Movable Stages Existed in Greek Theatres Over 2000 Years Ago

An ancient storage room and three stone rows discovered at the Messene Theatre in Greece are singing a different tune on the complex structures that were used 2,000 years ago.

The investigation by an architectural researcher from Kumamoto UniversityJapan revealed the high possibility that a wooden stage existed in the theatre of the ancient Greek City of Messene during the Greek Classical period (ca. 369 BC).

The evolution from the rustic, open theatres of ancient Greece to the magnificent theatres of the Roman times clearly demonstrates the passion that the people had for the theatre.

The ancestor of modern theatre architecture is the theatre of ancient Greece and Rome. The simple and open ancient Greek theatre (around 323 BC – 31 BC) was composed of a circular orchestra, a stage, and bowl-shaped seating area for the audience. In the Roman times (31 BC -), the stage grew higher and was decorated with marble column pillars which eventually evolved to splendid, closed theatres with integrated audience seating. The development of this theatre construction was thought to involve a change in the theatre stage at the end of Hellenistic period, but the details are not yet known.

After its excavation in 2007, a large storage room and three stone rows were discovered beside the stage of the theatre at Messene by a group from the History of Western Architecture Laboratory of Kumamoto University who were conducting a field study. Two similar cases are known to exist in close proximity to Greece, one at Megalopolis and one in Sparta. However, researchers had differing opinions about the specific functions of the storage rooms and stone rows found in these ruins.

The Kumamoto University researcher carefully scrutinized and compared the three sites and considered the appropriate functions of the stone rows and storage rooms. He determined that the stone rows remaining in the Megalopolis theatre, the oldest of three, would have been used to set up wooden background picture panels, and the stage storage room would have likely been the custodian of such panels.

Furthermore, the stone rows in the theatres of Sparta and Messene have similar dimensions. If it can be considered that the two theatres were complementary to each other, then the possibility that an additional stone row, which would have provided wheel tracks of standard size, existed at these two theatres becomes clear.

What was the purpose of these stone rows? In the Hellenistic theatre, a one-story building called the “proskenion” was placed on the stage. The Proskenion was used as a stage background and it is thought that actors were also able to speak from its balconies. Behind that was a two story “skene” that was used as both a dressing room and another stage background. In the past, it was thought that the proskenion and the skene were either stone-built and fixed or wooden and wheeled.

Click here to read more.
Source:Outlook India