What Type of Theatre Did Ancient Greece Have?

Theatre is an art form that has been around for thousands of years, and one of the earliest examples of theatre comes from ancient Greece. The theatre in ancient Greece was quite different from what we see today, and it had a fascinating history that is worth exploring.

Ancient Greek Theatre

Theatre in ancient Greece can be traced back to the 5th century BC. It was a part of the religious festivals that were held to honor Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. These festivals were called Dionysia, and they were held in Athens every year.

The Origins of Greek Theatre

The origins of Greek theatre are shrouded in mystery, but it is believed that it emerged from religious rituals that were performed in honor of Dionysus. These rituals involved singing and dancing, and they often included a chorus.

Over time, these performances evolved into plays with a more structured format. The first plays were performed by a single actor who played all the characters and recited all the lines. However, as time passed, more actors were added to the cast, and dialogue was introduced.

The Structure of Greek Theatre

Greek theatre had a distinct structure that consisted of three main parts: prologue, episode, and exodus. The prologue was an introductory scene that set the stage for the play.

The episode was the main part of the play where most of the action took place. And finally, the exodus was the concluding scene that wrapped up the play.

Greek theatre also had a unique seating arrangement. There were three types of seating: orchestra (the circular area where actors performed), theatron (the seating area for spectators), and skene (the backdrop behind which actors changed costumes).

The Types of Plays

There were two main types of plays in ancient Greek theatre: tragedy and comedy. Tragedies were serious plays that dealt with themes like love, loss, and death. Comedies, on the other hand, were lighthearted plays that mocked society and politics.

Tragedies were typically performed in the morning, while comedies were performed in the afternoon. Each play was performed by a different playwright, and the audience would vote for their favorite play at the end of each day.

The Legacy of Greek Theatre

Greek theatre had a profound impact on Western culture and continues to influence theatre today. Many of the themes explored in Greek theatre, such as love, betrayal, and revenge, are still relevant today.

Moreover, many of the conventions of Greek theatre have been adopted by modern theatre. For example, the use of a chorus to comment on the action of the play is still used today.


In conclusion, ancient Greek theatre was an important part of Greek culture and had a profound impact on Western culture as a whole. Its unique structure and seating arrangement set it apart from other forms of theatre at that time.

Today we can still see its influence in modern-day plays, musicals and operas. If you ever get a chance to see a Greek tragedy or comedy being performed live or online then do not miss it!