- Theatre buildings were called a theatron. The theaters were large, open-air structures constructed on the slopes of hills. They consisted of three main elements: the orchestra, the skene, and the audience.
- Orchestra - A large circular or rectangular area at the center part of the theatre, where the play, dance, religious rites, acting used to take place.
- Skene - A large rectangular building situated behind the orchestra, used as a backstage.
- The Greek theatre history began with festivals honoring their gods.
- Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, was honored with a festival called by "City Dionysia".
- In Athens, during this festival, men used to perform songs in the Theatre of Dionysus to welcome the god.
The Theatre of Dionysus
- The Greeks invented drama and built the first theatre of the world in Athens. This theatre was the Theatre of Dionysus. It is a major open-air theatre and one of the earliest preserved in Athens.
- The Theatre of Dionysus could seat 17,000 spectators.
- Athens was the main center for these theatrical traditions. Athenians spread these festivals to its numerous allies in order to promote a common identity.
- At the early Greek festivals, the actors, directors, and dramatists were all the same person. After some time, only three actors were allowed to perform in each play. Later few non-speaking roles were allowed to perform on-stage.
- Due to limited number of actors allowed on-stage, the chorus evolved into a very active part of Greek theatre. Music was often played during the chorus' delivery of its lines.
Costumes and Masks
- The actors were so far away from the audience that without the aid of exaggerated costumes and masks, they would be difficult to see.
- The masks were made of linen or cork, so none have survived. Tragic masks carried mournful or pained expressions, while comic masks were smiling or leering.
- The shape of the mask amplified the actor's voice, making his words easier for the audience to hear.