Sebastian Schultz » Information » The Design of Early Theatres

The Design of Early Theatres

In an ancient Greek theatre there was a part called the orchestra. This was the stage in the centre of the theatre where people danced, performed religious ceremonies and acted out the plays. The skene was a big building that was behind the orchestra. From the word skene we get the words scene and scenery. The skene was used as a backstage and was the first piece of stage scenery. Before they used a big building they used a tent or a hut. The actors in the play used the skene to change their masks and costumes. Sometimes this building was painted and used as a backdrop.

Some of the earlier theatres were made up of a flat space with an altar at the bottom of a hill. The audience stood or sat on the hill. Later people put benches on the hill and then later arranged them into a semi-circle shape. The audience for the plays sat in chairs that rose up from the stage or sometimes they just stood around a raised platform. Some theatres had enough seats for about fourteen thousand people.

Most of the early theatres had no roofs, but they started making roofs later.

Some performers that were walking around carried wooden stages that had a booth that could be used as a dressing room as well as for background scenery. In The Middle Ages plays started to become part of religion again,s mostly about Christianity.

Plays were performed on “mansions,” which were platforms in the town. Some had wheels and were moved around. Each platform took another one’s place when the one in front of it was done with its part in the scene. The audience stayed in one place so that it could see the next scene of the play. The first theatre that was built in London was just called “The Theatre,” but it was demolished later and some of the broken pieces of it were used in 1599 to build The Globe Theatre, where Shakespeare put on his plays.

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