Design Of Greek And Roman Theatres

1306 words - 5 pages

DECEMBER 7, 1994The designs of theatres during the last five-hundred centuries b.c. varied in many ways of construction and design. The technical advances in acoustics and construction were enormous. The placement of the seating and construction of the stage and even sizes of the theatres varied from theatre to theatre. They varied from open-air to roofed, both columned and free-spanned roofs. The versatility of uses of these auditoriums varied from holding sports events to speakers and plays.Some of the main architectural points of a theatre were the pit or orchestra, cavea, skene, stage, and the parodoi. The pit or orchestra was usually a circle marked out by a stone perimeter directly in front of the stage for spectators to use. The cavea was the seating which was usually a range of steps or terraces for the spectators to view the performance from. Generally, the natural slope of the hill was used and the pit was located at the bottom of the hill. The skene was a stage, dressing room, and usually a backdrop all in one, it was generally a building built of stone immediately behind the stage that extended to both sides of the stage with two to three doors in it to provide access to the stage. The parodoi were ramps that lead from the pit to the outside the theatre to provide access to the spectators (Molinari, 57).The book written by Picard and Cambridge entitled Theatre of Dionysus in Athens describes the theatre as an open-air theatre that was built into a hillside as many of the theatres of that time were. It was cut into the slope of the hill and used the natural slope of the hill to terrace the seating area. The Dionysus used wooden benches which were very practical because of the ease of construction and they were mobile. The orchestra was surrounded on the audience side by a stone terrace. It was approximately eighty-five to eighty-eight feet in diameter which was normal for that time period. The alter was placed in the center of the terrace which made it a perfect location for speakers and it could be removed for plays. During the early years of this theatre there were no stage buildings. The buildings would be erected for each particular event, perhaps a backdrop of wood or canvas and a dressing room that is a tent or hut. The stage sets for the plays did not require extensive backdrops and so backdrops were not a problem. The theatre was eventually renamed Pericles and was renovated in which the orchestra was moved farther north and the seats were backed up by a steeper slope. This gave the stage more room for backdrops and sets as was demanded by the plays of Sophocles. The terrace and supporting walls were also redone to accommodate the steeper slope and they remained as such for the remainder of the theatre's life. The long hall was constructed behind the stage and underneath the hall a drainage system was constructed to drain the orchestra of water. The drainage system was a channel approximately two feet wide which was connected...

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