The Greek theatre, which consisted of orchestra, auditorium, and stage, was generally hollowed out of the slope of a hill near a city, was unroofed, and was intended for use in the daytime. The orchestra, the germ of the Greek theatre, was a complete circle, and here the chorus chanted and danced, as by voice and gesture they unfolded the tale of the drama acted on the stage. The auditorium rose in tiers of seats cut out of the solid rock, sometimes faced with marble, encircling about two-thirds of the orchestra, and thus spectators at the two extremities faced towards the orchestra, but away from the stage. The stage or " logeion " (speaking-place), for the few actors usual in a Greek drama, was a long, narrow plat-form with permanent architectural background connected with the booth or dressing-room behind, known as the " skene," a name retained in the " scene " of modern theatres. To what height above the level of the orchestra this platform or stage was raised is a question that has been much debated. The most probable theory as to the evolution of the stage and its relation to the orchestra seems to be the following: (I) In pre-AEschylean drama, before regular theatres were built, an actor mounted on a table, possibly the table-altar of the god Dionysos, and held a dialogue with the dancers and chorus. The rude table-stage illustrated on vases from South Italy may represent a local retention of this primitive custom. In the fifth century B.C., though no direct evidence is available, it is practically certain that there was a low wooden stage connected by steps with the orchestra. (3) The fourth century B.C. is the earliest period in which there is architectural evidence that at Megalopolis there was a wooden platform from 3 ft. 3 ins. to 4 ft. 6 ins. high, with a stone colonnade as a background, and that at Epidauros the wooden platform was sup-ported by a wall 12 ft. high. (4) In later Hellenistic and Roman times, the Greek stage, according to Vitruvius, was from 10 to 12 ft. high, and his statement is borne out by extant examples.
Theatre at Halicarnassus
Diagram of a Greek Theatre