Show Summary Details

Page of

 Printed from Grove Art Online. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a single article for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 16 October 2019


  • Graham F. Barlow,
  • F. B. Sear,
  • Meg Twycross,
  • Roland Wolff,
  • Marian C. Donnelly,
  • Marie-Françoise Christout,
  • John Orrell,
  • Stanley Wells,
  • Isidre Bravo,
  • Marjoke de Roos,
  • Jérôme de la Gorce,
  • James Fowler,
  • John Earl,
  • Pieter van der Merwe
  •  and Roger Pinkham


Place or structure for drama and performance.

Graham F. Barlow

Architectural theatre structures developed after years of experiment during which performances were conducted in flexible impermanent environments or in buildings designed for other purposes. When dramas involved communities in state celebration of occasional religious festivities, climatic and seasonal considerations dictated the time of performance. The ancient theatres of Greece and Rome ( see §II ), the impermanent medieval rounds, processional wagon stages ( see §III, 1 ) and the public playhouses of northern Europe were roofless, relying on favourable weather conditions and daylight to illuminate the performances. As social conditions and patterns of leisure changed, performances were also given in the winter season, and theatres became enclosed. They were lit first by candles and oil, then gas and finally electricity. Although in general theatrical practitioners determine on-stage technical requirements, the structure and decoration of the auditorium and exterior is determined by the patrons. From the 16th century aristocratic ...

You do not currently have access to this article


Please login to access the full content.


Please subscribe to access the full content.

Pelican History of Art
Enciclopedia dello spettacolo, 9 vols and suppl. (Rome, 1954–66)