The Theater

The theater of Priene, next to the Temple of Athena, is, with its eight tiers of seats, the armchairs for those at the front of the orchestra, the side-entrances (Parodoi), and its doors, proscenium and stage in excellent condition, the best-preserved of all ancient Greek theaters. It is also important as a source of definite information on where the actors made their speeches. The stage section comprised a rectangular building (skene) with a single storied gallery (proskenion) in front of it.
Passing under the proscenium, one reaches the orchestra, paved with regular stones. The orchestra is surrounded by eight rows of seats for the audience. Between the seats and the orchestra there were statues, whose pedestals can still be seen in their original positions.
There were also five places of honor for the most important men of the city, simple but of beautiful design. As in Athens, the statue of Dionysus stood in their center. Before the second century the actors and chorus had performed in the orchestra, and only certain special plays were produced on the actual proscenium. But In Roman times the stage was widened by having its wall taken back two meters. In this way it was made possible for plays with a large number of actors to be performed on the proscenium. As the new stage could not be seen from the seats of honor (proedrie) in the front row, the place of honor was moved back to the fifth tier, a little above the level of the new stage.
The importance of this new stage was that it clearly showed the relationship between the actors and the chorus in the ancient Greek plays. In their time, art, now often reduced to a mere entertainment, occupied a much more important position. They lived in the same world as the characters of the tragedies and comedies. They sought natural beauty and poetry rather than luxury and magnificent decors.

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