Difference between Greek and Modern Theatres

Topics: Drama, Theatre of ancient Greece, Ancient Greece Pages: 5 (1526 words) Published: October 7, 2013

The Difference between Greek and Modern theatres
Kimberly Legaspi
February 25th, 2013
Word count: 1478

Difference between Greek and Modern Theatres 

Theatre today as in ancient Greek times is a popular form of entertainment. Today’s theatres share many similarities with the Greek predecessors however they are also very different. There are in fact many differences for example; layout, special effects, seating arrangement, the importance of drama and religion, setting, location and architectural features. 

In ancient Greece festivals were mainly held at the Great Dionysia. This was the oldest theatre in Greece and many plays were performed here for example the first performance of Antigone. The patron of the theatre was the God Dionysus and there was a temple near which was dedicated in his honour. There was also a statue of the patron Goddess Athene. Today there is no link between religion and theatre, as we live in a multi-cultural society with people who follow many different faiths; therefore the theatre is secular to appeal to all people (Gill).

The various aspects of ancient Greek theatre then compare with today’s modern version of theatre. Today it is widely believed that theatre first began in ancient Greece, the evidence  people used to come to this conclusion was from ancient Greek plays, Greek art and architecture. 

In ancient Greek theatres the seating was arranged in a semi-circle and curve down into the centre following the natural shape of the hillside. There are many modern theatres which are arranged in this way however many have the whole audience directly opposite the stage like in a cinema. Seats in ancient Greek theatres would have been made from stone, with the audience expected to bring their own cushions. Today the audience sits on padded seats so the audience is more comfortable. This is because people have higher expectations today and society is generally more advanced, people would not sit on stone seats today. In ancient times audiences were much larger as they could fit more people into the theatres. The Dionysus could hold over 14000  people (Gill). This is in stark contrast to today where the average theatre holds approximately one thousand people. This could be because there are many more theatres today than in Greek times therefore there is a greater amount of choice and variety. Tickets in ancient times were made out of ivory and were needed to enter the theatre (Robinson). This is similar to modern theatres where a ticket system is also in operation. The worst seats in the theatre were at the back, this is similar to today as the seats at the back (the lords) are the cheapest. These seats were used by the lower classes. The higher your social status the better view of the play you could expect to get. Importantly women were not allowed in the theatre at any time. In today’s modern society everyone is considered equal, therefore if you have enough money you can sit wherever you like in the theatre. Also women can attend and enjoy the exact same privileges as men. This is because society has progressed and women are seen as equals in all walks of life whereas in Greek times they were very much second class citizens. 

Theatres in ancient Greece were built so they were open air and exposed to the elements. When being built the builders used natural curved sides for the seating area, this provided excellent acoustics and it is a technique used today. However today theatres are not open air as the weather would prohibit performances for the majority of the year therefore building them with a roof allows performances to take place all year round increasing revenue and profit. Some modern theatres today have domed ceilings which enable sound to circulate better. In ancient times theatres were often built on hills to improve acoustics however today they are almost always built in flat urbanized areas that have a high population for example London, this is because large...
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