niedziela, 17 kwietnia 2022

ANCIENT GREEK THEATRES - UNESCO


Theatre construction is a concept and an architectural achievement of Greek civilisation: a plain structure in which coexist, in a balanced and complete manner, functionality and excellent aesthetics. 

An indispensable element of every urban centre from the Classical period onwards, theatres were set in the centre of political, social and religious life: the acropolis, the agora, the stadium, the bouleuterion, the sanctuaries. 

Theatres were distinguished by their simplicity of design, with a circular or semicircular seating layout, which, combined with the height difference between the tiers, achieved a unique combination of an unimpeded view and excellent acoustics. The seats of the cavea were usually adapted to the side of a natural hill, its centre dug out of the earth or rock and banked up on the sides, while in some cases, albeit rare, an artificial elevation was created on level ground in order to form the basis of the cavea seating. 

Early, wooden theatral structures are dated to the 6th c. BC and are known only from literary sources and vase-painting. Stone structures are found from the 5th c. onwards, while Greek theatres attained their full architectural form in the 4th c. BC, consisting of three discrete parts: the audience seating area (cavea), the orchestra and the stage building (scaenae frons), which became ever more complex to meet evolving dramatic needs. Most theatres had stone seats divided into wedge-shaped sections (cunei) by staircases made of the same material. The cavea is divided horizontally by a concentric passageway, the diazoma. The upper part of the cavea is known as the epitheatre. 

The front-row seats of the lower cavea and epitheatre were reserved for privileged persons. These seats of honour might stand out by their construction, or even be luxurious stone thrones, sometimes bearing the names of the dignitaries for whom they were intended (proedriae). Access to the orchestra was via two entrances on either side, the parodoi. Very often a drainage duct for the rainwater coming off the cavea ran round the orchestra, in front of the first row of seats. The stage buildings, in their fully developed form, almost always combine a stage, with a ground floor and first floor, with a proscenium. 

The proscenium usually takes the form of a small row of pillars, columns or semi-columns in the Doric or Ionic style. Paintings were placed in the spaces between the columns of the proscenium, while each of its three doorways, similarly painted, is conventionally thought to have led to the Pałace, the countryside or the port. The stage building always includes an upper storey, its floor level with the proscenium roof. Certain stages also included side rooms that served as outbuildings, while many stage buildings are connected to porticos (stoai). 

In some theatres, an underground passage from the stage to the orchestra, known as the “Charonian steps”, allowed the gods of the netherworld to appear and intervene in the actions of the characters on stage. The actors’ performance area, the logeion, was between the stage building and the orchestra. With the passage of time and the development of the stage building, this was moved to the flat proscenium roof or to special raised platforms. In Roman times, most Greek theatres were turned into arenas, adapted to the new types of spectacle which became popular during this period. 

Protective structures were added for the audience, while the orchestra area was enlarged to host gladiatorial combats and wild beast fights. In some cases water cisterns were placed in the orchestra for water sports and other spectacles. The theatres were built to host plays, which were originally closely linked to religious rituals. 

They later evolved independently of religion, culminating in performances by actors and a chorus (combining recital and dancing), with all the features of a theatrical production as we would think of it today, involving stage direction, scenery, stage machinery and theatrical equipment. During the course of their evolution, theatres acquired a central role in the function of the city-state, and became multifunctional, used not only for dramatic and religious performances but also for political purposes linked to the institution of Democracy. 

It is telling that the ancient traveller Pausanias regards the theatre as one of the basic urban features of a Greek city, along with the agora, the gymnasium and the public administrative buildings, and an important element in recognising cities in the East as being Greek.


Attica:

Peloponnese

  • Theatre of Epidaurus:  GPS: 23.079200E, 37.596000N
  • Theatre of Megalopolis:  GPS: 22.127258E, 37.410170N
  • Theatre of Argos: GPS: 22.7196E, 37.6316N

Central Greece

  • Theatre of Delphi: GPS: 22.500706E, 38.482450N
  • Theatre of Eretria: GPS: 23.790644E, 38.398603N

Thessaly

  • Theatre of Larissa I: GPS 22.415256Ε,39.640315Ν

South Aegean,

  • Theatre of Delos: Mykonos 25.268105Ε, 37.397040Ν
  • Theatre of Melos:  Melos 24.421035Ε, 36.737823Ν
  • Theatre of Lindos: Rhodes 28.086576Ε, 36.089886Ν

West Greece

  • Theatre of Oeniadae: 21.199028Ε, 38.409614Ν

Epirus

  • Theatre of Dodona. 20.787700 Ε, 39.546492Ν

Crete

  • Theatre of Aptera: 24.141436Ε, 35.461272Ν

East Macedonia and Thrace,

  • Theatre of Maronia: 25ο 31.155΄Ε, 40ο 52.727΄Ν