How Was Theatre Used in Ancient Greece?

Theatre has been a significant part of human culture for centuries, and ancient Greece is considered to be the birthplace of Western theatre. The Greeks developed theatre as a means of storytelling, entertainment, and education. In this article, we will delve into how theatre was used in ancient Greece.

Origins of Greek Theatre

Greek theatre originated in Athens in the 5th century BCE. It was initially part of the festival of Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. The festival was celebrated annually in March or April, and it included music competitions, feasts, and plays.

Theatre as a Form of Storytelling

Theatre was primarily used as a means of storytelling in ancient Greece. The Greeks created two types of plays: tragedies and comedies.

Tragedies were serious plays that dealt with themes such as fate, death, and betrayal. Comedies were lighthearted plays that poked fun at everyday life.

Plays were performed in outdoor theatres that could hold up to 15,000 people. Actors wore masks that helped them portray different characters. The chorus played an essential role in Greek theatre; they sang and danced to narrate the story.

Theatre as Entertainment

Theatre was also used as a form of entertainment in ancient Greece. People from all walks of life would attend the plays during the festivals. The performances were free for citizens who could afford it; however, slaves had to pay to attend.

Theatre provided an escape from daily life for the audience members. They could immerse themselves in the story being told on stage and forget their troubles for a while.

Theatre as Education

The Greeks also used theatre as a means of education. Plays often dealt with moral themes that taught people how to behave properly in society. For example, Sophocles’ play Antigone deals with the consequences of disobeying the laws of the state.

Theatre was also used to teach people about Greek mythology and history. Many plays were based on well-known myths and legends, such as the story of Oedipus.


In conclusion, theatre played a significant role in ancient Greece. It was used as a means of storytelling, entertainment, and education.

The Greeks developed theatre into an art form that is still admired and studied today. If you ever get the chance to visit Greece, make sure to check out one of their ancient theatres; it’s an experience you won’t forget!