concerning famous actors: e.g. Hegelochus' mispronunciation at Eur. Orestes 279 in which instead of saying "I see a calm coming over the waves" he said, "I see a weasel coming over the waves" (Ar. Frogs 303-4) [see S. G. Daitz, "Euripides Orestes 279 galen' > galen or How a Blue Sky Turned into a Pussycat," Classical Quarterly 33 (1983) 294-5]; Polus playing the role of the paedagogus in Soph. Electra holding an urn (cf. line 758) containing the ashes of his dead son (Aulus Gellius Noctes Atticae 6.4); and Callipides as a laughing-stock (Ar. Nub. 64, see D. M. Lewis "Aristophanes Clouds 64," Classical Review 20  288-9). Other famous actors include Theodorus, who refused to allow anyone to come on stage before him (Aristotle Politics 1336b27), Thettalus, Neoptolemus, Athenodorus and Molon (Euripides' leading actor according to Demosthenes 19.246). As actors grew in prominence, they developed the habit of interpolating lines into the texts of the plays to show off their skills to best advantage.
Discuss soliloquies, asides (e.g. Teiresias in Soph. OT), and eavesdropping (Phaedra in Eur. Hipp., Orestes in Eur. El. 111, Polonius in Shakespeare Hamlet; J. N. Hough, "The Development of Plautus' Art," Classical Philology 30  43-57 and Transactions of the American Philological Association 70  231-4). Discuss the interaction of actor and audience in comedy in which actors throw nuts and figs at the audience (Ar. Vesp. 58f, Plut. 797ff, Pax 960-6); Socrates stood up so that the audience could compare his face with the comic mask in Ar. Nub. (Aelian VH 2.12) and the audience called for a repetition of the first lines of Eur. Or. (Cicero Tusc. 4.63).
Note: Soph. OC can only be played by three actors if different actors take the title-role at different points in the play.
Discuss the theory found in Aulus Gellius Attic Nights 5.7 that masks (Latin personae) were used to amplify the voices that "sound through" (personant) them. You may want to consider the use of masks in contemporary Japanese No theatre.
Discuss the use of masks in DECAPITATION-SCENES (according to Pseudo-Apollodorus Bibl. the heads of the Aegyptii were buried in different places from their bodies; is this relevant for Aesch. Danaid tetralogy?; Eur. Bacch. 1165ff; despite repeated hints [Aesch. Libation Bearers 396, 883-4, 1047, Eumenides 592] Orestes probably did not decapitate Clytaemnestra; see also P. D. Kovacs, "Where is Aegisthus' Head?," Classical Philology 82  139-41).
Discuss possible CHANGES OF MASK for a single character (e.g. in the blinding-scene in Soph. Oedipus the King 1185-1298; see W. M. Calder III, "The Blinding: Oedipus Tyrannus, 1271-4" American Journal of Philology 80  301-5 at 301 n. 2; in Eur. Cyclops 663; see Seaford's note; and at Ar. Clouds 1170 to show Pheidippides' transformation into a sophist; see F. M. Cornford, The Origins of Attic Comedy (London 1913) 17. Sophocles' lost Thamyras allegedly used a single mask with one white and one black eye to represent both the sighted and the blind character; see A. C. Pearson, The Fragments of Sophocles 1 [Cambridge 1917] 177-8; and the Furies must become Eumenides in Aeschylus' play without benefit of a mask-change). Could a chorus remove their masks on stage as the satyrs did in Aesch. Isthmiastai, according to E. Fraenkel, seminar Proceedings of the British Academy 28 (1942) 245; R. G. Ussher, "The Other Aeschylus," Phoenix 31? Were masks sexually colour-coded: brown for males, white for females, bearded for old men, clean-shaven for young? Tyro's mask is black and blue after a beating in Soph. Tyro according to Pollux 4.141 = page 463 TrGF.
Discuss the use of PORTRAIT-MASKS. On the portrait-mask of Socrates in Aristophanes Clouds see Aelian Varia Historia 2.13 and Dover's edition of the play, page xxxiii. How was the masking of the one-eyed Cyclops managed? (See Ussher on Eur. Cyclops 20-22). How does one show change of emotion while wearing a mask?
Consider the following passages and the implications that they have for costumes: Aesch. Suppl. 73-4 (foreign complexion), Soph. Aj. 1168-81 (haircut), Eur. Hipp. 219-220 (Phaedra's hair), Bacch. 455-6 (beauty of Dionysus), Ismene's hat, Euripides' rags.
All female roles were played by males; a result of this is that transvestism was a pervasive fact of the Greek theatre, sometimes as in Eur. Bacchae or Ar. Thesmophoriazusae entering also as a theme.