History of Theatre Architecture

  • Period: 599 BCE to 500 BCE

    Greek Amphitheatre

    *Steeply raked auditorium
    *Auditorium surrounded the orchestra on three sides
    *In back of orchestra was the skene (stage house)
    *Front wall of skene had arches for actors to make entrances/hide actors from audience's view
    *Usually built on hillsides
  • Period: 599 BCE to 500 BCE

    Greek Theater Tech

    *Eccyclema: a platform on wheels used to roll in set pieces, people, among many other things
    *Machina: a basket/platform that lowered actors to orchestra level from skene.
    *Pinakes: painted panels hung from skene, kind of like scenery
  • 500 BCE

    Greek Periaktoi

    Greek Periaktoi
    *Tall, thin, three sided
    *Rotated in place
    *Each side painted with different scene
    *Placed in the background
    When there was a new scene, the periaktoi was rotated to show different scenery.
  • Period: 499 BCE to 476

    Roman Theaters

    *Took Greek theaters and smashed all three areas into one
    *Auditorium was in a semicircle, separated from orchestra by wall
    *Orchestra became semicircle outward from stage area, framed by proscenium
    *Skene, now called scaenae frons, tall as auditorium, fancily decorated
    *Theaters built on even ground
    *Roofs reached from scaenae frons to proscenium
    *Some had seating areas covered with an awning (velum)
  • Period: 499 BCE to 476

    Technology in Roman Theaters

    *Auleum: front curtain, lowered through slot in floor
    *Siparium: hid backstage, background for scenery
    *Used elevators, mobile platforms, and trapdoors to move and raise things from basement
    *Moving set props like trees, rocks, etc.
  • 400 BCE

    Roman Periaktoi

    Roman Periaktoi
    These were basically the same as their Greek predecessors. Except, instead of locational scenery, they were painted with tragic, comic, and satiric scenes.
  • Period: 599 to 500

    Greek Amphitheatre

    *Paraskenia: long, high walls extended on boths sides and parallel with the skene
    *Low, foot high platform extended across paraskenia
    *Platform and paraskenia were eventually moved closer to the audience
    *Proskenium: columned arch positioned at back of stage, in front of skene
    *Proskenium used to support a porchlike extension from the skene's second story
  • Period: 1000 to 1499

    Moving Medieval Theater

    The only theater that was performed was done by churches, so it was really only religious stuff.
    *Stages were platforms near the church
    *Audience just stood around it in town square
    *Sets were many small buildings called ¨mansions¨
    *Mansions = locations
    *Heaven and Hell on opposite sides of stage, everything else in between
    *Platea: area in front of mansions, where play's action took place
  • Period: 1000 to 1499

    Moving Technology in the Middle Ages

    *Took shows on the road
    *Moved stage platforms on wagons (pageant wagons)
    *Went town to town
    *Used trapdoors
    *Rigging to move people and object around stage
  • Period: 1500 to

    1500-1650 European Theater Structure

    The basic build of these theaters was very similar to the ancient Roman and Greek theaters.
    *Detailed and elaborate scenery
    *More forced perspective scenery
    *Use of stock sets (drops of different types of scenes) mean evolution of the proscenium
    *Drops were hung upstage
  • Period: 1500 to

    1500-1650 Elizabethan Theater

    *Stage was an open-air platform, 4-6 feet off ground
    *Upstage end of stage was the inner below
    *Inner above (found above inner below on wall)
    *Stage entrances on either side of inner below
    *Minimal scenery items were used (rocks, trees, etc.)
    The lower class citizens stood in the pit (area around the stage). The upper class sat in a three-story building surrounding the pit, wall, and stage area.
  • Period: 1500 to

    Lights and Scenery

    *Theaters began to use candles, torches, and lanterns to illuminate stages
    *Effects like smoke, clouds, and sound were used
    *Medieval ¨mansions¨ were still occasionally in use
    *Painted coverings could be removed or added to the mansions for location change
    *Curtains could also be opened or closed for location change
  • 1545

