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Flashcards in Theatre 1 Deck (5)
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Greece and Rome


  • theatre emerges in 6th bce, by 5th bce designated places for theatre to take place were built 
  • theatron: seating place often carved out of hillside, orchestra - circular acting area at bottom of seating
  • skene: wall at back of orchestra that had opening to be used as entrances by actors

  • Proskenion: area in front of skene 

  • Theatre of Dionysus: ritualistic approach to the building, can see other audience members, surrounding landscape and acting



Romans copied greek ancestors in 3 distinct ways:

  1.  amphitheatre design

  2. reinterpretation of greek skene

  3. raised stage in front of skene known as proskenion 

some developments from greek

  • romans prepared to build walls and terraces
  • using arches to build upwards (not relying on surrounding landscape)

  • roof could be pulled across top to protect from rain



  • red lion theatre 1st permanent structure for theatre, unsuccessful

  • the theatre 1576 becomes the 1st successful theatre

  • many theatres built after located just outside the city (theatre banned within london at the time)

  • british victorian theatres not funded by government so have less of an impact within city > often built on cheaper land away from street >> shakespeare memorial theatre, stratford upon avon an exception to this (built on waterfront)

Elizebethan Theatres

  • galleried structure
  • structure responds to social structure of society & social segregation between classes

  • separate seating for different classes


Blackfriars Theatre

  • theatre inside converted monastery

  • main difference is that its an indoor theatre - need lighting and better acoustics

  • seeing introduction of music into theatre


General Theatre


  • proscenium arch layout begins to be seen as outdated, see it as something that separated actor and audience

  • Festspielhaus: result of C12 debates, stage with stepped scenery > no proscenium arch (actors and audience all occupying single space), stage stepping creates abstract backdrop


  • in countries where music/performing arts funded by central administration, theatres could become large monuments

  • in the round/arena theatre: audience sitting around theatre on all 4 sides, emphasises the live and 3d nature of theatre

  • Walter Gropius: produces a design for theatre that can be rotated and moved to create different arrangements (never built, but seen as an influential idea)

  • Derngate theatre, northampton: flexible theatre where parts of auditorium move around on hoverpads


National Theatre 


Initial Design

  • design shaped by panel of actors and theatre experts

  • denis lasdun gives theatre sense of civic importance, set of pure forms, modest building but uses rich finishes e.g. board-marked concrete

  • three-auditorium building was opened in 1976 and comprised one of the major theatre landmarks of its age

  • It was the largest of all the new theatres built in Britain between the 1950s and the 1980s



  • Theatre director Michael Elliott, 1973: ‘as one leans on the parapet of Waterloo Bridge pondering the huge mushrooming concrete of the new National Theatre, all one’s doubts centre round one question – was this the right theatre to build now?’





Royal Exchange,

Fun Palace

  • Manchester Royal Exchange: a former cotton trading hall, which had become redundant by the end of the 1960s

  • Original tented theatre, manchester royal exchange, 1972: The tent allowed the design to be refined and tested by the company, working with Michael Elliott, the designer Richard Negri, and others.