Greek Amphitheater:
Structure and Performance

Thesis: in the next few pages people will be educated with the location and background of

Ancient Greece ( Greece ) and about the structure and performance of a Greek


Theater has been around for a long time. But people never took the time-out

to think about who made the first play, where the first play was held, or when and where the first

person built a theater. Just think about it, movies and television shows probably all originated in

Greece. There were comedies, operas, and many many more. Well, to tell the truth the theater

idea did originate in Ancient Greece. They used outside theaters that were called amphitheaters,

and held comedy and tragedy plays along with some musicals. In the next few pages people will

be educated with the location and background of Ancient Greece ( Greece ) and the structure and

performance of an Ancient Greek Amphitheater.

Lets start at the very beginning, in Greece. " Greece is both a Mediterranean and Baltic

country that is located in Europe " ( Curtis 7 ). Greece’s capital is a city called Athens. It

surrounding countries are Albania to the North West, Fyrom ( Macedonia ) to the North, Bulgaria

to the North East, and Turkey to the East. The bodies of water that surround this country are the

Mediterranean Sea to the South, the Indian Ocean to the West, and the Aegean Sea to the East.

Life in Ancient Greece was hard, " Their cities were all huddled on little pockets of

fertile coastland. They were cut from one another by rugged mountains. But, it was the Greeks

who developed the first civilization in Europe " ( Fagg 7 ). The Greeks were linked by a

common culture. They share the same gods, the same language, and the same way of life.

The Greek Amphitheater, which is an outside theater, which was developed in the 6th

century. It all began when the Greeks began worshipping the god of wine and fertility, Dionysus.

All of the citizens of Greece were expected to attend this spring festival. When this festival took

place there would be masked dancers and singers who would act out the legends of The Great

Dionysus. These legends are what soon developed into the first Greek plays. The only problem

was that there was no set place for these kinds of festivals, except for a circular patch of dirt for

the orchestra. The spectators would then sit around the orchestra in a temporary set of wooden

stands. This method was used until 498 BC when they collapsed and killed several hundreds of

people. The Greeks then built a permanent outside theater near The Great Dionysus’s temple.

The Greeks then named this outside theater an amphitheater and it was used for all plays and

major events.

Now to answer the question where they were built. There was really no set place where

they had to built. But after the 5th century BC, every major Greek city had its own theater near

the main temple.

The first theaters were built from stone or marble. They were circular, with seats that

surrounded the main floor. But later the seats were formed into a semicircle. Behind where the
orchestra was located was a building from which the actors came to the stage. Later,

movable scenery was used and behind the building was used as a place to keep the complicated

machinery that was used for special effects. " These theaters were so skillfully built that people

sitting all the way in the back could hear each and very word that was spoken by an actor "

( Fagg 34 ).

Most of the theaters that were built were built around the 6th century BC and the 4th

century BC. But as stated earlier, after the 5th century BC every major Greek city had its own

theater. They even had ceremonial seats for the important officials.

There were three different kinds of plays, tragedies or " tragodia " ( Flickinger 2),

comedies, and last but not least Satyr plays. Tragedies were plays that had serious themes that

had often involved a death or a sacrifice. In classic Greek theater and individual had to sacrifice

his own happiness for the common good. The second kind of Greek play is comedies. Comedies

were plays that were vulgar. They were