Theater of Dionysos
From Project Athinai
The Theater of Dionysos was located at the foot of the southern slope of the Akropolis. During the festival of the Dionysia, dramas were performed in it. The plays in the theater began at sunrise.
The first dramas were played at the Orchestra of the Agora since 534 BC. However, in 498 BC, the temporary scaffoldings erected to host spectators collapsed injuring several persons. The representations were then transfered to the southern slopes of the Akropolis where a wooden theater had been built.
In 486 BC, comedies were added to dramas. Aeskhylos, Sophokles, Euripides and Aristophanes performed their dramas and comedies in this new theater.
During our period of reference (421 BC), the theater was still a very modest construction. It consisted of an orchestra (dancing place), a skene (stage and back-stage) and a theatron (seeing place). A road, supported by a polygonal masonry wall, led from the temple of Dionysos to the orchestra.
The circular orchestra had a diameter of 20.288 m. Originally, both actors and chorus performed in this area.
The skene was originally made of wood and served as a background to the plays. Panels representing simple sceneries could be placed on the facade which otherwise represented a palace or a house. Around 460 BC, Sophokles was the first to introduce painted perspectives as sceneries. Aischylos soon adopted the same technique.
The theatron was originally a simple uncovered stand of tiered wooden seats for spectators. It was set against the natural curve of the cliff of the Akropolis. Like the skene, the theatron was mostly made of wood, only the front seats, reserved for the priest of Dionysos Eleutherios and for dignitaries, were made of stone.
The audience could buy wine and meat and was allowed to eat and drink during the performance. It seems that women could also attend some representations, particularly tragedies.
During the Lykourgan building programme, around 330 BC, a larger stone theatre was built.
In 319 BC, Thrasyllos built the monument now known as "Thrasyllos Monument" on the south slope of the Akropolis Rock above the Theatre of Dionysos.
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