The conventional Greek theater was constructed into the slope of a hillside, which supported the curving banks of stone seats facing the stage. The majority of clients carried their own seat cushions to these open-air constructions, as attending performances during a festival time was an endurance challenge. The Greeks built many theaters over the years for both classical and contemporary plays. Some were made of wood while others were made of marble.
The theater in Athens is one of the best preserved from the ancient world. It was built in 39 BC at the initiative of the wealthy patron Alexander the Great. The construction was completed by Antony after her death in 29 BC. The theater could hold up to 15,000 people. It was also known as the New Theater because it was built more than 50 years after the original one was constructed at the expense of Agrippa (53 BC).
In Rome, there were two types of theaters: those for gladiators and those for musical performances. The former were enclosed structures with a floor made of sand mixed with straw or wood chips, and they usually had a high roof made of metal sheets attached to a frame of posts and crossbars. They were used for violent displays that included combat sports such as boxing and gladiator battles. There were several in different parts of the Roman Empire including one in London that was built in 73 AD. It should be noted that this is where we get the word "gladiator" from.
Because so many people came to attend the plays, the Greeks built massive outdoor theaters on hillsides so that spectators could be placed in such a way that they could see what was going on in the orchestra pit—the stage area. The whole sitting space was dubbed the Theatron, which is where the name "theater" comes from.
These theaters were open-air structures with tiers of seating that followed the curve of the hillside or cliff face. They usually had two levels of seating: an upper level for paid subscribers; and a lower level for free spectators. There might also be a third level of seating for slaves or other non-paying guests.
The Greeks built their theaters for entertainment: to give voice to the arts; to teach morality through drama; and to inspire fear and panic in their enemies by showing them how easily humans can be manipulated by the right performance.
In addition to being a place to watch theater, these stadiums were also places to eat, drink, and be merry! Some even had bathhouses, gymnasiums, and libraries inside them. Some cities had several theaters, while others had only one. However, all theaters must have had the same basic equipment: a stage for acting out scenes; curtains (for hiding actors' faces and bodies when necessary); and a roof.
In ancient Greece, people went to the theater to be inspired or to be scared.
The house (theatron, or "a place of seeing" in Greek) was a bank of straight-line seats (possibly originally in wood but subsequently in stone) supported by a hillside, while the stage (orchestra, or "a place of dancing") was a roughly rectangular area at the bottom of the...
The house (theatron, or "a place of seeing" in Greek) was a bank of straight-line seats (possibly originally in wood but subsequently in stone) supported by a hillside, while the stage (orchestra, or "a place of dancing") was a roughly rectangular area at the bottom of the screen where actors could perform. The word theater comes from the Greek theatron, which means "viewing place." The original theaters were probably just open spaces with rows of wooden benches along the sides and a flat section in the middle for the stage. But over time they became more structured, with porticos and rooms for dressing rooms, offices, and storage.
In Latin countries new theaters were built following Greek models, but in Italy old Roman theaters were converted to churches or museums. In 1596 the first permanent English theater was built, in London's Blackfriars district. It was followed by other such theaters across England. In 1663 the first American theater was built in Boston.
In France the first public opera house was built in 1735. It was followed by other such theaters across Europe.
The ancient Greeks constructed open-air theaters where the general public could attend performances of Greek comedy, tragedy, and satyr plays. They subsequently spread the concept across their colonies in the Aegean, so that theaters became a common component of the urban environment in all Greek cities. The Athens Odeon was by far the largest and most spectacular of these theaters, with an area of more than 10,000 square feet (930 m2). Other important theaters include those at Epidauros, Pergamum, Rome, and Alexandria.
Amphitheatres were built to accommodate an audience of many thousands, and thus require large tracts of land. Because city streets did not have enough space for such structures, the amphitheaters are usually located outside the city walls. They often include a tower or two for viewing events, which can be used as a prison if necessary. The first amphitheater was probably built in Greece around 730 B.C. It may have been designed by Pythagoras or another philosopher-scientist.
In addition to being a place where people could watch theater performances, amphitheatres were also sites for athletic competitions, political speeches, and trials by jury. Some were also used as churches after the original structure had been converted into one.
Amphitheatres are still found worldwide, but they are most numerous in Greece, Italy, and Spain.