    Lighting Color

    Lighting Color
    Sebastiano Serlio suggested putting clear containers of amber or blue colored water in front of lamps and candles. He figured this would change what color the light cast.
  • The Teatro Olympico Theater

    The Teatro Olympico Theater
    *Vicenza, Italy
    *Built similar to Ancient Roman theater
    *Indoors, inside a building
    *Auditorium shaped as an ellipse (improved sightlines)
    *Scaenae frons broken by several arches for permanent sets (mainly street scenes)
    * Raked floor for improvement of visual effects
  • Early 1600s Lighting

    Early 1600s Lighting
    *Reflectors used to intensify insufficient lighting
    *Candles and oil lamps placed along edge of stage and behind wings
  • Period: to

    1650-1900 Theater Structure

    *Rectangular theaters, stage at one end
    *Raked stage framed by proscenium
    *Apron was where most of the play happened
    *Inclined floor for sense of depth
    *Visual background, not enviromental
    *Plays took place in general areas (drawing room, palace, garden..), so theaters had stock sets of areas
    *Auditoriums had multi tiered boxes for important people, galleries for wealthy people, and the pit for poor people.
  • Period: to

    The First Sparks

    *Carbon arc: first electric light used in theater
    *Produced when electricity arcs between two electrodes
    *Very white/bright
    *Foot light, border lights, and wing lights became electrified
    *Intensity of electric light controlled with resistance dimmers
    *Also, movable drops, wings, and borders
  • Japanese Kabuki Theater

    Japanese Kabuki Theater
    *1724- Government allows them to perform in indoor theaters
  • Period: to

    Japanese Kabuki Theater Tech.

    *1736- elevator traps
    *1753- elevator stages
    *1758- revolving stages to change scenery
    *1827- introduced to concentric revolving stages
  • Argand Oil Lamp

    Argand Oil Lamp
    The wick, placed inside an open-ended glass cylinder, casted a purer and brighter light than the previously used floating wicks.
  • Gas Lighting

    Gas Lighting
    *Invented by William Murdock
    *Brighter and clearer
    *Easy to control intensity of lighting
    *Used valves, tubing, and pipes to control gas on stage and in auditorium
  • Lime Light

    Lime Light
    *Invented by Thomas Drummond
    *Created when flame is focused against a limestone block
    *Yields a bright yet soft light
    If it was used with a mirror reflector, it was able to create a single strong beam of light (like a spotlight).
  • Incandescent Lamp

    Incandescent Lamp
    *Practical
    *Developed by Thomas Edison
  • Period: to

    20th Century Theater Structure

    *Apron shrank
    *Side seats eliminated
    *Remaining seats face stage
  • Period: to

    20th Century Technology

    *Incandescent lamp evolved to become more efficient
    *Led to incandescent spotlights
    *Led to evolution of spotlight design through the years
    *Thyratron tube dimmer- first electronic dimmer, made by George Izenour
    *Preset control taken over by digital control in 1980's
    *Record players and amplified sound used in theater in 1930's
  • Period: to

    Little Theater Movement

    *Put on shows in random places
    *Any relatively spacious area
    *Ex: barnes, churches, grocery stores, libraries, and so on.
  • Development of the Tape Recorder

    Development of the Tape Recorder
    Began the experimentation and progression of sound and music in theater.
  • Sound and Stereo

    Sound and Stereo
    High Fidelity Sound and stereo sound became available.
  • Sound and Stereo

    Sound and Stereo
    High Fidelity Sound and stereo sound become common in theater.
  • Tungsten-halogen Lamp

    Tungsten-halogen Lamp
    *Whiter light
    *Lamp life 10-20 minutes longer than predecessor
  • Borosilicate Lenses

    Borosilicate Lenses
    *Whiter light
    *Less susceptible to heat fracture
    *Became industry standard
  • Computer Technology

    Computer Technology
    Various replay, digital storage, and recording devices implemented into theater.