Architecture, Actor and Audience (Theatre Concepts)
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We'll publish them on our site once we've reviewed them. Item s unavailable for purchase. Architecture, Actor and Audience really liked it 4. Understanding the theatre space on both the practical and theoretical level is becoming increasingly important to people working in drama, in whatever capacity. Theatre architecture is one of the most vital ingredients of the theatrical experience and one of the least discussed or understood.
In Architecture, Actor and Audience Mackintosh explores the contribution the desi Understanding the theatre space on both the practical and theoretical level is becoming increasingly important to people working in drama, in whatever capacity.
Architecture Actor and Audience Theatre Concepts, Iain MacKintosh. (Paperback )
In Architecture, Actor and Audience Mackintosh explores the contribution the design of a theatre can make to the theatrical experience, and examines the failings of many modern theatres which despite vigorous defence from the architectural establishment remain unpopular with both audiences and theatre people. A fascinating and provocative book.
Paperback , pages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Architecture, Actor and Audience , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about Architecture, Actor and Audience. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Michael rated it really liked it Oct 25, Bethan Scorey rated it it was ok Oct 03, Karnak in ancient Egypt , Persepolis in Persia, and Knossos in Crete all offer examples of architectural structures, purposely ceremonial in design, of a size and configuration suitable for large audiences.
They were used as places of assembly at which a priestly caste would attempt to communicate with supernatural forces. The transition from ritual involving mass participation to something approaching drama, in which a clear distinction is made between active participants and passive onlookers, is incompletely understood.
Eventually, however, the priestly caste and the performer became physically set apart from the spectators. Thus, theatre as place emerged.
During the earliest period of theatre in ancient Greece , when the poet Thespis —who is credited both with inventing tragedy and with being the first actor—came to Athens in bc with his troupe on wagons, the performances were given in the agora i. Detailed literary accounts of theatre and scenery in ancient Greece can be found in De architectura libri decem , by the 1st-century- bc Roman writer Vitruvius, and in the Onomasticon , of the 2nd century ad , by the Greek scholar Julius Pollux. As these treatises appeared several hundred years after classical theatre, however, the accuracy of their descriptions is questionable.
Little survives of the theatres in which the earliest plays were performed, but essential details have been reconstructed from the architectural evidence of the Theatre of Dionysus in Athens, which has been remodeled several times since its construction in stone by the politician Lycurgus on the south slope of the Acropolis in about bc. The centre of the theatre was the original dancing place, a flat, circular space containing the altar of Dionysus , called the orchestra. In the centre stood a platform with steps bemata leading to the altar thymele.
Nearby was the temple out of which the holy image would be carried on festival days so that the god could be present at the plays. Theatrical representations, not yet wholly free of a religious element, directed their appeal toward the whole community, and attendance was virtually compulsory. Thus the first concern of theatre builders of the day was to provide sufficient space for large audiences. In the beginning, admission was free; later, when a charge was levied, poor citizens were given entrance money.
In later times there was a high stage, with a marble frieze below and a short flight of steps up from the orchestra. The great Hellenistic theatre at Epidaurus had what is believed to have been a high, two-level stagehouse. The earliest productions did not have a background building. The earliest properties, such as altars and rocks, could be set up at the edge of the terrace. In the first period of Greek drama, the principal element of the production was the chorus , the size of which appears to have varied considerably. The size of the chorus became smaller in the 5th century, as the ritual element of drama diminished.
Since the number of actors increased as the chorus shrank, and the plots of the dramas became more complex, doubling of roles became necessary. On a completely open stage such substitutions were delayed, and the suspense of the drama was dissipated.
Architecture, Actor and Audience
Dramatic plausibility was also vitiated by the fact that gods and mortals, enemies and friends, always entered from the same direction. The addition of a scenic facade, with three doors, more than doubled the number of entrances and gave the playwright more freedom to develop dramatic tension. The spectators sat on wooden benches arranged in a fan shape divided by radiating aisles. The upper rows were benches of movable planks supported by separate stones planted in the ground.
The seats of honour were stone slabs with inscriptions assigning them to the priests. The background decoration consisted originally of a temporary wooden framework leaning against the front wall of the stoa and covered with movable screens. These screens were made of dried animal skins tinted red; it was not until Aeschylus that canvases in wooden frames were decorated according to the needs of a particular play. Aristotle credits Sophocles with the invention of scene painting, an innovation ascribed by others to Aeschylus.
It is notable that Aeschylus took an interest in staging and is credited with the classic costume design. Simple Greek scenery was comparable with that of the 20th century; the impulse to visualize and particularize the background of the action became strong. Painted scenery was probably first used in production of the Oresteia ; some 50 years afterward a second story was added to the wooden scene structure.
This colonnade, which was long and low, suggested the exterior of either a house, a palace , or a temple. In the beginning, scenery was probably altered slightly during the intermissions that separated the plays of a trilogy or a tetralogy or during the night between two festival days. By the latter part of the 5th century, scene changes were accomplished by means of movable painted screens.
Several of these screens could be put up behind one another so that, when the first one was removed, the one immediately behind appeared. Soon after the introduction of the facade, plays were uniformly set before a temple or a palace. To indicate a change of scene , the periaktoi were introduced. These were upright three-sided prisms—each side painted to represent a different locality—set flush with the palace or temple wall on either side of the stage. Several conventions were observed with regard to scenery; one was that if only the right periaktos was turned, it indicated a different locality in the same town.
According to another convention, actors entering from the right were understood to be coming from the city or harbour and those from the left to be coming from the country.
The permanent facade was also used to hide the stage properties and the machinery. The lavish use of flying machines is attested by the poet Antiphanes, who wrote that tragic playwrights lifted up a machine as readily as they lifted a finger when they had nothing else to say. A realistic picture of an interior scene under a roof could not be shown, because the roof would block the view of those in the higher tiered seats of the auditorium. So the Greeks, to represent the interior of a palace, for example, wheeled out a throne on a round or square podium.
New machines were added in the Hellenistic period, by which time the theatre had almost completely lost its religious basis. Among these new machines was the hemikyklion , a semicircle of canvas depicting a distant city, and a stropheion , a revolving machine, used to show heroes in heaven or battles at sea. Much recent study has centred on the problem of acoustics in the ancient theatre. The difficulty in achieving audibility to an audience of thousands, disposed around three-fifths to two-thirds of a full circular orchestra in the open air, seems to have been insoluble so long as the performer remained in the orchestra.
A more direct path between speaker and audience was therefore essential if the unaided voice was to reach a majority of spectators in the auditorium. Some contend that the acoustical problems were to a degree alleviated when the actor was moved behind and above the orchestra onto the raised platform, with more of the audience thus being placed in direct line of sight and sound with him. Increased architectural and engineering sophistication in the Hellenistic Age encouraged further innovations.
The theatres of mainland Greece, the Aegean islands, and southern Italy had been constructed in hillsides whenever possible, so that excavation and filling were kept to a minimum; or, lacking a suitable slope, earth was dug out and piled up to form an embankment upon which stone seats were placed. By contrast, the cities of Asia Minor , which flourished during the Hellenistic Age, did not rely on a convenient slope on which to locate their theatres. The principles of arch construction were understood by this time, and theatres were built using vaulting as the structural support for banked seating.
Archaeological remains and restoration of theatres at Perga, Side, Miletus, and other sites in what is now Turkey exhibit this type of construction.