Greek Theatres

Characteristics of Ancient Greek Theatre.

Performance space was a simple semi- circle space, The orchestra, where the chorus danced and singed.

The orchestra was situated on a flattened terrace at the foot of a hill, the slope of which produced a natural theatron [Meaning ‘watching space’]

Later, the term ‘Theatre’ applied to the whole area of theatron, orchestra and skene.

Theatres were originally built on a very large scale with great acoustics.

The first seats in Greek theatre were wooden but around 499BC stone blocks were used to create stable permanent seating. They were called ‘Prohedria’ which were reserved for priests and few most respected citizens.

In 465BC, playwrights began using backdrops or scenic wall which hung behind the Orchestra. It also served for actors to change their costume behind. Known as the Skene.

In 425B. A stone screen wall, called a paraskenia, became a common supplement. It was a long wall with projecting sides, which may have had doorways for exits and entrances.

Proskenia is the part behind the Paraskenia. It was columned and was similar to a modern day proscenium. Today’s proscenium is what separates the audience from the stage. A frame around the stage which makes it look as if it is set in a picture frame.

Parodoi were tall arches that opened onto the Orchestra which were used as entrances for actors and chorus members. In between the parodoi and the orchestra lay the eisodoi, through which actors entered and exited.

Scenic elements;

Machina – A crane giving the impression of a flying actor.

Ekkyklema – A wheeled wagon used to bring dead actors into view of the audience.


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