Use of Structure and Technology in Ancient Greek Theater

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Dan Mullen

Structure of Greek Theater

Greek theater took great advantage of the natural surroundings, a great theater design, and technologically advanced props and equipment. The Theater itself consisted of 4 parts, the Orchestra, the Skene, the theatron, and the paradoi. Technologically advanced equipment such as the machina, or the ekeclema gave the greek theater an air of believability. Oedipus took advantage of many of these aspects of the theater, and used them to a great advantage.

The theater consisted of four parts, and took advantage of sloping hillsides to make sure that everyone in the audience could view the play. The main part of the theater was the Orchestra, in which the actors would dance and sing. Orchestras were full circles, often very wide in diameter, topping 60 feet. The theatron seated the hundreds or thousands of people that attended the plays. As the seats got farther and farther away, they got increasingly higher up, so that everybody would be able to view the play. The skene, translated as "tent", was an area in back of the orchestra used by the actors to change and prepare for their next scene. Often the skene would have stairs of ladders leading to the top, so that actors could stand on it, especially if they were playing a God, or another important character. Finally, the Paradoi were long ramps used by actors to get from the front to the back if needed, and also by the patrons to enter and exit the theater.

Technology advances gave Greek theater a distinct advance over other, previous theaters, and brought a sense of reality to the play. The Machina, used by many Greek theaters gave the sense that a person was flying by hoisting them up in the air with a crane-like mechanism. The ekeclema, a wagon sort of device, wheeled characters on and off stage. The Greeks also made great use of trap doors, often using them to enter characters on stage that needed to enter in the middle of a scene. Pinakes were pictures hung from...
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