Roman Theatre

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In Roman times Plays were performed only at festivals, which were only ever held several times a year. Therefore when a play was performed everyone was very excited. On the day it was acted, people closed down their stores and all business was stopped at the forum. All the men and women would flock to the forum, very early in the morning, taking cushions with them for comfort as there were only stone seats. They would also take slaves with them and food and drink as the day was long. There were people however who had already had seats reserved. These were the town councillors and other very important citizens. They were given the best seats at the front. To get to these seats these people carried special tokens with them, telling them what entrance to use and were to sit. Anybody who came later, among the ordinary citizens would have to sit at the top of the auditorium due to lack of space. It was possible for the large theatre in Pompeii to hold up to 5000 people. A dramatic performance was a public occasion as so admission was free. All of the money would be paid of by a wealthy citizen, who would provide the actors, the producer, scenery and costumes. This would be done to gain him popularity in the local political elections and for the benefit of his fellow citizens. This performance lasted all day and would consist of a number of plays, even during the hot temperatures of the afternoon. A large awning was suspended by ropes and pulley systems across most of the theatre to keep the audience cool and shaded. This system was operated by sailors who were used to using ropes and canvas. However, the awning could not be used on windy days and so the people used hats or sunshades. One of the most popular of all performances were called Pantomimes, which were a mixture of opera and ballet. The plot was usually a serious one and was based upon Greek myths. All the parts were mimed and danced by one masked person, while a chorus of people sang lyrics. Instruments...
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